An interview with award-winning blogger Michelle Salatar of Sumer
How many blog articles do you recommend a small business owner post each week?
There is no set number of times you should publish posts to your blog per week. We update our blog four times a week but that doesn’t mean you need to follow the same schedule. The amount of posts you publish per week depends on your own schedule. What do you have time for? Stick to something that is realistic for you. If two times a week is good, then that just means you have to write eight blog posts a month. You can even write them in advance and schedule them to publish.
We do strongly suggest, though, that you should stick to the schedule you create. Therefore, publish posts on specific days of the week and at the same time each day. One of the worst things you can do with your blog is be inconsistent.
Can you offer a few tips on how a blogger can come up with new article ideas?
This is something business bloggers struggle with, but the good news is there are lots of ways to generate fresh topic ideas for posts. My first suggestion is to search Google News. Not only will Google News give you blog topic ideas, but it will also show you a list of top trending stories and top stories in your industry. If you choose to write a post around one of the highest searched news topics, your post has a good chance of appearing higher on search engine results pages related to that hot topic.
Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn are ideal platforms to find out what your ideal readers are interested in, trends they care about, and topics they are talking about. Post a question on Facebook and see what happens—you never know what responses will spark fresh blog post ideas. You could also send out a Tweet to your Twitter followers that asked a specific question related to your industry. Any type of feedback has the potential to inspire a blog post. Sometimes you just have to think outside the box. LinkedIn’s Q & A section is also a great place to look.
You could also ask guest bloggers to write for your blog or interview them. Not only do guest posts provide you with fresh blog posts, but they also enable you to reach new markets and build relationships with other bloggers and their followers.
What are your top 3 must-have elements on your blog design layout?
Your blog design / layout should always help readers find what they’re looking for quickly and easily, while projecting an accurate brand image. Therefore, here are the top 3 must-have elements on your blog design / layout:
- Appropriate visuals: The colors of your blog, header, and images that you use, all work together to project your brand image. If any of these elements doesn’t fit with the next, you run the risk of illustrating an inaccurate brand image. This is one of the worst things you can do for your brand because your audience can develop an incorrect perception of your brand.
- Navigation menu: With proper, easy-to-use navigation, you reduce your chances of having visitors leave due to frustration. Make your navigation bar as obvious and user-friendly as possible to ensure that blog visitors can find what they’re looking for quickly and easily.
- Contact and subscription information: Always have a way for readers to contact you. This is one of the biggest mistakes we see with bloggers. I suggest adding a contact tab to your navigation menu, adding social media icons to your sidebar that link to your social network profiles, and adding an RSS feed button to your sidebar to allow readers to subscribe to your blog.
What do you recommend a business owner do if writing is not their strong suite?
Blog posts don’t always have to be primarily comprised of the written word. Rather, engage your readers through visuals or audio to tell your story. You can post a video that you’ve created or embed a video from YouTube, or you can record a podcast and share it with your blog readers.
The great thing about videos is that they’re not only engaging, but they’re also a great medium to illustrate tips and advice through visuals. Not to mention, making a video of yourself is the ultimate way to personify your brand and connect with viewers.
Audio is similar to video in the sense that you are connecting with viewers through your voice and engaging them through the senses. Everyone learns differently—some prefer audio, others like videos, and some enjoy reading.
When creating a video or podcast for your blog, keep in mind that your podcast or video should reinforce your brand image, not hinder it. Be mindful of the audio quality, and for video, don’t neglect lighting, set design, and your position on camera.
I suggest creating an outline of what you want to cover in your podcast or video and discuss each point in chronological order. Don’t simply read from a script—this isn’t conversational and often makes the video and audio subject appear stiff and not personable. And don’t be discouraged if you have to take a few different takes to get it perfect—you’ll get better.
And just like any other blog post, a video and podcast must provide viewers with information they can use and implement.
What is your #1 blogging tip?
Make sure your blog has a personality! A blog with a unique voice is what connects readers to you and emotionally engages them. Some great ways to make your blog more personable is to share your past experiences, put yourself on the same level as your readers, be generous to other bloggers, and share your expertise in your own voice.
Who is a good fit for your upcoming free webinar?
Entrepreneurs, soloentrepreneurs, and small business owners in any industry who want to increase profits and exposure with a business blog. The webinar is ideal for business bloggers who are sick and tired of putting their heart and soul into their blog, yet do not see the results they’re working so hard for.
On Wednesday, June 15, 2011, at 1 p.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Pacific, I’ll be sharing simple steps to continuously attract well-paying clients, media exposure, and influential bloggers to a business blog. The webinar is also a celebration of the launch of my new Love Your Blog e-learning course. Register now for f.r.e.e.
About the Guest
Michelle Salater is the president of Sūmèr, LLC, a company that specializes in writing website copy, SEO copywriting, and the marketing and promotion of websites and blogs after they’ve launched. Michelle frequently speaks to entrepreneurs on how to maximize their online marketing efforts through brand messaging and blogging, and has recently appeared in Entrepreneur and MyBusiness Magazine.
As an avid business blogger, she has grown her small business marketing blog, Copy Doodle, to be a powerful lead generation and client education tool. Recently, Copy Doodle was listed #17 out of Technorati’s 100 Best Small Business Blogs. Michelle is the creator of Love Your Blog, an elearning experience that gives business bloggers the information and tools they need to create a blog that works consistently to attract prospects, media, and key influencers, and generate more business.