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Writing Your First Three Blog Posts

So if you have your blog set up, the only thing to do now is write! Which is great but also can be terrifying.

three-blog-postsWhere do I start? People have asked me. Well, you have to start somewhere.

Think of these first three blog entries as your start. They’ll set the tone for you.

If you are a super planner, you may enjoy figuring out topics way ahead of time. Here’s how I do that.

But if you just want to get through these first three blog posts, pick three days you want these to publish. (Setting a deadline in your mind will force you to produce.)

Write three blog entries (one of each) about the following:

Post 1: An Introduction Blog

I am going to do something that’s a bit embarassing for me. I am going to link here to my very first blog entry back in 2007: http://breakingeveninc.com/about-me/an-introduction/

I cringe when I read it but hey, you got to start somewhere. (Wow, I was trying so hard!) But in any case, I set the tone for my personal finance blog in that short five paragraphs and you can too.

Think about answering the following questions in that first post:

Who are you?

What’s this blog about?

Why should I care? (If I was a complete stranger reading your blog, why should I read?)

Now you don’t need to be curing cancer here. This is a blog. You just need to have a unique voice, even if it’s a topic people are already talking about. Sure blog about your life but take a step back from it and think about making the stranger care. Whether it’s eeking out a life lesson, being funny, or showing how-t0s, think about making each blog post useful, personal, and having one topic.

Post 2: An Expertise Post

Now that you’ve introduced yourself, it’s time to show a bit of your topic. Don’t try to talk about *everything* you know about; just take a small topic and address it with confidence. Here are some ideas based on some blogger points of view:

Carpenter- Why You Shouldn’t Be Scared Of A Nail Gun
IT Person- Setting Passwords Even I Can’t Hack
Grocery Store Bagger- Why Paper Bags Are Better Than Plastic

See what I did there. We all have cool perspectives and if you just think of what people ask you about or the most interesting parts of your day, you’ll have plenty of ideas. But just start with one topic. As you see, these are narrow. You’ll use your other ideas for other posts.

Here are three examples of ‘expert’ posts I’ve written:

Post 3: The Other People Post

In this third post, you truly show your range by involving someone else. The idea with involving someone else in your blog is getting people to realize it’s not all about you you you. Also, having other people’s perspectives helps you come up with fresh content.

There are plenty of ways to involve other people in your blog:

  • Interview someone (a regular customer for your business blog, a fellow knitter for your knitting blog, etc.)
  • Ask a question over Facebook or Twitter and summarize the opinions you get. (This is a bit difficult to explain but here’s someone doing that as an example: http://popwatch.ew.com/2012/11/06/obama-wins-election-twitter/)
  • Write down a list of links to other blog posts you’ve been reading and what you like about them. (Bloggers call it a link roundup sometimes.)

If you want to see some examples of involving other people on this blog, here are some I’ve written:

Congratulations, you’ve written three blog entries! Now schedule them to go online the days you’ve chosen (or sit down on those days and publish them). You’re a blogger now!

If you master these three kinds of posts, you’ll no doubt have more than enough ideas to keep your blog going.

Stay tuned next week for ‘Connecting With Other Bloggers’.

Having fun? Join us for 30 Days of Blogging, a fun free virtual event. Sign up here!

Adventures In Microdata (Or How I Got My Face On Google Search Results)

You’ve probably noticed if you’ve done a Google search recently that sometimes, when you look for something, you see some faces. Like this:

OMG it's my face... on the Google!

OMG it’s my face… on the Google!

What about these people? Are they more famous than you? Does Google like them more? As one of these famous people, I can tell you: No. In a few hours you too can enjoy the fame (and ok, the extra website traffic) of having your face on Google. It’s a tale of microdata and rich snippets. So pull up a chair, sit back, and I’ll tell you the tale that got me here.

You need a Google+ profile… with the right info:

Google needs to know I am connected with breakingeveninc.com so I tell them I have an email address with that domain and I am a contributor to that website.

Google needs to know I am connected with breakingeveninc.com so I tell them I have an email address with that domain and I am a contributor to that website.

Summary: Nicole Ouellette (this Nicole Ouellette) is the person connected to Breaking Even.

You need an author page on your website (a place where someone can find all your posts) and you need to insert some author data on one of your blog posts. Wordpress has a plugin to insert Schema.org data on a post and the software you use might have something like this.

Summary: Nicole Ouellette (that name in the code) is an author on this site. 

Finally you need to go to the Google Rich Snippet Tool and make the two things talk to each other:

Hey Google, I wrote this blog. Are you picking up the data I added to it?

Hey Google, I wrote this blog. Are you picking up the data I added to it?

 

Sometimes you may have to put your Google+ profile link in:

Here you go, Google.

Here you go, Google.

You can also go here it turns out: https://plus.google.com/authorship

Summary: Nicole Ouellette on this website is the Nicole Ouellette in the Google+ profile.

A day or so from now, you’ll get an email:

Google emailed me, I'm famous!

Google emailed me, I’m famous!

So did my life entirely change since doing this? Not really. I mean I can still go to restaurants without being mobbed but now that I’m revealing this, who knows what’ll happen…

While it won’t alter your life significantly, you have to admit, your face on Google is pretty cool!

[schema type=”person” name=”Nicole Ouellette” email=”nicole@breakingeveninc.com” ]

A Look Back At 2012

2012 was quite a year, so we decided to make a picture capturing all of the big things that happened.

Happy New Year everybody!2012review3

Busying About: My London Impressions

Tower Bridge was really close to where we stayed, and kind of what I was expecting London Bridge to look like.

Tower Bridge was really close to where we stayed, and kind of what I was expecting London Bridge to look like.

Zero degrees longitude, Greenwich Mean time. Now we just need to get to the Equator!

Zero degrees longitude, Greenwich Mean time. Now we just need to get to the Equator!

Just getting back from three weeks of traveling and, if it’s possible, I’m both exhausted and renewed at the same time.

The London trip came about entirely because of this blog. Phil has been reading my blog for years (way back when, it was about Maine and saving money, check out the archives if you want to see some old posts, which like old diary entries both mortify and delight me whenever I read them) and comes to Maine often for vacation. I met him on a trip to Maine in 2009 (You can read an account of how I almost killed us on Mount Katahdin, which is funny now that there is some mental distance from it). This past summer, he brought his girlfriend Geraldine (who we call G) and we, along with my friend Alice (who now works at Breaking Even Inc, I know, convoluted little story my life is but in a good way), got along swimmingly as a foursome.

Phil and G invited us to come visit verbally and then via a preloaded Oyster card (for riding the tube) in our Christmas cards. That’s right, buy us a coupon worth $40 and we’ll get on a plane for you.

Seeing another culture helps you see your own in a new way, and gives you some ideas. Some design inspiration from Burrow Market jams.

Seeing another culture helps you see your own in a new way, and gives you some ideas. Some design inspiration from Burrow Market jams.

Alice and I set off on March 12 and spent threeish glorious weeks in London (I had a sidetrip to Bosnia in there too) getting a locals tour, doing touristy stuff, and generally relaxing.



Some of what we did:

  • Double decker bus tour (rode on top because that’s how we roll)
  • Saw the Royal Ballet perform Alice in Wonderland
  • Had Sunday Roast with yorkshire pudding and everything
  • Visited Burrow Market on a Saturday morning
  • Checked out the Greenwich Observatory (ie 0 degrees longitude) on daylight savings weekend
  • Visited Liberty and other posh British department stores
  • Read books (Alice read four, I read two)
  • Sampled just about every available cider in the UK
  • Ate Indian food and raclette (a French dish specially prepared for us by G)
  • Saw a British improv group
  • Coined the phrase ‘busying about’ which means to run around doing errands and otherwise getting stuff done (Doesn’t that sound British?!?)
Alice and I both appreciated the British sensibility of politeness and allowing people to take personal responsibility. This sign was quite capturing of this sentiment.

Alice and I both appreciated the British sensibility of politeness and allowing people to take personal responsibility. This sign was quite capturing of this sentiment.

There was more than that of course but that gives you an idea. It was a very fun trip and great to see our friends on their home turf. It was also helpful to get a bit of design and marketing inspiration. We saw Twitter references, QR codes, and all kinds of things we deal with every day in new contexts.

Thanks to Phil and G for being such gracious hosts and here’s hoping to hop over the pond again soon!



Friends And FreelanceSwitch: Why I Am So Lucky

For 24 hours (yesterday) the story of my business was on the front page of a major website. I’ve gotten so many calls, emails, and social media messages congratulating me (that I’m still following up on) but I think it’s only right to explain the reason for this ridiculously good luck.

A brief moment on the 'home page' on FreelanceSwitch. I'll take it!

A brief moment on the 'home page' on FreelanceSwitch. I'll take it!

Melanie Brooks, the author of the article, has been a colleague, mentor, and friend since I’ve met her and I’d like to write a short ‘love’ letter about her.

What drew me to Melanie at the small business conference we met over four years ago at was her enthusiasm. Nothing fake about it, she was genuinely into what she was doing. She was also smart, funny, and warm. It was one of those ‘instafriends’ situations but as we talked, we learned we actually had a lot in common. We both worked in newspapers, had ridiculous online dating stories, and were known as the ‘tell it like it is’ person in our respective social circles. Mel is a true kindred spirit and I am lucky to have gotten to know her as well as I have (and to continue getting to know her).

But what I am most thankful for about Melanie, even more than her writing this article, is that from the moment she met me, she believed in my business and in me. Some days even more than I did. She is one of the few people in my life who never thought I was crazy and went so far as to actively support me in my venture mainly in the way of dealing with a teary or exhausted version of myself. (When you can call someone crying, you know they are worth keeping around!)

While it’s nice that people are congratulating me, telling me they ‘always knew’ I could do it, I will always remember the few people who said it first. Melanie Brooks was one of those people. And as one of the smartest people I know, I believed her.

Ok so my point is while I’m flattered that  I even got on this really cool, well-read website, the friendship that got me there means the most. And that makes me tear up a little. Maybe I should call Mel crying. :^)

You can read the full article here on FreelanceSwitch.

Some Thoughts From Social Media FTW 2011

It’s been a couple weeks since Social Media FTW, an annual social media conference in Maine. This year was the third year and I took some notes that you might find fun from a couple presentations I went to:

Session 1: Elijah Young, http://blog.fandura.com

A bit about blogs:

  • There are 133 million blogs on the internet
  • 94.5% of these blogs are abandoned after one year (The 7.5 million blogs that remain are ‘maintained’, meaning updated at least once a month. (which really isn’t much.)
A lot of people stop blogging because it seems like no one is listening. Bummer. But it’s important to know:
  • 90% of people will lurk
  • 9% will interact occasionally
  • 1% will respond regularly
Some tips to help you be more successful at blogging:
  • Comment on the smaller blogs, they’ll appreciate the comment more than the big guys. Build a reciprocal relationship with them.
  • Respect every interaction (‘Thanks’ is not an conversation.) Having a meaningful exchange makes you memorable, builds relationships, and is more likely to generate leads for you.
  • Interview experts in your field and competitors to build authority. This makes you seem connected and not so selfish.
  • If you are stuck on a topic, use Q and A websites, competitor websites’ FAQs, and blogs you are already reading to help you come up with ideas.
  • Keep it in perspective. You aren’t blogging to become the next famous person, you are doing it to generate more business.

How to get your blog readers to talk to more people for you.

Session 3: Rich Brooks, http://www.flyte.biz

A bit about video:

  • If you are targeting a key phrase, you can rank higher by creating videos with that keyphrase.
  • For blog posts, a thumbnail and play button for a video next to the blog post link (for example on Facebook) is more engaging than just a plain text link.
  • For Flyte, conversion rate on pages with video was much higher than average site visitor (Contact form over 700% more likely to be filled out, 700% higher than the typical visitor).

Video types:

  • How-to
  • Testimonials
  • Tours
  • Tips/Secrets
  • Series
  • Response
Some tips for Youtube and videos:
  • Wondering what keywords you should include in your video file name, video title, video description, etc.? Try the Google Keyword Tool: bit.ly/betterkeywords
  • Videos should ideally be under 2 minutes.
  • Why companies use Youtube: >55% of market share of online videos on Youtube
  • The average Youtube visitor spends >15 minutes/day
  • Youtube is the second largest search engine and the third most visited site online.
  • You can customize a Youtube background; just create an image that is 960 pixels wide center justified.
  • When writing the video description, start with the URL to your website. This will help make sure people see it, and drive traffic to your site.
  • You can add a link to another Youtube video in the annotations section. You can link to a website off Youtube as well but that’s a bit more complicated. ;^) But possible! (It involves making it a promoted video and set CPV to one penny and then editing the video so the call to action overlay appears.)
  • If you are going to embed the video on your blog or website, it’s best to write a blog post to go with it to make it most findable.
  • Tubemogul is a free service that allows you to publish videos to multiple places at one time.
Anyway it was a great conference and I certainly didn’t take enough notes!
Sorry to have missed it? Click here for the slides. 
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