8 Secret Fears That Stop Smart Business Owners From Blogging, and How to Overcome Them

Michelle Shaeffer

Michelle Shaeffer

(Contributed by Michelle Shaeffer , one of our resident experts.)

Are secret fears holding you back from jumping head first into blogging? Don’t let them! Blogging is nothing to be afraid of, and nothing has done as much to boost my business and my visibility as blogging has.

So let’s talk about some of those fears that might be holding you back from blogging:

1. I’m not sure I have anything to blog about…

Everyone has something to share. If you’re an entrepreneur and you’re in business for yourself, then it’s safe to assume you’re passionate about something, right? Blog about that!

If you’re blogging for business, then it doesn’t necessarily matter what you feel you’ve got to share–it only matters what your audience wants to read. They’ve got problems, challenges, questions, and you can be the one to deliver the answers they’re searching for.  All you’ve got to do is figure out what their questions are.

Once you’ve got your main topic or theme for your blog, you can find inspiration everywhere. Here are some great resources to get your brain going:

2. But I’m not a writer!

There are options that don’t require you to write at all.  So don’t write.  Do a video blog or an audio blog. Create a blog that’s just you doing a weekly interview with experts or sharing a book review on video. Use a voice-to-text program to speak your blog posts and let your computer do the typing for you.

You could also consider hiring a ghostwriter, using PLR articles, reprinting free articles, featuring guest bloggers, or using the content you’re already creating (for your marketing materials, ezine, newsletter, ebooks, or whatever else you’ve got).

Or, be okay with the fact that you aren’t a “writer” and blog anyway. Blogging isn’t a thesis where every word has to be perfect and every sentence has to be grammatically correct. It’s a conversational, relaxed form of written communication. Basic writing skills are necessary if you’re going to write a blog. In general, if you can write an understandable and coherent email, you can blog.

3. I’m too busy and I don’t have time to blog!

Blogging does take time. There’s no way around that. But it doesn’t have to take hours a day. And since blogging allows you to create content that you can repurpose into other materials (articles, ezines, ebooks, print books, and much more) it’s definitely not wasted time.

Remember that you set your own blogging schedule. You don’t have to blog daily. I blog nearly daily and it works for me. But many bloggers post 2 or 3 times a week. The key is consistency with whatever schedule you choose.

There are sneaky ways you can speed up your blogging, as well. Here are 10 ways to blog better and faster.

4. What if no one reads my blog?

If you don’t let people know it’s there, they won’t read it. But it’s not difficult to promote your blog. You just need a system of where and how you’ll promote it and drive traffic (just like you already do for your website, right?). This is one of the easier obstacles to overcome.

Get a group of friends together and ask them to actively comment on your blog. Some bloggers even ask their virtual assistant to leave comments. Setup a commenting circle where you subscribe to a few friends’ blogs and they subscribe to yours, then each leave a comment when new posts are published. Once you’ve got a few comments appearing, it’ll be easier for new readers to jump in and comment, too.

Join a comment tribe. Comment tribes are groups (on Facebook or other networking platforms) where everyone shares their blog post, then comments on others in the group. Just check the rules before joining any so you know what you’re in for.

5. How will I find time to promote my blog when I’m already busy?

Once you’ve created a blog promotion plan, it’s easier and doesn’t take too much time.

There are many promotion strategies that can be automated so they happen every time you post a new entry on your blog, without any extra action from you (such as using Twitter Tools to send your posts to Twitter, NetworkedBlogs to send your blog to Facebook, and ping to tell the search engines you’ve shared something new).

6. It’s too expensive (or too technical) to get it set up.

No need to start with a fancy-shmancy custom blog design. WordPress is free software and there are 1,000s of free themes. Many website hosts will install WordPress free for you, so your only initial expense is your domain name (about $10/year) and hosting (about $10/month).

One of the coolest things about WordPress is that it grows with you. You can easily upgrade later to a customized header, theme, and other shiny things.

7. Why would anyone pay for my services if I’m sharing what I know free?

Flip that question right around. Why would anyone pay for your services if they don’t know what you can offer them? Blogging allows you a way to showcase your expertise!

8. There are already blogs about the same topics I’d blog about.

So what? I can buy shoes at a hundred different stores online but that doesn’t stop the smart ones from making sales. There’s the low price leaders like Payless, fashion boutiques like Nordstroms, charity supporting stores like Toms, service-centric sites like Zappos. They each choose a specific audience, play on their uniqueness, and it works.

Remember that when we’re learning about any topic, we generally don’t choose only one source of info. I’ve got marketing books on my shelf by more authors than I want to count… All of their voices add something different to my knowledge. Blogs are the same way–a chorus of easily accessible information we can learn from. If there are successful blogs on your topic already that’s a sign there’s an audience, which is a good thing!

You are unique. Your voice is unique. And there are people waiting to hear you share your knowledge and life’s journey in the voice only you can share it in.

And that, in a nutshell, is what busts through all of these excuses. Your blog is your stage. And your audience is waiting. So get out there!

Ready to get your blog up and running?  Go to http://www.launchyourblog.com and grab your free 30 day ecourse to walk you through the step by step of how to create, customize, and promote your blog.  Or connect with Michelle on her blog at http://www.michelleshaeffer.com/ where she shares tips, tools and strategies to help you build your visibility, voice and community online.

5 Lessons Learned From Customers

Rachel Strella(This blog post was contributed by Rachel Strella of Strella Social Media.)

Having spent the last few years managing social media for various clients around the globe, I’ve been humbled by what my customers have taught me.  The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that there is a way to work with just about anybody, and it comes down to communication – both in managing expectations and delivering exceptional service.

Here are a few things I’ve learned that might help you establish better communications with your customers.

Set clear expectations.  Clearly identify what’s expected of you and what you expect of the customer. Do this up front – as you begin to work together – and revisit these expectations on a regular basis.  This is especially important for those who work in an industry like social media.  For me, it can be challenging to explain the value of something that does not always generate an immediate, clear, and tangible ROI.  But I find that if I can help my customers set realistic social media goals and expectations, they are more likely to stick with it and give it enough time to achieve their ROI.  Of equal importance is outlining what I require of my clients in order to help me do my job to the best of my ability (‘help me, help you.’).

Do what you say you’re going to do. No matter how small the task, always do what you say you are going to do. If you tell a customer that you will call next week, make sure you come through.  If you tell them that you will review a document tomorrow, it is expected that it will be reviewed tomorrow.  Because life happens, there will be times that we can’t always do everything we promise. In that case, just let them know that you are aware that you said you would have their monthly report on Thursday, but the day got away from you so it will be Friday.  Tell them that you appreciate their patience and that you apologize for being late.  Doing what you say you’re going to do, and making sure you communicate with your customer when plans change, will enhance your credibility by leaps and bounds.

Do more than is expected. For those of you who own a business, you understand that doing the bare minimum is often not enough. In order to differentiate ourselves and stand out from our competitors, we must go the extra mile. It shows that we care and that we take pride in a job well done. It’s also something people tend to remember, especially when it’s time to renew a contract or when the opportunity for a referral arises.  You won’t always be able to hit it out of the park nor should you, but the small extras can make a big difference.

Hear what they are saying, don’t just get defensive. When I receive feedback that’s less-than-positive, I do my best not to react emotionally. Since I am a sensitive person, I usually have to ‘react’ to myself for a bit, and then I can respond appropriately.  After I have had time to process my emotions, I revisit the feedback objectively and determine where I may have been at fault. I find there’s always something I could have done better and I make sure incorporate this realization into a plan for improvement.

When you mess up, apologize. This seems simple enough, yet so many of us would rather point the finger than admit our fault.  If I make a mistake – and we all do – I apologize. I do this proactively and repeatedly. I put a plan in place to fix it and make sure it never happens again.  I’ve found that clients appreciate that I was truthful about my error and that I did what I could to fix it rather than sweep it under the rug and hope they didn’t notice.  This simple step is a real trust builder.

Customer relationships are a work in progress, but by putting the right communication principals in place, you may find your formula for making the relationship not only work, but also last!

What have you learned from your customers?

Top 10 Things to Consider When Outsourcing Your Social Media

Jennifer Grigg(This article was authored by Jennifer Grigg, CEO of Social Dragon Marketing.)

A business approached me to discuss managing their social media. They weren’t interested in hiring me as they could get the “same” service elsewhere. (Noticed the word “service” is in quotations)

They found someone who promised them the world. They were promised their social media would be taken care of and it would be less expensive then the cost of my packages.

Well, I was hired to review their social media as it wasn’t done properly. When I was speaking with the owner and showing him examples, he was shocked and couldn’t believe this was happening. His 22 year old son was with us. The son thought someone hacked into their accounts and was posting spam out to its audience through their social media platforms. He wanted to know how the account could become compromised and how to stop it from happening. I had to explain to him it wasn’t hacked. The spam was the activity of their social media manager.

 Outsourcing your social media to someone who doesn’t specialize in social media is like going to a Chinese restaurant and asking for a burrito.

Based on the situation, the following are the top 10 things to consider when outsourcing your social media.

1. Always make sure the information posted on your website and social media platforms is accurate. When outsourcing your online marketing activities, make sure they understand what product and services your business offers and haven’t just Googled your industry and started promoting products and services you don’t carry.

2. Do not make up imaginary contests just to excite people. Not only is this unethical, but will also anger your audience.

3. Complete sentences are a must. It needs to have a complete thought, start with a capital letter and have the proper punctuation.

4. Only relevant, I repeat, RELEVANT, information should be part of your social media messages. If you like fancy yachts but your business does not pertain to fancy yachts, save the yachts for your personal social media such as your personal profile on Facebook.

5. Do not make up your own reviews. This behaviour will show your audience you are not credible. When people read reviews and then see it was created and posted by your company, you lose ALL credibility. This could be one of the fastest ways to make someone not buy from you.

6. Being sneaky to create better SEO (search engine optimization) so you’ll rank well on Google is not necessary. Have keyword relevant content on your website, a blog (you use regularly) and social media that is consistently used. This works better than trickery.

7. You don’t have to utilize all the social media networks that are available. Not all platforms may be right for your business. You just have to be using the ones your customers are using.

8. If you have a tag line, your tag line should be used properly throughout your social media. It should be written word-for-word as you have it on your website and business cards.

9. Do not spam anyone, but especially, don’t spam your own social media marketing efforts. Just don’t do it!

10. We all have budgets and you need to remember when outsourcing your online social media marketing that price is not an indication of how well the social media manager will do. Talk to them and find out if they share the same values you do. Also, look for the social media proof. If they are not actively doing social media for their own business, chances are they will not do a great job for your business, either.

Summer Brings New Social Media Changes

summer sunSummer is in full swing and lots of changes are popping up in the social media world. (as always!) Here’s a recap of some recent changes that you may have not seen.

  • Facebook removes the 20% text limitation for Cover Photos. What this means is that you can have all the text you want there. You might not WANT to put a ton of text in your photo, but they don’t care anymore. Some things you might want to include:
  1. A call to action
  2. Your contact information
  3. URL to a sales page to sign up for an event
  • Have you checked into Vine yet? It’s making big waves these days. And with Instagram’s announcement of video to its platform, the 2 are ramping up the game. Basically, Vine is a 6-second looping video and Instagram now has a 15 second video. The editing tools are more robust in Instagram, although video buffs really like the creativity of Vine. Check it out!
  • Facebook has hashtags. Well, now they have working hashtags that sort and search like Twitter hashtags. Plus, each hashtag has its own unique URL. You can see all the posts with a given hashtag by entering the url http://facebook.com/hashtag/XXXXXX. (Put your hashtag in place of the X’s to search.)
  • Facebook allows photos in comments. This is currently only in your profile, but will be rolled out to Facebook pages soon. Next time your buddy posts a picture of the big fish he caught, you can post the picture of your own big catch right in the comments.
  • Facebook Insights are getting a facelift this summer.
  • LinkedIn has a new interface that is slowly rolling out to its users. Don’t be surprised next time you log in and the menu bar has changed and you can’t find where everything is. There are some good videos floating around that share the new interface. You might do a search and find one.

I hope that helps you stay a little more current this summer. And of course we can expect more changes all the time. Check back and let us keep you up to date!

Lisa M. Bryant

Lisa M BryantLisa M. Bryant
Jireh Virtual Solutions

We help speakers and coaches by taking on their creative and administrative tasks, which frees them to spend high-energy time on the revenue-producing work of their business.  Our key services include Speaker Engagement, Social Media Management, Webinar/Online Media Support, and Document Design, Transcription.

We do the leg work while you focus on the mic work!

The Global Social Media Managers Association Has a New President

Amy Kinniard - new President of GSMMAHey, y’all! I wanted to introduce myself and tell you a little bit about what to expect over the coming months. Basically, the GSMMA is going to explode and become the premier site for Social Media Managers everywhere. You will be very glad to be a part of this cool world and enjoy the many benefits of this growing association.

Here’s a little bit about me, Amy Kinnaird. I have lived in Louisiana for most of my life, and have had 2 fantastic corporate jobs that gave me my background in computers and software, not to mention plenty of marketing. I started with IBM in the 70’s, when computers had less memory than the average calculator of today!

After a successful run there, I joined up with some other former-IBM’ers and did a little bit of everything in a small startup that sold software to schools. It was there that I began working out of my home, and have never gone back to an office since. My kids are 20-somethings, and my husband and I both work from home.

In 2008 I started my own business and quickly found myself in the social media world. I started teaching other business owners about social media in 2009, and the rest –as they say – is history. My passion and blessing is speaking and training, so I bring that to the GSMMA. For the last two years I have had a part-time consulting gig through the local Small Business Development Center helping their clients learn to “start, grow and succeed” in business.

With all of that as a backdrop, the role of President of the GSMMA is a perfect fit! I couldn’t be more excited with the opportunity to share and grow with you all.

Want to know what’s coming soon?

  • The website will be getting a face lift. We are in the planning stage now and hope to have the changes in place in a couple of months.
  • Updates to existing products and some new products for you.
  • Exciting new classes for you.
  • New tools to help you build and market your own Social Media Manager business.
  • More benefits!

As we move into 2013, we will be reaching out to you for feedback and information. From the things you tell us, we plan to shape the organization into something you find very valuable. Stay in touch through the GSMMA Facebook group, as a lot of discussions will be going on there.

We are also excited about the opportunity for some of you to participate as content providers. If you think this is something you would be interested in, give me a shout. We are still working through the details of this and will remind you again later. In the meantime, you can email me at amy@gsmma.com if you’d like to throw your hat in the ring now.

That about wraps it up for today! I am looking forward to meeting all of you in my new role with the GSMMA. Stay in touch, and keep the conversation going in the group.

Making the Difficult Decision to Charge for Social Media Consultations

By Rachel Strella

Rachel Strella GSMMMA Guest Expert

Over the years, there have been many instances in which I’ve had multiple meetings with potential clients about their social media presence. After investing many hours in outlining potential strategies in the hopes of landing their business, many prospects have instead taken these suggestions for their own internal use rather than hiring me.

It’s tough because I want to help people see the value of social media. But as a two person business, we can’t afford to be giving away so much time without compensation. So, a few months ago, I made the difficult decision to charge for consultations. I charge a nominal fee, which is credited back to the company if they decide to work with us beyond those first few meetings. I know full well that this will cost me a few opportunities because people will balk at the cost, but it’s the best way to protect our time.

Granted, there will be time spent in the marketing and sales process. With every inbound lead, we ask prospects complete a short intake form so we can get an idea of their marketing goals and challenges followed by a 30 minute call to clarify points and to ask/answer questions. We often end up passing a few emails back forth before we generate a proposal for our services.

The toughest part is that the opportunities to work with bigger companies often involve meetings with multiple levels of management. Each time, I need to not only sell the idea of using social media but also sell the value of hiring me. There have been several scenarios where these multiple meetings have led to a dead end. Charging a consultation fee has been a way to protect the value our time.

Some may think that’s a death sentence for a business, but it’s proved to be an invaluable part of streamlining our sales cycle. And here’s why:

ROI is not as simple as ABC. I find that many people simply don’t know enough about social media to know whether it is something they want to invest in. There is an education process involved in understanding the ‘why’ of social media. We often refer people to blogs, products, or information that covers some of the social media basics, but most people want to cut right to the chase and know what it can ‘do’ for them. This necessitates some in-depth research, an understanding of their target market, and a level of expertise before we can begin to formulate a plan of what it may ‘do’ for them. That takes time that I believe we should be compensated for.

Time and expertise are relevant. Willingness to pay for an initial consult is a strong indicator of the willingness of a company to work with us. Are they serious about integrating social media into their marketing plan or are they just fishing for information? An introductory meeting can take an hour (or two) plus travel while we answer of myriad of social media questions. If we are lucky enough to meet with the decision maker (usually it’s a marketing person or staff champion for social media), we often field an exhausting stream of questions while we try to ‘turn’ a naysayer into a believer. I’m always up for the challenge, but only for a company that respects our time – even if they don’t yet understand the value of social media. If we can start off with a mutual respect for each other – including their payment for our time – I find they tend to take social media more seriously than those would rather not pay.

Fairness to our paying clients. For those who already pay for our services, it’s unfair to them that we spend countless hours with prospective business. Our clients already see the value of what we offer and our first priority is to them. This approach has allowed us to maintain a strong overall retention rate. We still focus on growing our business, but in a way that won’t take away from the services we provide for our current clients.

Do I miss out on opportunities because of this policy? Yes. But that’s a risk I am willing to take. While social media professionals are champions for social media and work to endlessly educate our audience, that doesn’t mean we have to give away our time.

December Expert Call: What Social Media Managers Need to Know About Security

As a social media manager you don’t need to worry about security, right?  Wrong.  Join us on Monday, December 10 at 4pm Eastern, 3pm Central, 2pm Mountain, 1pm Pacific  and learn how to protect yourself and your clients.  The call is free for GSMMA members.

Click here if you would like to learn more about joining GSMMA (memberships start at less than $15 per month).

I will be interviewing WordPress security expert MJ Schrader  who has worked on WordPress since 2004. She got interested in online security and reputation management in 2008 when her friend Joe Vitale found his blog hacked. MJ has worked with companies such as StomperNet, FlexSystems and uQast. In early 2012 MJ formed Media Guard Group which offers Online Reputation Management through website and social media design and security.

Social Media has risks, but Sosial Media Managers face different security risks. These risks may not seem that major, and you may be lucky enough to avoid them. However if one or more of these happens to your company the results could get you and your company in a lot of trouble!

Here’s what you’ll learn

Can social media have viruses?

What is wrong with using short links?

Are there things people shouldn’t share?

Can someone share too much with social media?

Why is team training so important?

What else does a social media manager need to think about?

Why does a team member leaving cause problems?