Last week, I was given the opportunity to do a live question and answer session on Social Media Examiner‘s Facebook page. I would have to say that it was the fastest and hardest I’ve typed within one hour, but it was a great experience where I got to really learn a lot about what blogging questions people have today.
Social Media Examiner’s Live Blogging Q&A
So without further ado, here is the transcript with the questions that were asked during that hour and responses from myself as well as fans. You’ll find questions from a variety of topics including business blogging, make money blogging, social media, video, WordPress, and more. Enjoy!
Question: I have a wordpress blog and am considering hosting it myself so that the site name looks more professional. But since we all seem to use shortened URL’s these days, does it really make a difference? I am concerned about losing the existing followers that I currently have if the URL changes.
Answer: The difference between WordPress.com and a self-hosted version of the WordPress platform is the control you will have with the latter, but with that control also comes the need for maintenance. I wouldn’t worry about whether your current followers will be able to find you if you do decide to make the switch. You can simply leave a last post on your WordPress.com blog that you have moved to your new domain for better functionality for your readers. They tend to love that and will happily migrate to your new site. Be sure to list your new blog URL as well as your new RSS feed URL in that post so people can subscribe easily to your new site or visit it directly.
Question: How important is video blogging as compared to typical blogging? Should one offer both on the same page? One or the other?
Answer: I think that video blogging is definitely moving up in popularity. Chances are, you will have readers on your site that might actually prefer video to reading a long post, so you might consider doing a bit of both. I always recommend doing a detailed transcript for any video posts you do on your site, that way you get additional SEO value from the text, people who prefer to read instead of watch video can do so, and people who can’t access the video (such as those on mobile) can still get the content through the text.
Question: What is her favorite blog theme for a personal/professional blog?
Answer: I am a huge fan of the Thesis theme (http://diythemes.com/) for WordPress, as I use it on my main site as well as a few others. It does require a different type of coding skill (if you are used to just modifying templates with PHP, you will also have to learn the hooks system). If you are worried about the design factor, there are several sites such as ThesisAwesome and Kolakube that offer premium “skins” that you can incorporate into your Thesis theme to enhance the design. Alternatively, you can also search for other Thesis skins to do the job.
Quick note: Thesis is not as popular in 2020 as it used to be some years ago and companies like ThesisAwesome & Kolakube have closed down. I’d recommend going with either Genesis or Divi.
Another premium theme to check out is Genesis, which is what is being used by Problogger Darren Rowse and Chris Brogan!
While there are a lot of free themes, I tend to lean towards premium ones because they are, as a whole, designed a lot better for functionality and search. A less pricey option that I like also like is Elegant Themes.
I’d like to add that I am an affiliate for the above WordPress premium themes and I only recommend to tools that I have personally used or tested.
Question: What is the best way to make readers comment your blog posts?
Answer: On each post, be sure to leave an open ended question such as “please share your thoughts on ___ topic.” When you share your post on Twitter or Facebook, instead of just sharing the title and the link, propose a question there such as “Got an opinion on the new Facebook profile design? Share it here!” and link to your post.
Also, it’s not all about what you do on your site or your social media. You have to also get out and comment on other blogs in your niche or industry. This will usually lead to those bloggers coming back to your site and engaging with you in your blog as well.
Question: I still don’t understand how much revenue a semi-succesful blogger should expect to make let’s says 6 months in?
Answer: That is a tough one that doesn’t have a specific answer. I think it really has to do with how you choose to monetize your site, how quickly you build traffic to it, how fast you create quality content, how easily you can create your own product, and how soon you build authority and gain trust from your readers in order for them to start buying from you, whether it is your own products or products you promote through affiliate marketing.
If you have a lot of time to dedicate to your site, you will likely be able to do these things within that kind of time frame, as I have seen bloggers start out and get successful quickly. From the personal experience of someone who works a full time job and does blogging on the side, it has taken over two years to start making a significant profit from my blog, but it’s still not enough to live off of full time. But if I had the full-time to dedicate to blogging and earning income, that would be another story. 🙂
Question: Any recommendations for fine tuning your blog’s focus? We blog about content marketing and social media (very broad topics and very widely covered).
Answer: Sometimes, if you fine tune to something to specific, you may not be able to find the amount of traffic or audience size you need to make your blogging goals. But if you do find that more of your audience is interested in one topic or the other, then you can always lean to writing more on that and building your audience to that one area, or take a different spin such as using social media to boost your content marketing.
Question: Ways to generate income from social media?
Answer: Good question. Usually most people use social media to promote their website, product, or business that they are generating income from. If you’re talking specifically through social media, you could look to building a strong following on Twitter, for example, and then use services like Sponsored Tweets (http://sponsoredtweets.com/) or similar services where people will pay you to tweet advertising messages to your followers. Generally you have to have a HUGE number of followers who are interested in a certain area to be able to make a significant amount from it.
Alternatively, you can become an expert in a certain social media network, then write an ebook or create a course to how you became successful on that network and then promote that product through that network or offer consulting to individuals or businesses on how to use that network.
Question: What are the best ways to drive traffic from your blog to your Facebook page and vice versa?
Answer: I find the Facebook like box (http://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/like-box) helps make liking my page while they are on my site simple.
To drive people from the fan page to my blog, I use the Link option to add my new blog posts to my wall. This is better than just using an outside service to update your page or a simple status update because the Link option takes up the most real estate on your page and in your fans’ news feeds. You can see what I mean with my latest update about my latest post at http://www.facebook.com/artofblogging/posts/147232588664731. The larger the update, the more chance it will be seen and clicked through back to your website.
Question: How to convince a company that you work with how important blogging can be to their company’s success?
Answer: I would say the easiest way to convince a company to use blogging is to find a competitor that is using it successfully. See if you can get some stats from Alexa or Compete.com to show if the competitor’s website is getting more traffic than the company you are trying to convince – chances are, it is due to their blog!
Question: Just wondering if/how ‘categories’ in WP could be renamed, and if so, would that only affect the front end (i.e. rather than saying CATEGORIES in your sidebar, it could say TOPICS or similar), or also the backend (i.e. URL would not actually include the word categories)? WP codex says: “Every Post in WordPress is filed under one or more Categories. Categories allow the classification of your Posts into groups and subgroups, thereby aiding viewers in the navigation and use of your site.”
Answer: I think it’s personal preference – I never changed my permalink settings for the categories (under the Settings > Permalinks > Category base which will change the URL), but you can change it to topics or something else. If you don’t want to change the backend though, you can simply use a widget for your category dropdown and change the name to topics, that way it displays on the sidebar as such. I think people are more accustom to seeing categories, but topics should get the point across effectively too. 🙂
Question: What’s your thoughts on the risk versus benefits of getting users to your FB page and (possibly) risk losing sales opportunities? One client is concerned that if prospects leave the blog too soon and go to the FB page, they may not come back, which undermines their sales goals. How do you avoid or mitigate against this?
Answer: I like to think of having a Facebook page as a way to further engage your audience. If they leave your blog and go to your FB page, and you can get them to like it, then you will be giving them updates to their Facebook, as opposed to them leaving your blog without subscribing and not returning again. I would suggest that the client continue to update their Facebook page with latest blog posts, and even updates about their latest products, that way they are able to drive conversions from the Facebook page in conjunction with the blog. Also, maybe encourage mailing list signups from both the blog and the Facebook page, that way you can get to potential customers through their email as well.
Question: What is the best way to get a quality group of guest bloggers to supplement content?
Answer: I would say that if you know them pretty well (ie. interact with them frequently on social media or through their blogs) then you should just ask! Be sure to make a strong focus on what the benefit is for them to contribute, whether it is traffic or social engagement levels that the site currently has, or let them know what future plans you have for your site (such as once we have # of contributors, we plan to do this which will help you). Give them great reasons to join, and you will have success in getting great contributors!
Question: How to get loyal followers to your blog?
Answer: Getting loyal followers takes great content, time, and interaction. If you provide your visitors valuable content and interact with them through their comments, on social networks, and on their blogs, they are more likely to return to your site over and over again. The key is providing value and quality interaction!
Question: What is the best type of information to include if you are an apartment community trying to blog so your residents and future residents will follow you?
Answer: As an apartment dweller, I would love to see my community’s blog have information about local events, on-site events (like details about the massage, salon, yoga, kickboxing services / classes they offer), gatherings around the community, maybe a “featured resident” for someone who wants to be famous in their community, favorite pet award for the friendliest pet everyone likes to see out for a walk, any news that affects the neighborhood, tips on common appliance issues, ways to decorate the spaces, ways to prep your apartment for the season, where you can connect with your community manager socially for a quick question (like a Twitter support desk in lieu of calling), etc. I really could go on about this for a bit. 🙂
Question: Opinion of video blogging and how to get visitors to subscribe.
Answer: I think video blogging is a great thing. Some people are more receptive to video, therefore it’s a good thing to mix in. I would also be sure that you add detailed transcription to your videos, that way those that prefer to read a post instead of watch a video (or otherwise can’t watch the video because they are at work or on a mobile device) can still get your content.
As far as getting visitors to subscribe, after offering great content, you just have to make sure to make subscription options easy to find and give a good call to action to get visitors to subscribe. I choose to put my subscription options in the sidebar of my blog as well as at the end of posts.
Also remember to give them multiple options. Not everyone wants to go through RSS or email – some may just prefer your Facebook fan page or Twitter. Let people connect with your blog they way they prefer for the best success!
Question: How to get more ads to your blog?
Answer: I started with banner ads from affiliate marketing products to fill the space and added an advertiser’s page on my blog (you can see it here – https://kikolani.com/advertise). The combination have led to people asking for advertising space, but it really depends on how much traffic you have, subscribers, etc. as to if advertisers will want a space. You can also reach out to advertisers who are on other sites in your niche and suggest that if they like those sites, your site would be a good fit since it has a similar audience.
Question: How to generate blog titles when you blog in a narrow niche and have been there some time?
Answer: I use social media as my source of inspiration… if you use something like HootSuite, you can create columns of keyword searches and keep track of everyone talking about them on Twitter. Or add a ? to the keyword and then see what questions people have in your niche. That’s always a great place to start.
Also, if you have a lot of old content, consider updating and re-purposing it. Chances are, your new readers may not have seen something you wrote a year ago which still may hold value today once it has been updated a bit.
Question: What is the sweet spot in terms of # of words and how much effort do you do in SEOing your blog?
Answer: I do most of my SEO efforts after I create a blog post in terms of making sure that a good keyword phrase is included in the post title as well as meta description within All in One SEO Pack. I add additional related keywords phrases within the H2 and H3 headers where it they fit the best. But for the most part, I just focus on the content of my post to make sure it is awesome for the visitors first, and do not let the SEO side of things affect the reader’s experience.
Question: Can CSS stylesheets be used in WordPress? Is there a starting point for this? I have a website and i want to get a WordPress blog going. I want the blog to look just like my website.
Answer: It’s not off subject at all Jeff. Each WordPress theme (assuming you are using the self-hosted platform) comes with it’s own CSS stylesheet. If you go to the admin dashboard > appearance > editor, you can find it and start customizing it to fit closer to your main website. If you are using a WordPress.com blog, however, I think you have to pay a fee to be able to modify the default themes’ CSS.
Comment From Another Fan: Be careful though. If you alter the existing styles sheet on a theme and you update WP, you’ll lose the changes.
Question: (Above Question Continued) I am familiar with the WordPress CSS. I can only assume i cant just copy and paste the stylesheet from my website and throw it into my WordPress blog stylesheet. Is there any guidelines for mirroring the two or tricks, tips, etc.?
Answer: You probably can’t just copy / paste your current CSS. It will have to be modified line by line to go with the elements in the WordPress theme. I don’t know of any resources off the top of my head that would help, but I will research it and get back to you!
If anyone has an answer for this one, please stop by the thread on Social Media Examiner’s fan page or answer in the comments.
Question: What is the best way you have found to monetize your blog?
Answer: For my blog, I use a lot of different things including affiliate marketing (only products / services / events I use and trust), advertising (banner ads), and offering services such as freelance writing. If you have a ton of traffic, you can probably get away with just advertising, but if not, you’ll need to try out a few different methods and see which does the best for you.
Question: Are there any video apps for WordPress that you particularly like and would recommend? I’m thinking of professional purposes.
Answer: I haven’t looked into that, but I’m sure there are. I haven’t gotten too into video for my own site, but I just put the videos on YouTube and them embed them on my site. That way I can get the YouTube traffic (Vimeo also works well) back to my site as well as get some search value if the video happens to rank well for the topic.
Question: What is a good way to feature key bloggers at a foodie type event? Objective would be to have them spread the news about the event and get more of their followers to attend as well.
Answer: You would probably want to engage in a blogger outreach campaign to foodie bloggers to get them to help promote your event and encourage their readers to attend. The key thing to getting bloggers to help you out is to make sure that what you are asking them to help you with will be a benefit to their audience.
Question: What is the best way to increase the fan in Facebook fan page please don’t tell me to use the Facebook Advertising program.
Answer: Be sure to spread the word about your fan page. Not just on Facebook Advertising, but on your website using the Like Box (http://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/like-box), encouraging your followers on Twitter to come fan your page, and including your fan page link in your email signature and business cards.
Question: (Above Question Continued) Through personal profile? Can u expand in a bit more. As I have created new fan page and I want to have fans in that so tell me how should I approach to fans.
Answer From Another Fan: You can use your personal profile as a means of driving traffic to your fan page, but I would work your website/blog first. This is where the “Like Box,” (some code you copy and paste) comes in. They can “like” you at your website/blog and then are fans. I would do that first. While I was getting the website/blog properly tweaked, I would Tweet about the website/blog now and then. You can also mention you Fan Page here. Remember to pull and not push people to you. Less links and more conversation is key.
Question: Say your in a forum when you write in your blog and you want people to comment. Do you post all your comments in the actual blog? Or do you just create a link to the blog?
Answer: If you mean promoting your blog post in a forum, it depends on the forum and what they allow. Some are very strict on self promotion, and would either prefer you post your entire post their (and thus probably receive all of your comments as replies to the thread). Others are a bit more open – you could post half of the blog post’s contents in the forum and encourage people to learn more by clicking through to your blog post link directly. It just depends on the site and the community!
Question: We are looking to use North Social’s applications to customize our college pages. Do you think the cost is worth the benefit?
Answer: I have looked at their apps, and they have an amazing selection. Honestly, we might need a Facebook expert to come in to answer this one, but I have been waiting to see what kind of changes are coming to the Facebook pages. If it’s similar to the profiles, then the tabs will be gone and put in a place of less prominence, so having the fancy apps may not be as noticeable as they are now.
On the other hand, you can probably still send links directly to those tabs (I would hope even in future new designs) so if you want to increase engagement through those apps, they would still be worthwhile.
Question: What’s Quora’s role in social blogging? Is it the next step forward? What’s your opinion?
Answer: Quora is definitely growing at a fast rate. I have joined but haven’t been as active as I probably should be as of yet, but I have been watching the flow of emails and people are joining and following my network rapidly. There is a great post why you should be using Quora that probably will answer your questions at http://socialmouths.com/blog/2011/01/13/why-you-need-to-join-quora/.
Question: What are the metrics to focus on when “sales leads” are the goal for your blog?
Answer: I would say that if you have your blog setup on the same domain as your main business site, ecommerce site, etc. that you will want to setup goals in Google Analytics. This way, you will be able to track which blog posts lead to the most conversions. Then you can tailor your blog content to the types of posts that result in qualifying leads for your business.
Another service to look into in conjunction with Google Analytics is PostRank Analytics (https://analytics.postrank.com/). You can import your Google Analytics information to their service (including goals) and then see what social media engagement on your posts lead to the most goal value, that way you know if you should be spending more time on one network over another for post promotion and conversions.
Question: Do you suggest formspring for business blog?
Answer: I don’t have much experience with Formspring to be honest. I encourage most of my responses and feedback through the comments of the blog posts to encourage more engagement at that level. If you do find you want a custom Q&A section for your site though, and feel that will promote more community, then I have heard that their service is a great one to try out!
Question: How many times per day should you post on your company’s FB wall? There’s so many conflicting opinions on this one.
Answer: There is definitely conflicting opinions. From a personal perspective, I really don’t like seeing a lot of updates from a business page unless they are very unique and beneficial each time (ie. you don’t want to update just to update). I would think that unless you are a news organization or delivering time specific news to your fans, once or twice a day should really cut it.
You can always run a test, such as going a week and trying one update a day, then checking your insights, then continue the next week and try more than one update a day. If you notice you gain / lose fans during a specific time period, you will see what your fans like or dislike.
Also, you could just ask your fans! They love to be included in the way that their favorite page is going to engage with them, so just ask how often they would like to receive updates and even the types of updates they would like (videos, photos, blog links, etc.). This will help you know exactly what your fans want!
Question: Are there any tools to help you create a captivating intro for blog post?
Answer: I don’t know about tools, but if you are talking about the design aspect, you could always create a custom CSS to format the area where you intro the post. Blogussion does a great job near the end of the post giving a key summary to posts so that readers know the core content. That might be something to consider adding to the top of your post to give readers a quick glance of what they will be getting from your content.
Question: Do you have experience on building quick trust for readers on blog to purchase your product/services aside from constant engagement?
Answer: I’m a huge proponent of building trust through engagement. I think that most people become authorities by simply answering questions from their followers, which leads to those followers referring their friends to you for advice on particular topics.
If you don’t have the time for engagement but already have a strong base of followers, you can ask for their testimonials and be sure to implement those on social networks such as LinkedIn via Recommendations, a testimonials page on your website (be sure to include real names and photos if possible), a reviews tab on your Facebook wall, and so on. People tend to be trusting of those with a strong list of testimonials.
Question: (Above Question Continued) I am planning to put some ebook on my new website, myenrichsocialmedia.com. Will it help in this? Any apps you know that can help build engagement like autoblogging feature?
Answer: Mmm, not a fan of autoblogging so much. I feel like if someone comes to a site and see the content is not unique, by the author of the site itself, and fresh, they might lose a bit of faith in the site as a whole.
Testimonials are definitely the way to go, especially if you can get some well known, easily recognized experts in the same niche to add to them!
Question: Do you think you can make money out of a personal blog? Any tips?
Answer: Definitely! It depends on what kind of monetization methods you have in mind. For example, if you are looking for advertisers, they are going to want you to have a high traffic volume. If you are looking to do affiliate marketing, you will need traffic and an audience who can really trust that what you are offering is valuable. The big key is going to be making sure that your personal blog has a specific focus / niche, such as a blog about pets or automobiles. The more specific theme of your site, the easier it is to find products and advertisers to monetize it.
Question: What’s your favorite WordPress plugin for giving a magazine feel to a static home page?
Answer: I don’t know about a plugin for that one, Analiese, but there are definitely themes out there that can help you build a magazine look for your website. These posts offer collections of free and premium themes to get some ideas from – https://www.wpkube.com/best-wordpress-themes-magazines-newspapers-blogs/.
Question: Which should be focused on more, a linkedin group page or a linked in company page? And what is the best way to increase followers on both apart from linkedin advertising?
Answer: I am currently trying out LinkedIn groups, as they offer the ability for members to engage with each other and the group leader as opposed to just following a page. Group leaders can also send messages to their members at a rate of once a week, which I’m not sure if companies can do with their followers.
As far as increasing your followers / members, you will want to promote your LinkedIn property as much as possible through your website, email signatures, forum signatures, blog posts, tweets, etc. And of course, if you have a group, be sure to be active and keep everything running. The more active it is, the more involved your members will be which might lead to them inviting more of their connections to your group.
If you are looking for more on LinkedIn groups, be sure to check out this post http://www.lewishowes.com/linkedin/create-a-profitable-business-using-linkedin/ on creating a profitable business using LinkedIn. It has a great plan for using groups!
Question: What’s your opinion on the lifespan of blogs?
Answer: I think a blog’s lifespan depends on the blogger’s ability to keep up with the changes that are happening in the industry they write about, as well as keeping their site fresh design and functionality wise. I don’t forsee an end to blogging anytime soon, but I’m sure that if a blogger stays up to date on trends, they will always find a way to adapt themselves and keep their site alive and active!
Question: Is NetworkedBlogs Ap a good way to promote your blog on FB? Are there other alternatives?
Answer: I haven’t been very active using the NetworkedBlogs in a while, although I saw some good traffic turnout when I did. I have found that having a fan page for blogs instead is pulling in more engagement and traffic. And you can incorporate the Like Box (http://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/like-box) social plugin from Facebook on your site to encourage your blog readers to fan your page.
If you’re interested in more ways to integrate Facebook onto your blog or website, be sure to check out my post on KISSmetrics covering Facebook social plugins for websites.
Question: What is the best way to survey your blog readers about content they want to read? (Aside from just a blog post asking for ideas or feedback since those don’t seem to work.) Have used Twitter, too, and am a total metrics geek, but curious how you find out what readers really want.
Answer: I have seen many bloggers create surveys and promote those surveys via Twitter, a blog post, and (most effectively) through their mailing list. I use Aweber for mine, but you can also go with MailChimp as they offer free service to anyone under a certain number of subscribers.
Another way to see what readers like is through analytics. If your blog is listed on PostRank (search for it here – http://www.postrank.com/main) you can get an idea of which posts have generated the most social engagement through comments and social sharing. Those are likely the topics you want to focus on to get the most reader involvement. If your site isn’t listed there, then they will ask you if you want to add it and email you when it is in – then from here on out, you can monitor your posts’ social progress to see what is working best for your readers.
Question: How do you get other people throughout your organization to contribute blog posts when they are afraid of writing? And what’s the best way to organize a new blog with multiple contributors who are all too busy as it is?
Answer: At my workplace, we offer incentives for people to contribute to the blog, such as links to their personal sites, social profiles, and even a bonus for the person who has the most popular post. If someone is not sure they are a great writer, but has a lot of knowledge to offer, you could see if there is someone who is willing to be an editor and give the posts from non-writers more readability after the fact.
Usually the best way to organize is to set a schedule. It’s easy to put something like corporate blogging on the backburner if things are crazy, but if you just set a regular deadline for each author, they will hopefully be able to get into a rhythm which will make each month easier than the next. It’s always a bit tough at first, but once you get things going, everyone will get in the habit and things will progress smoothly.
Question: What do you think is the best “getting started” tutorial on blogging? What would you recommend to a small business who is beginning to blog? B2B and B2C?
Answer: When I was at Blog World, I took a peak through the Corporate Blogging for Dummies guide which had a lot of great information for businesses getting into blogging that had tips. There’s a great review of it on Social Media Examiner’s site at http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/corporate-blogging-for-dummies-book-review/.
Also, I would always suggest simply finding blogs by businesses in your niche and industry, see which ones are successful, and follow them to get some ideas of what works and what doesn’t. PostRank (http://www.postrank.com/main) offers a search for blogs in specific topics, and you can see which blogs gets the most engagement, which is a sign that they are the most popular in their area of expertise.
Question: What are your top 3: books, blogs, motivators, inspirations, and mentors.
Answer: I would say that most of my knowledge has come from more blogs over books, and there are many bloggers that are a source of inspiration and motivation.
So in no particular order… and certainly not the complete list, but just those that I can think of off the top of my head.
http://socialmediaexaminer.com/ (of course!)
http://www.designbombs.com/ (rocks design and content like none other)
http://problogger.net/ (31 Days to Building a Better Blog is the reason my blog is what it is today)
http://lewishowes.com/ (inspired me to start my own LinkedIn group and not run away from webinars)
http://prolificliving.com/ (great personal development inspiration)
http://growmap.com/ (huge inspiration for how to be a better collaborator)
Question: When using images for a blog article, is it OK to use Google images?
Answer: I stay away from Google Images because of the copyright issues. My favorite is to use the Flickr advanced search (http://www.flickr.com/search/advanced/) and check the box for Creative Commons options. This way, you know that you are safe to use the image with appropriate crediting.
I would just like to thank Mike Stelzner, Amy Porterfield, and my moderator Cindy King for the opportunity to be the Friday blogging expert.
If you would like to participate in future Friday expert Q&A sessions, be sure to become a fan of Social Media Examiner’s Facebook Page for updates on future live events, topics, and industry experts to be featured.