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Five Things To Consider Before Starting A Blog

Navigating your way through the countless blogs and article-based websites is quite an undertaking. There are so many incredible sources of information out there, but as with anything, there are also a myriad piles of pooh. In order to stand out as a blogger, you need to offer something special so that your voice can be heard above the others. It’s quite an exciting venture – starting a blog. But rather than running in full speed with your head down ready to crunch the impact, doing a little planning will get the process started smoothly.

I’ve put together five things to consider before starting a blog. As a blog writer myself, with a number of failed and fabulous experiments under my belt, these are the points that I would take into account before blogging my heart out.

1. Decide On A Niche That Interests You

It’s the core of everything you are going to be doing, so make sure your blog is centred around a topic that you’re actually interested in. I love writing, travel, yoga and wellness, so I have four blogs – one on each subject. These are where my passions lie, so I’m always ready to throw myself into writing blog posts for each one. If you choose a niche simply because you feel it will generate traffic then you might find it a chore to actively pursue writing. However, that is your decision. If you want to write on something that’s trending for the sake of growing the exposure for your website or business, then so be it… but try and find an interesting angle to write from.

You can actually “feel” when a blog has been written with fervour or if it’s simply been produced. Written is from the heart and from a space of fire and passion, produced is poured out into words for the sake of meeting a requirement. Try and deliver on the former to keep your users engaged and interested in what you have to say.

2. Define Your Audience And Offering

You’ve found your niche, now who will you be talking to and what’s the purpose of the blog? Defining who you are talking to will help you stay focused on a particular theme. As an example, I write about health and fitness for mothers and working women who don’t have time to devote to their wellbeing. I write from the perspective of being a busy, working mother seeking out personal wellbeing, because that’s who I am. So I have experience on the subject and I am also an ardent fan of finding ways to improve my life with the limited time and resources I have at my disposal. My personal lessons become my blogs, and the people I am appealing to are those in similar situations to mine.

In order to find a niche that will serve you and your readers equally, start by looking at your interests. What is it that you want to learn more about and could see yourself writing about, day in and day out? If you’re an Internet marketer, then it would make sense to write about trends and topics within that realm. If you’re a teacher, it could be a great idea to write about teaching methods or tips and tricks for easy learning in the classroom.

Knowing who you are writing for makes defining topics and categories so much easier. It also prevents you from straying off the path, so to speak. It’s easy to get distracted by current events and pop culture, and before you know it… you’re writing about Kim Kardashian’s choice in underwear on a blog that’s supposed to be devoted to politics. Keep it simple, keep it focused and you will grow and keep your readership.

3. Decide On A Name For Your Blog

Now that you’ve nailed down the foundation of your blog, what will you call it? The name of the blog should also be reflected in the domain name, so it’s best to keep it as short as possible but still speaking about your brand and what it is you offer.

A clever name or play on words might be lost in translation when it comes to speaking about your blog. As an example, a school up the road from me is called “Little Fishes”. They get countless enquiries about swimming lessons, which they don’t offer. But it’s easy to see why the public might mistake this business for a swimming school as the name – albeit very cute – speaks to underwater life and not typical schooling. The converse of this is that they could also be losing a lot of potential business from people seeking out a school, but thinking this establishment is devoted only to swimming.

Take your time with this and map out a few options before you make your decision. If you’re really stuck, try and think about something that covers these three points:

  1. Speaks to your brand / business or blog
  2. Could also generate a decent flow of traffic from people searching for your topic
  3. Can easily be translated into a domain name that is available

4. Book Your Domain And Social Handles

Once you’re absolutely certain you’ve got the name down, then it’s time to book your domain name. This could also become a part of the process when deciding on a name. If you cannot find your domain name to match the blog, it might make sense to choose something else. You want to try and be unique and it doesn’t bode well if someone has already staked their claim on your chosen name.

Book your domain name in .com and in your country’s local code too – mine is .co.za. This way you can appeal to both local and international readership. If you’re strictly local then booking your local country code makes sense, but you can also prevent others from stealing your name by buying the .com too and simply redirecting it to your local domain.

Book your social channel handles too, even if you’re not sure if you’ll use them. If you are starting a blog for business reasons, then you absolutely should be booking your name on the most popular social channels too. For all my blogs, the moment I’ve booked the domain I go and reserve a page name on Facebook, choose a handle on Twitter and the same handle on Instagram. You can select the channels that will work for you, but these are my top three. Try and reserve your domain name across the board for consistency’s sake. I know this isn’t always possible, but for those instances where you have to get a little creative with your social handles, try and keep them as close to your domain / blog name as possible.

5. Choose A Reputable Platform, Format And Theme

Finding a content management system or blogging platform that suits you is the final step before you can actually start writing your blog. I use WordPress and I adore its ease of use and multiple options, but some people prefer other channels and avenues. Blogger is also easy to use too, but I found it to be very limited with regards to customisation. You might also prefer something like Tumblr, which is also really simple to use, but again… I find it has limitations on what I (personally) want to be able to do with a blog space.

Do some research into what other people in a similar niche are using. You might find that your area of focus is better suited to a specific platform. The benefits with each one are different, but most platforms will allow you to use your own custom URL, which is paramount. You can also search through the available themes on each platform to see what best suits your needs. It’s possible that this drives your decision more than the platform itself.

There are millions of themes out there and it can become a bit overwhelming, so try and have an idea in mind before setting out and trying to search for one. Do you want a one-pager? A magazine layout? Or typical blog layout? Search within the categories you prefer to dull down the noise offered by all the available options.

Some pointers to consider when choosing a theme for your blog:

  1. Make sure it’s mobile friendly
  2. Ensure it has a decent amount of downloads and positive ratings
  3. Opt for simple over elaborate. Elaborate themes have a greater likelihood of breaking
  4. Make sure it’s going to suit your content

Once you’ve got the groundwork covered, it’s time to write your first blog. Add photos and images that suit your brand and the personality of your blog and start making the magic happen. Best of luck!

Photo by Ewan Robertson on Unsplash. Thank you! x

Katherine StottFive Things To Consider Before Starting A Blog
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Importance Of Work Life Balance As A Freelance Copywriter

It seems to be the norm for most freelancers to work into all hours of the night, and even on weekends, simply to meet deadlines. Sleep is foregone, social lives take a back seat and any hope of maintaining a normal family existence dissipates into thin air. As a freelance copywriter, I’ve often found myself in this position, but it’s something I now work extremely hard to prevent and a place I won’t go back to again.

It’s obvious as to why these situations arise and equally as obvious as to why it’s so difficult to avoid them as a freelancer:

  • You don’t want to lose out on any potential business because your income is not set. There is a fear that you won’t receive any opportunities after this one, so you cannot ever say no
  • You also want to keep your clients happy because of the above point. Any clients you do have are gold

So more often than not, freelancers will accept any and all projects that come their way, regardless of whether they have the capacity to handle them or not. With over ten years of experience in freelance writing I can tell you that this is the worst possible decision you can  ever make for yourself and your clients, and I’ll tell you why.

Katherine StottImportance Of Work Life Balance As A Freelance Copywriter
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A Case Study In The Efficiency Of SEO Web Content

As a writer of SEO web content and a specialist content writer, I am honoured and grateful for all the work of this nature that is sent my way. It’s also because of this work that I don’t spend much time optimising my website or website content. A mechanics car is never running… as the adage goes. But it’s really silly to deny myself the services I offer to so many businesses around the world. So I decided to take one page of my website and conduct a little case study into the efficiency of properly structured and well-written SEO web content.

I love what I do and I really enjoy helping clients achieve their goals using my experience and SEO web content services, so I became quite excited to be affording myself some of the benefit too.

Katherine StottA Case Study In The Efficiency Of SEO Web Content
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Starbucks SA – A Lesson In FOMO, Branding And Social Media

Starbucks made its official debut in South Africa today after a sensational social media build-up. Rosebank, Johannesburg has been deemed the first worthy host for the internationally acclaimed coffee shop, attracting thousands of Jozi-based South Africans to their outlet for a taste of the much-talked about coffee. This store is the first of a planned 150 – 200 Starbucks coffee shops that are set to sweep across the nation over the next few years, and it definitely got South Africans talking.

As a coffee lover (I’d like to consider myself a bit of a coffee connoisseur) I honestly found myself shaking my head in disbelief at the throngs of people queuing up for their frappuccinos and cappuccinos, but I also realise that it’s simply a matter of personal taste. Me personally? I would rather have a cup of our locally available Seattle Coffee Co, vida e caffé or even a homely, yet satisfying Mugg & Bean coffee. Starbucks tastes like sand. Sorry, Starbucks. You’re clearly not for everyone, but let’s also remember that this is simply my opinion. Add caramel sauce, whipped cream and yes, you’ve got me hooked (I do enjoy me a Caramel Frappuccino)… but the straight up coffee just never grabbed me. And yet from midnight last night, people were queuing outside Starbucks to hand over their rands for what I call an average cup of coffee. Prices are pretty much aligned with other local coffee shops, but is it even the coffee they are there for?

Katherine StottStarbucks SA – A Lesson In FOMO, Branding And Social Media
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Keywords Versus Content Relevance

In a world where so many people profess that keyword research is dead, there are those among us who know that it can’t be, or maybe won’t ever be. Keywords offer a tangible means for content to be categorised, filed and managed, and it doesn’t make sense to me that this means of making content available in search according to relevant search queries could ever be done away with. I stand corrected, but even if Google can recognise intent via semantic search, there are still definite key phrases that aid the search engine giant in making sense of what a user wants.

Katherine StottKeywords Versus Content Relevance
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Video – The Importance Of Content Marketing Services

We had loads of fun making this little video; a first for us and first of many! Have a look. It’s more of an advertorial for our content marketing services, but we’d still love to know what you think about it. Constructive criticism is always appreciated. Trolling and negativity… not so much! In South Africa, video content has never been as widely accepted as it has overseas because of our incredibly slow Internet connectivity. Luckily the times are changing and with more service providers and options on board, we are finally able to enjoy faster Internet and ample video content!

Oh, and if you loved it and you want us to make you one… get in touch and we’ll gladly do so!

Katherine StottVideo – The Importance Of Content Marketing Services
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10 Ways To Boost Your Productivity

With the dawn of 2016, I’ve heard a number of gripes and moans around the social sphere about how short the holidays were and how awful it is to be going back to work. I’m a glass half full kinda gal, and I know that that griping and moaning is only going to breed more negativity and set you off on the wrong foot for the new year. No matter what kind of business or job you find yourself in, you can maintain a “can do” attitude and you can find enjoyment in your work. The fact that you have a job should be reason enough to express gratitude, but sometimes we forget how fortunate we actually are.

Katherine Stott10 Ways To Boost Your Productivity
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The Dos And Don’ts Of Social Media Scheduling

In the field of digital marketing, time is of the essence and we need to be organised to stay efficient and to be effective. Each project comes with so many different levels of communication that start within your personal team, run into the broader circle that includes your clients, and then extend even further to incorporate the client’s audience. Staying on top of our work and each conversation is made easier with the use of tools that allow us to be more productive. Social automation tools such as Hootsuite and TweetDeck, as well as Facebook’s built-in scheduling tool, are perfect examples. They allow us to schedule multiple pieces of content in one go, freeing up time later in the day or week. But does there come a point where we rely too heavily on scheduling and not being present enough in our work?

Katherine StottThe Dos And Don’ts Of Social Media Scheduling
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Using Press Releases For SEO And Inbound Marketing

I read an article recently that sparked some interest in me, particularly because of the opinions that were opposite to mine. It was published on Authority Labs and it was an honest look into the value of using press releases for SEO purposes. A question was posed to industry experts by Melissa Fach: “Can you tell me what you think about press releases as an SEO strategy?”

Melissa, much respect to you, but straight off the bat, the question is incorrect and misleading… because it’s already guiding the board of professionals towards a one-dimensional use of press releases as a standalone strategy, which is never the case. Had the question been more along the lines of using press releases as a part of an SEO strategy, then there might have been a different overall response. Still, the answers were interesting and thought provoking.

Katherine StottUsing Press Releases For SEO And Inbound Marketing
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Weird Al Yankovic’s Word Crimes Parody

Weird Al Yankovic's Word Crimes Parody | Archetype CopywritingI shamelessly admit to loving the song Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke. Anything with that much percussion and the right type of bass will always make me want to get up and shake what my mother gave me! But the best parts of that song actually just got better. Take the beat, the percussion, the bass and the melody and infuse it with Weird Al Yankovic’s humourous, quirky and cheeky take on Word Crimes, and you have a magical little piece of YouTube entertainment. It’s a wordsmith’s dream come true, and I can hear a resounding “About time!” from all the writers and journalists around the world.

Archetype CopywritingWeird Al Yankovic’s Word Crimes Parody
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