Do You Need a Blogging Absence Excuse Letter?

It happens to everyone who maintains a blog… life happens and your blog goes on a temporary “hiatus.” Often, the blog owner will issue a “blogging absence excuse letter” which goes along the lines of:

  • “I’ve been really busy… too busy to post to my blog”
  • “I’ve been really sick… too sick to post to my blog”
  • “I’ve been traveling… so I couldn’t  post to my blog”
  • OR.. the absolute WORST Blogging Absence Excuse Letter I’ve seen:

Dearest Blog Readers:

Sorry there have been no posts lately. I have been out of town all week learning (oddly enough) to blog.  Look for new posts, material and blog responses soon!

I’ve change the content to protect the blogger’s identity, but this post is currently the last post to the blog and it is dated February 2008.  By the way, there were only a couple of posts to the blog before this one!

BORING!  BORING!  BORING!!!  These blogging absence excuse letters are boring and destructive!!!

According to Darren Rowse over at ProBlogger.net, writes in his post Excuse Posts- How to Let Your Blog Go #6

The problem is that when you post a few posts like in a row it has an impact upon your readers and any sort of momentum that you might have created on your blog.

He also writes:

While I occasionally include a little personal information in my posts this information is generally shared in a ‘by the way’ type form or as an illustration to an ‘on topic’ post. As a result if something happens in my life that prevents me from blogging then I generally don’t post a post about it (unless it’s a very major thing – something that hasn’t happened yet thankfully).

Darren goes on to give you several tips for how to blog when you can’t blog.  It’s a great post, a must read for most bloggers!

Most of the time, if you aren’t able to blog you probably don’t need to offer a public apology.  The exception to this rule is if your readers begin to email you to see why you’re not blogging.

I have a client who lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa who hasn’t posted to her blog in a few weeks.  I know darned well why she isn’t posting… her entire town is under water!

When she gets dry and has power again, she’ll be able to regale her readers on her experience of surviving the great flood of 2008.  Meanwhile, her priorities are to get her life back to a semblance of what it was pre-flood.

However, maybe you don’t have a good reason for why you haven’t been posting to your blog.  You haven’t survived a flood, a hurricane, a tornado or any other natural disaster.  Then I encourage you to at least make up a good story before posting your blogging absence excuse letter.  Rather than offering the lame excuses offered above (including taking a class on blogging), try the following:

  • “Sorry I haven’t posted.  I’ll be posting ALL the gory details of my Alien Abduction (complete with pictures) after the nice gentlemen at Area 51 return my cell phone.”
  • “I forgot to bring in the Sunday paper last weekend. When I found it on Monday, I thought Monday was Sunday.  I’ve been running behind ever since!”
  • “My time machine is malfunctioning.  My trip to 2030 did not return me to my exact time of departure as I had planned.   By the way, sell all your stocks and buy jars of chunky peanut butter and brownie mix.  Turns out, the currency of the future is rare food.”

If you have a great blogging absence excuse post  that you’d like to share, PLEASE feel free to leave a comment with your best.  (I’m sure you can do better than I did above!)

Domain Names, Keywords and Blogging

Recently, I took a look at the log files for a blogging client. To be honest, I expected the worst. She had only posted 15 blog posts to her blog over the past three months. Not only was she not posting regularly, but none of the posts were tagged nor were they created with her ideal keywords in mind. I braced for the worst.

Imagine my surprise when things weren’t dismal on the traffic front at all. When she then reported how many newsletter subscribers, I was floored. She was getting a 25% sign up rate for her newsletter via her blog with VERY little blogging effort.

When I began looking at the keywords that people were using to find her blog, well it was then that I saw the key to her success. Her domain name and blog name both contained a vital keyword, essential to her business model.

The right domain name, a domain name that contains a keyword which people are using to find the very solutions this client is offering… is making up for a HUGE blogging misstep on her part (not posting regularly to your blog is a HUGE blog mistake many beginning bloggers make).

Which brings us to two essential tools you need to have in your arsenal before you launch your blog.

Blog Keywords:

First, you need a better than the average bear way to find the keywords that are really worth the time and effort of optimizing your blog. Wordze is well worth the investment on this front.

For example, there’s a 4-word keyword phrase which is well worth optimizing for today. (Things change from day to day when it comes to keywords, which is yet another reason to make the investment in a paid tool rather than wait for the trickle down to occur into the free tools.)

On the free keyword front, the Google Keyword tool shows you that the keywords on the singular and the plural of this keyword combo both have a competition level equal to the searches performed. (Meanwhile the incredibly similar 3 word keyword phrase has an average search volume with very high advertiser competition.)

What the Google tool doesn’t show is that there is a lack of competition on the singular version of the 4-word keyword phrase. Wordze does. Oh, did I mention the .net extension of this exact keyword phrase was available for registration? This keyword has had a 94% growth over the past 30 days.

In other words, Wordze is WELL worth the money… especially if you’re getting ready to launch a blog.

Once you have your keywords, it’s time to pick up a domain name.

Blog Domain Names

My blog client got lucky. She was insanely lucky in the fact that she chose a keyword combination that people were already using to find her services. She also picked a keyword competition without a lot of competition.

I wish I had that kind of luck, but I don’t. I have to use Wordze and then plug in those results into the Domain Twist domain name finder tool.

This tool allows you to plug in two essential keywords and find interesting (and available) domain name combinations.

The right domain name, one that contains essential keywords, can act like rocket fuel for launching your blog.  I can only imagine how much further she could be if she had been creating her titles with those essential keywords in mind.

Blogs as a Means of Building Trust through Communication

BLogs are a great communication tool which is why they’re GREAT marketing tools for the business involved in making intangible sales.  Trust is a huge issue when you’re selling “nothing but air”… which is all you’re selling when you’re selling your knowledge and services.

However, in order to establish a rapport with your target audience, you must first demonstrate that you are indeed qualified to speak on the subject.  Which brings to mind a joke that recently appeared on Comedy Central.com:

A guy was seated next to a 13-year-old girl on an airplane. Being bored, he turned to the girl and said, “Let’s talk. I’ve heard that flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger.”

The girl, who was reading a book, closed it slowly and said to the guy, “What would you like to talk about?”

Oh, I don’t know,” said the guy. “How about nuclear power?”

“OK,” she said. “That could be an interesting topic. But let me ask you a question first. A horse, a cow and a deer all eat the same stuff… grass. Yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, and a horse produces clumps of dried grass. Why do you suppose that is?”

The guy thought about it and said, “Hmmm, I have no idea.”

To which the girl replied, “Do you really feel qualified to discuss nuclear power when you don’t know shit?”

Your blog readers are asking the same question…. what basics do you need to demonstrate your understanding of before you engage in the real conversation with prospective clients or customers?

One thing about blogging… it’s hard to hide what you do and don’t know over the course of hundreds of blog posts.    Blogging is great when you’re open to engaging in the Art of Transparency.  However, if you don’t know shit… then blogging can be a real pain.

Trust Building Business Practices

The letters on the soap box I stand upon frequently around here read “Building Trust”.  Blogs are great trust building tools.  They offer businesses the opportunity to begin the difficult process of building TRUST with potential clients and customers.

Trust is so hard to gain and so easy to lose, which is why business owners must pay careful attention to follow trust building business practices.

Building trust is such a HUGE part of marketing and advertising, yet I don’t hear anyone talking about trust and marketing in those terms. Marketing is just an invitation to your business. Advertising is paying to deliver those invitations.

However, if you aren’t engaged in trust building business practices… how can your marketing invitations build trust as well?

Trust is a HUGE deal for anyone engaged in making Major Sales.

5 Essential Trust Building Business Practices

1: Under promise… over deliver

Trust is established when behavior matches expectations. Set the expectations too high and you’ll destroy the trust you’re trying to build with current and potential customers.

The easier software way of creating marketing messages is to scream “Bigger Faster Stronger” . However, the dirty little secret that marketing professionals know is that when you set expectations too high, return rates can run 25% and higher for products marketed in that fashion – for services, those rates can run even higher.

However, when your marketing messages set realistic expectations and you end up delivering more than your marketing messages promise – well, that’s what it takes to ignite the holy grail of marketing… word of mouth advertising!

2: Transparency = Trust

If you’re transparent with your customers as well as with your employees, then you’ll be laying a foundation for building trust.

Transparency’s hard when you’re not being authentic.

For example, I have a friend who works in sales training for a large company. The company has been calling for employees to make sacrifices for the good of the company. They’ve had to turn in their corporate credit cards and they’ve had to share hotel rooms on trips. Imagine their surprise, not to mention disgust, when the CEO drove into work one day in his brand new Bentley.

Word of the CEO’s new ride spread like wildfire throughout the company. Within a few weeks, sales had taken a dramatic downturn and suddenly, the sales training department was assigned the task of coming up with outlining a new marketing campaign to increase sales. (Don’t you LOVE how corporate works!)

Oh, did I mention that the top 6 sales reps left the company in the three months following the CEO’s new car purchase?

Transparency’s hard when you’re not being authentic. Losing trust almost always hurts the bottom line.

3: Focus on meeting your customer’s needs.

When your customer does business with you, it’s because your customer expects you to provide a product or service for them. They are not patronizing your business merely to fatten your wallet or improve your bottom line.

Your customers are doing business with you to meet their needs – to satisfy their wants – to solve their problems. When your focus is upon meeting your customer’s needs… you’re automatically engaging in trust building activities.

4. Make it easy for customers to buy….

I am AMAZED at how hard some companies make it to do business with them. If I, as a potential customer, have to chase you down to get you to take my money, how hard is it going to be to reach you when I have a problem AFTER you have my money and I’ve become your customer?

Trust me, if customers are having to chase you down for the opportunity to buy your product or service… you’ll soon be facing competition that will make it easy to buy the product or service you’re offering. PERIOD.

5: First Impressions Mean a Lot!

Trust is so hard to gain but so easy to lose and little things mean a lot, especially in the beginning.  Dead links on a website… a typo in the sales letter… a forged testimonial…. all can destroy the trust needed for a potential client or customer to make the move from potential to paying.

The obvious point to make here is make sure all your marketing materials make a GREAT first impression.  The old “design vs content” debate doesn’t apply.  Design + Content = Professional Presentation!

For example, I was visiting a blog about business blog consulting.  The design is less than crisp and professional, so that should have been my first clue.  There are 6 different business blog consultants who publish articles on this blog.  They’re great articles… but when you click to learn more you get broken links and error messages.

If you’re in the market for a business blog consultant, you’ve got to ask yourself… are you willing to trust these people with your business blog?  If the links on their own blog don’t work – links which promise to lead to you to the information you need to go about HIRING them- how can you trust them to build links on your blog that work?

Hey, believe me, I know that broken links happen ALL the time.  However, this wasn’t just one broken link – it was several.  One was simply the result of putting two sets of [http://] in the link.  The thing is- these people claim to be blog professionals and that’s a rookie mistake!

Blogs are great trust building tools.  When done correctly, they offer businesses the opportunity to begin the difficult process of building TRUST with potential clients and customers.

What No One Ever Tells You About Blogging

Every where you turn, you’ll find people raving about blogging, with good reason. Blogs are easy to use communication tools… and businesses NEED to communicate with potential customers. So if you’re a business and you need to communicate to customers WHY they need to be doing business with you… you need a blog.

However, while blogs make PERFECT sense as a business marketing tool… there are drawbacks to blogging.

What no one ever tells you about blogging

Blogging is not marketing magic.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it is true.

I’ve had several clients who paid to have the most popular and powerful blogging software on the planet set up on their own hosting account. I installed essential plug ins to make their WordPress blog even more attractive to the search engines.

More than once I have gotten emails from clients wondering why their blogs aren’t getting great search engine rankings on their highly desired keyword terms. When I load their blog, I’m greeted with the “Hello World” initial WordPress blog post. There are no other posts published. There are no categories set up. Nothing but “Hello World”.

Successful Blogging Takes Planning

Planning and research are both ESSENTIAL keys to blogging success.

Planning begins with knowing who your target audience is and why they are at your blog is the most critical element in your blog’s success.

(Here’s a poorly kept secret… it’s also the key to your BUSINESS SUCCESS!!! That’s why I wrote the book Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results. In the book, I take business owners step by step through the process of identifying your ideal target market and then the keys to creating marketing messages which deliver results.)

Once you know who your audience is, then you need to figure out what keywords they are using to find your site. This is the “research” side of th equation.

Top A-list bloggers have shared that on average more than 50% of their traffic comes from the search engines. That means using the right keywords is a KEY element in your blogging success.

There are plenty of free tools you can use to find keywords. However, I got an email today which calls into question the accuracy of those free keyword tools. My client ran her favorite keyword through 3 separate free keyword tools and got the following:

Google: “Average”
Overture — 1211
Keyword Discovery — 600
Wordtracker — not listed

So, I ran her keywords using a new tool I recently discovered called Wordze.

Wordze gave the COMPLETE picture on what was happening with her keyword. It not only showed the standard info… it also showed her who her competitors are on that keyword as well.

PRICELESS!!!

Using the link above saves you $10 a month if you decide to subscribe.

Successful Blogging Takes Effort

The most successful blogs have posts published on a regular basis… at least once a week… more is better.

Many, many blogs begin with a flurry of posts… and then, the new blog owner loses interest and stops posting.  Defining your blog’s direction is essential to achieving blogging success.

Successful Blogging Takes Time

There is no such thing as an overnight success when it comes to blogging. The blogs that do “race” to the top usually find their stay at the top to be precarious at best.

You won’t launch your blog tomorrow and then cash a six figure adsense check within 30 days.  It just doesn’t work that way.

However, if you’re willing to invest the time and effort into this powerful business communication tool… then you’ll find that your blog can act as a powerful, versatile, easy to use marketing tool.