Book Life by Barb Abelhauser

YES, writing, editing, formatting, and publishing a book feels like giving birth (not necessarily to an elephant); and for good reason.

barbs book on library shelf

It also feels REALLY good to know that the book, A BridgeTender’s View: Notes on Gratitude has been spotted in a variety of places all around the world (beyond Seattle, Montana, and Kansas.)

“I also happen to know that my book has made it as far as Australia, Singapore, Argentina, England, Canada, and Germany. It has developed a life of its own. My little book, all grown up, making new friends and visiting places I may never have a chance to go. That’s amazing to me.” ~Barb Abelhauser

Blogger, Author, and Seattle Bridgetender Barb Abelhauser writes a post every day.

She’s also EXCELLENT about responding to readers who comment, readers who let her know they bought the book; and she is committed to gently reminding readers (new and returning) with each new blog published…”there is a curated collection of favorite posts on #gratitude if they want to feel a real book in their hands.”(hint, hint)

We had fun coming up with the first Social Media posts that were “tweet-length” and crafted to invoke curiosity. I’m honored that she took to heart the book promotion plan we mapped out from day one. Not every author is willing to toot their own horn after publication and launch which I can understand, BUT that isn’t going to necessarily help readers discover your book, now is it?

As a lifelong writer with a spotty record these past years of posting on my own blog, I admire her commitment to writing daily. I appreciate her observations, insights, and willingness to share what’s on her mind and heart. It’s easy to admire some one who makes the time daily.

Making the time to write, edit, schedule and post with consistency is the first step.

Barb is an avid observer of the world (inner and outer) with a long list of ideas to keep her company. She takes the first step at some point each day, and that has made all the difference.

Barb Abelhauser Book One

She’s also got three other volumes to publish if her dedicated readers nudge her.

#dogstories #drawbridgestories #enthusiosity

Follow her daily writing by subscribing to her blog and rest assured not a day goes by that she doesn’t publish original content.

P.S. If there is a book project living in you that is insisting “quietly” to be realized and you want support, I AM here for you. ~Deborah Drake

 

Everybody writes. Yes, you too.

Chances are, unless you avoid it altogether–which would take a lot of effort–YOU are a writer. Be it email or notecards or the occasional report or marketing copy–writing is done when writing is needed.

If you post on Facebook or LinkedIn, or even if you Tweet more than links, you are a writer.

As a species (except for those of us who were born mute and/or deaf) you are a wordsmith, willingly or out of necessity.

Some seem born with a storytelling gene (lol).
Some develop the skill to make their mark in the world.
Some hire others to be their instrument for capturing the story they can tell but will not write themselves.

I’ve had the pleasure, honor, and adventure of working with all three major types of writing clients:

  • the willing and eager,
  • the willing and resistant,
  • and the unwilling but wise enough to delegate and collaborate.

Why do I write? Since I was nine years young, I have been writing “something.”

I understand that I write to self-express, self-soothe, self-evaluate, stay self-aware, and to integrate what I experience daily. I write to learn from what I observe, share it with others, be of service, and, ultimately, to understand better my personal history–that it might support my evolution as a human being in all my relationship roles.

I write that I may first honor what happens in my life, then learn from it, then support others who learn from what they read–and if it inspires others to take up writing for self-discovery ALL the better.

I write for both sacred and mundane and practical purposes.

Back in 2010, I facilitated a weekly Writer’s Support Group for the Reticent Blogger at a most magical venue,–Friends, Philosophy and Tea House in Bellevue, WA.

One Tuesday in early August, Warren showed up for the weekly event. That week he was the new guy.

Our group of 14 met in the Yoga Room. We were bursting at the seams to fit one more chair in that room–but we liked being cocooned in that space (until we outgrew it and 16+ were coming each week.)

Warren was a career executive with an impressive resume of Business Development, Marketing, and Organizational Development–with an equally impressive academic background in Applied Mathematics. He was also Australian, candid, funny, sharp-witted, outspoken, and he had been recently “released.” He was broadening his activities beyond playing tennis while looking for his next professional assignment.

He had discovered Biznik, where our weekly group was promoted. He had also recently self-published a book on his British-Australian lineage that went back to the 1600s! That impressed me and every person in our circle that day. We implored him to bring the book with him the next time he might come. He committed to nothing.

Warren was curious about one big thing that day–that remains a peak experience in my memories of him and the Writer’s Support Group:

“Why does someone write for anything other than business (or profit)? What’s the point?. I can’t see it.”

Writing for business, finance, sales, marketing, that he could do well, and he saw the value. Writing for personal reasons made no sense to him. He couldn’t see the point of it.

I remember telling a friend later that night how a bright, charming, curmudgeon of person had attended my writer’s support circle that day. Warren wit and his accent had impressed me. Everybody weighed in on the benefits they got from writing (with motivations being all over the map!) and the weekly support of the circle. That lively meeting warmed my facilitator’s heart. I was hoping that Warren didn’t feel singled out for dissenting.

I also presumed he’d not be returning based on the last thing he said before leaving:

“Thank you for an interesting afternoon experience.”

To my surprise, he emailed me late that night still perplexed by his experience earlier that day. I  thoughtfully replied as is my MO and did my best to remain detached. (For I can’t make anyone change their tune about writing now can I?)

To my great surprise, the next week he showed up again.

That fine summer day of August 2nd, on his inaugural visit to the weekly meet-up was the last day he clung to that “reality.”

He started a blog.
He wrote personal stories each with a lesson that could be applied to life (and business).
He took the idea I suggested to him to fictionalize his families’ “most interesting” history.
He started with short stories.
He laced them together into a novel.
He got curious about writing from a female perspective.
He took on a female pen name, tried it out, and succeeded.
He started coming to the Thursday night working group that gathered at the Tea House to do timed writing with prompts of all kinds.

Those were the days of Steve, Karin, Fai, Pat, Deborah, and Warren. And, there were others who came and went, but we had our core group. We wrote. We shared. We laughed. We’d repeat for 90 minutes weekly. It was a beautiful weekly ritual.

Then Warren got an offer to return to work.
And, he kept writing, for now, he was hooked.
He made time for it–changed man that he was.

Last time I had lunch with him and Fai at Molbak’s in Woodinville, he handed me a brown paper bag with a copy of each of the volumes of stories he had written and self-published.

Four volumes of stories to date.
A historical novel.
With another novel in development.

He berated me that my memoir was still undone.
He pointed out that he made time for writing EVERY DAY.
I sidestepped the critique by reminding him we had Fai’s novel Le Maurais to celebrate.

********************************

Warren is one of many who came to the Writer’s Support Group on Tuesdays at the Tea House from 1-2:30 pm. It became part of his new set of rituals. He was one of many engaged in the vast weekly dialogue about writing and why one writes.

On a weekly basis, for two and a half years, a couple dozen people gathered, held space, and gave great advice to each other–and we forged friendships too!

A lot of writing got discussed.
A lot of reasons people didn’t write got eliminated.
A lot of writing got done after each weekly pow wow.

In the month of November 2011, our blogger version of NaNoWriMo produced over 100,000 words with 25+ active contributors.

The commitment was a simple one.
Five times a week.
100+ words a post.
Contributors far exceeded the minimums. :)
And, the group insisted the community blog be called Tuesdays with Deborah (which I was never quite comfortable with, but we were a democracy–sort of.)

http://www.authenticwritingprovokes.com/inspiredwriting/

We were a community of people who loved and/or feared writing. Those of us who loved it supported those who feared it–as they overcame the resistance they felt. People grew as writers by helping each other. Ours was a respectful circle that made a newcomer feel welcome immediately.

In August of 2012, my favorite venue closed its doors. That was a sad day, but we all accepted the reality. And, while efforts were made to find a new home for our circle, none could hold a candle to the Tea House.

Writing kept showing up on the community blog. Karin Q started the Salon at her place. Others carried on independently. Books got written. Blogs got posted, micro-blogging on Facebook happened, and I began working on an all-encompassing project…even though I had said yes, to a half-time commitment. 

Things always take more time than we imagine.

There were always other writing projects and clients too, but the big focal point of my work for nearly five years (until this May) was to support the larger vision of someone who had engaged my services as a writing coach, editor, marketing specialist, and content development strategist. We (aka the team) collaborated on books, a lot of blogs, and an online course derived from the main title.

WHAT a journey it was and remains.

I tend to immerse myself in supporting clients as they developed their writing and communication skills, as they develop their stories, their brand, and their online presence. The way I see it, it’s all interconnected.

It’s satisfying work to see someone grow and evolve as a writer, speaker, presenter, and first and foremost a person.

It’s gratifying to see a client, a colleague, or a friend say YES to “bolder, shameless, self-promotion” that remains aligned with who they are.

In a word: Authentic.
In three words: Authentic Always Provokes.

Now, whether you enjoy writing is an entirely different conversation.

When people tell me they don’t like writing and avoid it because they don’t think they are good writers, I ask with pure child-like curiosity, “Who was the first person to suggest that you weren’t good at writing? What exactly happened!?”

For some it takes a pregnant pause to recall that early peak experience of feeling critiqued, shamed, or discouraged.

For most, there is a story buried in memory that rises from the depths of the subconscious mind. Some said, they simply knew that they didn’t like writing.

And, at that point of recognition, we have something we can work with and transform–if that is what is wanted.

the same old thinking and disappointing results, closed loop or negative feedback mindset concept  - a napkin doodle with a cup of coffee

The Critic is strong in all of us–AND it can be tamed, put in its place, and accessed in ways that are helpful.

The Perfectionist can become an ally; active when needed and quiet when appropriate.

The Creator exists in all of us–AND it needs support and encouragement (from both inside and outside).

The Writer can be cultivated and could become an integral part of your inner leadership committee. (Who is running the show in your life?)

Knowing you want to enjoy writing for business or personal might involve adopting practices that are not second nature to you.

Knowing you want to embrace marketing and promoting your work might also require adopting practices that are not second nature to you.

Mastery of what is not second nature will always involve hard work, persistence, and knowing how to be gentle with yourself.

I see myself as a multi-faceted communications specialist who understands the intersections of content development, production, marketing, promotion, and most importantly–staying aligned with your essence.

And at the end of each day what gives me the greatest joy as a wordsmith, storyteller, and guide?

Seeing you embrace the idea of getting over your concerns about writing for yourself and as yourself while doing it for your intended reader (or client)—THAT is what I champion.

The Tip Sheet from Let’s Demystify the WordPress Dashboard

Stephen and I enjoyed presenting the pilot of the Workshop on Demystifying the WordPress Dashboard. And here is the much awaited tip sheet.

This list represents Let’s Start with Easy to Sustain SEO Attractability that can be easily remembered and maintained from first blog post to last and to every page.

First things first: Creating a User Profile

  1. Keep your bio details relevant and current.  Fill in all fields you can.
  2. As a publicly searchable profile this serves your quest to be found and identified.
  3. Use an Avatar or a Gravatar. And update this too like your bio. A current picture is ALWAYS best.

Must Have Plugins and Functionality (according to Stephen and Deb):

Akismet for filtering Spam
Google Analytics for tracking visitors and what gets attention from them
Google XML Site Map for the spiders to more easily scan your site
SEO Ultimate or All in One SEO
Share Buttons or AddToShareAny  (for Social Media Sharing with ease)
Social Profiles Widget (cool graphics that link to your social media links)
Smart YouTube Pro (if you like inserting videos0
NextGEN Gallery (to organize your photo galleries)

Writing: Creating and Cleaning Up a Blog post

  1. First Write on your topic or theme from your heart and authentically for your human reader
  2. Give it a meaningful title (that may be different from the title in your Meta Title SEO field
  3. Select a category or two (from your list of themes you write on)
  4. Add Tags that can be 2 to 4 word phrases  that “tag” what your post is about.
  5. Use links to create a web of connectivity between your pages/posts and other sites you are siting  (and fill in alt text for the hover text of the hyperlink you insert that opens in a new window.)
  6. Fill in Meta Data in SEO fields (SEO Ultimate or All In One SEO)

SEO: Get your metadata into shape and use it to your best advantage:

  1. Figure out the keywords you most want to target. How might others be searching for you?
  2. Create a metadata master file to keep track of your most important terms.
  3. Fill out all the SEO fields, for each blog post and each page on your site:
  1. Meta Title 60 characters: Branding | Keywords | Title of blog
  2. Description field 140 characters: compelling and uses relevant keywords. Sometimes this field might be called “excerpt” or “what this blog is about” or something else.
  1. Keep refining your metadata as you learn more about your market and how people may be searching for you.

 

It might seem like a boring chore to go back and update your metadata, but I promise you it’s one of the most powerful things you can do to help your blog be found and rise above over time as you write a body of work.

Images are Good for SEO TOO:

  1. Have you named your file with keywords that make sense?
  2. Have you filled in the description?
  3. Is a caption appropriate?

Tools for Backing Up Your Site:

  1. Export content on a regular basis (all posts, pages, comments, tags, categories)
  2. Xcloner the recommended Plugin for Exporting your files and content data

Updating WordPress and Your Plugins:

  1. Backup your content first.
  2. Deactivate all Plugins
  3. Update your WP version from your site or your hosting service (via Simplescript)
  4. Reinstate one Plugin at a time and TEST for working correctly before updating another.
  5. Wait a few weeks for new versions to have “bugs” worked out. No need to be updating EVERY time a new version is issued. This also gives Plugin developers the chance to update their Plugin versions as well.

 

 

 

Want to Write and Market Better? Start by turning the television off!

Authentic Marketing and Authentic Writing (aka Self-Expression) are very closely linked for me. Basic Marketing Intelligence affirms (through plenty of research) that people will buy for one of two main motivations: Pain or Pleasure.  To market via a voice and strategy that amplifies the pains in life gets my attention–long enough to turn me off.

While on a short business trip to Southern California (as in as I write this post) I am reminded of why I will not ever again have a television (large, small, flat or HD) or for that matter watch (and more importantly) why I do not watch/consume regular programming. And yes, I know I am putting a provocative stake in the ground for there are plenty of good reasons to “watch” television–selectively.

Let’s start with a look at “the perpetually available newsfeed.”

There is a lot of fear and pain and sadness and tragedy in most news that is reported. For every happy story reported there are many more shocking and upsetting stories to process.

It happens that the highly evolved Precor treadmill I am using in the fitness center has a small media screen as part of its design and it’s got CNN on. I set the timer for an hour and plan to walk four miles in place at an incline that challenges me and take in the news of the hour for a moment. Several things strike me “in blazing technicolor” as I increase my heart rate, break a sweat and engage in active watching and listening.

Lots of bad news to take in…Lots of vapid news to take in…Lots of shocking news to take in…depressing stats on the waning Super Power that the US is according to Pat Buchanan, who has recently authored “Suicide of a Super Power.” Is he still acting also as minister and man of God or is he all pomp and politician now?

And then there is the striking difference in presentation of women and men reporting the news. The women are simply overdone with eye makeup and lipstick and hair that is perfectly coiffed and wavers not. I find myself wondering what do they really look like before “the mask” is applied to accentuate lashes and cheek bones and lips and what exactly is done to control their hairstyle regardless of how they may move (but then they don’t move much.)

The men are clean cut and shaved and sharply dressed in suits and crisp shirts and smart ties and have great postures as the talking heads behind the dark shiny desks, and it is notable too that they do have flawless looking skin.

My experience of how both genders report the news is essentially the same: they are equally affected and inauthentic. They are reading the cues and teleprompter well and keeping eye contact and looking good and holding the best position they can. No unattractive side will be seen by the viewer. Ever.

And then there are the commercials. (Another blogpost entirely…) The only ones that make me smile are the two V8 commercials I see BECAUSE Jackie Chan, one of my favorite actors/director/celebrities DOES HIS OWN STUNTS and is a real person to me based on reading his biography and following his films and life since 1991. And I know that there are outtakes to those commercials too that show him slipping, falling, and brushing himself off as he laughs it off as well. His cinema “signature” of showing the outtakes has endeared me to him and his movies for years. That he shows his imperfections is symbolic to me.

I remain disenchanted with this technology called TV that is one of the great barometers of what is popular and what matters and what people want. For me, popular TV for the most part represents the lower common denominator and as one watches, their creativity and intelligence is put to sleep, not encouraged. And I do not want to “fall asleep” while I live in the world. I want to participate in it and create good stuff “from scratch.”  Most of all, I want to feel fully engaged in living and the choices I make.

So there is very little News or Comedy or Drama or Disney (my daughter’s drug of choice…LOL) or ABC Family or Reality TV that I can handle being in proximity to–let alone sit long enough to watch fully attentive. And it is less and less all the time. And I find that the less I watch, the more I think and create from a space of intelligence in myself that is Creative, Positively Provocative, Effective, High Impact, and Love-based.

So if you must address the Pain Factor, I suggest doing a really good job of digging in deep, writing up the worst scenarios and pain statements you can make yourself pen, and then with authenticity turn them on their head.

What you may create for a marketing campaign and website copy will be emotionally charged copy GROUNDED in your sincere desire to be a solution.

When it comes to writing and marketing ourselves in print or online or in person, to grow our business, it is experienced by me as a “cheap shot” when someone appeals strongly to my weak points (and who among us has but one Achilles Heel?)

So consider this fundamental philosophy for conducting any and all business activities: Champion the Nobler Goal with Compassion and Creatively So.  I propose it will make you more positively memorable and while it may take a little longer for business to develop, the positive results will be greater over time, the loyalty factor in clients naturally higher and the benefits experienced by both sides in transactions absolutely amplified and soul-satisfying.

And to think this rant was triggered by watching TV? Huh! I guess I best expose myself to popular media just enough to remind me of what NOT to do, so that I can refresh my sense of what is BEST to pursue (smile).

P.S. I dedicate this post to the marketing and writing clients (I may have or may have in the future) in search of their WHY and HOW and WHAT. You know you want to be a force of goodness in the world and I believe you can. If you are not in touch with that voice in you that would champion the positive approach to attracting ideal clients, I welcome being a guide to discovering that voice in you.

Resistance: It really doesn't work

Resistance.

We were really supposed to leave on Friday before 1pm. Noon was the original plan. Portland was a mere three hour drive.

Resistance.

It would be Saturday 10am before that WONDERFUL drive to Portland for a wedding would get started. And the I-5 corridor between Seattle and Portland is simply WORSE than I remember. Four fine hours later…

Surrender.

I was determined though, not to let the drive get in the way of my enjoyment. And despite the “bookends” of traffic coming and going on Saturday and Sunday,  I actually kept my word to myself and only enjoyed the wedding and the time with dear friends.

Still wondering why traffic has to be so bad in the south end beyond Seattle…

And what I do know is true (despite the traffic) that I didn’t resist helped in every way.

So where writing is concerned, writing as yourself, do you? Or do you resist being even a little bit yourself?

Do you ever surrender to writing even for a behind the scenes moment, as you at your most authentic self?

The times we experience resistance are great opportunities to take a deeper look at what we’d really like to be sharing.

And I say there are ways we can say even the most provocative of ideas, in palatable ways.

Resistance and Authenticity. Can’t see then occupying the same space for too long.

What would you say if you knew it was okay to say what was on your heart and mind? About your business? Or about your life and the story you left behind for your family? People get when you are being real.

Why not insert a little more you into your writing?

Kind of like salt in a recipe. Add to the point it really flavors the dish you are creating.

Authentic Writing Provokes: The 2am Ride of Paula Persevere (Revisited)

Albero e Luna by Francesco Marino

NOTE: This piece originates from an email sent to my still growing Writer’s Group for Reticent Bloggers at 3:03am on July 20th because quite frankly,  I was feeling DETERMINED to get the word out before we met again.

Reading it again, today, I giggle at the memory of all the teasing I get for being that nightowl from my most regular group members. Beyond being known as a nightowl, I am thankfully regarded as a good listener, and effective facilitator and that just warms this writing coach’s heart.

What reputation precedes you as the business or personal writer you are?  (I don’t mind for being known as a prolific writer between 12am and 3am on occasion. )

What are you known for  because of the copy on your website or the blog you author or that article, ebook or book you wrote?

Could you anticipate what your five closest peers might say about you? Do you even care?

To a degree I care about how I am perceived. Most importantly I want there to be a “nearly full eclipse” of who I say I am, who I know am and how I am experienced by people. Just like I appreciate online profiles with current photos that allow for immediate “recognition” of the real McCoy when meeting for the first time at a live event.

Be it that I am writing business copy for website updates, articles or a blog post or an email correspondence, or even micro-blogging on Facebook I am always alert to my underlying “voice.” And I have found that being “me” is the easiest way to get communication out in a timely, enthusiastic and meaningful way.

Can I interest you in exploring and developing your authentic written voice for your business or your creative aspirations?  It makes my heart sing to do so. For our Dharma (aka our vocation) seldom feels like work does it?

And about that late night experience that sparked this post…

*******************************************************************

At 12:40am or there about, this email was set to go, and Comcast deserted me.

Deserted me…but I am like the Captain of Galaxy Quest… I never/seldom give up and never surrender. And apparently I am willing to use the word never…

Tonight, I had the distinct pleasure of picking up my daughter from the airport, right on time, after her month in Carmel, CA with her grandparents. Her 8-day visit turned into a month when she got the opportunity to be part of the Children’s Experimental Theater group and we all said…what do we do to make this happen. We made it happen and she had a seminal summer experience. Who doesn’t want that any season of the year.

We, the dad, the mom and the kid had a catch up dinner at a nearby Neighborhood Grill and she had the AUDACITY…to ask for a play date after dinner with her best friend, Julia…I so get that she is simply glad to be home…and I would have let her go and play for two hours had it been approved… point is she was clear on what she wanted to be doing next–once she felt again in her element.

Well, I opened up a word doc, committed to write an article on behalf of Positive Daily Affirmations and figured if this email was meant to go tonight (or rather this early morning) I’d have the chance to send it before my head hit the pillow. Never Give Up….Never Surrender…or in other words cross that to do, off the list and sleep well.

Last week we had a wonderful dozen in the circle and surprise, surprise, the themes again were a common chorus.

Well, what do I have to say that people really want to hear from me?

(Hey, there, expert that You actually are with stories that span decades…I care and I am listening. And if I know you personally, I care even more…)

Can you hear/feel/sense the wisdom in this post of a friend of mine (a fantastic human disguised as a fantastic Real Estate Agent by day) that was inspired by a Copyblogger post? So much in so little a post…read on please…Go Casey, Go!

http://caseymuldoon.web864.com/2010/07/16/how-to-create-raving-fans/

I heard the request to start a Biznik Group last week! It’s done…

http://biznik.com/groups/writers-support-group-for-reticent-bloggers

You are invited to use this forum to share posts and ask questions of the resources in this growing community.

Sandy said she planned to start a personal blog.

Susan started writing creation stories for the buddies.

Pete is still committed to creating an editorial calendar.

Diane, I love your posts and your pictures.

Charles, please share those stories you have dozens of and educate by way of your 36 years of wisdom/direct experience.

Darylene, I’m writing articles as fast as I can….and hope I get found…

Blogs are living breathing entities filled with your essence, if you are okay with that. The more real you are the better. Being crafty and clever catches some but being authentic catches more people’s attentions and makes them Raving Fans.

Private blogs allow for R&D without scrutiny (go Sandy!)  And collaborative blogs allow for synergies to emerge between writers.

Favorite links found this week that made me smile long and wide:

Casey’s see above…which leads me to CopyBlogger and to this funny guy with a fabulous promo…

http://johnnybtruant.com/about/

I respect the writer’s with a willingness to really be themselves…what will it take for you to be so?

What makes my heart smile is how I see this group from week to week provide a space for the participants to get enthused and infused and inspired. For those who make it tomorrow…yahoo….for those who cannot…we will miss you.

I fully intend not only to be myself as I write and blog, and make a living doing so…how about you?  And to do so what support do you need?

Ask and you shall receive.

Image: Francesco Marino / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sean Earley's Perspective: Avoiding the Social Media Overwhelm

Last week a “new kid” on the block showed up at Biznik.  Sean Earley who it turns out is originally from Ohio, most recently lived in Seattle, before moving to Germany.  And he is savvy and friendly and enthusiastic about his newfound community at Biznik, from the way he is posting on forums and commenting. All in the spirit of getting to know his global neighbors.

Love it when people are friendly and curious and smart!

Funny/ironic that he lived in Seattle but only discovered Biznik once in Germany? Is that True Sean?  And now we connect as the fellow Social Media enthusiasts and writers we are? I surrender…and will just be GLAD we connected thanks to the Wonderful World Wide Web and a homegrown Social Network that has members worldwide.

And about this post that I “reprint” (thanks Sean!): I really appreciate the succinct clarity of the suggested logic (from the book Groundswell) for using Social Media as the tool it is. Being strategic and on purpose while being also authentic are core values I live out EVERY TIME I write.

Except for those early morning pages of stream of consciousness that clear the cobwebs from my head…

I second, enthusiastically,  the suggested rationale and process that Sean spotlights. In fact I am curious as to how y’all make the best and the most of time spent within Social Networks? Or do you even begin?

Curious minds await your nickel on this evolving “reality” and be mindful reader, that Social Media Marketing is now part of the mix. Yes, you can put your head in the sand a while longer if you must, but really is that wise?

As it makes sense for your business–Integrate.Integrate. Integrate. In time may you feel about Web 2.0 (aka Social Media Marketing) similarly as you did about email auto responders; which is they are here to stay and just like learning to ride that first bike, there is a learning curve but once confident, we ride the bike, not the other way around.

***********************************************************************************

Before you make the decision to use any social media platform as a marketing tool, you need to evaluate it first and ask yourself how it best serves a specific purpose, otherwise there is the potential to just waste a lot of valuable time, energy and resources without gauging the results.

How, why and even if you use it can and will directly effect the bottom line.

So, before you go tearing into Twitter, or any social platform for that matter, first ask yourself a few, basic, key questions, make some decisions based on these questions and set some goals.

Basically, “how will this tool or platform help me?”

In order to do so, I suggest following the P.O.S.T acronym (originally put out by Forrester)

POST stands for: People, Objectives, Strategy, Technology.

1. People: Who are the people you want to be targeting and how do you identify them? Who is your demographic and where can you find them?

Is Twitter the best place to find them? Is Facebook? Is linkedIn? Or maybe SprouterBuzz, Etsy, Ning, Xbiz, Foursquare? Or…

Are there other platforms that might be better? Maybe there is a forum based on your niche that would be much more effective instead? Maybe a group? Does this demographic even use social networks?

2. Objectives: What are your objectives and what are you hoping to achieve?

Are you broadcasting a message or researching and gathering information? Are you trying to build a mailing list, or get more traffic to your website? Is it for education, communication, relationship building, or customer service? Is it a tool to generating leads, or to build upon existing leads?

Do you want to use it for input or output? Or both?

3. Strategy: What is your strategy? What is the ultimate goal of your efforts? How will you be using this tool to achieve your objectives?

How much time can you afford to spend with these tools in order to positively effect your ROI? How much time is too much time? Will you be in charge of this process or will you outsource?

4. Technology: Based on your plans, which platform is best suited to serve up these goals?

Once you decide on a platform, do you have a good understanding of how to use it? Are you comfortable using it or do you need training? Do you need tools or additional software?

So to summarize, Social media can be a powerful marketing tool, but it can also be an incredible time suck. Following this basic process and asking yourself some very important key questions first will ultimately define success or failure.

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And after all that is it now time push that publish button? Here is to fun and productive blogging be it micro or otherwise.

About this guest blogger: Sean Earley is a professional designer, online marketing and social media consultant, recently transplanted and currently living in Weisbaden, Germany and thanks to Biznik, For more by Sean visit his blog and comment if you are compelled! I for one appreciate his

Krysta Gibson's Perspective: Can Social Media Grow Your Business?

A Note from Deborah:

I believe, I have many things in common with Krysta Gibson, who these days publishes the New Spirit Journal and consults on publishing and businesss and more. And as a happy subscriber to her newsletter, I was struck by this recent “essay” and offering. And thank you Krysta for granting me the go ahead to post to my blog; the place I evangelize about Authentic Writing and My Personal Marketing Manifesto (yes, I have one!)

First and foremost I love Effective Communication that furthers Human Relations. I love reading, writing, speaking, writing, communicating ideas in what ever “language” is your natural form of expression. And I champion people in business and in life confidently expressing themselves be it for their business or their relationships, in the name of having a Purposeful Life Experience, while of this Earth.

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3 Blogging Principles: Simple Yet Important

“Blogs are part of a social network where the generous thrive.” (p. 9 inBlogging Best Practices).

How many social media enthusiasts who say blogging is critical will it take to convince you? For as many bloggers as there are, there are just as many who choose not to participate in blogging or do so haphazardly, at best.

As one who compassionately counsels both clients and friends on all things marketing and the value of integrating social media elements such as blogs, I like what Andy Wibbels and Peter Flaschner, hosts ofBusinessBlogBasics seminars, suggest: “Everybody who is anybody in business is blogging. Shouldn’t you?”

Let us assume that you admit you should be blogging and have established a blog that – once set up with an appealing design and a few bells and whistles – is surprisingly easy to maintain. Now what?

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Who Are You, Anyway?: Showing Up Online

For the past few weeks I’ve been pondering all the reasons it’s good to have so much choice in the world, as well as what makes it challenging. Have you ever stopped to count how many choices of everyday commodities there are? Be it bread or shampoo or a professional service provider?

As a loyal shopper at Trader Joe’s honestly I find just the right amount of variety for myself. Stopping by a larger grocery chain quite frankly can overwhelm me. And I’ve had the same end result of overwhelm when I go shopping online for anything.

Say you are trying to pick for yourself a marketing specialist to support you. And there are just too many great looking options to cull through as you search for possible partners.

How does one choose when a friend’s referral doesn’t come to fruition or you want to do a little of your own footwork to confirm for yourself?

How do you decide who to call and talk to as a next step?

Continue reading “Who Are You, Anyway?: Showing Up Online” »