Tag: Guest Posts

Guest Post: The Trials and Tribulations Of Running A Personal Blog


© Flickr User barkbud

Do you remember a few years ago when blogs were ‘cool’? Back then every wannabe metropolitan city dweller between the ages of 13 and 40 had one, but it meant something very different to what it means today. Back then running a blog meant keeping an online diary of your personal life and everything that happened to you, usually in an amusing tone and often as an exercise in vanity.

Something changed over the last couple of years though that saw this breed of blog all but die out. Perhaps Twitter is partly responsible – for creating a new medium for self expression of the masses that was much easier and more accessible than writing a full blog. Alternatively it might be partly due to the success of WordPress which gave bloggers the tools to turn their sites into actual websites – and that created the new form of blog which is generally just a kind of ‘lite’ website that posts on subjects like SEO.

But there’s nothing wrong with the old style of blog – while it’s no longer quite so ‘hip’ that does mean that there’s less competition out there for the next online Adrian Mole, and a great personal blog can be addictive reading if you have the right tone and walk the line well between being entertaining and writing stylishly. This is a great outlet for wannabe comics or for anyone who has an exciting life, and it can build a big following as a result. Still though there are a few things to watch out for which I’m going to address here before you start spilling your heart out to the world…

Censorship


© Flickr User notionscapital

This is a very big one. The problem is that when you write about your life that means inevitably writing about other people and while it’s fine to say what you like about yourself, you should respect the privacy of others. During the time that I ran my own personal blog I once insulted a lecturer at my University who then threatened to kick me off the course (or even sue me for libel!), and on another occasion I wrote about a friend of mine who didn’t want their name used online because they’d been recently harassed by an ex.

The safest thing to do when you write about real people online is to use pseudonyms, and to run anything you write past that person first. Be polite, and imagine that you’re reading it aloud to them as you write it.

Blog Rolls     

Back in the day, blogging was a very social thing to do and it was important to build up a network of other bloggers to exchange notes and links with. One way this was done was through a ‘blog roll’ which was a great way to exchange visitors. Be wary though as Google recently de-indexed ‘blog networks’ which resulted in a lot of collateral damage affecting blog rolls that weren’t doing anything wrong. Communicate with other bloggers yes, and maybe consider doing some guest posts and each other’s blogs, but don’t build up too large a network as you might bring yourself to the attention of Google in the bad way…

Alienating Your Audience

The thing about personal blogs is that they often contain a lot of personal opinions. You’re writing this for yourself and there’s no editor to tell you off which means it’s easy to sometimes get a bit carried away. While it’s great to use the internet as a platform for self-expression, there’s no need to alienate readers unnecessarily if you want to keep the maximum number of visitors possible. If you have strong views on abortion, politics, religion; then consider keeping them to yourself (or at least addressing them tactfully), unless that’s specifically the topic of your blog.

Lack of Updates

Personal blogs often have lots of regular posts which keep the readers coming back, but that’s not what I’m referring to here. I’m referring to updating old pages. The problem here is that the chronological and time-sensitive nature of most personal blogs mean that few owners will consider updating older pages. This isn’t great for SEO and it means there’s only a few pages that are ever going to generate you revenue. As such then, try to write at least some of your posts to last (rather than a diary entry for instance you could write ‘ten reasons I love cafes’) and then go back to edit these from time to time so Google knows they’re still relevant.

So there you have it, a few tips to help you on your own blogging journey. This is by no means comprehensive however, and many of the issues you won’t discover until you start writing yourself. Just make sure that you keep your feelers out and that you recognize at least the potential for certain pitfalls along the way…

 

Tom Koh is an avid blogger and an expert in internet marketing. Through his blogs, he provides tips for getting website hits that will help your business prospects.

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Guest Post: From Attraction to Engagement: Why Your Blog Needs Visuals

Why Your Blog Needs Visual Content

Move over content, there’s another new king in town. That’s right. Blogs are starting to make a shift from being completely text-based and now utilizing the power of photos and videos to help solidify the topic.

Many bloggers are realizing that their readers are turned away by blogs that contain only content. Sometimes, their readers just don’t have the time to thoroughly read a long blog post and instead are more attracted to blogs that also contain short videos or images.

If you’re still not sold on the idea of creating more visual-based blogs, let the following information persuade you.

People are visual

I already said that people are more attracted to visuals, but if you don’t believe me, check out the latest moves by the social media powerhouses. When Facebook made the switch to Timeline, one of the biggest changes was the addition of a large cover photo. Why? Because it’s what attracts someone to a page.  And both Facebook and Twitter have made it much easier for users to upload photos and videos to their page.

LinkedIn recently announced that they’re updating their brand pages, and one of the biggest changes is a large photo on the top of page, just like Facebook’s cover photo.

To prove my point even further, sites like Pinterest and Instagram, which are all completely image-based, have quickly grown in popularity.

Visuals are engaging

Visuals can share multiple messages without the need for text. A simple image can portray a thought or idea, and videos can keep your readers’ attention for longer than a text-based blog. Plus, videos can also get your point across much more quickly than the written word, so it’s a great way to reach those people who are stretched for time.

Videos are proven to have a stronger reach on social media sites like Facebook. In fact, posts that contain pictures or videos receive more comments and more likes than those that only use text.

Visuals are attractive

Today, there are more websites and blogs on the Internet than ever before, each one fighting the others for our attention. When your blog contains visuals, you’ll give yourself a better chance of earning more readers. And the more readers your blog has, the more successful your blog will be.

Getting more visuals on your blog is not hard to do. You can easily transform the layout of your blog so that you can add pictures or videos to each one. You can also jump on the infographic bandwagon and create an infographic to share information instead of writing out a long blog post. Or, instead of typing out a blog, grab your video camera and record yourself talking about it. These are all simple ways that you can add visuals to your blog.

Images and videos are important to the success of your blog, and if you’re still only churning out the content without the visuals, you’re readers are not going to stick around for much longer.

 

Provided by the team of SEO consultants at SEOmap. SEOMap has authored a great SEO book which is available for free download on their website.

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Guest Post: Tweet Like a Star

Tweet Like a StarWhy do people go crazy over reality shows about the lives of stars and celebrities? Why do artists have so many followers on their Twitter? Why do they have so many Facebook fans? Social networks made it possible for fans to reach out to their idols and favorite stars in a very convenient and easy way. Just think. Who is your favorite celebrity? If he or she replied to your Facebook post, wouldn’t it bring a smile to your face? Wouldn’t you brag about it to your friends and family? Conversing with their favorite stars gives fans a certain high. If you are a business owner and you manage several social networking accounts, you must learn to post or tweet like you’re a star.

Be interesting

Fans are interested in their favorite celebrities’ lives that is why they follow them. They want to learn the latest news, the latest marriage or breakup, they even want to know the products that they use to remain beautiful. The same way applies to your business. Your customers follow you because they believe in your brand. They want to know the latest events and the latest product offerings.

Be human

Even if you schedule posts, be sure to be sincere. Don’t try to make them look spontaneous because people will know. Try to post the current news about your company as they happen. For other information that can be scheduled, set a time each week to plan ahead.  

Reply

Replying to your customers is a great way to keep them engaged and keep them interested in your brand. From time to time, try to make good conversation with them. It humanizes the whole experience. They know that someone from your company is willing to listen to them and answer them when they have a question.

Think

You know that saying think before you speak? The same applies to social media. You should think before you tweet or hit the publish button. Ask yourself if it is worth saying or if people will be interested or if it will hurt someone. If you’ve been hurt or offended by someone, try to control your emotions. Don’t just lash out to them. This is a war that you can’t win because the media is like that. No matter how hard you explain your side, there will always be people who will not believe you.  Don’t argue with someone over Twitter or Facebook. Try to fix the issue in a private manner.

Treat people with respect and they will surely be loyal to you. Make a serious effort to reply to their messages and you will surely have customers to last you a lifetime.

 

Don’t forget to share interesting content offline too! This article was brought to you by comparefrankingmachine.co.uk. Visit the website for franking machine quotes.

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Guest Post: I Started a Blog. Does the Canada Revenue Agency Care? (Blogging and Taxes)

*This is a Guest Post by Tina of H&R Block.

Congratulations, you started a blog. Or perhaps you have a blog and the traffic has started to pick up. Or perhaps your blog is starting to earn more money and you are already planning retirement. At what point does your blog stop being your hobby and become a business? The simple answer is that once you start earning money from your blog, you are a business in the eyes of the Canada Revenue Agency.

There is a misconception that you need to earn a certain amount of income before you have to report it. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The CRA wants to know it all. They post no minimum requirements before you need to report business income. So if you are selling ads or accepting merchandise in exchange for a review, then you need to file a T2125 Form as part of your personal return.

The T2125 Form allows you to report your business income as well as reasonable business expenses you incurred to earn money. It may be tempting just to write your income on Line 104 on your tax form as “other employment income” but the CRA has been reviewing these types of entries and asking people to file a T2125 instead. If you decide to go the Line 104 route, you cannot claim your business expenses.

Claiming business expenses helps reduce your tax payable. And you can earn up to $10,527 federally in 2011 before you have to start paying income tax, so if you only earned a small amount, you aren’t facing income taxes. If you earn more than $3,500, you will be responsible for the employer and employee portion of the CPP premiums. But reporting your income will help you build contribution room for your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP).

Your business expenses can add up. If you only have one Internet connection for your house, you will not be able to claim the entire expense on your business. The CRA assumes there is some personal use and you should track your business versus personal use, but you can claim a portion of your Internet bill as a business expense. And if you have a dedicated corner of your home for blogging, your home-office expenses can add up. The amount you can claim will be based on how much space your office takes up in your house. Your computer, cell phone and office supplies are also expenses that you may be able to claim.

The tax man will expect you to report merchandise or services you have received in exchange for writing a review. If you are receiving unsolicited swag or press kits from PR people, this does not need to be reported. However, if you agree to let someone advertise on your blog in exchange for the latest baby supplies, the value of the exchange needs to be reported. Bartering does not mean you can avoid the CRA.

And if you decide your blog is a hobby and not a business, you may want to review the case of the eBay PowerSellers. After a court battle, eBay had to identify these high-volume sellers so the CRA could review tax returns. The goal was to ensure PowerSellers were reporting their income accurately. The CRA does not care about garage sales or the occasional eBay listing, but it considers PowerSellers to be operating a business.

The Internet is increasingly becoming a business platform, and in step with that the CRA is taking a far more serious approach to people who make a living online.

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