How to Get More Reader Interaction on Your Articles and Blog

How to Get More Reader Interaction on Your Articles and Blog

Reader interaction accomplishes many things for a website. It helps add user generated content. It also helps pull in more readers. People want to participate and see what everyone’s talking about. However, getting reader interaction isn’t always easy. Here are a few tried and true strategies for getting more interaction on your articles and blogs.

1. Ask for it - One of the best ways to get more interaction is to ask for it. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing an article or a blog post. Here are just a few questions or calls to action you can include at the end of your content piece:

* What’s your experience?
* Do you have any advice on?
* What do you think?
* Have you ever…?
* What’s your favorite?
* Do you remember when…?

Of course some topics lend themselves to this approach better than others. A blog post on a home cooking site about your favorite soup recipe is likely to get a lot of content. People love to share their favorite recipes. However, a blog post about how to soak lentils isn’t likely to get much feedback unless you ask for advice or information about different soaking strategies.

2. Respond to comments - When you respond to comments you start a discussion. Other people may feel the desire to put their two cents in. If you don’t respond to the comments, then the conversation may stop there. If you want to motivate more readers to chime in and offer their opinion, insight and comments, then always make time to respond to comments. It’s important.

3. Spark a controversy or discussion by presenting a potentially heated topic - Controversy tends to motivate people to share their opinion. Take care here. If controversy doesn’t fit your brand or personality, then consider publishing newsworthy content. Again, people often feel motivated to share their opinion on both controversial and newsworthy topics.

4. Share a picture or video - We’re visual people. When we see a picture that makes us laugh, smile, cry or get angry, we are motivated to comment on it. Sometimes a picture or a video is all you need. It can say more than any article or blog post. However, other times it’s nice to include it with relevant content.

5. Share a personal story - Within the body of your article or blog post, share a story. Take time to share something personal that relates to the content of your article. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or long winded. When you share a story, it motivates others to share their story. You can find yourself learning a lot about your readers and prospects when you use this technique.

If you have a blog, reader activity and comments add credibility to your blog. Additionally, they tend to motivate more reader interaction, links and increased traffic. If you have a theme-based website, then reader-generated content can really help you boost your search engine ranking.

 

Creating a Productive Writing Environmen

Writing is difficult. Anyone that says otherwise isn’t telling the truth, or they’re not a writer. It can be even more difficult when you own your own business. You probably have a number of distractions, tasks and responsibilities. One of the best ways to make writing content for your business just a little bit easier is to create a productive writing environment.

Here are tips and ideas to help you get started.

1. Eliminate distractions. While you may need to have your computer on to write, you don’t need the television on. And you probably don’t need to have your email account open. You certainly don’t need to be interacting on Facebook. Yet many people try to write while they surf, watch television, check their email and interact on social sites.

It’s just not productive. It’s like trying to drive and read a book at the same time. The best way to be productive is to focus on one task at a time. When you’re writing, get rid of all other tasks and distractions. Turn off your electronics, turn off your phone and close your email inbox.

2. Clear the clutter. Clutter on the desktop creates clutter in your mind. Get rid of the clutter before you sit down to write. Better yet, don’t let the clutter happen. If you need to, however, clean your desk off before you write.

3. What do you need to write? You probably need a computer or a pen and paper. Do you need something to drink? What about tissues or something to eat? Before you sit down to write, make sure you have everything you need. That way you can focus until your content is written. You won’t have any distractions or a reason to get up from your desk.

4. Do not disturb. If you work from home, then try to set boundaries with your family. Let them know you’re writing and need quiet. If you have children and they’re young, then consider writing when they’re asleep. That way you can be more certain to have uninterrupted time.

5. Surround yourself with inspiration. Writing is a creative process. Even if you’re writing very dry material, you still have to create it and make it interesting. You’ll have better success if you feel inspired and creative.

Surround yourself with things that make you feel creative. Your writing environment should be comfortable. Not too comfortable so you fall asleep but a place where you feel safe and productive. Some ideas for inspiring items include:

* Plants
* Photos
* Books (especially books on your niche topic)

Finally, consider adding an element of time to your writing environment. Set goals for your content and your writing time. For example, if you have three hours to write, how much can you accomplish during that time? A clock or a timer can help you stay on track to accomplish your content goals.

Taking steps to create a productive writing environment can help you stay on task. It can improve your writing and make it more enjoyable. If you write content for your business, you owe it to yourself and your future to create a productive environment today.

Five Ways to Find Great Article and Blog Post Topics

There comes a time in every business owner’s life when they run out of things to write about. There are many solutions to this problem. You can hire someone to come up with ideas for you. You can hire someone to write the content for you, too. You can even purchase PLR.

These are all great solutions. However, you can also write the content yourself. You just need a little inspiration. Here are five ways to find great article and blog post topics.

1. Grab a magazine from your coffee table. It doesn’t even have to be a magazine in your niche industry. Just about any magazine will do. Now take a look at the cover. Write down the headlines as they appear. Chances are they’ll look something like this:

* The __ secrets to ____
* Learn how to _____ today
* ___ tips to ____

Once you’ve written down the headlines, replace the keywords with your own. Fill in the blanks. If there are ten headlines on the cover of your magazine, you now have ten articles or blog posts you can write.

2. Jump on a social networking site of choice and read posts in your niche. Visit the pages of your industry guru and read their latest posts and information. Chances are you’re going to find many content ideas.

You may take issue or disagree with something someone said. That’s a perfect blog post. You may think that a topic needs to be expanded upon. You may read a comment to a social networking post that is the foundation of an article. Social networking sites are packed with content ideas. You just have to look for them.

3. Read your own blog and review the comments. Skim past the ones that say “Thanks for the information.” Those don’t offer any value to you right now. Instead, look for the questions or the meaty comments. Those are ideal for inspiring content ideas.

4. Read your forum and blog comments on other sites. Often these comments are enough to be an article or blog post all by themselves. Just polish it up and format it for the web and you’re good to go. If the comment or forum post is short, expand on it. Use your feedback to create article and blog content on your website.

5. Make a list. Lists are easy to make and they’re well received online. If you’re struggling to find content ideas, write down three to five list ideas and tackle them one by one.

Article and blog post ideas are out there just waiting for you to find them. With a little creativity and inspiration you can turn an unmotivated writing session into a productive afternoon.

 

Three Simple Rules for Great Website Content

Want to write great website content but you’re not sure how? There are only a handful of things that differentiate great content from not so great content. Learn to master these few tactics and improve your content.

1. Write conversationally

Conversational content is content that is written in a friendly tone. It’s almost personal - as if you were writing your article, blog post or report specifically for the person reading it. Conversational content is written using informal language. Instead of saying, “Business people write content” you would say, “You write content.”

Conversational content often breaks a few grammar rules when it makes sense. For example, you might write an incomplete sentence. For impact. You might use ellipses…

…to create effect and to draw the eye through your article.

Make sure when you break grammar rules that there’s a reason for it. Breaking them just to break them is - well, maybe fun and a bit rebellious, but it’s not productive.

2. Embrace your personality and voice

Your personality and voice are one of your biggest assets. They help differentiate you. They help you create and strengthen your brand. If you’re sarcastic naturally, then your content can and should be sarcastic too – when relevant and appropriate. If you’re sentimental then your content will reflect that. It’s much easier to embrace your personality than to fight it. And it makes great content.

Study the content and writers you like and read often. How do they share their voice and personality?

3. Make sure your content is easy to read and understand

We’re talking about formatting here. Many people tend to get a bit carried away with formatting. There are so many underlined, bulleted, and bolded words that you’re not sure where your eye is supposed to go. Instead of enhancing the reading process, it makes it more difficult. It’s distracting.

Simple formatting is best. Simple formatting may include bold or underlined subheadings. You might have either bullets or numbers but probably not both. (Sometimes both are okay depending on the article content and information.)

Pay attention to the content you find easy to read and the content that seems distracting. Is there too much formatting? Not enough? When the article isn’t easy to read, what would you do to fix it? What would make it easier to read?

Learning a few simple web content strategies can help you generate the results you’re looking for. You’ll receive more incoming links. You’ll receive more readers and traffic. And you’ll likely receive more customers. The better your content, the faster you’ll be able to grow your business. To your success!

 

Why Every VA Needs An Online Presence

Building a VA business? Great! Congratulations! Being self-employed is a fulfilling and rewarding lifestyle. Before you get too far into that business plan, are you planning on having a website? If you’re going to be a virtual assistant, you need one. Here’s why:

Your Clients are Online

You’re a virtual assistant. Emphasis on virtual. That means your business operates online. Via the internet, email and perhaps instant messaging and conferencing. If you’re without an online presence, you’re missing out on clients. The majority of your clients will be online business owners. That means they’re very Internet focused. They’ll turn to the internet first to search for a provider.

Now that’s not to say that you won’t have local clients. You might. However, they’ll still likely search for you online. It’s how our society buys products and services.

Your Website Establishes Your Credibility

Many VA tasks are focused on the Internet. You might be managing a blog or forum. You might be proofreading and uploading articles into article directories. You might be managing affiliates for a business. All of those tasks require a good degree of comfort using online technology. Your website helps demonstrate your ability to use the internet. It demonstrates that you’re comfortable online and skilled with using technology.

If you don’t have a website, many of your clients may wonder why not. They may simply disregard you because you’re not online.

Your Website Markets Your Services

Your website accomplishes a number of marketing tactics. It communicates your services and fees. It answers any questions a prospect might have about your services, practices and policies. It also showcases your personality. You’ll likely have an “About Me” page. This is useful for telling your story. However, the word choice, design and feel of your site also helps communicate your personality and brand your business.

Your website can also broadcast your successes. You can list your testimonials. You can cite awards you’ve earned. You can communicate organizations you’re a part of. You can also list the companies you’ve worked with. All of this helps establish you as a credible service provider. Your website can be used to build trust with your prospects.

Finally, you can use your website to facilitate many of your business functions. Communications, payments and even inquiries can be managed through your website. You can also use your website to generate more income by affiliating with products or services and by selling advertisement space.

In short, if you’re going to be a Virtual Assistant, do it the right way. Create a website that helps you build and grow your dream business.

How to Get Low-Cost and Free Advertising for Your Small Business 

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If you want your business to make you money or even just get off the ground, you’re probably going to have to advertise.  For many companies, advertising becomes a huge chunk of the overall budget, but it doesn’t have to be.  There are plenty of free or inexpensive ways to let people know about your business and get them coming back.

Email

Email is a great, cost-effective way for get your name out there, contact potential customers, and keep existing customers up to date and coming back.  And while developing an email list may take some time and effort, sending out an email once you have a list takes very little time.  

You can get email addresses by simply asking for them on your webpage about a related topic to your products, asking for them from your customers when you take an order, or offering a free product or service in exchange for an email address.

Many people get emails by offering people products in exchange for the email addresses of their friends, but these are often far less useful than when people give you their email addresses themselves.  Ninety-nine percent of the time, the friends really aren’t going to be interesting in what you have to offer.

Word of Mouth

Word of mouth is also a great way to get word about your business out there, and it generally costs you nothing.    

The key to starting word of mouth business is not only to tell people to pass the word on to their friends, but more importantly, to treat the customer right so they want to spread the word.

Social networking sites are a great way to start a word of mouth campaign about your business.  These are sites like MySpace, Facebook, and other sites where people can ad their friends, bands they like, and businesses or products they might be a fan of.  

Then, if someone is a friend, the site will often automatically suggest they become a friend with or a fan of the same things.  Soon, you’ll have a bunch of people who are all fans of your business - then you can use the page to send updates to all of them about new products, services, and promotions.  It’s all free and pretty simple to get started.

Blogs

Blogs are another way to get people interested in your products and keep current customers up to date.  Starting a blog is simple, there are tons of blog sites that will pretty much set the whole thing up for you.  The trick is actually getting people to read it.  

You can use different SEO techniques including microblogs like Twitter, but you also need to provide quality content that people actually want to read.  Start your blog by not only talking about your business and ideas, but also those of other people.  If you refer someone to a good article or great deal, they’re much more likely to keep reading.

While you may decide to spend some money on your advertising, you can still supplement with these methods to boost your exposure even more.

How to Find Legitimate VA Opportunities

So you’ve just started a VA business and you need clients. Not to worry. You’re in a high demand business. The clients are there. You just have to know where to look. True, there are some scams out there. However, the legitimate opportunities far outweigh the scams. Here are three great ways to find legitimate VA opportunities.

Ask

In the beginning, there are a few key places to find legitimate VA opportunities. The first and often best resource is your connections. Ask your friends. Ask your family. And ask your business associates for referrals. Often, the best clients come from known sources.

Consider creating an email and sending it to the connections in your rolodex. Introduce your services. Stress the benefits you offer. And ask for referrals. You might even offer a referral bonus. For example, for each new client you receive the person earns a credit toward your services. You could really motivate people by offering cash. Just make sure that you can afford it!

Network

Another way to build your business and find legitimate VA opportunities is through networking. If you have a social networking profile, consider connecting with a few people you’d like to work with. Send them an email or a message introducing yourself. The worst thing that can happen is nothing. The best…you get a new client.

Don’t forget to promote yourself on social networking sites too. Offer promotions. Link to your blog and online content. Become a valuable contributor and help others as well. They’ll remember you and turn to you for assistance in the future.
Networking offline is great too. Join your local business organizations. Attend networking events. Bring a business card, confidence and a smile. You’re sure to meet a few new clients.

Job Sites

Finally, there are the freelance job sites and the job boards. These are full of legitimate opportunities. They’re also full of scams. Use them wisely. Make sure you research each potential opportunity thoroughly. Speak to a live person if you can.

And sites like Elance that control the payment, communication and delivery process are good. They can help you if there’s ever a dispute. And they require providers and employers to leave feedback. If the employer doesn’t have good feedback, don’t work with them.

There are legitimate VA opportunities everywhere. Market your services. Get out and meet people. And don’t be afraid to use the job boards. They do provide excellent experience, connections and profit potential. To your success!

Why Every VA Needs an Online Presence

Building a VA business? Great! Congratulations! Being self-employed is a fulfilling and rewarding lifestyle. Before you get too far into that business plan, are you planning on having a website? If you’re going to be a virtual assistant, you need one. Here’s why:

Your Clients are Online

You’re a virtual assistant. Emphasis on virtual. That means your business operates online. Via the internet, email and perhaps instant messaging and conferencing. If you’re without an online presence, you’re missing out on clients. The majority of your clients will be online business owners. That means they’re very Internet focused. They’ll turn to the internet first to search for a provider.

Now that’s not to say that you won’t have local clients. You might. However, they’ll still likely search for you online. It’s how our society buys products and services.

Your Website Establishes Your Credibility

Many VA tasks are focused on the Internet. You might be managing a blog or forum. You might be proofreading and uploading articles into article directories. You might be managing affiliates for a business. All of those tasks require a good degree of comfort using online technology. Your website helps demonstrate your ability to use the internet. It demonstrates that you’re comfortable online and skilled with using technology.

If you don’t have a website, many of your clients may wonder why not. They may simply disregard you because you’re not online.

Your Website Markets Your Services

Your website accomplishes a number of marketing tactics. It communicates your services and fees. It answers any questions a prospect might have about your services, practices and policies. It also showcases your personality. You’ll likely have an “About Me” page. This is useful for telling your story. However, the word choice, design and feel of your site also helps communicate your personality and brand your business.

Your website can also broadcast your successes. You can list your testimonials. You can cite awards you’ve earned. You can communicate organizations you’re a part of. You can also list the companies you’ve worked with. All of this helps establish you as a credible service provider. Your website can be used to build trust with your prospects.

Finally, you can use your website to facilitate many of your business functions. Communications, payments and even inquiries can be managed through your website. You can also use your website to generate more income by affiliating with products or services and by selling advertisement space.

In short, if you’re going to be a Virtual Assistant, do it the right way. Create a website that helps you build and grow your dream business.

How to Choose a Specialty/Focus/Niche and Why It Matters

Are you going to specialize? As a virtual assistant, will you offer specialty services? Or will you offer anything and everything? Experts strongly recommend specializing. Here’s why:

Specializing makes you competitive.

When you specialize in a service or an industry it helps set you apart from your competition. When a potential customer is looking for a virtual administrator chances are they have a very specific task in mind. If you provide that service or specialize in their industry then you’re going to make it to the top of their list.

Not specializing can make you crazy.

Choosing a specialty means you don’t have to juggle too many tasks and responsibilities. It’s challenging enough to own and grow your own business. The last thing you want to do is add more challenges to your day. If you specialize in a task or an industry then you can focus on being the best provider possible.
Specializing helps you raise your rates.

The truth is, specialists make more money. It’s not limited to the VA industry either. It’s everywhere. If you specialize, there’s a presumption that you have specialized knowledge and skills too. People pay more for that knowledge.

Specializing helps you market.

It’s tough to market your business to a target audience if you offer everything. However, if you offer forum moderation and blog management for the parenting and child care industry then it’s much easier to market your services. You know exactly who you’re marketing to and the benefit you can provide them.

So How Do You Choose a Specialty?

There are a few considerations when choosing a specialty. First, it should be noted that you can specialize in:

An industry. For example, parenting and childcare.

A task. For example, blog management and creation.

An industry and a task. For example, blog management for the parenting and child care industry.

You might think that this degree of specialization limits you. However, consider this. If there are 500 blogs on parenting and child care and you gain five of them as clients. You probably have a full schedule. There’s plenty of work to go around. Specialization simply makes your business easier to manage and grow.

Back to choosing your specialty…

Specialize in what you know. If you are skilled at transcription then specialize in transcription. If you’re an expert blogger or bookkeeper then specialize in those tasks. If you know the ins and outs of coaching then specialize in virtual administration for coaches.

Specialize in what you like and enjoy. If you love social networking then specialize in managing and creating social networking profiles. You’ll be much happier and productive if you’re doing something you enjoy.
Specialize in something that’s in demand. Take a look at the job boards. What jobs are commonly posted for virtual assistants? Chances are, that’s an in demand niche. If it’s also something you enjoy and are skilled in then you have a winner.

Remember, you can grow and change.

You might be worried about limiting yourself if you specialize. However, you can always add more services to your portfolio. Your needs, tastes, and business will grow and change. It’s perfectly acceptable to change your services as you grow. Specializing simply helps you attain the success you desire.

How to Get That First Client

Congratulations! You’ve set up your VA business and are ready for your first client. It’s a big step and one that deserves celebrating. So now that you’re ready to work, how do you get that first client? Consider these options:

Job Board

Job boards are a wonderful tool. They can help you launch your business. They can provide a consistent income while you’re building your business. And when you have the eventual dips in your schedule or slow season you can use them to provide additional income.

As a virtual assistant, you may want to focus your attention solely on job boards for virtual assistants. There are all encompassing freelance job boards. These generally require a membership. The freelance job board can serve its purpose. However, you may find better clients via a VA job board. Check out both options and choose the opportunities that are right for you.

Always research your potential client. Make sure they’re legitimate and that they follow through on their commitments. Some job boards simply work like classified ads. You apply for the position and communicate directly with the client. Others work as a go-between. All agreements, payments and work are managed through the job site. Both situations have their pros and cons. Again, make sure you’re working with a legitimate company and job site. Check references. Read reviews. Most opportunities are legitimate. However, it always pays to be safe.

Use Your Resources

When you’re ready for that first client, tell your friends and family. Send an email to your associates. Let everyone know what you’re able to provide. Your Rolodex of contacts is a great place to get started. With a few simple email messages and phone calls you’ll likely land a few great clients. There’s no shame in using your resources. And there really are no better clients than those who are referred to you from friends, family and associates.

Network

If you’re not already active on a social networking site, get a profile and start connecting. Networking online is a wonderful way to market your services. It’s also a great way to meet new people.

Network offline too. Join your local SBA. Become a member of your Chamber of Commerce. Participate in local meet-ups and networking events. Make sure you have a business card and a positive attitude when you’re networking. (A website is a must too.)

Also consider:

  • Making sure your business is listed on your local online business directory
  • Advertising
  • Article marketing
  • Blogging/guest blogging
  • Posting flyers around town

There are many ways to market your VA business. Knock on doors. Connect with people online and in your community. Use your resources and explore your opportunities. You’ll have a full schedule in no time.