Archives for January 2012

Why Pinterest Should Interest You

We’ve all heard the saying that a picture’s worth a thousand words, right? Why is that? There’s just something visually engaging about an image that makes people want to interact with it. Bloggers know to add an image or video to their posts to increase engagement. Facebookers know that posts with images of some kind (previews, photos, etc.) receive more likes and comments.

Well, the new social network, Pinterest (still in beta release), takes that concept and blows it out of the water. Image a network that’s driven by imagery. Engagement explodes. People virally share, or “pin,” the images so that their own network sees them too. They can be embedded on blogs, like the one in this post. Or they can be shared on Facebook, tweeted on Twitter and even e-mailed!

What is Pinterest

But Pinterest is so much more than the image may lead you to believe. Each pinned item has a link leading back to the source, whether that’s a spot on your blog, a photo album, etc. Suddenly, Pinterest becomes a ready-made vehicle for broadcasting your message to a completely different audience than the one you already have. And since the “repinning” that takes place is focused around categorized topics, it’s easy to find others who share your same interests and are willing to spread the word to their followers!

Every user in Pinterest creates their own bulletin boards that they post images to. These are usually focused around categories like cars, kids, nature, pets, food, inspirational messages, books, music, travel, etc.

Whether you’re an author, photographer, realtor, chef, landscape architect, home organizer, interior decorator, builder, website designer, artist, social media maven or what-have-you, you should be using Pinterest. Create boards that are relevant to the audience you want to attract. Then start filling your boards with visual content (in this case, pictures and video).

Do you have a portfolio? Show it off on Pinterest. Are you an author? Share your book cover image, as well as photos, sketches or other drawings related to the setting of your book. Or take brief, inspiring excerpts and create an image from them to share (like the one above). Have video you want to get out there? Create a board of your videos as well. Have products you want to sell? Pin an image of your product with a link back to the site where they can purchase it, whether that’s on Etsy, your website, Amazon, eBay, or elsewhere. Are you a realtor? Create a board for each town you sell in, and post images and video from your listings. The options are only limited by your imagination.

Looking for new content or something to blog about? Find and follow other “Pinners” who inspire you. Join in the discussions taking place about each image. Share your thoughts and ideas, and engage authentically.

Oh! And did I mention that by default, your Pinterest activity is visible to the search engines? So, it’s yet another source of SEO for the sites that are being linked to…

But be warned! Pinterest is addictive! And keep in mind that Pinterest is not about self-promotion so much as it is another social network. As with any social platform, etiquette requires that you keep self-promotion to a minimum. Consider the audience you’re looking to attract and share the content that’s going to interest them. Not every pin should go back to your website. Share what others are pinning, and what you find elsewhere on the internet.

If you aren’t using the site yet and want an invitation to join (since it’s still in beta release), let me know and I’ll send one out to you. If you are using Pinterest already, be sure to follow me and say “hello!”

What do you think of Pinterest? Post your thoughts below, and feel free to share your favorite pin if you have one!

Every Blogger Wants to be Found, But What Are You Willing to Do?

Hide and SeekIf you’ve been blogging for some time now, you may be struggling to find new and unique ways to extend your influence and grow your audience. As part of my marketing strategy for this year, I decided that I was going to make more of an effort to “be found” by larger blogging sites, like BlogCritics, Social Media Today, AllTop and Technorati.

In late 2011, I added a subset of my blog feed to Social Media Today, so that any posts I wrote that were categorized as “Social Media” would be submitted for their review and possible publication. Unfortunately, none of the last few social media posts have been picked up by them. But I keep hoping! (Wouldn’t it be awesome if they picked up this one?!)

Today, I read a post on how to claim my Technorati blog, and decided to pursue that. Yet, I found the process to be fascinatingly frustrating. To add your blog feed to Technorati, you have to create an account. (Makes sense.) Then, you can update your profile or, at least… That’s the idea. I updated my profile 3 times, and every time I clicked the Update Accountbutton to submit my data, the fields were blanked out and my updates were discarded. A bug? I hope so! But, at the bottom of my profile page was where I stumbled across the field the enables me to claim my blog. I specified the requested information, and submitted it to Technorati for review. Yet to process my claim and verify that I am the author of my blog, Technorati requires me to write a post for my blog that contains my unique claim token, JQTZQEJ6Y7UQ. When that information is published to my blog feed, they can verify that in fact I am the writer of my blog.

What do you think of this idea? It’s ingenious from a marketing sense, because most bloggers won’t simply post a claim token in their blog without giving their readers some kind of explanation as to what it’s all about. Invariably, I’m sure this results in additional links to Technorati’s site. But, as a blogger, I find this requirement frustrating because it demands specific content from my blog. In my case, it’s information that my readers will be interested in anyway. But what if I only wrote about leadership topics? Or I wrote about something all together different, where social media and blogging weren’t relevant to my audience? (I can’t think of a good example right now, but you get the spirit of my question, I hope!)

And what if my editorial calendar is full, and I already have the next few blog posts written and in the queue. Do I post this as a “one-off” post? Shift my whole calendar schedule? Or just add it to the queue and accept a delay in adding my blog to Technorati?

Personally, I think it would be better if they took a similar approach to NetworkedBlogs, where you add code to your site or a widget to your page in order to demonstrate your ownership. But barging into the blog feed just seems wrong to me…

What are your thoughts?

Forging Into the Future — 2012

2012

When I outlined at the beginning of last year how I was going to meet my goals for the year, this is what I wrote:

…accomplished by focusing for the next few months on the specific areas of sales (pricing, fulfillment, etc.), product development (for residuals), and website upgrades (for greater visibility, lead capture and establishment of my expertise). These will then serve as part of the launch of my (paid) speaking career.

To put it a bit more concisely, my aim was to shift my focus to speaking more. The necessary ingredients I saw for this were a product to sell, a platform for visibility (namely, my website), and a mailing list to work with.

This required migrating my website from one platform to another in order to make the changes I felt were necessary. Check! That’s done.

It also required creating a product that could be sold. Although a bit late, since it was finished January 5th this year, check! That’s done too. The first of many to come…

I felt (and still feel) that “selling” is a skill that I just don’t have. But I did engage with some great sales mentors to learn what I could, and I’m happy to report that you can teach an old dog new tricks. It’s just going to take some time and patience.

So far as building a mailing list goes? Well, I’m working on that right now, participating in the Self Improvement Gift Giveaway! But I don’t want just any old mailing list. After some introspection, I realized that I am, and always have been, a wordsmith. I love writing and speaking, working with writers and speakers, and many of my clients are one or the other, even though I wasn’t targeting that specific demographic. So, moving forward, the list I am building is for writers and speakers, and the solutions I am offering are intentionally meant for them.

To be able to complete this transition into a niche market, my focus is necessarily becoming more myopic. My goals for 2012 take me deeper into this niche of dealing with authors and speakers, with a micro-niche of working in the Christian community. Product development and building my mailing list are both huge components of that. But I’m also spending time on developing a coaching program, as well as expanding my speaking platform.

So, here are my priorities for 2012:

  • Increase my client base, moving more and more into the niche I want to establish myself in. Speaking engagements and product development will shift more and more into this market to establish my expertise. Increasing my client base in those areas will also require me to increase my connections with others serving that same market. So, I anticipate expanding my network by 5 new contacts a week to increase my client base by 2-3 new clients a month.
  • Work smarter, not harder! I’m still living in a world where I’m the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer at the same time as being the CEO and Janitor. It’s hard to flourish in any of those roles when I’m trying to do them all at once. So, the plan here is to recognize the responsibilities of each role, and set aside a minimum or 2 hours dedicated time every week to function in each of the necessary capacities, while getting rid of those things that I, specifically, do not need to do through elimination or outsourcing. It also means offering more group services (coaching, masterminds, speeches, etc.) and on-demand products.
  • Develop more products! Ensure that I have a residual income that supplements what I receive from speaking and client work. This means developing a library of recorded webinars, eBooks, books, recorded teleseminars, etc. that clients can browse and order from. Ideally, I want to offer at least one new product every other month this year. It may also entail doing more affiliate marketing than I have done in the past, and it certainly means more actively promoting the materials I already have.
  • Speak more and get paid for it! This is the ultimate goal. While I use the other steps above to create a wider platform that establishes my expertise, this is that I ultimately love doing the most. Through speaking, webinars and teleseminars, I plan to reach an audience of at least 1,500 new people this year.

As you’ve been planning the year ahead, what are your priorities for 2012? What do you need to do to make them reality? Share your thoughts below, but make sure they’re measurable and in line with your goals!

Learning From the Past — 2011

2011A recent blog post by David Risley caught my attention. He shared “5 Failures and Take-Aways From 2011 [A Retrospective].” It got me thinking about what lessons I had learned from 2011.

It’s always nice to think “Oh, there were no failures. Everything went perfectly according to plan!” But that’s only for some dream world, not the everyday, real world of business.

Thankfully, at this time last year, I was part of a mastermind group, so had the accountability of stating my goals for the year in clear, concise and measurable terms. After all, isn’t that what goal-setting is all about? If we don’t know whether we met them or not, what’s the point of setting them in the first place?

My main “radical goal” — that goal that was a stretch, but not impossible — was a monetary goal that I fell short of by 32%. Ouch!

But that monetary goal was to be the direct result of “doing the things I am passionate about; teaching, strategizing, training, speaking and connecting.”

So, how did I do with those things? Well, I participated in two failed collaborations, each of which would have created a broader teaching platform; but one collaboration lacked vision, and the other didn’t receive enough time and attention. At the same time, a third collaboration among 21 writers resulted in a book that’s being published in March 2012. So, that was a huge success in my mind.

I spent much more time this year watching trends, and being at the forefront of bloggers writing about them, which was great for building my readership. So, I count that as a success. However, when I analyze what content my readers consumed most, it was my book reviews and not trending topics that interested them the most. So, that’s something I’ll need to take into account in setting my editorial calendar for 2012.

I did take on more clients, which created a broader training platform. But I didn’t leverage my time well, since it was primarily one-on-one training classes that I ended up doing. The lesson there? I’ll always be limited in how many people I can help until I offer group-training opportunities. So, to take Aleweb to the next level, I’ll be offering group coaching starting in 2012!

While I spoke fewer times in 2011 than I had in 2010, the size of my audience was the same since I spoke at larger conferences than I had the year before; more people, less work, greater exposure. Seems like a step in the right direction!

One significant lack that I noted early in 2011 though was that I was missing out on a huge opportunity by not having a product for sale at the conferences. That’s an issue I have already addressed in the first week of 2012, so that I won’t repeat that same mistake this year.

The connections I made in the course of 2011 were deeper and more significant than the year before. The unanticipated side effect of that was that when I experienced a personal tragedy in the latter half of the year, my online community provided support and assistance that I had no right to expect or even anticipate! That was a huge blessing to me personally.

While my main “radical goal” for 2011 wasn’t met at all, the foundation needed to accomplish it has been well-laid. So, the successes desired for last year may have fallen short, but I’m well on my way to meeting them this year! And I still have some neat feathers for my cap from 2011 too, despite the failures, which I choose to view as “learning experiences…”

As you look back on 2011 yourself, did you reach your business goals? If not, do you know what’s yet needed to make them reality? Share your thoughts below, but be sure to note your successes as well as your failures!