Business Success: How to blog when you’ve no idea what to say

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Having a blog on your business’ website can be a great way to attract, inform, and interact with customers. However, a blog either has consistent new content — or it is among the living dead, and despite the popularity of a certain TV show, will repel, not attract, your customers. So how do you keep it fresh? Mark Satterfield offers 17 evergreen ideas.

“But What Will I Blog About?”
17 Evergreen Posts That Pull Readers In (And Turn Them into Clients)

Mark Satterfield

Mark Satterfield

As any experienced business blogger will tell you, one of the toughest parts of the job is thinking of a steady stream of interesting topics. Whether you’re on your 5th or 55th post, it’s equally important to offer value (and to some degree, entertainment) to your readers.

Whenever you can write about current events or trends, do so—connecting to what’s going on in the world will help you establish your business’s relevancy and credentials. But for those times when you’re fresh out of newsy ideas yet you still need to publish something that piques readers’ interest, you need a good list of evergreen topics.

Here, I share 17 blog post ideas that will help you to attract new clients (and strengthen your relationship with existing ones!) by establishing yourself as a thought leader in your field. (The blog post titles I suggest are purposefully generic; feel free to adapt them and jazz them up wherever possible!) 

• Things You Should Be Doing Now
This post showcases three to five items everyone should be doing on a regular basis, whether they’re a client or not. Ideally, you want this to be something that isn’t commonly known. If you’re a dentist, you can write, “You already know to brush and floss twice a day, but here are some things that you might not know.” Then tell readers something like, “Instead of using toothpaste, you’re much better off brushing with a mixture that’s half hydrogen peroxide and half mouthwash.” Let readers know what benefits this strategy will give them and briefly mention the fuller benefits they would get if they came to see you.

• Mistakes (or Bad Habits) to Avoid
This idea is the opposite of the previous post. Again, try to think of mistakes that would surprise most people, explain why they’re detrimental, and close with an explanation of how you and your company can help.

• My Mistake! Where I Went Wrong and What I Learned
Let your readers know how you got through it and how it’s influenced you today. Demonstrating that you have personally experienced the pain your prospective clients are facing shows that your knowledge is more than theoretical. My wife has said to me, “It would be great if you got it right the first time, just once,” but the fact that I’m willing to share mistakes makes my recommended solution all the more credible.

• Survey Says…and the Results Are…
Conduct a survey and then report the results. This will give you two pieces, one in which you conduct the survey and one in which you report on the results. SurveyMonkey.com is a great resource. You can also make it super-simple and ask people to send their replies to your email address.

• How to Solve [Insert Common Problem]
Five ways to cheer yourself up when you’re depressed or sad. Three great questions to ask in a job interview. Seven places to go to hire the best copywriters. People love resource lists and find them incredibly helpful. It’s an easy blog post to write if you know what your readers’ “point of pain” is.

• Making a List (and Checking It Twice)
Can you put together a convenient list that people in your niche will find relevant or useful? It could be books and articles to read, things to do, or things to avoid. And don’t forget social media. Maybe you could make a list of groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ that your audience should be members of. Or perhaps you can make a list of people they should follow. A client of mine put together a list of Twitter handles for literary agents, which was retweeted heavily.

• How I Became a [Insert Whatever You Do]
This is a great way to showcase your credentials and experience. You’ll get SEO benefit when people search for the job title that the post references, and there is usually a high degree of curiosity about these types of articles. Plus, you’re the ultimate expert on the path you took to get where you are today. Just make sure your post doesn’t read like a résumé in sentence form—be sure to infuse your story with interesting personal details, like the mentor who changed your focus in school or obstacles you had to overcome.

• Frequently Asked Questions
Most of us who have some type of expertise get asked certain questions about ourselves, our jobs, our products, and/or our companies repeatedly. It’s old hat to us, but for those who don’t have our level of expertise, having answers to FAQ in one place is very helpful. Think about the typical questions you get asked a lot once people find out what you do, or the questions someone asks you when they’re sitting next to you on a plane.

• Case Study: Overcoming [Insert a Problem]
Tell the tale of a real or hypothetical company in your industry that’s facing a problem, then describe what they can do to make it better. (Ideally, highlight how your company is planning to avoid this problem altogether.)

• You Asked; I Answered
Again, this can address a legitimate question from a reader—or you can use questions you think your readers are asking themselves. Make this post a bit more scenario-specific than your general FAQ post.

 • A Look at Current and/or Future Trends
Talk about current trends in your industry, or be really brave and talk about what those trends could lead to in the near future—or even 10 years from now.

• My Take: Commentary on [Insert Title of Article or Presentation]
Report on articles you’ve read in trade publications or items you’ve learned at conventions you’ve attended.

• Mythbusters: Revealing the Truth Behind a Common Misconception
Isn’t it time to set the record straight? The truth, whether it’s good, bad, or ugly, starts with you.

• Dear Diary: A Day in My Life
This may surprise you, but many readers will follow your posts simply because they become interested in you as a person. I did one of these types of posts on a dare, never thinking it would be of interest, and received a surprisingly large amount of positive response.

• Welcome to My World: A Look at Where I Work
What’s it look like where you work? Take photos and write about them, or better still, make a video. Remember, people will hire you not simply because you can do what needs to be done. (Frankly, there are always a lot of people who can jump that bar.) They’ll hire you because of your technical capabilities and because they feel connected to you. This is a great way to facilitate that process.

• Meet My Mentor
Write about a mentor (or someone you admire in your industry). I was initially reticent to mention others in my blog since I thought it would take away from my own credibility. I was wrong. Talking about the role that others have played in your life makes you more real in the eyes of your subscribers. It demonstrates that you’re always learning and growing. People want to hire those who display those characteristics.

• Coming Attractions: What You Can Expect from Me (or from My Company) Soon
There’s a reason why so many of us love the previews at movie theaters almost as much as the feature attraction: People love to know what’s coming next. Give them an inside peek at what’s on its way in your business. Internet marketer Ryan Deiss posts a blog every Friday about what he’s reading that weekend. Even if my personal reading list is packed, I still find that I can’t resist taking a peek at the blog.

— Mark Satterfield is the author of The One Week Marketing Plan: The Set It & Forget It Approach for Quickly Growing Your Business. He is the founder and CEO of Gentle Rain Marketing, Inc. For 20 years, he’s advised entrepreneurs, consultants, advisors, and business owners on how to attract consistent streams of brand new prospects and turn large percentages of them into paying clients. He is the author of eight books, including Unique Sales Stories: How to Get More Referrals, Differentiate Yourself from the Competition & Close More Sales through the Power of Stories. To learn more or to receive weekly email tips for growing your business,  visit www.gentlerainmarketing.com.

 

Technology News Digest #2

robot

robot

There’s too much tech news to keep up with yourself — so let us do it for you!

The new Top Ten Today-Tech digest provides a brief look at only the most interesting or important items of the week.

This weeks headlines include:
Robots on Patrol
Intel, Samsung back faster wireless connectivity
No hands required: type your thoughts
Police test networked guns
Motorola will find your phone
Pilot-free helicopter fights wildfires
Wearable dialysis device for kidney patients
You can read the full free briefing here.

 

 

PhotoTime automatically tags and groups photos

phototime

phototime

The developers at Orbeus claim their free PhotoTime app will give you a photographic memory — sort of.

“The human brain is an amazing thing,” they say. “But computers have definitely got us beat in memory and indexing” Two crucial skills for managing your photos in the age of digital photography, in which an estimated 880 billion photos are taken every year. A few hundred (or thousand) of those will probably be yours. That’s a lot for one human brain to process.”

Orbeus says it detects race, emotion, age, and gender, and automatically groups the same faces to label friends and family. Its scene recognition determines the context and settings of images and , automatically generates and tags searchable keywords.

PhotoTime then automatically organizes, sorts and tags all your photos. It “integrates with your iPhone Camera Roll, social networks and cloud services to automatically organize, sort and tag your photos. Instead of struggling to remember (or guess-and-checking) where you’ve stored a specific photo, then scrolling through every image in that album until you find it… you can simply type the name of the person, place, location or concept you’re looking for, and voilà!”

There’s a demonstration video here.

And there’s more information here.

Sony stabilizes full-frame mirrorless camera

sony 5-axis

sony 5-axis

Sony updated its A7 mirrorless camera, saying it now offers the first full-frame ILC with a 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilization system.

The 5-axis system compensates for yaw, pitch, roll, and vertical and horizontal motion, and Sony says it will yield 4.5 stops of stabilization correction. As the Imaging Resource notes, Olympus first debuted a 5-axis system — and with Sony’s investment in Olympus, it could be using similar technology.

The A7 II has the same 24-megapixel sensor as its predecessor, but with a 30 percent faster focus speed and 1.5x better tracking. It is currently official only in Japan.

Update
: On 11/26, Sony widely announced the camera, and will ship it in the US mid-December for $1700.

Flickr decorates walls

flickr wall art

flickr wall art

Yahoo’s Flickr photo sharing site says it is now “bringing the best photographers from around the world to your walls.”

The service will sell large prints of more than 50 million “freely-licensed Creative Commons images” and selected collections from Flickr’s licensed artists. (Artists retain 51 percent of net sales, TechCrunch reported.)

Among the images now available are “interstellar dreamscapes from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center” with infrared solar flares, “gaseous galaxies in deep space, and beautiful satellite images of our earthly home.”

This follows the October debut of personal photo “Wall Art” prints. Sizes range from 8×10 to 20×30-inches.

JVC offers Micro Four Thirds camcorder with 4K resolution

jvc 4k cam

jvc 4k cam

JVC says its “palm-sized camera with professional features …makes ultra-high definition 4K economical for cinematographers, webcasters and broadcasters, corporate and live event production teams, and independent filmmakers.”

The GY-LS300 compact camcorder features a Micro Four Thirds lens mount, “to accommodate the largest variety of lenses and adapters without compromising image quality and lens characteristics,” the company adds. It has a Super 35 sensor, as well as a 3.5-inch display with smart focus assist. It’s $4,450 for the body, available in March.

More information is here.

 

This Week’s Tech News

3d moon

3d moon

Are you interested in more than just photography news — but you don’t exactly have time to study all the tech news blogs?

We’ve got you covered! Check out the Top Ten Today–Tech service, which provides a summary of recent technology news… While covering only the truly important or innovative announcements.

Among this week’s items are:

1. “Print” a base on the Moon

2. 3D-printed guns made practical with new bullet design

3. President Obama backs Net Neutrality

4. Internet service sent via Satellite

5. Robot scallops to swim in your blood

Read the rest here.

Wrist-mounted flying camera wins Intel prize money

nexie wrist drone

nexie wrist drone

The Nixie got a lot of coverage this Summer when it debuted on Kickstarter — and it took another step closer to commercial feasibility with an award from Intel.

Basically a wearable quadcopter drone that rests on your wrist before launching to take your selfie, the Nixie won the $500,000 grand prize in Intel’s “Make It Wearable” competition, Phy.org reports.

There’s a demo video here.

 

Would Dick Tracy wear this?

berg watch

berg watchDutch designer Hermen van den Burg says his smartwatch combines robust functionality with avant-garde design in a convenient user-friendly device — at an affordable price. 

The Burg 12 Smartwatch has full phone functionality to make and receive calls with the watch’s speakerphone, using an included SIM card, or paired with either an iPhone or Android phone.

Why are we covering it here? Well, it also has a camera built in, because these days, what doesn’t? However, we couldn’t find any indication what resolution it captured, so we’d guess it’s in the low megapixels.

The watch has a 1.5-inch touchscreen with a 240 x 240 resolution. It also provides music and video playback, a calendar, contact list, and voice recording.

It’s $199 at Walmart and on Amazon.

Flying cam captures 4k

dji 4k cam copter

dji 4k cam copter

Remember when remote-controlled planes and copters only had VGA-res cameras? It wasn’t that long ago, was it? Today handheld- and tripod-mounted 4k cameras are hardly mainstream — but DJI’s latest drone has a 12-megapixel sensor for full 4k video, as well as Raw stills.

“Everything is better in 4K,” DJI says, which “gives you the power to make every shot a masterpiece.”

dji 4k cam

The Inspire 1 remote-controlled quadcopter has a 3-axis gimble on the bottom to stabilize the camera, the lens of which has 9 elements in 9 groups including an aspherical element, the company says, “producing extreme clarity.”

Also, a real-time feed from the Inspire 1’s camera is displayed in 720p HD on your mobile device, “giving you a perfect view of what the camera sees to frame your shots.” DJI says its Lightbridge technology can now transmit the video feed from up to 2km away.

The cam-copter will sell for $2,899.