3 BIG mistakes to avoid with your creative biz blog

3 girls in brooklynWednesday, I posted an exceptionally brief post on when to stop reading a blog. The gist was that, if you’re not getting something out of reading a blog, it’s a waste of your time. My hope was that you stopped to think a bit whether you truly provide something of use with your own blog.

Blogs are brilliant little things. They allow us to stroke our own egos, diligently record our lives, and provide the reasoning behind countless hours of “shiny thing” browsing. Is that how you’re using your blog?

Oh… maybe not. Maybe you think your blog is about marketing your business. And for certain, it is. It’s a place to put information about your business, why people should buy from your business, how your business was created, what your business is doing next Tuesday. Is that how you’re using your blog?

Eh… that sounds a little boring. Concerned your blog might not be creating a magnet for customers the way it’s supposed to? Keep reading. I bet you’re making at least one of these common creative business blog mistakes.

1.) You don’t ask why.

You post stories, inspiration, pretty pictures, funny links. You love it all and your small business blog is supposed to reflect you, right? Sure it is. But blogging isn’t about posting pretty pictures, it’s about asking bigger questions: WHY? If you fail to ask yourself WHY a picture, story, or link is important to you – and subsequently explain it to your readers – you’re not doing anyone any good. You’re simply adding to the noise of the blogosphere.

Consider why an image moves you… consider what it says about your character, your business goals, or your family. Consider how what little Johnny last Monday resonated with you & taught you a lesson. Always consider the usefulness, the experience, and the “takeaway” of what you’re posting.

The blogs that do that are the ones I remember, the ones I comment on. And they’re definitely the ones I go back to when I’m looking to buy.

2.) You think your SEO is broken.

In my job as a web designer/make-blog-go analyst, I am asked all the time if a website’s SEO is alright. Presumably, they want me to make sure that the right pieces of code are in the right places because the client is concerned it’s not. This is, of course, a valid concern! But more often than having “broken” SEO, a blog just isn’t writing about good stuff, using good words, and attracting the kind of attention that gets good links.

Good SEO happens when you are writing good headlines for interesting stories about relevant-to-you topics and those stories engage, challenge, and entertain your readers enough to want to link back to your posts.

Your SEO isn’t broken – but your blogging strategy might be.

Now, if you think you’re doing pretty good with that part but want to get better at the slightly more technical side, I would highly recommend my friend Dave’s ebook on SEO called Blog Post Engineering. You’ll be smarter & blog better after the first few pages. Promise. You can read my full review here.

3.) You don’t consider the bigger picture of your blog.

Finally, the mistake I see creative business bloggers making is that they haven’t considered the bigger picture of their blogs. You post when you’re inspired, when you have news, when you’ve created a new product. But there isn’t any cohesiveness. There isn’t a sense of anticipation.

To achieve this, you must ask yourself what larger questions your blog is answering. And then answer those large questions by posing tiny ones. Those tiny questions are your posts. As the answers to those questions pile up, you can link them together through simple category navigation, pillar content pages, or free resources.

By the way, if you run an image-heavy blog, this is one of the most important things to consider. How do your images play together between posts? Are you telling a larger story with the images you choose? Is that story calling your readers to action without words?

How’s your creative business blog doing?

Are you making one (two? all?) of those mistakes? Truly, there are many ways to make a blog successful but if you don’t consider the ramifications of the points above, you’re trying to reinvent the wheel. Providing value, actionable information, and true inspiration with your blog is rewarding in more ways that just warm fuzzies (I’m talking $$$ here, people).

What will you do today to remedy the problem?

Review: 2 New Resources for Business Success!

From two completely different ends of the business success spectrum, I bring you not one, but two great resources!

CMBA Business Growth Planner

CMBA Business Growth PlannerLast week, Megan told me she was in the final stages of a snazzy Business Growth Planner. She wanted to create something that would help people FAST – and be ridiculously affordable: $10. There’s lots of great information from someone’s who has grown her business through many different stages. There are also pages of worksheets to print and fill out to keep yourself organized.

As creative people, it can be so difficult to keep our eye on the things that grow a business and keep it profitable. We can pour so much time and energy into our passion but you need that grounding in good business sense (cents?) to keep you on track – or it won’t last long or be fulfilling in the end.

If you’re interested in taking your creative business to the next level – or taking your hobby and truly making it a business – you’re going to love (no, really you will!) the Crafting an MBA Business Growth Planner.

Blog Post Engineering

blog post engineeringOn the flip side, if you’re ready to get into a completely different kind of nitty gritty, I would highly recommend Dave Doolin’s Blog Post Engineering.

When I’m designing a website for a client, one of the services included in the package is some keyword research and top-level SEO engineering for the site. Well, that’s awesome. But, if you don’t take it to the next level by actively working the basics (and I do mean basics) of SEO into your blog posts, you’re just not going to rank in search engines for the keywords you’d like to hit.

Generally, I like products & information that are geared to a specific group of people – namely, a group that I’m in. However, this ebook really lays the information out in such a way that many people with many levels of expertise can benefit from. If you understand the basics of SEO, start from the back, Dave explains. If you’re looking to start from scratch, start at the beginning.

If you’re completely new to keyword research, SEO techniques, and copywriting for the net, this guide will give you a great starting point and help you to get your brain in the right mindset. If you’re a seasoned web writer looking to gain traction, you can use this guide to jumpstart your search results. And at just $20, it’s way cheaper than paying me to work with you one-on-one on your SEO.

Check out both the CMBA Business Growth Planner and Dave Doolin’s Blog Post Engineering and let me know what you think!

Fine Print: All those links are affiliate links. I really love both these products and think they just might benefit your business too. But I do get a commission if you buy one. Win-win – thanks!

quick tip: linking to your etsy shop

quick tip: linking to your etsy shop

example etsy url

this is probably how you’re used to typing your etsy shop address. easy to remember, easy to tell someone, easy to put on a business card. it looks great without the “http://” and gives your brand a little zip!

but: it’s not giving you everything it could be!

that etsy address of yours has always been handy but it’s always resolved to another URL, the URL your shop is actually located it. up until a few months ago, your actual URL involved a random user id number. well, it doesn’t anymore!

example etsy shop URL

now your etsy URL looks like this (above). that’s the URL your shop actually resides at, no resolving or redirecting. whenever you’re linking to your shop on your blog, twitter, facebook, or anywhere that search engines may scan, use this URL.

if you’re telling people your shop URL in “real life” or using it in printed marketing materials – even in email marketing! – feel free to use the easier to remember URL (top).

nailing your shop URL is a quick & easy way to improve your shop’s SEO and page rank!