Blowing The Dust Off Your Blog: Three Ways To Network

Hey, remember blogs? Times used to be when we talked about how blogging was the next great marketing venue of the 21st century – it’s been about ten years since then. How about we get back to basics? Blogging is still the main way to go if you want your business to get exposure on the web, but now that everybody has a blog, you have to work harder to get noticed. So here’s a refresher course in networking to promote your blog:

1. Interact with your readers. The best way to keep traffic coming in is to make them feel welcome. So when a visitor takes the time to leave a comment, thank them! If you use the Disqus plugin or similar systems, you can even rate them – just a little +1 or ‘like’ to say ‘thanks for your feedback.’ And replying just to say ‘thanks for your insight’ goes a long way. Get into an interesting discussion or two with your commenting readers sometimes, it shows that you’re not just a megaphone shooting your mouth off, but have an open mind and thoughts to consider.

2. Reach out to other blogs in your niche. You’ve heard it a dozen times already, but it’s still viable. Now, nothing says ‘2005’ like a sidebar blogroll, but let’s freshen the concept: Instead of trying to link to the whole world, focus on two kinds: established veterans that have spoken with authority for years (good Google juice) and brand new newbies who are struggling to make it (good for karma and good will). The newbies will more than likely make a post recognizing you for your works.

3. Be a problem solver. Check your search logs, and notice when somebody landed on your site from Google but obviously didn’t find what they were looking for. Now make a new blog post addressing that specific problem. Neat idea, no? It’s kind of like reverse SEO – if the search hit got to you, you already know that you rank for those keywords, so why not capitalize on it? Another way to problem solve is to find bulletin boards asking questions within your field of specialty, then make a blog post answering that kind of question. Perhaps create an infographic for it, too.

Six Random Moments Of “Aha!” In Web Design

We thought we’d share a few silly little tricks or ideas that solve a lot of problems in a small amount of time, or just look knock-out cool for very little effort…

#1. Using a “position:relative;” div tag on the outside of a “position:absolute;” See, normally, the ‘absolute’ attribute in CSS makes the element stay stuck to a spot on the web page as if it were nailed there. And that happens no matter how many nested floating divs you stick it in. Until you make the div just outside of that one say “position:relative;”, then your absolute element finally says “Ooooh, so THAT’S what they want me to do!”

#2. Git cures cancer. We’re talking about the distributed version control system software. It isn’t just for kernel developers; it’s great for any code project anywhere by anyone. It isn’t even just for teams; learning and using Git will help just one developer stay organized and focused. That’s because it has the ‘branch’ and ‘checkout’ features, so it acts like a nice code maid and handles the mundane tasks of patching your source code for you.

#3. CSS animations, shadows, and gradients. Used sparingly, they’re a little dash of panache in the otherwise dull sea of whitespace and text. Don’t let the fact that too many design majors overuse it stop you from appreciating when it’s tastefully used.

#4. Inline-block element display. Useful for chunks of data like images or pullquotes in the middle of a paragraph. Half the time new designers are struggling to make floating divs behave when what they really want is an inline block.

#5. Using “overflow: auto;” for responsive div containers. Now if the screen is too small to see all of some block, the scrollbars just pop in automatically. They disappear when the screen is big enough (or the font size small enough, if we’re dealing with text) to see the whole thing at once. You’d think this would be first-year design-student knowledge, but a brief tour of blogs out there that have text and images slopping over into the sidebar will show the contrary.

#6. The fact that typography only matters about 5% as the web design community thinks it does. Seriously, there’s about four fonts you can use. Let the browser do its own kerning and spacing. What a relief! Free of arguing for weeks at a time about whether the handles on the capital ‘H’ in Helvetica jab too much into the previous sentence.

Web Design – A Look Back At Big Tech Stories OF 2012

Looking at web industry from a business angle, Ars Technica muses upon six big stories that stood out last year. Of those six, we’ll peg BitCoins as the story we’re most likely to look back on in a decade and wonder “what were they thinking?” Like Microsoft Bob,, and the CueCat, BitCoins still have that cachet of “naive pre-web-bubble idea”. The article goes into several ways where BitCoin has had trouble already, which we predict is the shape of its doom, arrising like a Grim Reaper in the West.

7 Successful Business Blogging Tips for Boosting Brand Visibility

Blogging, especially business blogging, is the in thing these days; just about every business with an online presence is into it. It’s something that everybody is doing, and why not, after all a blog not only brings to a website an added sense of credibility, but also improves the brand awareness of your business and its products and services.

But, it must be remembered that blogging just for the heck of it, and because everybody is doing it, doesn’t work. It must be purposeful in order to succeed. To make you job a little easier, you need to keep a few business blogging tips in mind, to ensure that your blog is successful.

Let’s take a look at the various facets of a successful business blog.

1.    Identification of blog purpose

Blogging-vs-Threaded-Discussions-in-Online-CoursesYou will first need to zero in on the purpose of your blog. There are some blogs that offer ancillary information about the products and services being offered on the business’s website. Then there are others that are doing a bit of hard-selling where their sole purpose is to market the products and services sold by the business. And there are others still that act as problem solvers, where they target the problems experienced by the audience of a particular niche. So, if it’s a company offering web design services, the blog can be about the various problems experienced by web designers during the course of designing a website and offering solutions for the same.

2.    Figure out your Audience

Who is your blog’s audience? That is the essential question that needs to be answered. Who is going to read your blog – Is it your existing customers, your potential customers or both?  Which is the demographic that your audience belongs to, their age group, gender, profession? What are their interests and preferences? The answers to these questions will help you write blog posts that are in perfect sync with what your target audience expects from your blog.

3.    Keep it Real Time

Your business and the domain that your business belongs to, is undergoing a continuous evolution; there are new things happening regularly. No matter what the purpose behind your blog, or the audience that you are targeting, they want to be brought up to speed with the latest happenings. So, you need to keep your blog rooted in the present and not in the past.

One of the better ways of offering current information in your blog is by bringing to readers a round up of the latest industry news, interviewing people from the industry, offering advice for conducting certain activities that are a part of your domain, or offering valuable insights into the functioning of your domain.

4.    Focus on reader engagement

Let’s face it, most readers, especially of the online variety have short attention spans, and therefore you need to get them hooked onto your blog, as soon as they lay their eyes on it. You can’t take your own sweet time, coming to the point. But more importantly, you need to engage the reader’s attention, and this becomes extremely difficult in a business blog. So, pack your blog content with facts, figures, statistics, relevant images, and the works; do everything to ensure that the readers are going to love your blog. You could also think about using infographics off and on, to make things more interesting.

5.    Strive for Credibility

Your blog needs to become an authority figure in your niche. Taking the example of the web design services company again, if a particular person wants information about web design, he/she must make a beeline for your blog. This can only happen if it’s credible, and this credibility needs to be earned.

So, you will need to get it right from the start. Don’t fib and be accurate. If you are taking a position on something, be sure that you can defend it. What is of paramount importance in this case is that you need to interact with your readers, through the comments section. If a comment comes in, that is critical of your blog post, don’t ignore it. Debate and discuss with the reader, to convince him/her about your position.

It’s also important to understand that you shouldn’t take a controversial position, just because it’s going to grab eyeballs. Readers will see through such subterfuge in quick time. So avoid it. Credibility is something that is earned over time, and doesn’t happen overnight.

6.    Proof it

I have come across plenty of blogs, that had some good material, but I was left unimpressed nonetheless because there were not written professionally. They had a lot of grammatical errors, the sentences were haywire, and the blogs’ content did not have a logical structure and so on and so forth. The blog owner didn’t really care to proofread it. The cardinal sin of any content, whether it’s meant for a blog, a website, an article or something else, is failing to proofread the content before publishing it. If you fail to go through the content before you present it to your reader, you are either taking the blog for granted or the reader. In both cases, you will be doing yourself a big disservice. So proofread your blog for any errors and get rid of them.

7.    Don’t lose the Personal Touch

A blog is a great way of humanizing the website. It is a way of giving your business a personality and some character. It’s a way ensuring that your target audience, who in effect are also your target customers, relate to your business in some way or other. So, don’t sterilize your content, but infuse it with emotion. It is this emotive quality that has the readers sitting up and taking notice of your blog. You need to find a voice, a style, and talk to the readers in the way a real person would.  It should be like the friend that your readers will love coming back to again and again.

In Conclusion

Branding in business is about being true to your philosophy, mission and values. If you are using your blog as a branding tool, you need to showcase your business’s worth through the blog. If the blog is trusted by a section of the audience, you can be rest assured that this audience will trust your business as well. The popularity of your blog will rub off on your business, which will boost business profitability. So, getting your blogging right is crucial. Hopefully, the pointers mentioned above will help you get started in the right direction. All the best!

by John Siebert, a Tampa web design master of the web with over 10 years of experience in web marketing.