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Digital strategy

Why I’m obsessed with Facebook custom & lookalike audiences – and you should be too (if you are using Facebook ads in your business)

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On Wednesday evening, I’m delivering my first ‘official’ training session on behalf of Facebook (it’s going to be at the British Library: tickets here).

So I’ve been preparing my content and thinking about, from everything I learned at Facebook HQ, what, given I’ve got just an hour, are the most important things to tell other people so they can use Facebook and Instagram more effectively in their marketing? What MUST I say!?

My talk is about achieving both organic reach on Facebook and also the paid side. And it’s the paid side of Facebook that gets me really excited because the ads can deliver such fantastic results and can also hurt so much when it goes wrong. Note the use of the word ‘can….’

Great results aren’t guaranteed and bad results can be avoided.

Me and the other Facebook trainers at FB HQ

So the main message I want to deliver on Wednesday to anyone considering the paid or advertising route on Facebook is this: Get Obsessed With Laying Good Foundations and Get Obsessed With Building Custom & Lookalike Audiences.

You see, when you first run ads on Facebook, it’s very easy to get really excited by all the targeting options. If I’m a luxury brand, I can start hopping around from side to side with glee saying to myself  ‘Look at all these people who like other luxury brands just like mine like Net A Porter and Matches, I can now target them, yippeeeeeeeee’.  
 
And that can work, but equally, you can easily spend a lot targeting these people because you think that they are your ideal person. And then you wake up one day and realise that person either wasn’t your ideal target person or no matter how much you wanted them to be, but they weren’t interested after all.
 
Custom and lookalike audiences remove the guess work and our own ideas about who we think is our ideal person from the equation.
 
Custom audiences include those who have already visited our websites or engaged with our content. They have one thing better than those we ‘think’ will be interested, they have shown us they are interested. And lookalikes are groups of people who are similar to these people but determined by an algorithm far clever and less emotional and idealistic than we ourselves are. 
 
So whereas I might say ‘Sally and Susie will get on so brilliantly and are so similar to each other because they both grew up in Portsmouth‘ (I mean seriously, there are plenty of people who grow up in Portsmouth who are NOT similar to each other) Facebook’s algorithm will say ‘Sally and Susie ARE similar as they are both exhibiting the same interests and behaviours over thousands of datapoints….‘ Who is more likely to be right? 
 
Generally, in the client campaigns I run, I see the lowest price per click and conversion from custom audiences, a middle price from lookalike audiences and those ‘core’ audiences where really I am guessing, even if these are educated guests. Well guess what, they end up costing the most and performing the least. So why spend on a hypothetical group who really are just guesses?  
 
So the question is, how do you get a great custom audience in the first place?
 
Well, if you have the Facebook pixel on your website and are actively building your email list, you might have one already (of website visitors) and can create one (of newsletter subscribers) easily. 
 

But it is with your custom audiences in mind that you must, before starting any paid campaign, planning and developing your content and traffic strategies. You wouldn’t build a house with drawing up a plan for it – well hopefully not. So don’t just launch blithely into Facebook ads and expect to see results without laying the foundations first and getting more traffic to your website, more subscribers to your email lists and engagement on your social channels! 

A piece of artwork from Facebook’s canteen

And then once you’ve done that, then you’ll see return from your Facebook ads. 

What I wish I had known about Facebook ads

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Recently, I was talking to one of my one-to-one mentoring clients about Facebook ads, and telling her about how I recently used them to run a client webinar which went on to have 500 sign ups at an ad cost of around £100, and has so far generated over £15k in sales. And I also shared how I use them for my own webinars, which consistently earn more than they cost, so basically enabling me to reach brand new people and build my email list without any financial cost. 

I said to my client: ‘I should put out one of those blog posts called ‘How I generated to 10 million fold return on investment (or whatever) using Facebook ads’. 

And that could have been the title for this blog post!

But I think the lesson I’d actually like to share is far more powerful.

You see, I have myself had a bumpy journey with Facebook ads, and just over a year ago I even ‘invested’ quite a lot of money via a Facebook ads agency and the whole experience left an extremely unpleasant taste in my mouth! But they say all these things bring us to where we are today right…… 

Me at Facebook HQ last month

I see so many people desperate to plunge into Facebook ads to once their websites go live and I understand that urge. I was there too. 

But now I know how to make Facebook ads work, and how to get great returns using them, this is what I wish I’d known and what I’d like you to know too before you plunge in. 

  1. You have to be properly productised, and you need clear offers at different price points. You need your sales funnels and offers properly built out and thought through although you CAN and WILL continue to change and edit both your funnels and your offers.
  2. You main priority is not running ads, but putting the Facebook pixel on your website and doing activities on your website (ie blogging) and on social media (ie posting and sharing). Way way way before your ad campaign, you need to be increasing website traffic and engagement on social media so that you can build custom audiences of people who have visited your website and engaged with your content. I have said that the success we had with the client webinar (which is driving leads to a bricks and mortar business) has resulted from the year’s worth of this activity we did beforehand. You don’t need to wait a year before running Facebook ads, but you do need several month of focus on building custom audiences inside Facebook before you pay any money for ads.
  3. Once you’ve got your custom audiences, you must then create lookalike audiences of these people. You know what, my most successful ad campaigns run only to these custom and lookalike audiences: people who have visited mine or client websites, people who ‘look like’ those people, or people who have engaged with our content on our feeds or people who ‘look like’ those who have engaged. I would not now be running FB ads to ‘cold’ audience who I am targeting through ‘interests’ inside Facebook, such as this person is interested in gardening and likes the X Factor. Too random. You can still narrow down lookalikes by interest but at least you are starting from a more refined point.
  4. Although during my training at Facebook HQ, the focus was very much on FB’s own ad manager inside Facebook, I don’t use it. Hear that? I never schedule ads inside Facebook itself. I use a 3rd party Ad management system called Adespresso, who are an official FB partner. This is a game changer in terms of seeing and understanding how an ad is performing.
  5. Don’t just keep running an ad for the hell of it. There are 3 steps to success: the ad part, the landing page part and the conversion part. Firstly, are people clicking on your ad, if not, stop and change it. If they are clicking on your ad and getting to your leadpage or website, then what. Is that part ‘working’ for you? If they are not converting, then stop. Change the landing page, improve it, optimise it, change the offer, change the words, change the pictures. Don’t keep running ads to a page that isn’t converting just because the ad part seems to be working.

So there you are, not a post about 10 million fold returns on investments, but about the real actual practical things which will make a difference between your Facebook ads being successful and a painful experience that you don’t want to repeat. 

 

From the serious to the sublime: 10 things I learned at Facebook HQ this week (and photos from inside FB HQ!)

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For the past 3 months, I’ve known that I would have the opportunity to become one of only 8 Facebook accredited She Means Business trainers in the UK (and here I am with my certificate!)

Research suggests that 900,000 more businesses would be created if the UK achieved the same level of female entrepreneurship as in the US, resulting in an additional £23 billion gross value added to the UK economy. In England alone, 150,000 extra businesses would be created per annum if women started businesses at the same rate as men.

When women do better, economies do better. That’s why Facebook is celebrating women who have built and run businesses, and delivering resources to help those who might one day do so themselves.

The goal of Facebook’s She Means Business campaign is train 10,000 British women in digital skills via the 8 trainers including myself and via online events in 2017. And it’s rolling out around the world.

I’ve had to keep quiet about all of this until last week when She Means Business launched in the UK. And on Wednesday and Thursday, I flew Facebook HQ in Dublin to be trained by Facebook themselves in how to use Facebook and Instagram for business.

It was a wonderful two days and I’ve come away armed with training materials on Facebook and Instagram which I’ll be teaching at live events (register interest here). But first of all, in a brief recap, I thought I’d share my photos, and write about 10 things that I saw and learned.

 

  • The food is incredible (and there’s a DJ in the canteen)

Let’s start with the most important thing. Food!! OMG, the Facebook canteen. Can you even call it a canteen?! You literally would never need to eat anywhere else. It’s an all day foodie feast at FB HQ, shifting from breakfast to morning tea to lunch to afternoon tea to dinner. And it all changes every day with once a week an international day coming in. We were there on a normal day and a Chinese day.

My favourite thing: the panda cupcakes, the Kale crisps and the tomato salad. AND this pudding…..

 

  • It’s all about video

Video is the best way to drive engagement and reach on the platform. But you only have  3 second audience window. Video as made for TV doesn’t work. Put your brand and message at the end, and you’ll get nowhere. Brand at the front is the best key practise. If you are creative enough, there is no trade off between having your brand at the front and video watch time.

 

 

  • Facebook walks the talk & leads with inspiration

I’ve spent much of my time in mainstream media, which is a fraught, tense environment a lot of times. I’m sure Facebook is too. BUT the building itself leads with artwork, chill out zones, and there are inspirational posters everywhere. My favourites….

 

 

 

 

The top floor is a futuristic art installation of everything Facebook is doing around the world and new technology they are developing PLUS it has a pool table, sweet bar and ice cream stand, and huge decking area.

 

  • Build your videos for no sound.

Use captions and great visuals first. And fine, if the sound comes on, but make sure nothing is lost from having a video without sound.

 

  • The 3 key things to consider when making Facebook ads are reach, resonance and reaction.

The 3 ‘r’s of today! No more reading, writing and arithmetic. 

 

  • Facebook is always optimised for friend content first.

The user is prioritised above business reach or even paid business reach. That is what keeps people coming back and protects the user.

 

  • A few tricks for paid ads

Don’t encourage optimisation of ads for post engagement. There is no correlation between more likes and more sales. Optimising for lifetime budget of an ad campaign over daily budget normally has an advantage. Having a cap on your daily spend will mean others ads gets prioritised as they are willing to spend more and your ads will be cut off when the budget runs out. Lifetime spend optimisation runs in ups and downs but delivers a better average. A

lso include behaviour optimisation in your ad campaigns. A lot of people target others by interests. But interests are only what we declare to Facebook we are interested in. Behaviours are how we use Facebook. Behaviours don’t always show interests, but they change over time and are the most up to date info on which we can build audiences and target people.

 

  • There are some users on Facebook who are more ‘clicky’ than others and who click more things! 

Strange eh!

 

  • Young people are NOT leaving Facebook because their parents are on there.

This is an urban myth. Both Facebook and Instagram are growing across all age groups.

 

  •  Next month is Facebook’s 13th birthday. 

13 is the age you can join Facebook. Facebook is about to have a whole new raft of new members who have never known a world without Facebook.

 

To be the first to know about the She Means Business events hosted in conjunction with Facebook and Enterprise Nation, click and register here.

Does doing social media mean there is no need for SEO?

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This is a question a client asked me recently, and I know it’s something a lot of people wonder about.

And as always when it comes to a digital strategy and the online world in which everything works both separately and together, the answer is yes – and no.

Let me explain

If you think about all the ‘doors’ through which people can find you (which is a metaphor I use to explain online visibility), clearly a social following and activity on these platforms are doors.

People who are following you on social media have found you and can find their way from your social platforms to your website.

So you will be getting website traffic through your ‘social doors’ and you might think ‘oh I have enough traffic now who cares about more’.

BUT I don’t actually believe any ambitious person would think they have enough traffic.

If you are anything like me, you will want more traffic regardless of how much you already have.

You see, social doors are not a ‘Google door’ per se, and do not capture those people turning to Google and searching for things that might relate to what you do and offer.

And as well know, there are a heck of a lot of Google searches every single millisecond.

How many people are Googling what you offer?

So if you think there are lots of people ‘Googling’ whatever is you offer (which there probably are) then SEO is definitely worth doing.

And as for whether or not active and popular social channels can influence a website’s ranking and remove the need for SEO – well, although a lot of people believe that it must do in some way, Google has categorically stated it doesn’t….

Although, that said, social channels like Youtube (that double up as search engines) are owned by Google, and that content will rank in a search engines result so there is an impact there. Confused?!

Taking a holistic approach

The best way to look at things is to take a holistic approach towards your online visibility, in which all sorts of factors come together. Social activity is one. SEO is another.

Yet they work together too. All your blog posts for instance are a form of content persuasion and a display of authority – which Google loves. Your blog posts also give you something to share onto social media.

So if you can’t afford an SEO company, or don’t want to learn about the technical side of SEO yourself, then blogging will improve your website’s ranking AND help your social media activity.

Your goal is to create a win win situation by developing a holistic strategy in which everything you do online, from your social media to your videos, to your website to the keywords in your blog post, compliment and work together. And SEO AND social media will be a part of that winning result.

Join me for a one day event – The Ultimate Visibility Masterclass

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I’d love to invite you to join me and two of the UK’s most successful visibility experts for the ultimate day long masterclass on how to raise your profile and increase sales.

This workshop is for anybody struggling to drive traffic to their website, secure new clients and customers, or failing to stand out in a crowded market.

Learn how to build brand kudos and position yourself as the leader in your field

  • Publicist to the stars Jessica Huie MBE
  • Digital strategist and author of The Million Dollar Blog (that’s me!)
  • And website & lead generation guru Julie Hall, founder of The School of Marketing. 

With a day long crash course on PR, marketing, SEO, blogging, video in the digital space and social media, you’ll emerge equipped to get more clients and customers, more profile and visibility, turn your website into a lead generator and cash machine, build your brand, become known and ultimately grow your business.

The Ultimate Business Visibility Masterclass is on Wednesday, 22 February 2017, 10:00 – 17:00 GMT. Earlybird tickets priced £147. 

SEE MORE DETAILS AND BUY NOW

 

I’m writing this using voice dictation on my waterproof iPhone 7 in the jacuzzi

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OK, so I’m not really, but I have extracted that sentence from a genuine email I received this week!

There are so many reasons I was stunned by sentence, not just the thought of this person in a jacuzzi writing an email, but also the technology involved.

In the email, the person apologised for any typos, but it came through word perfect.

So not only do we no longer need to be able to spell, but now we no longer need to be able to write OR type because iPhone can type out for you while you relax in a jacuzzi!

(I find this both worrying and incredible in the same measure, and the latter when you think of the potential in developing countries where many people can’t write – but that is another topic).

I digress.

Receiving this email got me thinking about the never ending forward march of technology and how we can keep up, and whether it even matters if we do.

I think keeping up with this stuff is so important, and new research agrees. 

What is certain is that small and micro businesses are the lifeblood of the UK economy. They make up nearly a fifth of the UK economy and represent 95% of all businesses. But despite the small and micro-business dominance of the economy, when it comes to digital skills things are very different.

123reg, with the help of their research partner ResearchNow recently interviewed 1000 small to medium sized businesses with 779 out of 1000 being micro-businesses (0-9 employees).

An overwhelming 86% said that they were at best ‘building experience’ when it comes to digital, with half saying they have ‘not yet started’ when it came to their digital knowledge.

Search engines and websites are seen as working best for micro businesses, yet nearly half of those surveyed do not have a domain name or any online present at all, representing a clear missed opportunity. Significantly, the study found that Facebook and online Advertising are now almost as important as websites and SEO too, but how can you even begin on those if you don’t have a website or a domain name.

Digital marketing is now one of the most important tools for businesses, and its power is now just as strong as ‘traditional’ forms of marketing. 70% of micro-businesses thought digital knowledge to be critical to their future success, yet over 85% said they lacked the skills to grow their business online and steal a march over larger more established companies.

Ultimately in an ever changing digital world, a lack of digital skills could be holding businesses back by as much as a fifth of the overall economy.

There is obviously digital skills gap with many considering lack of knowledge a hurdle to their businesses.

So what can be done?

I passionately believe that everything is learnable, to the point where I actually do believe that should I want to become a brain surgeon, I could!!!!

Put it this way, the brain surgeon isn’t really that different to me, apart from he or she has learned how to do different things to those which I’ve learned how to do! (in this case, taking apart and piecing back together human brains!)

And the good news is that digital skills are much easier and quicker to learn than brain surgery.

What I see time and time again is people feeling blocked by lingo and vocabulary that make things sound more complicated and feel more daunting than they should be.

I remember feeling this way when I first set up my first online business in 2007. I was baffled by what my hosting was, and why I needed it, and how on earth I’d cope if something went wrong with my hosting.

The digital world is filled with jargon and new words, but if you accept that once you enter the digital arena, you are going to have learn say 50 or so new words, and learn 50 or so new meanings, and that some of these meanings might be new concepts that you will also have to get your head around…..

But, that after that, it won’t seem nearly as difficult as it once did, then it suddenly seems a lot easier!

The irony is that at least all over the digital world, there is training on all of this widely available and much of it for free. So whether it’s an online course or attending a real world workshop, choose whatever is more appropriate for you and take time to invest in digital development. 

Now, back to that jacuzzi…..

Hallam internet’s digital marketing tube map has made my day!

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I loved this image by Hallam Internet as soon as I saw it. Sometimes it’s hard to describe the complexity and interlinking of digital marketing and online visibility, and this visual does it perfectly.

It covers all forms of online marketing including Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC), Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Analytics.

But the most important thing is it summarises how all these online marketing strategies relate to each other and complement each other.

If you really want to stand out online and have maximum visibility and use the internet to grow your business, you need to be all over all of this! You can’t just hop on the red line and consider it done. You’ve literally got to take a journey all round London stopping at every single stop.

It’s a bit like that pub crawl -which I’ve never been on – but where you go around the circle line getting off for a drink and every stop. Apart from there are more stops here.

And if it was a tube map for my business (hmm, thinking about it I should make one!) I’d have at least one track all about mainstream media and publicity too to cover the offline strategies I use to raise the profile of individuals and businesses too.

Hallam internet do provide this visual in poster size so enthusiastic people like me can get it properly printed and stuck to our office walls. Might just hop over to Vistaprint to get that done right away!

 

 

 

 

Blogstar profile: Carly Rowena

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Over the following weeks, I’m going to be showcasing the blog stars and experts featured in my book, The Million Dollar Blog.

Today, let’s hear from fitness vlogger Carly Rowena

Meet Carly

Carly Rowena is a fitness instructor and fitness vlogger who is known for her down to earth, professional and realistic approach to everything from healthy eating, fast paced workouts, product reviews and motivational advice. She only launched in 2014, but has 360,000 subscribers on Youtube, and over 800,000 views per month on her blog and a waiting list for clients. Yet when Carly started, she wasn’t a fitness instructor and had no idea she even wanted to be one! As she says herself, vlogging and blogging changed her life.

What to learn from Carly

So many people think they have to know all the answers, and exactly what their path will be, before they even get started. They wait and wait for clarity and then when clarity doesn’t come, they never get started and their dreams definitely don’t come true. What I LOVE about Carly is that she started her blog and videos without really knowing where it would take her. She just did it anyway. And now she has a whole new career, a growing profile and a changed life!

Words of wisdom

“I used vlogging to change my life. If I had never gone on YouTube, I never would have become a personal trainer. I was really nervous and had very little confidence when I started. My first video was terrible, and I didn’t expect it to become anything, I just looked at it as something that would help me realise what I enjoyed.”

Follow Carly

www.carlyrowena.com

Carly Rowena on Twitter

Carly on Instagram

Carly on Facebook

Carly on Youtube

You can hear more from Carly in my new book, The Million Dollar Blog, available on Amazon now

3 ‘Must Considers’ When Building Your Instagram Following

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Nearly everyone I work with wants to build their following on Instagram. After all, we’ve all heard the rumours, Facebook is dying (apparently young people don’t like it because their parents are on it) and Instagram is where it is at, innit.

I don’t see Facebook going anywhere for a long time, but it’s absolutely true that if you have any sort of visual brand or visual story you can tell with your work, or you want to appeal to a trendy, arty, well-heeled crowd, then Instagram is a great place to be.

But when it comes to building a following, it’s not just as simple as posting pictures and hoping for the best.

I’m definitely no Instagram expert compared to many, but I have learned a few things while building some of my clients’ followings by over 300 per cent. And that is mainly that Instagram requires multi-dimensional thought and strategy, which goes like this.

Content strategy

People will only follow you if your content is good. This means both at an individual post level, and in terms of the overall look of the entire feed at a glance.

Your posts should also have words that offer explanation and content to the images.

Yes, this is a visual network, but for businesses, you’ve got to offer value and insight, and that is why the words that accompany the images are important too.

Hashtag strategy

Hashtags allow you to be found and also to find other people. You must therefore do hashtag research to ascertain both:

  • The group of hashtags that you must use on each post to allow yourself to be found for what you do – so these will be hashtags that relate to such things as your services, location, expertise, products. You should add the full allowance of 25 hashtags on each post to maximise the chances of those potentially interested finding you 
  • Simultaneously, you must be interacting with other feeds and people, in particular with users identifying themselves as your target audience via the hashtags they are using. This is not always identical to the hashtags you use when you post. For instance, you might know that your target audience, whilst possibly being purchasers of the shoes you make, enjoy reading Grazia magazine, so you should try interacting with people using the hashtag #grazia.

User generated content strategy

As your brand grows, you will hopefully find other users post images of your brand. If your business is a physical location, this might already be happening. You must repost their posts, and comment on their posts. These users need to be interacted with to enhance their loyalty. Resharing their posts also saves you a load of time and effort in creating or taking your own images. 

 

Blogstar profile: Craig Landale

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Over the following weeks, I’m going to be showcasing the blog stars and experts featured in my book, The Million Dollar Blog.

Today, let’s hear from Craig Landale, the founder of Menswearstyle

Meet Craig

Craig Landale, 31, is the owner of Menswear Style, a men’s fashion blogazine that in 2015 was highly commended in the UK Blog Awards, nominated for best ‘Magazine Website’ in the Digital Magazine Awards and was nominated for the best Fashion Blog category of the Vuelio Awards.

What to learn from Craig

I’m a big believer that no blogger with a massive income has a single income stream. Already successful, Craig says even to this day, one of his strategies is to think of as many different income streams as possible. He does affiliate marketing, banner advertising, has an affiliate-based shop and also does sponsored posts. Plus he has apps, and  an e-book entitled ‘ABC of MAN’. He is also opening up new topics to cover such as Tech, Food & Drink, Travel, Health & Fitness and Cars, all of which bring in new opportunities and markets for monetisation.

Words of wisdom

‘There’s a new generation of teenagers that no longer have to approach McDonalds for their first paid job. Instead they realise ‘I can just use my computer in my bedroom!’ For the first time ever, people understand this as a job that can be very flexible and let them do something they truly enjoy. The same goes for those who are already trapped in jobs they don’t like. They don’t have to be trapped anymore.’

Follow Craig

Menswearstyle.com

Menswear Style on Twitter

Menswear Style on Instagram

You can hear more from Craig in my new book, The Million Dollar Blog, available on Amazon now

Is passion alone enough to make money?

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I love this video by Coupon Queen Emma Mumford about her story about blogging.

Emma is one of the bloggers featured in my book, the Million Dollar Blog.

Emma’s such an inspiration and in this video, she says:

“Have crazy ambitions and have crazy dreams because it happens. With law of attraction, you teach yourself to know that your dreams aren’t too big. There is nothing too big or out of your league, you can have anything you want in life. And I think in a way it helped me manifest that into my life by constantly just having that gut feeling and having that confidence that I would do it and it doesn’t matter what other says or what qualifications I have …I’m not saying don’t work hard and don’t get good qualifications. Obviously, it’s very important and if you can get them, it’s really beneficial. What I’m saying is that, it’s not the end of the world, it’s not getting to shape your whole life, it’s not going to give you a life sentence of bad jobs and working in places you don’t want to. I’m a big believer of faith and everything happens for a reason. Whatever you dream of you can have and I think I’m a proof of that.”

During the writing of The Million Dollar Blog, I thought a lot about passion and whether that was the only ingredient required for success.

Obviously, if you are fuelled with passion, it follows that it’s much easier to write a blog and persevere with a subject you are genuinely passionate about and would be talking about anyway.

I’m a bit of a dark cloud on the concept that ALL you need is passion! There is nothing wrong in following your passion but you have to choose a niche that not only combines your passions or interests with a viable audience and real monetisation pull.

So before you commit to a blog based in passion alone, analyse your situation, do your research and consider also your financial needs. And analyse where opportunities lie. Slightly like the American gold rush back whenever it was (I am no history expert!) people went were the opportunities lay. And you must do the same thing. 

Remember this; passions ebb and flow too. I was once passionate about New Kids On The Block. I’m not anymore. Whatever your blog is about, it’s going to take time to make good money. So choose an area where passion and interest meets real opportunity. Those together I believe are the combination for success.

Sort it out and get online! (especially if you’re a tradesperson)

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I loved this research by Nominet, which I heard about thanks to the excellent blog at domain name provider extraordinaire, 123reg, about tradespeople, and whether or not it matters if they have a website.

I know we are not all plumbers and builders but there’s lessons to be learned here.

Because based on these figures, having a website and being online will give you a clear advantage over competitors who are not online.

And I want to make a call to any tradespeoples who read this to sort their sh*t out!

According to Nominet’s research, Britain’s tech-savvy tradespeople earn an extra £16k a year and get an additional 21 jobs.  

Isn’t that interesting?

The research also found that 85% of people looking for a tradesperson go online to research local businesses before deciding who to hire – yet over 320,000 tradespeople have yet to build their own website.

Want to know more of the stats?

First up, these groups of tradespeople are pretty tech savvy and benefitting from it:

Aerial/ Network Specialists: 81% are online and they generate an extra £6,000 in leads a year from being online

Bathroom Fitters: 77% are online and they generate an extra £2,416 in leads a year.

Security Specialists: 76% are online and they generate an extra £22,000 in leads a year.

Traditional Craftsmans: 73% are online and they generate an extra £24,000 in leads a year.

Electricians: 67% are online and they generate an extra £23,000 in leads a year from being online*

So hats off to you lot.

But, at the other end of the spectrum, these guys need to sign up to WordPress or 123reg.com website builder immediately!

Painter/ Decorator:  51% aren’t online and they would generate an extra £6,600.

Gardener/ Garden Designer: 49% aren’t online and they would generate an extra £5,700 in leads.

Cleaners: 48% aren’t online and they would generate an extra £6,000 in leads a year.

Plumber: 44% aren’t online and they would generate an extra £8,000 in leads.

Builder/ Carpenter/Joiner: 41% aren’t online and they would generate an extra £20,000 in leads.

Ladies and gents: get online!

 

How to name your blog

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Naming your blog can be the toughest decision you will make!

And for good reason – your blog name will define what people can expect.

It all comes down to the type of blogger you have chosen to be and the reason for your blog – are you blogging to build your own profile for entertainment, blogging for authority, blogging because of passion about a topic or blogging to become a media brand?

Let’s use myself as an example. I blog in the entrepreneurship and digital strategy niche – and my blog is all about my personal profile and my authority status, and it’s goal is to help generate new consulting and mentoring clients, and selling more of any digital products I create.

Now all of this influenced the very calculated decision I made when choosing to use my own name for my blog – www.natashacourtenaysmith.com. The personal focus is central to the blog and its aims.

Had I instead wanted my blog to become a media brand in it’s own right (within my niche, entrepreneurship and digital strategy) and featuring a range of writers, and aggregating content in the way the Huffington Post does, I might have called it thedailydigital.com or digitalbusinessdigest.com. You see, the name conveys important upfront messages about the nature of the blog.

Once you’ve got your name, you need to select your domain name and extension.

I absolutely recommend you launch your blog on your own domain, not one that comes free with whatever blog platform you are using. My site is built using WordPress, but I use my own domain natashacourtenaysmith.com otherwise it would be something like natashacourtenaysmith.wordpress.com. That just doesn’t look professional and as someone with a long name already, that takes it into the realms of length craziness!

You also need to select the final part carefully – .co; .biz; .org etc  Even people who have not grown up with the internet are familiar with reading domain names and prejudging a site based on this domain extension.

Your own domain name also gives you the ability to have your own email address linked to your domain and this is key. Your own personalized email address is most definitely worthwhile and has the added advantage that, when someone sees it,  they will most likely check your domain too. If you think how many emails you send a day, this is a good way of raising awareness about your blog.

123­reg is the UK’s largest domain registration service, managing 3.5 million of the 5.4 million domain names currently live in the UK. They recently conducted some fascinating research on how important an email address is for credibility and based this research on a hypothetical handyman’s van (which they mocked up for the experiment).

They wanted to find out what potential customers thought, based on the handyman’s email address, and showed their test subjects two interesting contrasting examples – handyman@gmail.com and info@handyman.co.uk. They discovered that people thought the info@handyman.co.uk looked 33 per cent more professional and 27 per cent more trustworthy than the @gmail address.

Their survey respondents also said they were 27 per cent more likely to connect with the @handyman.co.uk owner and also thought the professional domain meant that business provided more value for money. So having your own domain name will give you an email address like this one which will in turn increase your credibility.

Increasingly, people are looking at websites, domain names and emails as proof that you exist and that you have a real space. It is about building trust and professionalism. And your own domain name isn’t expensive – you can buy domain names for as little as £6.99 from companies such as 123­reg.co.uk and Heart Internet (both recommended by me as they both provide excellent customer service and support at great prices).

 

Blogstar profile: Andy Weir, creator of ‘The Martian’

By | Blog, Digital strategy | No Comments

Over the following weeks, I’m going to be showcasing the blog stars and experts featured in my book, The Million Dollar Blog. Today, let’s hear from bestselling author, Andy Weir

Meet Andy

Andy Weir is a former computer programmer who blogged about space and science. He started writing a story on his blog about a manned mission to Mars, which steadily gathered thousands of fans. He turned his blog into an ebook, which was picked up by a publisher and then Hollywood came calling. Yes, you’ve guessed it, Andy’s blog was turned into the Hollywood film The Martian (for which Andy was reportedly paid a mid six figure sum for the film rights).

What to learn from Andy

If nothing else, starting a blog can be the first step in an adventure, taking you to extraordinary and completely unexpected places in your life.

Words of wisdom

Be passionate about what you write about.

I’ve always been a space dork. Mars has fascinated me since I was a little kid. Honestly, I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t into Mars.

Follow Andy

Andy’s website

Andy on Facebook

Andy on Twitter

Buy the book

You can hear more from Andy in my new book, The Million Dollar Blog, available to pre-order on Amazon now

The Million Dollar Blog

5 reasons to pay for a top photographer for your online brand & visibility strategy

By | Digital strategy | One Comment

One of the first things I say to almost everyone I work with is

‘You need a proper photoshoot’

And this isn’t because I’m some sort of photoshoot addict (although they are fun!)

It’s because everything that people want me to do for them – help them with their online brand & presence, sort their digital strategy and help them with publicity and promotion – starts with a great set of images!

Just take at how the new images (above and below) for this brand.

Cycle bags-23

 

Images are an investment

You know what, photos like the ones seen in the ‘after shots’ don’t come cheap. They require professional models, a great photographer, art direction and a vision.

But they are not just about looking pretty or vanity. These images will deliver benefits in all sorts of ways including

  1. They completely and instantly change the way your brand is perceived and how it appears. It goes from amateur to professional, from you having to work hard to convince people that your product or service is worthwhile, to them assuming that (even if they don’t buy straight away) you are a serious player.
  2. The images can be used across your website and social media, giving you a striking, consistent and stand out presence. As an idea of how seriously I take this, I won’t even start building a website unless there is a great set of images to use. And why not? Because the images make the site and without good ones, your website will never look how you want it to look.
  3. Great images attract journalists. I’m cover this in my online course ‘The Ultimate Guide To Promotion’ but putting it simply, journalists are simple souls and all they are thinking is ‘Is this a good story/product‘ and ‘Are there good pictures.’ I have seen not good stories gain plenty of coverage on the basis of good pictures. You can provide your images free for journalists to use which will help them fill their pages and make their pages look good, and you get publicity.
  4. They are more likely to get shared and gain you online exposure. If you think about the runaway success of Instagram and Pinterest, then we know one thing, people are always looking for images to share. Make it easy for people to share your images by making your images great!
  5. You will feel 1000 per cent (to quote Simon Cowell) happier with your business. I work with so many talented people who have great offerings but who don’t want to promote themselves or their offering because they know that their website looks terrible and their photos are embarrassing. Start with images like our ‘after’ shots and everything changes. Rather than feeling reluctant to promote, you will be itching to get yourself and your business out there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up Your Game: Innovative Ways To Make Money Online

By | Digital strategy | No Comments

Join me this Saturday in East London, where I’ll be talking at the annual Britmums Live conference on ‘How to make ££ digitally.’

I’ll be sitting on a panel alongside my good friend Vicki Psaris (aka Honest Mum) and Richard Leake, Senior Publisher Development Manager at Affilinet.

As blogging and social media have evolved, so have the ways of monetising. And on the panel, we’ll be talking about the exciting ways social influencers are leveraging the work they do to create an entire range of opportunities for themselves, and just how many options there are when it comes to making money.

The Britmums conference takes place at The Brewery in EC1. If you are there, make sure you come and say hi and introduce yourself to me!

To book tickets, visit http://www.britmumslive.com/