Lawanda Stevenson and Wade at the Rocket City Bloggers networking event
Blogging is more fun with a friend. I may have started out on my own, but I’ve learned just about everything from other bloggers.
They know how to build big fan bases, design themes, excite readers and make money.
Let me introduce you to two groups in Alabama that bring bloggers together.
The first group is Birmingham Bloggers, which took off earlier this year. Beth Branch, Meredith Davis and Molly Moon feature local blogs and bloggers on their site and have held two meetups.
The second group is Rocket City Bloggers, founded in 2011. It features Huntsville blogs and bloggers on the site and holds monthly dining meetups.
Last week, I stopped by for the Connect! event, a networking event at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center for businesses and bloggers. I had a great time catching up with my Huntsville friends and meeting new ones.
I hope to meet you soon at a blogger event!
• • •
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Retailers have time this summer to think ahead to the holidays. Besides inventory and staffing, it may be time to put a content strategy into place.
This will take at least 6 months to gain traction, but why not start now?
A content strategy is part of an overall marketing plan. A retailer may already have other pieces in place: signage, print ads, mailers, commercials, sales, preview parties, billboards, search engine marketing and more. Pieces of content — on a website and blog, on social media channels, in emails — can build search referrals, answer common shopper questions and bring in leads and sales.
The strategy comes from the goal, whether it’s to show off products, improve customer service, increase sales or promote branding. Remember, the goal should be measurable over a specified time period.
The content itself can be practically anything: event photos, how-to videos, case studies, testimonials, store updates, spotlights on customers and colleagues, announcements, sales, product demos, reviews, comparisons, Q&A with vendors, coupons and on and on.
Content deserves a home, and the best spot is usually a website. Content deserves a direction, one that shapes it and expands readership. And content deserves to be measured, so that its quality continues to improve.
Smart retailers can put together compelling content over the next few months that strengthens marketing. By engaging readers and customers, retailers can build a real relationship with them and understand their needs more clearly.
It starts with goals, emerges with a strategy and grows with content.
• • •
Let’s build your strategy today …
That’s me at Y’all Connect Presented by Alabama Power 10 days ago. I’m still neck deep in post-conference affairs.
So no blog post this week. Except for this blog post telling you what I’m doing instead:
- Writing a guest blog post I still owe to the public library on checking out audiobooks.
- Another guest post I’ve owed for 2 years, but will instead give this (deeply patient) blogger a how-to course on email newsletters.
- Getting the Y’all Connect videos ready (my mantra for the past 11 months).
- Meeting with new clients (hallelujah!).
How’s your summer going?
• • •
If you need help with marketing, blogging, social media
or other areas of communication, let’s meet …
Media coverage can be important to a marketing plan. It can make or break a product launch or a sales campaign.
And sometimes, the media can play unfairly, demanding pay for play or allowing business interests to override editorial decisions. I discussed how the Birmingham Business Journal banned coverage of my company Y’all Connect in a recent post.
But marketers have proven tactics to fight back. Just because a newspaper or a TV station or a website behaves badly doesn’t mean we have to.
1. Publish media releases on a regular basis. The once-a-year release isn’t worth it. I’ve heard the argument that the media release is dead, and I’m not buying it. I put out a bulletin for assignment editors on Friday to alert them to our Y’all Connect conference, and we had coverage on two newscasts that evening.
Part of that comes from regular contact with editors and reporters, having a relationship already in place. Most media releases won’t earn coverage, but this is where to begin.
Hire me: I help companies with media relations.
2. Cultivate relationships with (fellow) bloggers. Bloggers love to write about great brands and products. Bloggers need good ideas. Bloggers reach passionate engaged audiences. But many companies haven’t the faintest idea how to work with this global community.
Marketers should be reading relevant blogs daily, leaving appropriate and helpful comments as necessary. They should contact bloggers with ideas, suggestions and questions. I’ve been fortunate to receive terrific coverage, not just from traditional media, but also from fellow bloggers.
Hire me: I connect bloggers with brands.
3. Outsource. Busy marketers may not have time to do it all themselves. They may need help with campaigns, ad buys, blogging, social media, event planning and a million other details.
Companies can bring in ad agencies, brand specialists, public relations professionals, social media experts, freelance writers and editors, event planners and other creatives who can execute plans quickly and smoothly. Bring in a big gun to win media attention.
Hire me: I work with marketers to develop the best strategy.
I never thought I’d have to work under the constraints of a media ban. It’s not an ideal situation, but by working all year long on gaining coverage, even one outlet’s shortsightedness can’t stop my message.
• • •
Hire me today …
Video: Net neutrality, on “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”
As a communication consultant, I depend on the Internet to do research, market my services to clients and share information. As a citizen, I want the Internet to remain a level playing field.
The corporate interests that want to tilt the balance in their favor will become more and more aggressive in their efforts over time.
Comedian and host John Oliver discusses net neutrality, and the latest threat to it in this important 13-minute video.
Net neutrality means that all data is treated equally on the Internet, that no company or service is held back (or given priority). I pay a local cable company monthly for my Internet service, my lifeline to the outside world, with very few alternatives. Fellow Birmingham-area residents know this plight, as cable companies have territorial monopolies in the metropolitan region.
Please watch the video, then leave a comment on the FCC site at fcc.gov/comments. (The open comment period for net neutrality runs through June 27.)
Let’s ensure that the Internet — which helps all of us connect, learn and grow — remains open and free.
I tend to do things backwards.
The latest example would be reminding you to check out Y’all Connect Presented by Alabama Power. On the last week of ticket sales. Just a few weeks before the conference.
I’ve been on the road all month promoting my event, but have not talked much about it on this site. Mercy me.
[FYI: Last stop on the speaking tour is Wednesday at PRAM Central in Jackson. Join me for my talk on "Be a Digital Storyteller." RSVP on the event page.]
Y’all Connect will be even better than 2013, with a great group of speakers and terrific topics for the June 13 event. If you want to learn everything you can about digital marketing, including blogging and social media, this is the place to be next month.
Regular tickets are $129, VIP tickets are $199, and they’re on sale till Saturday, May 31 (unless we sell out sooner). Join 200 other guests for the South’s biggest blogging and social media conference.
I hope to see you there!
Don’t miss out on Y’all Connect!
Get your tickets today!
If you came to my WordPress Birmingham meetup presentation, “The Cheapest Website You Can Do in 60 Minutes,” thank you. If you’re just interested in easy site design for business, you’re in the right place.
1. You can see the slides from the presentation. Please feel free to download them or embed them on your site. To download a PDF, click the Slideshare logo in the lower left, then “Save.”
2. If you want to stay in touch …
- You can contact me through this simple form. Please feel free to ask questions, make suggestions or request help.
- You can follow me on Twitter at @WadeOnTweets.
- You can subscribe to the free e-mail newsletter with tips, info, specials and more.
- And you can subscribe to my Birmingham Blogging Academy posts by RSS feed or by e-mail by looking for the box in the right sidebar.
3. Don’t forget to buy your tickets to Y’all Connect Presented by Alabama Power, taking place June 13 in Birmingham.
Thanks for checking out “The Cheapest Website You Can Do in 60 Minutes.”
• • •
If you need help with communication,
book me for a FREE consultation.
Among the many WordPress resources, meetups have been a great way for users, designers, developers and other community members to learn and network.
Birmingham is fortunate to have a strong WordPress group, one that grows each year.
I’m the speaker at WordPress Birmingham next week, focusing on one of my favorite variations of this software, WordPress.com. My talk is called “The Cheapest Website You Can Do in 60 Minutes.”
I’ll reveal just how little it costs to run a robust site, and the most important steps in launching a new site for a company, a project, an organization or an event. You can a new website, or 10 new websites, with almost no effort or cash.
And the best part … it’s free. Plus, I’ll have discount codes to save $30 on regular tickets to Y’all Connect Presented by Alabama Power.
The meeting takes place from 7 to 8 p.m. May 19 at Pale Eddie’s Pour House, 2308 Second Ave. N., downtown [map].
Make sure to RSVP today.
And coming up this week …
- Tuesday at lunchtime, I’ll talk about social media and volunteerism at PRSA Alabama. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online.
- Tuesday evening, I’ll talk about social media and volunteerism (again!) at the Birmingham Girls Club. Join the group today.
- Saturday at 3 p.m. CDT, I’ll talk about the power of storytelling at PodCamp Nashville. Get your free tickets today.
I’ll be on the road this week giving talks and promoting Y’all Connect Presented by Alabama Power …
• Wednesday, find me at Interactive Expedition in Memphis. We’ll talk about “Set the Expectation: Expedition of Content.” My thanks to my pal Dave Barger for having me as speaker.
The event starts at 7:30 a.m. Admission is $20. For more information and to RSVP, visit the event page.
• Thursday, see me at American Advertising Federation, Tuscaloosa chapter meeting. I’ll discuss “How to Run Promotional Campaigns and Building Your List Using WordPress.”
The event starts at 11:45 a.m. at the University Club, 421 Queen City Ave. For more information and to RSVP, visit the event page.
• • •
Subscribe to my free weekly newsletter
to keep up with me and the world of communication …
Marketing tactics vary by company, by season, by target audience. How do we even know if they’re working?
Of course, many marketing directors launch campaign after campaign with no idea on if they’re even working. How many people saw it? What did they do, if anything? How do we even measure that?
The five videos below will help explain metrics, what to measure and how to set up a system to capture and interpret that data. Viewers can learn at their own pace and review material as many times as needed.
Love numbers, because they will help guide marketers to better tactics and more receptive audiences.
Video: Using metrics, featuring Martin Klubeck and Tim Chester
Video: How to Build a Company Metrics Dashboard, by Ash Maurya
Video: Advanced metrics, by MicroStrategy
Video: Metrics, Metrics Everywhere, by Coda Hale
Video: Startup metrics for pirates, by Dave McClure
Part of the 2014 BBA yearlong blogging challenge.
• • •
Need help getting your metrics moving in the right direction.
Let me build you a successful system …
Last week, I took part in the April Alabama Bloggers lunch, a fund-raiser for the WellHouse. We gave away some great door prizes and more importantly, raised more than $160 in cash gifts and purchases plus donated items for this Birmingham nonprofit organization.
Our attendees discussed the finer points of photography, SEO, monetization (my table), topic ideas and getting started.
And a few days earlier, I sat down with See Jane Write’s Bloggers Who Brunch. I loved hearing about everyone’s sites and ideas and backgrounds.
Birmingham has great resources for bloggers of all stripes. Learn from the best, those who do it every day.
Follow these sites:
- Alabama Bloggers site | Facebook group | Twitter @AlabamaBloggers
- See Jane Write site | Facebook | Twitter @seejanewritebhm
See Jane Write Bloggers Who Brunch
Meet the Alabama Bloggers at Cantina.
The April Alabama Bloggers meetup is coming up next week. Organizer Rachel Callahan occasionally lets me put together a theme, and this one will be so much fun.
The lunch runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 18.
For starters, it’s at Cantina at Pepper Place, one of my favorite dining spots in Birmingham. Lots of great options for diners.
Another reason this event rocks is our topics: You can learn more about SEO, taking photos, monetization, marketing, getting started and brainstorming topics. Pick the topic you want to discuss … we’ll sit by category so we won’t have to shout over each other.
My pals Tiffeny Currier and Sheree Martin have already signed on to lead the marketing and SEO tables. Rachel will share her tips on photography, and I’ll help with monetization. You’ll walk away with great ideas on taking your blog to the next level.
Dreamcakes Bakery has given two $25 gift cards as prizes.
The last reason happens to be the most important: We want to collect donations for the WellHouse, a Birmingham nonprofit organization helping women escape sex trafficking. Admission is either a $5 donation or an item on the list (from study Bibles to jewelry making supplies).
All I need you to do is put your name on the signup form today. With 20 spots left, you should hurry to get a seat.
I hope you’ll join us for this fund-raiser and blogging roundtable with Alabama Bloggers.
I preach consistency. I consistently preach consistency.
It is the one method you can use to make your blog, your newsletter, your social media and even your events better than those of your competitors.
Your company might use events for building awareness, or generating leads, or researching the market. Events can be great for reinforcing the brand and maintaining good ties with clients.
I’ve seen organizations execute events sharply, delivering on the promise of education, networking or plain old fun. I’ve served as event planner for years with different groups, in addition to taking in my fair share of seminars, conferences, receptions and happy hours.
Events are challenging. They require intense focus on the guests and management of a thousand details.
The way to outmaneuver the many competing events is through consistency.
That can include, but is not limited to …
- Reminders: Busy people forget events, even ones for which they paid. Send a reminder or two.
- Timing: day of the week/month, time of day, time of year.
- Timing, part 2: Start on time. Let the stragglers catch up — don’t punish those who were punctual.
- Registration: friendly and swift, with clearly delineated check-in areas.
- Signage: Help guests help themselves with simple navigation. Plus, an opportunity for branding.
- Greeters: I learned this secret early on: Everything else can go wrong, but you have full control over hospitality. It can make or break an event.
- Speaker: Arm them with information ahead of time: Who will introduce them? How much time will they have? What is the audience’s profile?
- A/V: When possible, make sure your announcer has a microphone; it’s tough to be heard in noisy venues. Check ahead of time to ensure lighting, projection, computer, remote and other equipment works smoothly and effortlessly.
- Vendors: Check in regularly with caterers, sponsors and partners with updates, questions and reminders.
- Presentation: When in doubt, script it. This gives you a foolproof way to cover all announcements, sponsor mentions, complete speaker introduction and welcome message.
- Follow-up: Thank your guests, and let them know how they can give feedback and sign up for the next event.
(If you need help with all these details, consider hiring an event planner. They love this stuff and can even help save money and eliminate headaches.)
Consistent events build trust among clients. That trust leads to sales and satisfaction. Work hard to build that trust with each outing.
• • •
Need help fine-tuning your events?
Let me help make them successful …
To mark 5 years of the Birmingham Blogging Academy, I’d like to share some wisdom collected along the way …
Five things I love about blogging
- Showing off my ideas and my writing.
- Commiserating with fellow bloggers.
- Inserting the perfect image with a post.
- Traffic spikes.
Five things I hate about blogging
- Hunting for photos.
- Seeing people give up.
- The list (in my head) of site fixes needed.
- When you bare your soul and no one reads it. sigh
- Infinite scroll.
Five things I’ve learned about consulting
- Get paid up front. Always.
- Vacation? What’s that?
- Hustle is your best friend.
- Flexibility is your next best friend.
- Developing sales skills is crucial.
Five things I do well
- Little surprises.
Five things I need to do better
- Follow up with clients after the project.
- Elevator pitches.
- Edit video.
- Record videos.
Five tips to blog better
Five changes in blogging in the last 5 years
- Decline of RSS.
- Rise of mobile.
- Responsive design.
Five traits I admire in other bloggers
Five suggested goals for blogging
- Generate leads.
- Increase number of subscribers.
- Sign a book deal.
- Sell products and services.
- Become thought leader/expert in topic.
Five ways you know you’re succeeding at blogging
- Strangers call you by your blog name.
- You have more ideas than time.
- Other bloggers look up to you.
- Your goal becomes reality.
- It’s still fun after all these years.
• • •
Find more insights into blogging and other channels
in my free weekly newsletter …
I hopped over to Atlanta Friday for the first day of WordCamp Atlanta 2014. It was a lot of fun showing how to build a mailing list using WordPress and a promotional campaign.
My thanks to the organizers and the volunteers for putting on a great conference.
And special thanks to my attendees. I loved being able to answer your questions and meeting all y’all. I give you a sample of their tweets from the session.
Brian Martin (@BofDrmsDesgnd) March 14, 2014
@wadeontweets is the last and best speaker at#wcatl! What a great event. Psyched 4 tomorrow!—
Anna Hovind (@Annabandana1) March 14, 2014
Eric Flamm (@eflamm) March 14, 2014
Brian Martin (@BofDrmsDesgnd) March 14, 2014
Misfit Ideas (@MisfitIdeas) March 14, 2014
@WadeOnTweets great talk on list building!!—
Rhonda Williams (@allcashqueen) March 14, 2014
Stephanie Brown (@strawmitch) March 14, 2014
Kimberly Jackson (@CoachKimberly) March 15, 2014
• • •
I’d love to help your audience, too.
Tell me about your upcoming conference, seminar, webinar or workshop.