Use Blogging to Build More Traffic for your Website

You’ve got a great website, and now you need to build your traffic. One of the best ways to do that is with blogging. By writing about your industry, you’ll create relevant content that will give you and your site more credence with your clients. If you have a WordPress site, you already have the functionality built in. Every article you publish can refresh your site with the search engines. Over time, your site can be considered a credible authority for a subject, and be more associated with it in a web search. There are several practices to keep in mind when blogging to be successful.

 

blogging is easy

Pick a single focus word and write your article around that. Put it in your title. Put it in the first paragraph. Put it in your concluding paragraph. Use it several more times throughout your writing. Identify several other keywords that define what you’re blogging about and use them several times each. You can be detailed, but never lose sight of the focus or your article.

You’ll want to write a minimum of 300 words. If you really know your topic, this shouldn’t be a challenge. In fact, you may have to stop yourself from going on for too long. 750 words is a pretty good length for an article. Any longer than that, and you may want to consider breaking it up into individual pieces. There’s nothing wrong with doing a series over a few days.

One formula for writing is to ask a question, answer it, and then explain your answer. Put some thought into the question. Look at it from the point of view of your customers. What problem are they trying to solve? What’s the most cost-effective way to do something that you’re familiar with? How do you solve the problems that your client has? Why is your service valuable? Think of the questions your clients ask you when you talk to them. The answers you give are what you’ll write about. Don’t make it a fluff-piece about yourself. You want your posts to go viral and be shared. An article about how you or your company are the greatest thing since sliced bread won’t be something that will get much traction.

Use numbers. 10 reasons why this thing will save you money. 15 sites that you should be visiting every day. 20 practices in your industry to avoid. These are very popular and easy to generate titles for blogging that will practically write themselves. They are the type of article names that people will click on. The information they promise to deliver sounds intriguing to them.

Check your blogging for errors. Not just with spelling, but also grammar and punctuation. There are plenty of free tools to help you with this.The editor in WordPress will show you your word count as you type. Use the Grammerly plugin to check your punctuation and for other grammatical errors. You can run your article through the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test to see how it scores. Keep your sentences short and your words easy to understand. The tools are out there. They’re free to use. If your blogging has errors, there is really no excuse for it.

 

blogging

Add a few images to your article. Make sure they’re your own, or that you get them from a source that makes it clear you have the rights to use them. There are several free image sites out there, such as Pixabay. Don’t just swipe images from Google, or you could be creating a very large legal situation for yourself down the road. Just because an image is on the Internet and you don’t see a copyright does not mean you have permission to use it. Take your own pictures if you can. Nothing beats original content.

Use citations. If you post numbers or facts, let your readers know where they come from. You can also link out to those places. You’ll need at least one link out to related content, so this is a good choice. Checking your sources also keeps you accurate and makes sure you don’t spread misinformation. It also shows that you’ve done your homework.

As you research details for the content you’re writing, you may even find yourself learning a few more things about your industry. It will give you more confidence when talking to your clients as well as your peers. It keeps the concepts of your field fresh in your mind.

Write the book on your industryYou may even consider collecting all of your related blogging posts and publishing them as a book. Now is a great time to self-publish your own book. There are plenty of small press outlets where you can do small mico-runs. It may not be a great money-making venture, but it’s a fantastic promotional tool. Don’t just tell your clients that you know your business – show them you wrote the book on it! They make great gifts to hand out. If you’re invited to speak somewhere, it gives you more credentials. If you’ve already done the work to write all of the material down, why not use it to your fullest advantage?

If you follow these practices while blogging, you’ll build an audience over time. Your website will become more popular and attract more visitors. If you make this a part of your daily marketing plan, and stick with it, it should build results that will last for years.

Back to Blogging

It’s been almost a year since I posted on here, but I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately, and have really wanted to get back into blogging. I keep a daily journal where I have a conversation with myself each morning and get all of the thoughts out of my head and into my virtual notebook, but they never get read by anyone else, so I have been sort of blogging for a while, but with no audience. The concept has been referred to as “daily pages” or “morning pages“. There’s a site called 750 Words, which is a modern way of doing the same thing, only it’s all stored in the cloud. I started doing it in a notebook with a pen years ago, but have since moved it online, using Google Docs. The premise is to take all the thoughts tumbling around in your head, and put them onto paper, which organizes them and clears your mind for new thoughts. Over the years, it’s made me realize a few things, make decisions, and talk myself into or out of something. It’s also very interesting to go back and read entries years later and see where my head was at
.

This morning, I’ve written out six drafts so far to develop and publish over the next few days. I’ve been spending way too much time navel-gazing when I could be sharing and interacting with other people. Being introspective is great, but there is an an audience here, even if I’ve neglected them for a long time. I’m still journaling all the personal stuff on a daily basis, but my public thoughts will be here for a while.

This will also help me establish my online identity and build a persona, for networking purposes. I’ve really been digging into social media, and as a marketer, you just can’t ignore it. It’s everywhere, and it can really help you reach an audience if you embrace it. I’ve seen people who completely shy away from it and treat it as a bad thing, and that just confuses me, especially if it’s your business you’re talking about. It’s just the way the world connects now, and it’s a tool that can be used effectively or poorly. I still have a huge amount to learn, and have not been using it to its’ fullest potential, but I’m at least making an attempt. I hope to some day branch out into podcasting or video casts.

This blog deals with various things I’m into – my career in art, my journey as a web designer, my gaming, my music, and all the geeky stuff I’m into. I’ll try to keep it creative and fun.

Thanks for watching!

Brainstorming

In my case, more like a light shower.

I don’t need anything more to do on my plate with everything going on in my life, but I’m feeling creatively void lately. Maybe I just have more time to think now that I’m not distracted so much by gaming. It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything substantial. When I look back on my Shanghai books, I’m not very happy with them, and I don’t want them to be the high point of my artistic endeavors. I’m trying to think of something new, and not go down the same roads I’ve already been down.

I’m not under any illusions that self-publishing will be profitable or even be seen by anyone. The cost barrier that was in place last time around for me has been removed now, with print-on-demand services who can cranks out physical copies as needed, instead of having to warehouse boxes of books no one wants. If I were to write a novel, crappy or not, it could be available through Amazon if I wanted to list it.

I don’t know yet what I’m going to do. My usual pattern is to start something and then never finish it. I want to move a project to completion this time. It doesn’t even have to be a big project. A short story or a small one-shot comic would be great. I’ve started some free-writing to see where my imagination takes me, and figure out if I have anything truly creative left in me, or if that time has come and gone.

Cutting the Cable

We recently decided to try life without cable in the house. There was a lot that cable offered, especially with on-demand movies and being able to watch entire seasons of shows at will. The cost has just become too much for our budget with our current place in life, and that seemed like one of the easiest choices to cut back on. Our screen is not completely dark, though. We still have Internet, and can stream content through the gaming console.

We have Netflix, and they seem to have a pretty impressive selection of shows and movies to choose from. The new releases are pretty weak with the streaming-only option, though, and there aren’t any current running episodes on there.

I did the seven day trial for Hulu+, thinking this is where I’d be able to watch new episodes of my favorite shows. Wrong. A few new things, like Daily Show and Colbert, but those seem to be rare exceptions. I just didn’t see enough on there to make it worth the eight bucks a month, and the interface, both on the console and my tablet was pretty weak.

For new movies, the Redbox seems like our most economic bet. I can reserve copies online, and then just stop and pick them up on my way home from work. A dollar a pop is not a bad price, especially after having paid four and up from cable’s on-demand service.

What has been most surprising is how many others I’ve encountered who have done the same thing. I don’t know if cable companies need to be worried, but it seems a lot of people are exploring alternate entertainment choices for TV and movies. It’s sort of like my cell phone bill. It was one of those things that just kind of grew, and the prices for additional services just kept piling up, until we finally recognize how crazy it’s become.

Our favorite show so far has been catching up on the first two seasons of Walking Dead. Now, we’re stuck seeing info about season 3 floating around, and no way to watch it without paying two bucks and episode through iTunes or Google Play.

We’re just getting started with this, so we’ll be exploring our options.

I’m Back

I dreamed I stopped existing for seven months…

After a hiatus to get caught up with things at work, school and life in general, I’ve been wanting to get back to writing. I still journal daily, but I miss throwing things out there on the off-chance that someone will actually read it. I think this is more for me than for other people. Stay tuned…

Mid-life Crisis

I’ve been thinking a lot about my artistic career lately, and what I’m going to focus on next.

The comic book thing has never really taken off for me.  I’m good at it, but after all these years, I’m not getting any offers to draw or ink anything, and my own projects haven’t been able to get past the first few pages in the last decade.  I learned a lot from all my work in comics, but I’ve come to the realization that I’m never going to be more than a hobbyist in the field, and maybe I should devote my efforts to trying to become better at something I have a better chance at succeeding in.  I’m sure a lot of my art will continue to be influenced by comics, though.  It’s a part of who I am.

I’ve gone back to school, and am working on a BA in web design and interactive media.  I’ve been building web pages for more than 13 years, and the progress this art form has made since I started has been staggering. There are a lot of new tricks that I need to learn, and I’ve been working on the list.

So, I’m primarily going to be focusing my attention on becoming a better web designer.  I’ll be posting a lot more notes and blogs coming up as I re-design my own site and put the things I’ve learned into practice.

Daytona Beach

Here’s a slideshow of a bunch of vintage pictures from my hometown, Daytona Beach. Some neat shots in it.

Random Thoughts for September

For the past month, I’ve been expanding my contacts in social media. I’ve added a few hundred folks on Linkedin and Facebook, primarily in the comic book creator and fan area. To date, I’ve had a few people who remember me from The Tick and the Malibu Comics days, but so far, I have not been asked to ink anything, or gotten any inquiries on collaborating on a project. The experiment to see if all this is worthwhile is interesting, but still remains to be seen if it gets any results. I’m not looking for full-time work in the field – just an occasional project to keep my hand in and get something fun into print or on the web in front of readers.

I left my home church after a few years there. Changes in some key positions have resulted in some drama, and my family needs stability right now, and that’s all I’m going to say about that. We’ve decided to try out a different church each week and see if we can find a place where we fit in, and where our gifts are needed. There are a few we’ve put on our bucket list to try out. I want to avoid any that are “weird” and not biblical, or have alternate versions of the bible. No snakes.

Not being in that church anymore, I don’t have a gig playing bass on a weekly basis, and that’s kind of sad.  I most likely won’t get another opening like that again, which leads me to the next thought.

I’m playing more guitar lately, trying to teach myself chords. A guitarist seems to be able to find an opening with other people fairly easily, but in this town, you can’t throw a rock without hitting a bass player, so that instrument is not very much in demand.  I’m not doing too bad for never having had any lessons, and picking everything I’ve learned up from books and YouTube. I have a long way to go, though.

Math class at AIO is almost over. These have been the hardest classes I’ve had to date, and I can’t wait until they’re in the rear-view mirror. Eleven weeks of this crap has really worn on me.  I’ve actually learned a few things, but I don’t see myself ever needing this. My next class, which starts on the 26th, is Introduction to HTML, which I already know quite a bit about. I started writing web pages about 12 years ago, having to write all the code out by hand.  This class should be a breeze.

Star Wars: The Old Republic is in beta now, and will be released soon. Money is tight, so I haven’t pre-ordered yet, and I’m not likely to have enough for the full release, so I probably won’t be getting in on the ground floor. Stupid economy.

Rant: Google Adsense

I just finished my second go-round with Google’s AdSense service, and my account has been deactivated once again, for reasons unknown. The email I received went on about click abuse, but I had zero clicks for the month I’ve been using it, so unless someone came in yesterday and gave me a flurry of clicks, I have no idea why they decided to bend me over once again.  Looking around on the web, it looks like I’m not alone in this practice.  It’s hard to address a problem or infraction when they won’t tell you what it is.  And of course, they didn’t turn their ads off.  I had to do that manually.

I will never use this lame system again, nor will I recommend it to anyone else.  Google is fast evolving from the edgy tech company to just another faceless corporate overlord who absorbs everything they want and leaves you with no alternatives.

If they simply had a human being who could explain why my account was suspended, I would be fine with that. I suspect it’s an entirely automated process though, and whatever machine intelligence classified me as unacceptable cares even less what I think of them.

So, my AdSense experiment, which so far had yielded absolutely nothing with no clicks at all, has come to a bitter end.  AdSense is a bad product, and offers little to no support.

Reflection – Why I use Social Media

Lately, I’ve been expanding my presence online, and putting myself out there in the public eye.  I’ve been expanding my contact lists on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, and started my own YouTube channel. I’ve been tossing out examples of my past work to introduce my new friends to what I’m capable of. Some people have wondered, myself included, why am I doing all of this?

In the past decade, I’ve been laid off from three different full-time jobs three times.  I’ve had to start over from the bottom, and try to rebuild my career, only to have it shot out from under me time after time. As I approach 50 years old, I should be in the prime of my career.  I should be a department head with seniority and respect in my industry.  I should be making a lot more money than I’m making right now.  I should have healthcare and a retirement plan.  I should have vacation time.  I should have stability and security in my life.

I don’t have any of that.

Starting over has become something I don’t want to do any longer.  I’m finding the world is a very different place than it was a decade or two ago.  I’m happy with my current job, and am really enjoying the opportunities that have come my way with it, but I’m not going to just sit back and get comfortable again, relying on others for my long term employment stability. I’m going to be more aggressive and unapologetic in letting my employers and coworkers know what my full range of skills and what my ambitions are.

New media affords anyone the ability to network and introduce themselves into new areas every day.  As an artist, I can keep a strong presence with my portfolio out there on the web for anyone to find at any time.

I let people know what am capable of
I don’t ever want an employer or a coworker to say, “Oh, I didn’t know you could do that,” or, “I didn’t know you were proficient in that software package.”  I won’t hide my skills, and just sit back, hoping for the best.  In today’s job market, you must continually prove why you bring value to your employer.  At my age, I can’t afford to hide my accomplishments or my ambitions.  As I make new contacts online, I want each one of them to have as much chance as possible of knowing what I can do.

I remind people what I’m capable of
Out of sight, out of mind.  It’s easy for past projects to be forgotten about, but one of the benefits of being an artist is having an ever-growing visual record of everything I’ve accomplished.  It costs me nothing to throw out a daily “best of” posting to keep my work at the front of my connection’s minds.

I remind myself what I’m capable of
When digging back through copies of my past work to post, I found myself wondering why I still wasn’t doing some of the things I did before.  I get comfortable where I am, and stop thinking about what I did before.  Every time I get a response, I remember that I can still do a lot of those things, and may again some day.

I hope to find possible collaborators
My biggest problem has always been working with only myself.  I’m not a harsh taskmaster, and I’m easily distracted.  If I don’t finish a personal project, nobody cares.  I would love to work with other people on something we all have a passion for.  In today’s world, we don’t even have to live in the same town – we can collaborate online.  This is a goal I’d really like to see become a reality in the next few years for me.

So, coming up on the big Five-Oh, I’m not going to slow down.  I still have a lot left I want to accomplish, and I have to find new ways of doing that, so that’s why you’ll likely be seeing a lot more of me.