Talks at public libraries across Perth – blogging, social media and more

Back when I was a school girl (and I’m thinking particularly of Year 12 maths with Mrs Deeks), I got in trouble quite often for talking too much. (This won’t come as a particular surprise to anyone who’s met me, I suspect.)

These days, I get paid to talk! Oh, the irony. The strange part is I usually get paid to talk about stuff that was way off being invented back when I was at school, which in part makes me feel really old, and in part reminds me that blogging and social media are a most amazing invention which have changed so much about my world in a very, very short space of time. And that’s one of the main reasons why people want to hear me talk about them so often. Continue reading “Talks at public libraries across Perth – blogging, social media and more”

Blogging for a business: Case studies from design and education (and my lovely clients)

The world is starting to understand blogging.

Starting to, I emphasise. And all I really mean by this is that if someone asks me what I do and I mention blogging, most of the time they have a vague idea of what I mean. (Which is a vast improvement on the bewildered looks I’d get a few years ago.)

But most of the time the world is thinking of personal bloggers, journal-style blogs, maybe a travel or fashion blog they like to follow. The world hasn’t yet really begun to understand business blogging. Continue reading “Blogging for a business: Case studies from design and education (and my lovely clients)”

Join me for a Walking Mastermind in Perth

(Looking for current walks to book? Head to the Walking Masterminds page.)

Working for yourself has lots of positive sides, and my friend Aggie Lim and I have long joked about our “beach office”. I got to thinking about this – the benefits of being able to be outside for part of our day, not chained to our desk, experiencing the inspiration of nature, and having the freedom to decide how to set up our working day – along with the wonderful benefits of spending time with like-minded people – and decided that setting up some Walking Mastermind walks might just be something that could work out.

Walking Masterminds with Amanda Kendle - for blog post

What happens on a Walking Mastermind with Amanda?

We will meet at the specified time and place (which will vary) and split into groups of around three or four people (although we’ll all walk together, so this can be a bit fluid, as well!).

At each walk I’ll supply a small card with three questions on. After you’ve got to know your fellow walkers, the idea is you can discuss the three questions together, to hopefully learn some new ideas and share some of your own successes, too.

After the walk, I’ll email everyone who attended with some of the best ideas we heard, plus some resources and links to help you out.

The questions will be related to:

  • productivity – working for yourself, motivation, systems, organising and planning
  • blogging – how, why, what about, how to get readers, and more
  • social media – various platforms, tips and tricks, making time, getting motivated
  • small business/self-promotion – new ideas, networking, strategy
  • and other topics that arise within the groups that seem relevant!

Who are these Walking Mastermind walks suitable for?

A lot of the participants will be people who’ve met me through workshops and consulting sessions in the past, but we welcome anyone, especially:

  • Bloggers or anyone who uses a blog as part of their website
  • Small business owners who have some kind of online presence
  • Anyone using social media to promote their work
  • Writers/artists/creatives who need to promote their work online
  • And anyone else who wants to chat more about blogging, social media, business and more

(You can always email me if you want to check with me first.)

How can I join a Walking Mastermind?

Each walk has a fee of $10. This covers my time for organising and following-up, but also has the purpose of helping you commit to be there – it’s all too easy to let other tasks get in the way.

The currently available locations and times will always be published on the Walking Masterminds page, with links for booking via Eventbrite.

At the moment, nearly all locations will be north of the river but this might change in the future.

Researching keywords for those of us who don’t research keywords

SEO has always been something I’ve, well, kind of ignored.

(If you’ve ignored it so much you don’t know what it means: Search Engine Optimisation. In other words: how to publish blog posts that Google will send lots of search traffic to!)

Deciding to think more about SEO and researching keywords

Over the years, I’ve heard that the way to rank well in searches is more and more linked to quality content and less and less linked to gaming the system, so I’ve told myself I can afford to more-or-less ignore SEO and researching keywords. In the past, it has struck me as kind of boring.

BUT of course, there are sensible times when it pays to give it a bit more attention. I saw Sharon Gourlay’s talk on SEO at the recent TBEX conference in Bangkok (Sharon blogs about this kind of stuff at Digital Nomad Wannabe) and decided that I really should have a look at it for some of my posts.

Researching keywords to get traffic to make money!

Sharon’s talk was very much focused on using good SEO for posts that were trying to drive traffic to affiliate links (links to stuff people might buy, and the blogger can get a commission from).  I have a few posts on my travel blog which (while providing great information and a good service to my community) are also focused on getting affiliate income, so I sat up and listened.

Because we are (trying to) raise our son bilingually, I have a series of posts on German books for babies, German books for toddlers, German books for preschoolers … you can see how this series can continue! These posts have a lot of affiliate links through to Amazon and over the past few months the income they generate, although small, has begun to steadily increase. Sharon’s talk made me think about how much more this could increase if I was just a bit more deliberate about getting targeted traffic to these posts.

So I’m going to experiment a little and let you watch. If it works well, then you can try it too!

Tweaking keyword use on existing posts

So, this is the first part of my SEO-fiddling! The reason I wrote these posts on German books for kids in the first place is that I had trouble finding good information online for non-native speakers like me, and had some real hit and miss experiences with buying books from the German Amazon site. I guess because they are filling a need (I’m definitely not the only non-German married to a German who wants to buy German books for their kids to read), then the posts have already been getting me a lot of search traffic for the main search terms I had in mind (which is basically the titles from above – “German books for babies” etc – as this is exactly what I searched for to find the information.)

I already knew this from looking at Google Analytics and see which search terms people used to find my site, including:

  • German baby books
  • baby books in German
  • German baby stories
  • German books for very young children
  • German toddler books

But after this SEO talk I had a look at where my posts where actually ranking in Google. The easy way to start this, of course, is just to go to Google:

German books for preschoolers Google result - keyword research
Results for “German books for preschoolers” on Google search

So even this simple search taught me a lot. My “German books for babies” post ranked number one for that term, and it also ranked in the top ten for “German books for preschoolers”. But my German books for preschoolers post (or my toddlers one, for that matter) didn’t rank at all, yet. When I cross-referenced that nugget of info against what was actually being bought at Amazon, I realised that it was all the baby books, too.

All this made me quite optimistic, because (1) if my German books for babies post could rank so highly, the others probably could too with a bit of help and time and (2) if they did, and I could get triple or more the traffic, then perhaps I could triple the income coming in too. It’s not heaps, but triple of a bit is a bit more, and it all adds up over time.

Off to work: tweaking my SEO

One thing Sharon had said which made a lot of sense was that using more than just one keyword – in fact more like twenty – would help you get more search traffic. I guess that’s especially true these days when more people are using longer (more natural) search terms.

German books for kids keywordsI soon got to work. I used LongTail Pro to generate more keywords but I think you could use Google’s Keyword Planner just as effectively. After disregarding any search terms it generated which weren’t grammatical or couldn’t be worked naturally into the text, I edited my old posts to include more of these keywords. I don’t want the posts to sound unnatural in any way, but since they are largely informational (lots of lists of books) with just short anecdotes (about my son and his books) joining it all together, I found it relatively easy to use quite a few more keyword phrases.

I also plan to follow the advice I often give my students and create a “hub” post around German books for kids (and I can’t believe I didn’t think of this earlier), as the obvious “first” page to land on so that parents looking for German books for their children can easily see all the information at once before getting specific.

Testing out my keyword changes

And once all this is done, I need to wait a bit. (The patience part is not my favourite bit, but I’m told this is necessary – Google won’t notice what I do instantly!)

The image below is the current ranking (in the United States, since the majority of my traffic comes from there and it’s a bigger market) for my site for various search terms. I’ll come back to this in a few months and compare it again – let’s see if these SEO tweaks have helped out!

Rank check - researching keywords

Gobbledygook? Or making sense?

What do you know about SEO?

In my blogging courses, I usually teach students to do at least a bit of reverse-engineering – thinking about what search terms readers might type into Google if what they are looking for is answered by your blog post. It’s sometimes hard to think this way, but it is definitely worth it – you want people to find your posts, right?

Got SEO questions? I absolutely do not promise I can answer them … but I can try! Leave them in the comments or email me.

Building your Facebook community without being a try-hard

One of the most fun places for me online is my travel blog’s Facebook page. It works just how I want it to and I get to chat with a gorgeous range of fellow travel-lovers there.

I know a lot of my clients complain about Facebook and the way they keep making it “harder” to play … but I think that building your Facebook community (without being a try-hard) can be one of the most rewarding parts of your business or your blog. I regularly reach more than half of my Facebook likers and quite often my posts are seen by substantially more people than the number that like my page. Beyond the numbers, I also feel that it’s a real community of people who are getting to know each other. I thought I’d share some tips to see if I could help you love your Facebook page even more.

Building your Facebook community

Think of Facebook as a friendly place to catch up

The first part of feeling good about building your Facebook community is to take a good look at what Facebook is really all about. More people use it than any other social media and the reason is that they want to know what their friends are doing.

That, of course, creates a challenge for business pages. People are not really in the mindset to think about a business or a blog they follow when they log in to Facebook – they want to see their friends’ kids and some funny memes.

But as a business page you can use this to your advantage. Be like a friend! On my travel blog page I use a super-friendly tone, I share photos and posts with a message that makes it sound like I’m sitting next to you showing it to you, and I make sure I let my followers know that I know what they like and what kind of people they are. Sometimes I even address them by name!

Building your Facebook community

The corollary of this, of course, is to make sure there’s something personal about what you post. Depending on what kind of business page you run, this can be more or less difficult, but think about how you can make it work for you. I have a strict boundary on what I share and what I don’t from my own life, but for example, I’m not bothered by showing my son’s photo (just not his name), and mentioning him in any non-embarrassing way. And note: cute kids with teddy bears is a good posting strategy!

Know your Facebook followers and remember what they’re like

So if Facebook is a friendly place to catch up, you want this catching up thing to go two ways. It’s true that I sometimes will include the names of my Facebook followers in a post – for example, recently I wanted to know if other travellers had come across (annoying) flies in Iceland, so I named a couple of Facebook fans in the post who I knew had been to Iceland and were likely to know. You see the value there? – I remembered something about them (from their comments in the past) and made them feel special (but genuinely – because I really thought they would have an answer).

You’ll see some pages asking super-directly to find out about their followers (I saw one yesterday asking people to post the suburb they live in!) but I prefer to do it more naturally, and see what arises out of the topics we talk about. I don’t have a scary database or anything, I just have this info in my memory from past discussions and comments, but I do tap into it and really think about what kind of people my audience are and create my Facebook posts with them at the top of my mind.

Ask questions, but not just for the sake of it

The typical Facebook advice to get good engagement with your community is to ask your audience questions (preferable easy ones with short answers). You know the kind you see when you kind of inwardly groan because it’s really clear the page owner is just trying to get high engagement?

Don’t do that – but do ask questions when they seem appropriate, and don’t be afraid of asking complex questions. In my experience, people love to give their opinion when they can tell that it’s valued (related: try to reply to every comment you get).

Building your Facebook community by not asking questions
If your Facebook community is used to being engaged, they don’t need a question to start talking – this question-less post got heaps of comments (and clicks to my old post).

If your community is used to being interactive (because you’ve asked engaging, interesting questions and kept the conversation going – and perhaps referred back to it in future posts) then they will become talkative without the need for a direct question.

Vary your posts, but not just for the sake of it

The Facebook algorithm seems to work better if you mix up your posts – sometimes photos, sometimes links, sometimes just text, sometimes a photo album, sometimes a share from another Facebook page.

I see some Facebook pages taking this advice to the extreme. Depending on your niche, it might be that link updates don’t seem too natural, or you don’t have many images to share. Figure out what your Facebook audience likes the most and stick to perhaps three kinds of posts most of the time. And then throw in something different just to see if they’ve changed!

Share links, but not just for the sake of it

(Starting to see a pattern yet?!)

Some Facebook pages I follow churn out a lot of content but most of it is links (both to their own posts and to posts from others) without much thought given to why their followers would want to read it. This is one of the most important moments when you need to know a lot about your followers and figure out what links they would find interesting, and what kind of introduction to the link might be needed.

And don’t let all this take up hours of your time

The next most common complaint from my clients about Facebook is that it takes up too much time. It really doesn’t have to. You just have to get a bit systematic and organised about it.

I use a regular schedule to plan my Facebook posts – it varies over time but for example, it might be to post a photo at 9.00am, a link at 1.00pm, a share at 7.00pm and a link to my own content at 8.00pm. I use a simple grid for the week (sometimes for a fortnight at once) to check off what I’m up to when I sit down to write all these Facebook posts at once (remember batching your work? It works!).

Building your Facebook community - Facebook page scheduling

Finding enough content to cover that schedule becomes easy when you know you need an image for every morning, a link for every afternoon – because in the course of your normal work you are no doubt coming across all this stuff, and you just need to remember it (bookmark it, file it in a special folder, whatever works for you) until the time you sit down to schedule out your comment.

To reply to comments, I nearly always use the Facebook Pages app on my phone, and do it on the run. At the moment I have notifications turned on so I know when I need to have a look; sometimes I turn these off and just check in a couple of times a day.

So go forth and build your Facebook page’s community!

I hope something here has sparked an idea for you to get your Facebook page’s community really buzzing. I’d love to hear how you go.

 

 

 

 

Podcasts for bloggers, social media lovers and solo business people

I have to admit to a bit of a podcast addiction. They are perfect for busy people because you can listen to podcasts while you’re doing something else – like walking home after taking my son to school, or driving on my own, or even in the supermarket (I’m such a fan of self checkout at the supermarket because I can keep listening to my podcasts for longer!).

A couple of people have asked me lately for a few recommendations because they want to hop on the podcast train too, so here’s my answer. I definitely have cycles of loving particular podcasts and I need a decent amount of variety, but if you try a few of these you’re bound to find something you like.

(NB: If you’re not sure how to download and listen to podcasts, these instructions might help.)

My current always-listens

The Portfolio Life with Jeff Goins – he is truly a quality producer of content. This podcast is all about how to have a portfolio career – just like I do, for example, with income from my social media consulting business, my travel blog, my workshops at UWA Extension, some freelance writing … you get the drift. These podcasts are well thought-out and well produced, and always a pleasure to listen to.

Happier with Gretchen Rubin – it helps that Gretchen Rubin (of The Happiness Project and more) is a personal hero of mine, but also this podcast is produced very nicely with regular topics, a great co-host (Gretchen’s sister) and lots of practical, bite-sized ways to practice making your life happier.

Being Boss with Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon – these two fun American gals are all about helping creatives (designers, makers, etc) to run successful businesses and they have a lovely tone and great philosophy on life.

Social media podcasts

Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield – it was actually her podcast which first introduced me to Amy P – and I used to listen avidly every time. Then I was a bit over it (and it got less interesting for a while), but in the last few months it’s got really useful again and I very often listen. Lots of Facebook advice as that’s her specialty but definitely goes beyond that.

Social Media for Small Business from the Australian Businesswomen’s Network – it’s great to have an Australian podcast on this issue and Suzi Dafnis and Cat Matson have been doing this one for a few years. Good solid info and interesting interviews.

Social Media Marketing with Michael Stelzner – he gets the big guns in and has a lot of functional, practical advice. It’s a bit overproduced in a somewhat cheesy way but still worth the listen.

Solopreneur, small business and creatives inspiration

This Is Your Life with Michael Hyatt – he’s a real professional and has figured out everything about how to run a useful podcast. The topics are fairly wide-ranging and sometimes not relevant (eg they may be about leading an organisation sometimes) but skip those and listen to the rest.

Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn – of course you already know how much I love Pat Flynn. Some of the most interesting episodes of this podcast are when he interviews “normal people” – ones we’ve never heard of – who are running a successful online business.

Ask Pat, also with Pat Flynn – this is a kind of spin-off of Smart Passive Income and is kind of genius in its format – listeners/readers call up with a question and Pat spends about 10 minutes answering it, and that’s an episode – which means one’s released every week day. I don’t listen to all of them but pick the topics that are most relevant to me, and it’s handy to have a shorter podcast to listen to, especially on the 15-minute walk home from school each morning.

1 Day Business Breakthrough with Pat Flynn and Chris Ducker – a podcast version of the mastermind days these two fabulous guys run, so each episode has one listener in the hot-seat and Pat and Chris give them a tonne of advice on how to improve their site/business or solve a problem they have.

Natalie Sisson’s Suitcase Entrepreneur – Kiwi world traveller Natalie talks about building an online business so you can be location independent (and is an excellent example of doing this). I went through an utter addiction to this one but perhaps I overdosed as I don’t listen as often these days!

Business Addicts with Loren Bartley and Fiona Redding – two Aussies who launched this podcast earlier this year but have already had great interviews with big names like Chris Ducker and Darren Rowse.

Other random podcasts that I rather like

The Slow Home Podcast with Brooke McAlary – this launched just last month, from Aussie blogger Brooke of Slow Your Home. It’s all about slowing down and living more simply and includes interviews with some really inspiring people. I always end up feeling more relaxed after I listen to this.

Two Fat Expats with Kirsty Rice and Sarah Derrig – two Aussie ladies who have travelled the world living the expat life and are currently based in the middle east, they cover all kinds of fascinating topics and are just a really fun listen.

Reply All with PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman – a professional podcast which is “about the internet” – meaning it covers all kinds of interesting topics and often really grabs my attention.

Your turn – let me know your top podcast tips

Which podcasts do you love listening to? I’d love to know so please leave a comment with some tips.

Bloggers’ Workshops for 2015 – all the details to keep your blog on track and network with fellow bloggers in Perth

This one’s for all my Perth (and near Perth) bloggers, because due to popular demand I’ve set up a series of Bloggers’ Workshops for 2015 so that you can all learn (or refresh) some important skills, meet new blogging friends (or see old ones again), and keep getting regular doses of input and inspiration so that your blogging goals stay well on track this year. Many of you who attended the “Get Your Blog Ready for 2015” workshop last year were asking for an opportunity like this, and of course, ask, and you will receive! (Well, sometimes, anyway!)

How will the Bloggers’ Workshops work?

Workshops will run on Thursday mornings in North Beach, Perth. I have planned out 11 different workshops (see all the topics below) and each session will run for an hour and a half. Approximately the first 45 minutes will cover training for the particular topic, and the second half will run like a mini-mastermind format where bloggers can get help and advice about both the topic we’ve talked about and any struggles they’re having with their blog.

You can sign up to individual workshops for $39 (via the Eventbrite links below), or you can buy a “five-pack” for $160 or a “ten-pack” for $300 – you can choose which five/ten sessions you want to attend (email me and I’ll invoice you then send a link to pick your sessions).

Everyone who joins any of the sessions will have access to my new Bloggers’ Workshop Facebook group where you’ll be able to stay in touch with your fellow bloggers (and me) for support and advice throughout the year. Maximum group size for each session will be 10 bloggers – 12 was a couple too many at our Beach Boardroom (North Beach) workshops last year.

What are the Bloggers’ Workshops topics and dates?

All the links here will take you through to the booking pages if you want to book an individual workshop or two – if you want to use the ten-pack option for $300, or the five-pack for $160, email me and I’ll invoice you, then send you a link to pick your 10 (or 5) workshops.

Workshop 1: Big picture social media strategy for your blog

Thursday 5th March (9.30-11am)

Everyone knows that using social media effectively is essential for promotion these days, but have you stopped, stepped back, and tried to create a big picture strategy for how it can work for you and your blog (without leaving you no time to blog, eat or sleep!)?

In the training half of this meet-up, we will cover:

  • A quick overview of which social media platform works best for what (including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram)
  • An audit of what social media you’re using now, and what would actually work best for your audience
  • Setting sensible goals for your social media use and figuring out your over-arching strategy
  • Planning out your social media promotion for the next month

Workshop 2: Making the most of Facebook for your blog (pages and profiles)

Thursday 19th March (9.30-11am)

Facebook is THE social media platform because it has well over a billion users – chances are very high that your target readers are on Facebook. It’s true that Facebook pages have faced some challenges in recent times but it’s still possible to reach your readers if you’ve got a good strategy and great content.

In the training half of this meet-up, we will cover:

  • The pros and cons of both Facebook profiles and Facebook pages
  • How to set up your own Facebook page, in brief
  • Using your Facebook page insights to improve your reach
  • Identifying what kind of content works best (for you) on Facebook
  • Developing the best plan of attack for promoting your blog on Facebook

Workshop 3: Reader avatars, surveying your readers and building community

Thursday 23rd April (9.30-11am)

Every blogger wants to have more readers. But do you know who your current readers really are, and what kind of future readers you’re trying to attract?

In the training half of this meet-up, we will cover:

  • Ways to find out who your current readers are
  • Developing reader avatars – a profile of exactly who your readers are, or who you want them to be
  • Targeting your blog posts to your readers
  • How to turn individual readers into a community of readers

Workshop 4: Optimising images for your blog posts

Thursday 7th May (9.30-11am)

Gone are the days when beautiful words were enough to attract readers – today’s internet readers expect beautiful pictures as well. Images are also very useful for promoting your blog post on social media, as well as breaking up the text and making your blog post more readable.

In the training half of this meet-up, we will cover:

  • What kind of images would work well for your blog
  • Sources of images
  • How to use tools like Canva to create great images
  • Different strokes: tips on images for different social media platforms (especially Pinterest!)

Workshop 5: Sponsorship and advertising for your blog

Thursday 28th May 2015 (9.30-11am)

If your blog is more than a hobby, you’ve probably dabbled in sponsorship or advertising, or at least thought that you’d like to get some income for the many, many hours you’ve spent working on your blog. Fortunately, more and more brands are noticing just how influential bloggers can be, so the potential is really there.

In the training half of this meet-up, we will cover:

  • What forms of sponsorship, advertising or working with brands could work for your blog
  • Putting together a media kit (and making sure you’re keeping track of the right numbers)
  • Ways to approach a brand or company to work with your blog
  • How to be professional and successful on brand work


Workshop 6: Promoting old posts successfully – what’s old is new again

Thursday 11th June 2015 (9.30-11am)

Whether you’ve been blogging for just a year, or for ten years, you will have some old posts that didn’t get the attention they deserved at the time. Many bloggers don’t realise that these posts still have plenty of potential.

In the training half of this meet-up, we will cover

  • How to identify past posts that deserve a second chance
  • Options for reincarnating old posts – editing, adding images, republishing
  • Using social media to revive old posts (including scheduling – this will touch on tools such as Hootsuite)

Workshop 7: Writing better blog posts

Thursday 30th July 2015 (9.30-11am)

Writing for a blog is different from any other kind of writing, and since blogs are relatively new, a lot of bloggers struggle to find ways to write their posts so that their readers are clamouring to see them.

In the training half of this meet-up, we will cover:

  • The characteristics of a well-written blog post
  • Formatting issues – why good blog post writing includes headings and images 
  • How to find your blogging voice
  • Tips for writing a post that your readers will want to share

Workshop 8: LinkedIn for bloggers

Thursday 20th August 2015 (9.30-11am)

A lot of bloggers think LinkedIn is only useful if they’re looking for a new job. Not true! Making all kinds of connections on LinkedIn, promoting your blog, perhaps even blogging on the LinkedIn platform are all legitimate ways to help your blog grow.

In the training half of this meet-up, we will cover:

  • The basics a blogger should include on their LinkedIn profile
  • How to connect with the right people: readers, potential sponsors, guests and interviewees, and more
  • Using LinkedIn to promote your blog posts effectively
  • What LinkedIn’s native publishing platform is all about

Workshop 9: Using Twitter with your blog

Thursday 17th September 2015 (9.30-11am)

Twitter can be mystifying. It can also be fascinating! What’s more, you can definitely use Twitter to bring a multitude of benefits to your blog.

In the training half of this meet-up, we will cover

  • The basics of Twitter and some demystification
  • Using Twitter for networking and making contacts
  • Taking part in Twitter chats
  • Promoting your blog posts on Twitter

Workshop 10: Newsletters for your blog

Thursday 22nd October 2015 (9.30-11am)

Social media platforms are fabulous but things can change on them at any time. Getting the email addresses of your readers and being able to get an email right into their inbox is something you are more in control of. I’ll focus on using Mailchimp in this workshop but the principles apply to any mailing list platform.

In the training half of this meet-up, we will cover

  • The pros and pros of having a mailing list
  • How to get subscribers to your mailing list
  • Developing a calendar of content for your newsletters
  • Creating regular newsletters without giving up sleep

Workshop 11: Make 2016 your blog’s biggest year

Thursday 3rd December 2015 (9.30-11am) OR Saturday 5th December 2015 (10-11.30am)
Your blog won’t write itself … or promote itself, or get its own sponsors … it’s all up to you, the blogger! And the best way to make sure that 2016 is your blog’s biggest year ever is to have a really good think about how you can do that before the year hits.

In the training half of this meet-up, we will cover

  • Analysing how your blog performed in 2015
  • Using user audits to check the design and functionality of your blog
  • Setting some key goals for your blog for 2016
  • Brainstorming some completely new ideas and directions for your blog
  • Putting together a plan for 2016

FAQs

What kind of bloggers are these workshops suited to?
From beginners to intermediate bloggers, using WordPress, Blogger or something else, and blogging on any topic.

Do I need a laptop computer?
Ideally, yes. We can use the Wifi at the Beach Boardroom venue and there will be sections at each workshop where you’ll have a chance to do something hands on. It will often be the case that what we do works better on a laptop than on an iPad/tablet. If you want to borrow a laptop (PC), let me know as a I have a couple of spares.

Can I get a refund if I can’t get to the course?
Full refunds are available up to two weeks before the date of the course, but not after that, I’m afraid, due to venue booking restrictions. Refunds for the ten-pack will generally not be given but I’ll look at them on a case-by-case basis.

Got another question? Let me know and I’ll add the answer to the FAQ.


How masterminds and mentors made my 2014 WAY better (and why you should gather people around you, too)

For a couple of years now I’ve been listening to some of my favourite podcasters talk about the value of masterminds (Pat Flynn, Amy Porterfield and Natalie Sisson spring immediately to mind.). In fact pretty much everyone in the social media, solo-preneur or small business space goes on about how mastermind groups or accountability partners or mentors can make ALL the difference. I’m probably a bit slow but finally in 2014 I caught up with this idea and, not at all to my surprise, found it worked out SO well!

Setting up your own mastermind group

Of course, if you sit around waiting to be asked to be part of a mastermind group, you might be waiting a long time. (Or not. But if you haven’t been asked, do what I did.) I thought about a few people I knew who had a similar philosophy to me about running their solo business, and who I also knew had lots of motivation, great ideas of their own that would help me too, and were, of course, nice people who I would love to see more of. And then, with a bit of nervousness, I emailed them with the idea of forming a mastermind group.

Guess what? They said yes! So, since the beginning of 2014, I have had wonderfully inspiring monthly meetings with Natasha Lester and Anita Fredericks. We have a loose format to our meetings, which involves each of us reporting on what’s been going well for us during the past month, and what our goals are for the next month, and asking for help and advice.

I’m sure Natasha and Anita would agree that our little group has been super-helpful this year. I love that we are all in different areas – Natasha is a novelist and teaches writing, Anita is in health and wellness and makes a ripper chocolate (healthy-style – perfect!), and I oscillate between being a travel blogger and a social media and blogging trainer. I think it helps that we’re each interested in what the others do – I’m not sure I’d work well with a mastermind partner who sold machinery parts or something, for example! – but that we’re different enough to be able to offer alternative ideas and approaches.

Just having that “pressure” (in a good way) of our monthly meeting, knowing that I’ll be reporting back on what I have or haven’t done, is a great motivator in itself. Being able to get advice and opinions that I value – especially in the new online world, since many people I talk to barely know what I do! – is fabulous. And Anita’s chocolates are good too 🙂

How do you set up your own mastermind? It’s really as easy as asking. Obviously if you don’t yet know the kind of people who you would like to mastermind with (I was lucky – Natasha and Anita were both former clients who I’d followed long enough to realise they would be a perfect fit) then you need to get involved with some networking groups, either in person or on Facebook, and find some people who might be “your” people. It might not work out the first time (I was lucky), but keep trying and it will. There is now lots of information online about mastermind groups – last year I remember sharing this piece from Chris Ducker which helped us decide how to run ours. I’m lucky (I think) in that we can hold our mastermind face-to-face – I think it works better – but I know other people who do them online using Google Hangouts and they love that too.

Chatting with a mentor or accountability partner

The other great thing I started doing this year (which was not my clever idea but I’m so glad it happened) was to set up fortnightly chats with a fellow blogger with similar goals to me who also knew where I was coming from. I met Dannielle Cresp (of Style for a Happy Home) online first – I’m pretty sure it was on Twitter (am I right, Dannielle?) and then we met in person at the first Problogger I went to in 2013. Dannielle suggested we keep in touch with some Skype chats (she lives in Victoria) and that has turned into regular fortnightly catch ups. (And a face-to-face catch up on the Gold Coast at the 2014 Problogger, which was brilliant!)

Dannielle and I don’t have a specific format but we do talk a lot about our blogs and our work and try to set some accountability goals, stuff we’ll have achieved before the next time we talk. I usually speak to Dannielle on a day when I don’t generally book clients or workshops in so she’s my only human contact that working day, and that makes her very important! Additionally I think of her as something of a mentor because she knows lots of stuff I don’t – her technical skills with stuff like WordPress are way ahead of me, she has design skills, and of course she’s my Pinterest guru (her Practical Pinning course dramatically changed the readership of my blog this year!). She also loves strawberry milkshakes, just like me. Perfect or what?

Why you should gather fellow online-type people around you, too

Whatever brings you to read my blog, you are probably involved with something – be it blogging or social media or online business – that not many people know about. Most people in my “real world” every day life don’t have much of a handle on what I do … “you’re that web design person, aren’t you?” (totally no skill there, I’m afraid) or “you do something with websites and training, right?” It helps enormously to regularly meet up with people who DO get what you do. When an online-type friend says to me, “You won’t believe who just retweeted my blog post!” then I totally get it and celebrate with them.

On top of that, having to talk out loud, to people who understand, about your goals and dreams and hopes for your online work, well, this makes all the difference to how much you achieve. Writing down these plans is effective, but telling someone, and knowing you’ll see them in another month and want to tell them you actually did it, well that makes it WAY more effective.

If I could suggest one thing you could do to improve your online work, it would not be to post more blog posts, or to use Pinterest properly (although both of these would be good too!) – it would be to get some people together and see them regularly. Whether you find a mastermind group, a mentor, an accountability partner, or even just a fellow blogger to catch up with in person for a coffee so that you know someone who understands the basics of what you love doing, I say: DO IT!

Who can write the most blog posts on the way to Problogger? Perth bloggers can!

Last week, after a beautiful Tuesday evening meet up with a bunch of Perth bloggers who are heading off to the big Problogger event next week, my friend Jo and I were standing at an intersection in Leederville, watching the pedestrian light cycle through green about twenty times because we couldn’t stop talking.

Most of our chat was about our excitement about the pending Problogger experience although we did briefly complain that the plane trip(s) from Perth to the Gold Coast take a LONG time. But Jo and I are both pretty positive people, and when I mentioned that last year I wrote a crazy number of blog posts on my Problogger flights (yay for batching and no internet) we came up with the challenge:

Who can write the most blog posts on their way to Problogger?

Well, we Perth bloggers are definitely up for this challenge and have a big advantage of practically a whole day’s travel time in which to do it in. At least four of us are on the same flights and although we won’t sit together (hard to blog and talk, right) we will meet up in Sydney for a progress report.

But we’re prepared to find other non-Perth bloggers who can be even more productive than us, so we are issuing this challenge Australia-wide – make that worldwide – and we’re keen to hear just how many blog posts you can draft between your hometown and the Gold Coast.

If you’re going to be at Problogger this year, please feel free to take up our challenge – leave a comment here and tweet me (@amandakendle) with your progress report. The winner gets … lots of glory and a well-deserved blogging break thanks to getting a bunch of posts at least into a decent draft form!

PS: Do you know the Perth bloggers making the PERTH sign up the top of this post? You should! From left to right:

Happy blogging everyone!

How to fall in love with Twitter again (aka how to use Twitter right, IMHO)

Twitter and I have an on-again, off-again kind of relationship. It took me quite a while to learn to like Twitter in the first place – I was “forced” to use it, initially, by a travel website I was working for! – and I still have waves of love and not-so-much-love for it. Just over a year ago I blogged about all the reasons I love Twitter and yet a few months ago I felt like I couldn’t really be bothered again.

Now I’m back on the Twitter bandwagon again, and I wanted to tell you what got me back to happy tweeting. There’s been a lot of discussion this year about how people miss the “old” Twitter – the Twitter of its first years where there was a lot of chatting between people, and a lot less of people just posting links to their blog posts or to other people’s posts without much in the way of useful comment. And I realised that this was exactly the problem for me, too.

My tweets these days: links with comments, my thoughts, and discussions about wombats

 

How I solved my lack of Twitter enthusiasm

Once I’d realised that I missed chatting to people (one of my favourite parts of Twitter – not just “meeting” people but also getting involved in tweet-ups and tweet-chats) and I was sick of seeing endless links to stuff, then I decided on my solution. (Incidentally, I tried using Twitter lists as my solution, but this wasn’t actually the answer I needed.)

I just had to go and unfollow a bunch of people.

So, over the course of a couple of months, I’ve been looking out for people who don’t fit my requirements, and I’ve also used tools like ManageFlitter which can identify people you follow on Twitter who are spam, inactive, or various other undesirable categories, and my follow list has been cut down considerably. What a wonderfully cleansing purge this has been! Basically, I’ve unfollowed Twitter accounts which:

  • Only tweet their own blog posts (I like finding about your new blog posts. But not if that’s all you tell me.)
  • Only tweet links – whether these links are their own or someone else’s – and never have any comment to add to it. If you’re going to tweet links, add a few characters so I know why I should read it.
  • Only auto-tweet stuff from Facebook. This is one of my true pet hates. If you don’t have time to be on Twitter then don’t be on Twitter! Facebook posts are so different to tweets.
  • Never have conversations with other Twitter users.  When I see a tweet that’s just an unexciting link (especially if I suspect it’s automated) then I click through to their profile – if their last few tweets are like that too, and no @ messages to other real people, then it’s an immediate unfollow from me!
  • Barely ever use Twitter – because then they’re unlikely to get involved “properly” too.
And it worked!
The only problem now is that I am too tempted to spend too much time on Twitter, because it’s so much fun. In particular, having nearly-live conversations with people (as in, you reply reasonably quickly) is fun. Fortunately I realised a quick way around this was to simply leave Twitter open in a tab while I’m at my desk, but click on the Notifications tab – then if I get replies a little number pops up, and I can hop in and reply when I have a spare moment between other tasks, but without getting drawn into the whole feed and discovering new conversations I want to have when I really should be doing something else.
Having the Twitter Notifications window open saves me getting lost in the Twitter stream
You can see in this little screen shot that the number of notifications shows up in the tab, so I don’t even need to waste time clicking there to check – it automatically refreshes.

How are you going with Twitter?

What’s your current relationship with Twitter? Do you love or hate it – and which bits do you actually like? Is there a way that you can set it up to only find the bits you love, like I have?