Anatomy of a Successful Small Business Blog Post

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Writing blog posts for a small business niche site can certainly feel unglamorous. The posts don’t necessarily generate huge amounts of traffic or garner tons of comments.

However, the importance of this basic step, as part of your overall small business social media footprint, cannot be stressed enough.

Consistent posting can lead to improved Google rankings, increased authority in your niche topic, and most importantly, additional avenues to reach your potential customers.

As a “real life” example for you, I am going to outline my strategy and how I go about creating web content that promotes my venture while at the same time is:

  • Helpful
  • Non-spammy
  • Trust building

Step 1: Before I write a word I determine what my goals are. For the purposes of this little tutorial, and my real life example over at Culebra Blog, my goals were to create a post that:

  • Had a catchy title that might draw in readers.
  • Included photos that would give people a sense of Culebra’s beaches.
  • Incorporated keywords that had the potential to rank well in Google.

Step 2: With the above goals in mind, I referenced the Google Keyword Tool and did some queries to see what people were searching for with respect to the term, “Culebra.”

Step 3: From the info gathered with the KeyWord Tool I decided to do a post on Culebra’s beaches, which in and of itself is an okay title, but it doesn’t really have a catchy hook. So, I crafted the title – – 5 Culebra Beach Pictures that Will Make You Want a Vacation.

Step 4: Then it was time to find five really nice beach pictures with the Filckr search tool CompFight (h/t Seth Simonds).

Step 5: I downloaded the photos and sized them using Photoshop, and came up with an opening line for the blog post that would hopefully interest readers.

Step 6: One of the most important steps, I placed my business website at the bottom of the post, added some relevant keywords and hit publish.

*You can see the post here: 5 Culebra Beach Pictures that Will Make You Want a Vacation

Step 7: The next morning I Googled the phrase “Culebra Beach Pictures,” and like magic, I am on now the front page of 77,200 search results.

Not bad for a half-hours worth of work on a Friday evening!

Why do I call this post successful? Because all of the goals that I set out above were met.

As a final note, when it comes to your small business blog, it’s important to remember that you might not have a huge subscriber base like Seth Godin, Brian Clark, Chris Brogan, or Darren Rowse, but what matters most is that YOUR potential customers are able to find you.

What do you think? Do you have other tips or suggestions?

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10 Social Media Tricks I Learned From My Dog

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Ah … yes, we all think that we are smarter than our dogs. Don’t we?

In fact, we are supposed to be the masters of our furry, four legged, K-9 creatures, but sometimes they do teach US a new trick or two.

While I was out walking my dog this morning I started to think, that perhaps, my dog can actually teach those of us who are working to develop a social media footprint for our small business some valuable lessons.

I have three dogs that are all rescues, but this post is specific to our (highly) mixed breed dog named ‘George’ and how his personality can help you (US) to discover how to “Do” social media.

Trick 1: Friendly and non judgmental – George doesn’t care who or what you are – – skinny, fat, orange, green, tall, short, a celebrity, etc – – to him, we are all the same. There is no better way to develop trust portals, grow your reputation, and build your small business social media footprint than being open and honest.

Trick 2: Consistent – George is here everyday. If you are attempting to develop your small business reputation in the social space, consistency is key.

Trick 3: Eager – When he knows he is going for a walk or a beach trip, George does an all over body wiggle out of pure excitement that is akin to someone who is being tasered. Now, I am not suggesting that you need that level of enthusiasm, but if you’re passionate and excited about what you are doing it’s going to resonate with your followers, friends, and fans.

Trick 4: Happy – We all have bad days, but very few brands and small businesses pull off sulky and desultory well.

Trick 5: Helpful – George has actually been known to carry a water bottle on a 10 mile run. Are you being helpful and obliging others before seeking assistance for yourself. No matter how big you get, always try to be helpful.

Trick 6: Smart – I don’t know George’s IQ, but I would venture to guess he is pretty smart (in dog terms :-)). Original, smart, and thought provoking ideas will help spread awareness of your small business.

Trick 7: Playful – George does not take himself too seriously and you shouldn’t either.

Trick 8: Loyal – Perhaps one of the most important tips that George can teach us about using social media for small business or brand awareness. If you have followers and fans who continually support your work, repay them by being loyal in return. (Remember karma?)

Trick 9: Persistent – George has been known to eat green coconuts with the focus of a brain surgeon. Never give up!

Trick 10: Your turn – – What would you add to this list?

(OK, you got me! Most of these are traits not tricks….but “Traits” just didn’t work in the title.)

If you liked this post, let’s connect on Twitter @mark_hayward. And you might also like:
Ideas for Social Media Types (from a Small Business Owner)
How to Use Big News Stories to Improve Small Business Search Engine Rankings
How I Use Social Media to Promote My Business

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Eight Irrefutable Ingredients for Effective Copy: The Jimmy Buffet Way

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“Nibblin’ on sponge cake, watchin’ the sun bake…wasting away again in Margaritaville”

Jimmy Buffet is a better copywriter than you. Are you kidding? No.

Margaritaville, Cheeseburger in Paradise, and Changes in Latitudes/Changes in Attitudes are all songs from Jimmy Buffet that conjure up visions of boat drinks, a palm thatched hut, escapism, and if just for a fleeting moment, an unconventional life.

However, did you know that Buffett has written three No. 1 best sellers?

  • Tales from Margaritaville
  • Where Is Joe Merchant?
  • A Pirate Looks At Fifty

Two of his books spent over seven months on the New York Times Best Seller fiction list and his autobiography, A Pirate Looks At Fifty, went straight to No. 1 on the non-fiction list.

In fact, he is only one of seven authors in that list’s history to have reached No. 1 on both the fiction and non-fiction lists. (source: Jimmy Buffet Wikipedia)

What is it that creates such loyalty to the Buffet brand?

The other day a guest of mine asked, “So do you listen to Jimmy Buffet and drink piña coladas every day now that you live in the Caribbean?”

Of course, in order to keep up appearances, I told her, “Absolutely and most days I walk around in a grass skirt and put a foam shark fin on my back too.”

And then I realized, you know, since I left snowy, cold, and blustery Worcester, Massachusetts over ten years ago I haven’t wanted listen to Buffet at all.

But her question got me to thinking… there must be something to this guy’s music that we, as business owners and online marketers, should pay close attention to.

What’s Buffet’s secret sauce for success?

How has he been able to create a tribe of cult like followers who attend his shows en masse and consistently make his live shows sell out within hours?

Moreover, how does Buffet get typically rational folks, from normally conservative young professionals all the way up to near retirees, to dress up in ridiculous outfits like coconut bikinis, grass skirts and parrot hats?

It’s not mango salsa, rum drinks, or even the promise of Captain Cook’s buried treasure!

Could it possibly be quirky, brandable phrases like – ‘parrotheads’, ‘ fins up’, and ‘land sharks’? Well, that might be part of it.

By his own admission in his book, “A Pirate Looks at Fifty,” Buffet is not an exceptionally gifted musician and he surely does not have model-esque good looks. As for his writing, certainly, Buffet is no Mark Twain.

So what is it that has allowed him to dominate his niche and succeed on such a grand scale, where others have failed? And perhaps, most importantly, how can Jimmy’s formula for success help you to enhance your writing and increase sales?

Here are eight irrefutable ingredients that Buffet uses, which can help you improve your copy:

Ingredient 1 – The power of story

Whether you like his music, or not, Jimmy Buffet is a master storyteller and this characteristic above all else has led to his success. The tales and stories that are weaved through his lyrics, such as, being adrift in the Caribbean ocean and finally reaching the sandy shore to discover the perfect cheeseburger and cold beer. Or how a change in latitude to a warmer climate will instantly bring a change in attitude are the stuff of legend.

I dare any of you to tell me that on a cold and miserable winter’s night you haven’t broken out the blender, made some margaritas and cranked his music, if just for a little while, to be transported someplace warmer. Whether drafting a blog post, an ‘About’ page or writing an eBook, a great story sells every time, guaranteed.

Ingredient 2 – Clear vision

Buffet knows exactly where he wants to take people with his songs, “But there’s this one particular harbor/So far but yet so near,” and he writes his lyrics accordingly.

For the small business owner and marketer who’s using the internet to drive traffic to their business, product, or service it is awfully hard to craft a compelling story if you don’t have a vision.

Ingredient 3 – Unabashed passion

Not only does Jimmy embody the flip-flop and sand in the toes mentality through his music, he has lived the life and loves it. You can hear it in his composition and he really makes people believe that we should all be living this way.

Most consumers can smell a fake and fraud. Are you injecting passion into your message?

Ingredient 4 – Tap into emotion

Buffet’s music and lyrics are supposed to make you feel good and meet you on a visceral level. His emotional pitch; the sun is out, the piña coladas are fresh, and it never rains in paradise. The people tailgating before his concerts might not be able to afford a vacation, but he makes exotic dreams come true because he makes people feel good about themselves.

Most purchases are driven by pure emotion and buyers don’t always buy what they need or want. Do you want your buyers to be excited, happy, or motivated? Then make sure your writing delivers.

Ingredient 5 – Clutter free message

The lyrics to the song Margaritaville, “nibbling on sponge cake and watching the sun bake” are not going to win old Jimmy any Pulitzer prizes, but his message is crystal clear.

In his article on American writing, William Zinsser states perfectly, “Clutter is the disease of American writing. We are a society strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon.” Enough said.

Ingredient 6 – Serve your niche

Buffet writes his lyrics like he is an expert on escapism. He doesn’t say, ‘You might enjoy the sand and surf’ he tells you with conviction. Additionally, he does not write songs in an effort to win over the heavy metal crowd or the classical music snobs. And you certainly won’t hear him singing about the heartwarming qualities of Bill Lumbergh and attempting to sell you on the benefits of office life.

Many online marketers struggle because they try to serve everyone. If you can’t define your niche in sixty seconds or less, I am not sure you have narrowed your focus enough.

Ingredient 7 – Fill a Purpose

There are many unhappy professionals and office workers out there and unfortunately many won’t move beyond fear and pursue their true passion. For most they simply can’t quit their job and move to paradise. Jimmy’s music fills the need for people who dream of a slacker lifestyle and warm weather escape.

Are you adding to purpose to your copy and examining what need(s) your product or service fills?

Ingredient 8 – Trust

Buffet’s “every man” style lyrics and music create a connection and bond with his fans. People feel like they know him, and most importantly, they feel like they can trust him.

If you are writing targeted information for Internet sales, would I trust you enough to give you my credit card number if I read your content?

As a small business owner I am primarily concerned with effective copy that draws in more customers, but Jimmy’s formula can work equally well on your about page, your blog, or a landing page that is designed to sell your information product.

In Jimmy’s own words…“It’s a magic kind of medicine that no doctor can prescribe…”

About the author: Mark Hayward hates the snow and cold! But he loves living in the Caribbean, owning his own business and is a co-founder of the nonprofit, Train for Humanity. You can follow him on Twitter @mark_hayward.

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