Wednesday, October 31, 2012

YouTube videos surprisingly quick and easy to make

Getting into YouTube is something I've been meaning to do for ages but just haven't gotten around to. I bought a video camera over a year ago, but have only just started to use it.

It's a lot of fun, and I'm sure it will bring lots of traffic to my sites in time. I have a local blog about Perth and decided to film some short videos of parts of the city. The thing I found most surprising was that it was a breeze to do. Within an hour I had about seven or eight short narrated scenes of a couple of landmarks in the city, and one pleasant little street.

When I returned home and looked through them I found three that were worth uploading. I was worried that the narration wouldn't come through because it was a windy day. But while the sound quality wasn't great, it was definitely audible.

Sure, these were not slick little mini-movies by any means. But they looked okay and were informative. Now that's good to know because at this rate I'll have a whole library of interesting content up there before long. They will help bring extra traffic via click-throughs. And I can embed the videos into blog posts as well.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A blog can help you get paid writing jobs for magazines

As we all know, the growth of the internet -- particularly the online classifieds industry -- has heavily eroded the traditional offline publishing industry. But there are still many magazines and papers in operation. They continue to require content from freelance writers and are prepared to pay for it-- although generally a lot less than in years gone by. One good way of getting such jobs is if you build some authority online. And that's where a blog can really help.

I know for a fact that blogs can get you writing work because it's happened to me. Years ago, when I was living in Sydney, I met a fellow blogger, who was also an experienced journalist. I struck up a bit of a friendship with him. Eventually he scored a gig editing a magazine, and was looking for columnists. He knew I had a background in comedy, and that a couple of my blogs were humorous in nature. So he asked me to write a regular satirical column for the magazine.

Sadly it folded after about seven or eight issues. However I did get enjoy the experience, it was good for my resume, and I made some money out of it (although I didn't get paid for some of the later columns as the publication went belly-up!).

Just recently I've had another paid writing offer that came directly via one of my blogs. It's a local blog about my city. A magazine editor found it via a Google search and saw that I had a lot of local knowledge. So he sent me an e-mail asking if I would like to write a short recurring local guide for the mag.  

I don't think I'll do the job because there's not much money in it (although the word rate is pretty good). And it's not the sort of thing I really like doing. Still, it was a pleasant surprise to get this offer right out of the blue. And it certainly shows you how your blog can get you noticed by people who are willing to pay for written content. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Political blogging draws more traffic, comments than other niches

I've written numerous blogs in a few niches over the last 9 years. Several of them have been politically themed. What I've noticed is that it's much easier to get traffic to these blogs than all the others.

I think the main reason is that there's just generally less competition for this niche than the others. There are squillions of blogs about SEO, social media, marketing and making money, after all. So most of the generic, timeless keywords for these niches are pretty much saturated. Yes, you can crawl up the rankings and reap the rewards, but it takes a lot of time and effort to do so.

As well as there being fewer blogs about politics, there are also a lot more low competition keywords to use that draw traffic, many of them topical. By this I mean the names of people, places, parties, policies, etc. Everyone follows politics and there are always new developments that are reported in the mainstream media. So people are forever on the lookout for news and views related to them. You just have to write specific blog posts about these subjects and you're sure to snare some search engine traffic.

In niches that aren't about making money, people are motivated by their passion for the subject. So their responses are genuine. They also really want to express their opinions. 

This is why you tend to get more high quality blog comments on political blogs. A blog like this one on the other hand gets quite a lot of spam. That's because bloggers in this niche are often commenting for promotional purposes instead.

I've seen this on Twitter too. If I tweet a link to this blog on my online marketing-themed account, it will generally get just a few clicks. But I consistently get ten or more clicks when I tweet blog links on my political account. And that has the same number of followers.

It is all a bit frustrating. The blogs that get the best results are the ones that aren't making me any money!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Offline marketing of websites requires repetition

Lately I've been promoting social media lessons in Perth. One of the methods I've been using is to leave ads up on community noticeboards. I'm sure you've seen the kind I've been using. They're the ones with the website address and phone number hanging down vertically from the ad, so that viewers don't have to write these details down. Each ad has about 7 or 8 of these stubs.

Anyway, last night I returned to a couple of these ads that I'd left in a food court in Wembley and a nearby cafe about 3 weeks ago. I noticed that all the stubs had been removed from both of them. Now I have had a few clicks that I knew came from offline sources to the site that they were advertising. And I think I got one e-mail query as a result. But I certainly got fewer such clicks than the number of stubs that were removed.

Clearly, what was happening was that people were browsing the boards and tearing of those ads that took their fancy at the time. But most were not following up later on.

People are like that. What seems like a good idea one day just doesn't on another. A fraction of those who like your ad will actually check out the website listed. And fewer still will contact you.

Which just goes to show you have to keep at it until you find those people. It's just a long slow process of attrition.

So if you are using the noticeboard method it's a good idea to put ones up all over the city. Then go back after a few weeks and replace the ones with no stubs remaining. Out of the hundreds of stubs that people take home with them, a few are sure to convert into sales. Certainly this process takes a bit of time. But it's surely one of the cheapest methods of offline website advertising available.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Quality blog comments help SEO in the long run

Backlinks are extremely important for SEO. And one method of building them that has long been popular is blog commenting. Many people still subscribe to the theory that if you just write heaps and heaps of them on countless blogs in your niche then the combined effect will be good for your search engine rankings. This is why there is so much blog comment spam out there, even today.

I still see it on some of my bogs, even from SEO companies. That bothers me greatly because they must be using it to promote their clients' sites as well. Think of all those bad links that they're building that will eventually be penalized by Google. To undo the damage, the site owner will have to get them removed. What a nightmare!

So, obviously, commenting should not be seen as a high quantity strategy, but one focusing on quality instead. That is, you should use them to get on the radar of blog owners as well as other bloggers who are adding to these threads.

If they like your input they will often comment on your blog -- and just as you have done, they will do that thoughtfully. Obviously that's a good thing, because we all love getting good quality comments. (And you should reply to them promptly, too. Readers who see at least two comments are more likely to add their own thoughts. And so the process continues.)

And the more comments you have, the more content is there to be found. That's another benefit for SEO. When looking though my stats I've found that those blog posts that have the most reader contributions tend to rank higher than those with few or none at all.

The other benefit you get from writing good comments on someone's blog is that the owner might even include a link back to yours in a post. That is even more helpful SEO-wise, obviously.