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Category Archives: Blogging

Small business chat summer break …

The summer’s always a quiet time for my small business chats, which you usually see on a Saturday morning, as people go on holiday, business people with children take time off to look after them during the school holidays, etc. (but if I’m waiting for your update, please send it in so I can give your business a boost!).

So if you’re used to reading a small business chat at this time of the week, here’s some alternative reading that lets you know a bit more about the person behind Libro – you might like to pop over and see what I read in my spare time, when I’m not editing other people’s books, for example. More business chat will come soon!

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2015 in Blogging

 

10 Top Tips for Pitching a Guest Post or Getting a Blogger to Review your Product

handshakeI get lots and lots of requests every day, via my contact form or email, to accept a guest blog post from somebody. I also get requests to accept books for review on my personal book review blog. Although I’ve written in more depth about being a good guest blogger, I think it’s worth putting down a few points here to help people get the most out of their pitch to get a genuine and useful guest post or review on a blogger’s website.

Because … I reject about 98% of requests for a guest post after the first email.

So, here are my Top 10 tips for pitching a guest post or getting a blogger to review your product

1. Before you even start, think about the relevance of the website you’re contacting.

I get so many queries that have nothing to do with my website in the slightest. Things like, “I love your [editing] website, would you accept an article on real estate in Texas?”

Now, on rejecting one of these a while ago, I had a back-and-forth with the pitcher. She was determined that I would benefit from having her totally non-relevant content, full of dodgy links, on my website. I ended up saying to her “No reputable website would take this as a guest post”. Her reply, “You’d be surprised, LOL”.

The thing is, Google is adjusting its search algorithms all the time. It already specifically works against backlinks (a link to your content on someone reputable’s website which ups your credibility in the “eyes” of the search engines) which are in lists of random links and content which is full of keywords but no useful content. In time, your link to your bead firm on a blog about wind farms will impress the search engines less and less.

You’ll get far more hits as a genuine person seeking to place guest posts on a website if you target appropriate and relevant hosts.

2. Give detail.

If I get a generic, one-line email asking for a guest post or review that doesn’t give me any other info, that’s going straight in the reject pile. You might get my standard email response if you’re lucky.

If’s fine to keep it short, but make sure there is some information in there.

3. Show you’re familiar with the target blog / review site

I am looking for you to  have actually read my blog and know a little bit about what I do. Just a mention of the URL isn’t enough: you can cut and paste that. I want to  know that you know what I do, who my readers are, what topics I cover.

4. Watch out for mail merges / cut and paste carefully.

I’m putting this here because without fail, emails requesting guest posts start with “I have been reading URL INSERTED for some time and love your content”. This doesn’t work so well as a hook if you re-use an email and include the incorrect blog title or URL!

5. State what you want to do.

The target will want to know what you want to do – send in a blog post, pitch some ideas, post them a sample. Put this clearly early on.

6. State what you want out of it.

If you want a book review, say so. If you want your website address included in a guest post you’ve written, say so. If you want to include links that you’ve promised your customer to get onto several reputable websites, also say so – because your target is likely to notice this further down the line and get a bit cross with you.

7. State what the target will get out of it.

State clearly the benefit for the target. Yes, they might be desperate for content – if you see they haven’t posted for a while, this is OK to mention. Will you be helping their readers, bringing a new but related audience to their blog? Tell them. One useful offer is to do a reciprocal guest post – i.e. you will host a post from your target on your website on a similar or related matter.

8. Show you know who your target’s audience is.

I want to know that you’ve thought about who this will reach. An example when pitching to me might be, “I would guess given your writing on dissertations that your audience includes students. This product helps students to bind their dissertations so might be useful to that part of your readership”.

9. Give links and reviews.

If you’ve got examples of your work or product on other websites or you can showcase your own writing on your own website, include links. If your product, book, etc. has been reviewed on other websites, include links.

10. Keep it simple, keep it correct.

If you’re pitching a guest post, make sure to write clearly and grammatically – a reputable blogger will not want to either edit your text for hours or hosts something of lower quality than the content they usually post up. If you’re pitching a product, make sure you are clear and knowledgeable and point to a well-designed and informative website. Will your target want to embarrass themselves pointing their readers to a terrible website?

A good example

This post was triggered  by two things – one, another request but with another company’s URL in the message – d’oh! The other was an excellent pitch from an author asking me to review her book. I’m going to go into specifics another day, but she included …

  • A greeting using my name and a farewell using hers
  • A note confirming that she had read my blog, mentioning something I’d talked about on it recently
  • Details of her book title and the fact she was asking me to review it
  • A few sentences about the book
  • A link to its sales page and a review by a reputable reviewer
  • A polite request to consider taking a review copy

And do you know what? I’ve got a review copy of that book sitting in my To Be Read pile right now.

In summary

If you’re serious about pitching your content or product to reputable websites where their presence can do you some good, make sure that you give your target blogger information about both what your pitching and your own credibility. I’m not saying that you will succeed every time, but your target blogger is more likely to read your email and consider your pitch if you do.

I hope you’ve found this article enjoyable and useful. If you have, please take a moment to share it using the sharing buttons below, and I always appreciate relevant comments!

Relevant posts on this blog

Guest blogging 1: how to be the host with the most

Guest blogging 2: how to be the perfect guest

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2015 in Blogging, Business, Marketing, Writing

 

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Top blog posts of 2014

It’s that time of year when I do a roundup of the top posts of the year that has just passed. I like sharing what most people liked to read about through the year … (They’re in reverse order, building up to the most popular)

Top 5 small business chats

(not including my own)

5. Small business chat – Jenny Woodberry

4. Small business chat – Deborah Price

3. Small business chat – Karen White

2. Small business chat update – Paul Alborough / Professor Elemental

1. Saturday freelance chat – Carl Nixon

Top 5 Microsoft Office tips posts

5. Table of figures and table of tables

4. What to do if your comment boxes go tiny in Word (this was my first ever Word tips blog post, written for myself when I experienced the issue!)

3. How do I print out table headings at the top of every page in Excel?

2. How to put text in alphabetical order in Word

1. How do I keep my table headings over multiple pages in a Word document?

Top 5 business and careers tips posts

5. Ten top tips for transcribers

4. All the small business interviews

3. Working as a professional transcriber

2. How do you start a career in transcription?

1. Proofreading as a career – some pointers

(this little lot makes me glad that I wrote my Quick Guide to Your Career in Transcription and am preparing a book on careers for editors and proofreaders!)

Top 5 social media and blogging posts

5. How to set up a WordPress blog 2: adding pages to make it into a website

4. Setting up a WordPress blog 6: Adding sharing buttons to your blog posts

3. How to Set up a WordPress blog 7: Adding your profile picture or avatar

2. How to add an admin or moderator to your Facebook business page

1. What is Storify and how do I use it?

Top 5 Troublesome Pairs

5. Gunnel or gunwale?

4. Comprise, compose or consist?

3. Lightning, lightening or lighting?

2. Unmeasurable or immeasurable?

1. On Route or En Route?

Top 5 posts overall

5. Table of figures and table of tables

4. What to do if your comment boxes go tiny in Word

3. How do I print out table headings at the top of every page in Excel?

2. How to put text in alphabetical order in Word

1. How do I keep my table headings over multiple pages in a Word document?

Wow … all Office tips, and they’ve finally knocked En route or on route off the top spot!

And these were the top posts last year!

Happy New Year to all of my readers, however you’re reading this blog and wherever you are. You can look forward to more troublesome pairs, Word tips, business stuff and new books in 2015!

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2015 in Blogging, Business, Word

 

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Why writing a blog post is (a bit) like writing a sermon

A hand, writing with a fountain penI was reading (yet) another mid-20th-century novel featuring a vicar hard at work over his Sunday sermon (sorry, I haven’t read a book featuring a female vicar, as far as I know. Are there any yet?) and an analogy struck me: writing a blog post is quite a lot like writing a sermon. As both involve constantly seeking fresh ways of looking at things, I thought I’d run with that idea and see where it took me, so here goes…. but please do read the comment at the bottom of the post if you’re at all concerned about this content …

10 reasons why writing a blog post is (a bit) like writing a sermon

If you commit to writing a blog, it’s a good idea to publish at least one post a week. When I was thinking about writing a batch of posts one day, it reminded me of vicars, from Jane Austen onwards, heading to their desk to write their weekly sermon. Here’s why, in particular.

1. You have to produce something new every week. If you said the same thing over and over again, people would soon get bored and drift away.

2. It’s good to base your text on a real-world problem. The best blog posts, in my opinion, are based on something real that’s happened, whether you’ve encountered a tricky problem using Word (that’s how my whole series of Word posts started), are reacting to something in the news or are sharing a story you’ve created.

3. You base your work on truth and you refer to the relevant authorities. A sermon will of course be based around a Bible reference. When I write about a topic, I will often include the real-life experience of others, or links to their work, or screen shots of what’s going on in a program. If I claim to state a fact, I try to provide a reference. If I’m responding to someone else, I include a link.

4. You need to add value and a learning point (or lesson, if we’re being straightforward). It’s all very well to talk about a real-world issue, but you need to draw something from it, a useful lesson, something to make it worthwhile reading the post.

5. You need to leave your audience thinking. They might have enjoyed your latest novel extract, know there’s now a place to get information on comment boxes or have learned more about DIY funerals (as I did myself earlier this week), but if they go away thinking, they’ll remember you next time.

6. You are often talking about things that have been talked about before. There’s not much new in the world, and it’s unlikely that any of us will produce anything totally new, but there are ways to find new ways to talk about things, as I might have done here!

7. You’re trying to help people! You might be entertaining, explaining, sharing a book, giving information on a technical matter, sharing your own experience of something, but I think most successful bloggers are in it to help people as well as pour out their souls or publicise their business.

8. You want people to come back. No one wants to drive readers (or worshippers) away, so you’re intending to encourage them to visit again, by providing well-crafted content that they want or need.

9. You are often trying to inspire people to take action in some way. Whether you’re encouraging people to try a new craft, read a new book or venture into running their own business, or trying to change their mind on a contentious topic, many blog posts aim to inspire.

10. Your best work is probably produced after pondering for a while rather than dashing it off in a blind panic at the last minute (as my old friend Paulette says, “more like a birth than a rupture!”). This is certainly true of many of mine, although the actual writing up may come a little close to the wire sometimes.

Do you agree? Can you add any other analogies? Do vicars have a day of writing sermons to get ahead of themselves? (seriously, I’d love to know!)

Thanks and disclaimer:

I checked this idea with a group of people who are more religious than me / regularly attend worship / are vicars / are related to or married to vicars and other people of the cloth (thank you to all of them, and particularly Paulette Stubbings for a valuable suggestion). They all thought it was a fun  /interesting / good idea. It’s not my intention to offend anyone, and if I do, please let me know, and why, and I’ll take that into consideration. I’m certainly not undermining the work of religious leaders or claiming that bloggers are the new priests or anything silly like that. Edited to add: I also understand that I am not empowered by any higher spirit or authority of any kind when writing, but I do have a serious intent in sharing information and helping people: not all blogs do that, but I’m primarily talking about myself and similar informational bloggers here.

To read more about blogging, visit the resource page

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2014 in Blogging, Writing

 

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WordPress 9 – setting up a Posts page

This post and the one on setting a static home page will walk you through helping your readers to navigate your blog/website by creating a Menu item to allow people to access your blog posts and a static home page so that they understand what you’re all about.

Why would I want to set up a Posts page?

If you’ve set up a static page for viewers to land on when they visit your blog (which is recommended for any set of pages and posts where you’re promoting a service, company or product, whether that’s your crafts, plumbing services or travel or writing blog), then your readers will need a place to visit your blog posts.

WordPress will set up a “Recent posts” area somewhere on your theme (depending on the theme you chose when you set up the blog), but it’s nice to have something to click on in the main menu:

WordPress blog default

You can see that there’s only one page on the menu at the top of the page (menu location will vary depending on your theme; menu items will vary depending on how many pages you have set up) and then a list of recent posts. Clicking on the blog title will bring you to this “About” page again, which is fine, because that’s the first page you want your readers to see. But it’s not helping them to see your blog.

How do I set a Posts page?

In order to set up a Posts page for your readers to navigate to, you need to create a new page to link to your blog, and then tell WordPress to display it. Here’s how to do just that:

First of all, you need to set up a page for the posts to be associated with. Why? Because a page is a static, unchanging lump of text on a screen, and WordPress likes to add pages, and not posts (which are constantly renewed and have dates on them) to menus. So we need to set up an empty page called, for example, “Blog” first (another popular choice is “News”).

To set up a new page, in the Dashboard, select Pages then All Pages:

Pages menu in WordPress

You can view here what pages you have set up – in this case, just the About page:

Viewing all pages

To add a new page, click on Add New under the Pages menu in the sidebar. You will now see a new, blank page:

Adding  a page

Give the page a title – Blog, or News, or however you want people to find your blog posts / diary entries / news bulletins, but don’t add any text to the main part of the page, and then press the Publish button:

Adding a new page called Blog

Now you have a lovely page called Blog, which you can see if you navigate back to All Pages:

Page added to WordPress

And if you view your blog (I keep a separate tab open in my browser in which I display the reader’s view of the page, refreshing it when I’ve changed something on the site), you have an automatic menu item on the screen called Blog …

Page added - Blog appears on menu

… but when you click on that, all you see is an empty page with the title Blog:

Page added for Blog but not linked to the Posts

Oh no! But don’t worry, you just need to tell WordPress what you want your readers to see when they navigate to this page.

To set the Blog page to display your blog posts, go into Dashboard, then Settings and Reading:

 

Setting home screen

Once in the Reading Settings screen, you can choose what the Posts page (or blog / news page) displays. Here, the default is currently set to nothing (“– Select –“), meaning that no page has been selected to display any blog posts. Click on the down arrow and choose Blog from the list of pages that you have set up (if you have more than two pages, all of them will display here):

Setting the posts page

Click on the page you wish to select. You can now see that, after following these two sets of instructions, you have set a home or landing page (static page) and a page on which to display your blog (or news, constantly changing and updating):

Both bome pages set

Click on the Save Changes button at the bottom of the screen. When viewing the website and clicking on Blog, you now have a menu item and page that your readers can navigate to in order to read your blog.

Blog page set up

Yes, this is a bit convoluted, but it’s how to make a posts page that’s easily findable by your readers. If you look at the top of this blog post, if you’re viewing it on my website rather than in an email or via an aggregator, you will see Home and Blog among the menu items at the top, and most good sites will have something of the sort.

I hope you’ve found this post useful. Please do share it using the buttons below so that other people can find it and benefit from the instructions! Thank you!

Related posts on this website

You can find all of the social media and blogging posts, including WordPress, in my Resource Guide

Adding pages to WordPress blogs

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2014 in Blogging, WordPress

 

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WordPress 8 – setting a static Home page

This post and the next one will walk you through setting a static Home page for your WordPress blog or website, and then creating a Menu item to allow people to access your blog posts.

Why would I want to set a static Home or landing page?

If you’re writing a blog, the content will update regularly, and the first page that any viewer will come across by default will be your latest blog post. This may not necessarily get across who you are and what the blog / website is for – especially if you’re using it to publicise a company, books, products or whatever else, rather than just using it as a private diary.

We’ve already learned how to add pages to a blog, It’s generally considered a good idea to have a single “static” (i.e. unchanging) page for people to “land on” when they type in your URL or search for your website. For example, the Home page for this website is the one you will reach if you type http://www.libroediting.com into your address line or search for Libroediting.

How do I set a static page to be my landing page?

As I mentioned above, by default, WordPress will show visitors to your page your latest blog post. For example, if I enter the URL http://www.lyzzybee.wordpress.com, the first thing that I will encounter is the latest blog post on my blog. It’s particularly important in this case NOT to have this showing first, as I only post test and illustrative messages on this blog!

default WordPress view - blog posts

Instead of this long list of blog posts, I want to display a static page when people visit the site (remember – pages are static, unchanging pages like you find on any website; posts are constantly updating, dated diary entries).

Let’s remind ourselves of how to view what pages we have set up. In the Dashboard, select Pages then All Pages:

Pages menu in WordPress

Now you will be able to have a look at what pages you have set up. In this case, I’ve just got one page, called “About”. I might want to set up a Home page in the future, as I have on the blog you’re reading right now, but for now, I know I’ve got at least one page I can use as a landing page.

List of pages

To set one of these pages as the landing or Home page, go into Dashboard, then Settings and Reading:

 

Setting home screen

Once in the Reading Settings screen, you can choose what the Front page (or landing / home page) displays. Here, the default is currently set, so “Your latest posts” is selected, meaning that the first page your viewers see will be those blog posts.

Setting home screen

Select “A static page”, then drop down the list of pages. In this case, we only have one, but if you have more than one page, a list of all of them will appear here:

Choose a static page

Click on the page you wish to select and then the Save Changes button at the bottom of the screen. When viewing my website now, people will see my About page first of all.

Public view of landing page

But how do people find my blog posts now?

Read my next post for instructions on how to make your blog posts more visible … Don’t panic, though – as you can see on the screenshot above, WordPress defaults to showing your recent posts in the sidebar, so your readers can click there to navigate to your blog.

I hope you’ve found this post useful. Please do share it using the buttons below so that other people can find it and benefit from the instructions! Thank you!

Related posts on this website

You can find all of the social media and blogging posts, including WordPress, in my Resource Guide

Adding pages to WordPress blogs

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2014 in Blogging, WordPress

 

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How to Set up a WordPress blog 7: Adding your profile picture or avatar

In this post about WordPress I’m going to tell you how to add your image to your blog, so that it appears on your comments and replies to comments. This gives a human face to your blog (if you choose to use an image of a human face, of course!) and makes it nice and tidy and complete.

To add or change your user image, go to the Dashboard and choose Settings then General:

12 setup

The General Settings are where you do things like changing the title and tagline for your blog – and over to the right, you can change your blog picture or icon. Click on Choose File:

14 setup

This will take you into your standard File Explorer, where you can navigate to find the picture file you want to use. Once you’ve clicked on the image and OK, you need to click Upload Image:

15 setup

Once the image has uploaded, you’ll have the opportunity to crop it. The image will be quite small on the page, so it’s important to have your face (or the main part of whatever image you use) filling the little square. Move the dotted lines around the square until you’re happy that you have a big, central image:

16 setup

Then click Crop image and you will return to the main screen. Once there, click on Save Changes:

14.5 setup

You will be shown what your image will look like in various places on your blog. Go Back to blog options anyway, but you can always go back around the loop and change or upload a new picture.

17 setup

This article has told you how to add and update your image on WordPress. If you found it useful, please add a comment and share using the sharing buttons below. Thank you!

Related posts on this blog:

WordPress 1 – the basics

WordPress 2 – adding pages to create a website

WordPress 3 – adding images to your post or page

WordPress 4 – adding slideshows and galleries of images

WordPress 5 – linking your blog to your social media

WordPress 6 – sharing buttons

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Blogging, WordPress

 

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