Understanding Social Media Competitions

free webinar creating killer competitions with Pinterest and Facebook

It’s ‘U’ in the #AtoZchallenge of writing a blog post for every letter of the alphabet in April.

Today I am looking at ‘Understanding Social Media Competitions’ and those rules that are set down by the various social media channels.

Facebook Competitions

Facebook-64 The most common error that seems to occur with Facebook competitions is when businesses, large and small, break the rule that could actually lose them their page. Yes, Facebook has been shutting down pages that break the rules and while businesses can appeal, there is no guarantee they will get their page reinstated. Yet, I see this rule-breaking on a daily basis. Some small business people aren’t aware they are breaking the rules as they see other businesses running similar competitions. Some are very aware but believe they will get away with it as these competitions are so prevalent and it seems such an easy way to raise your edgerank and boost your reach.

What is it? It’s the ‘Like and Share’.  Facebook did change its rules some time ago. You can now ask your fans a question for which their comment is an entry into the competition, you can even ask them to like your update as an entry but you cannot ask them to tag another person or share your update to their personal profile. However, it is against the rules to run a ‘like and share’ competition.

There’s a lot more to running an effective competition than you might think – starting with deciding on your aims. Do you want to increase fan numbers, get more subscribers for your email newsletter or promote a particular product?  Some will be more suited to using an app such as Shortstack to running your competition, others will suffice by encouraging interaction for a prize – as long as you don’t ask them to share!

Amanda at Spiderworking has a post devoted to the recent changes in Facebook’s rules regarding competitions and will be co-presenting a webinar next week, sharing tips and know-how on creating effective Facebook competitions.

Pinterest Contests

Understanding Social Media Contests Running a Pinterest contest is more straightforward in some ways yet there are quite a few rules that have to be adhered to too. I wrote a post recently on Pinterest contest but the main point for today is that the most common error seems to be calling the contest a ‘Pin it to win it’ contest which suggests that they have to pin your ‘Contest promotion’ pin to win or pin a number of your own pins from your website. Both of these would break two of Pinterest’s rules. The emphasis has to be on quality and curating images that are beautiful and inspiring – which is the whole ethos of Pinterest.

Pinterest is overtaking Facebook and twitter as a referral of traffic to many websites, hence it is a serious contender for helping you raise brand awareness, increase traffic and grow sales.  I haven’t heard of any Pinterest accounts being shut down for breaking the law but this post shows that repercussions can be serious if you don’t ask participants to make it clear that they are creating boards or tweeting in order to win a prize.

As with Facebook competitions, you need to decide on your goal for your contest. Do you just want more followers? Do you want email subscribers? Do you want to test the market with a particular product?  Your goal will determine the size of the prize, the amount of work that participants will do to enter (it is best to keep it simple) and the number of entries you will get.

If you would like to learn more about running a Pinterest contest, do sign up for the free webinar taking place on 1st May.

free webinar creating killer competitions with Pinterest and Facebook

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Posted in Blogs

Twitter – How To Get The New Look

It’s ‘T’ in the #AtoZChallenge and have you noticed the difference in twitter?

If you haven’t got the new twitter look yet and would like to, go to this page, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click ‘get it now’. It will then ask you if you would like to turn on the changes.

I’d imagine all twitter accounts will be altered soon in any case.

Changes include:

  • Bigger profile pics
  • Header photos are larger
  • Popular tweets  that have received significant engagement are shown as larger
  • You can pin a selected tweet to the top – similar in the way you can pin an update in Facebook

twitter_changes

As you can see from the screenshot above, a popular tweet is shown in larger font, anyone can look at just my tweets or my tweets and replies. It is also easier to see the many tweets contain photos and the favourited tweets too. The numbers of both are clear as well. It is easier to filter each section now.

How to pin a tweet

To pin a tweet so it appears at the top of your profile, click the three little dots under the tweet and select ‘Pin on profile page’. To unpin it, click the same button or replace it with another pinned tweet.

What do you think? Do you like the new look? I’m particularly liking the enlarged font for popular tweets.

“Free

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Why Self Publishing Authors Should Use Social Media

Why self publishers should use social media

Why self publishers should use social media It’s the turn of “S” in the #AtoZChallenge.  As many of you may know, I went on a self publishing adventure last year and included some of my learning experiences in this post: Tips for Self Publishing Your Book.

One aspect that has become clear is the importance of your social media following when writing a book – not just for self publishing but also for traditional publishing as publishing houses will wish to see a following. Here’s some suggestions for how you can use social media to build that following:

Blogging

Writing a blog has so many advantages for writers, not only does it get the fingers tapping and provide writing practice, you also receive feedback on your writing and learn what works and what doesn’t.  Feedback comes in the form of  website visits, bounce rate, comments and shares. My own book was inspired by the number of comments and shares enjoyed by a single blog post.  Some authors use their blog for drafting out a book and use a tool such as Scrivener to combine all of the relevant blog posts into a book.

The blog can also be used to build awareness of your book. Reading Pat Fitzpatrick’s post the other day, he pointed out that his recent absence on his blog may have contributed to a recent decline in sales. I recently read that having a good blogging presence can be as effective as appearing on a TV show, I’m not sure of the truth of that but it certainly sounds impressive.

Blogging gives you a means to build relationships with other bloggers, some of whom may review your book on their blog too.

Twitter

You can share your writing journey on twitter, share how your writing is progressing, raise awareness of your upcoming book – all by using the popular hashtag #amwriting.  It also helps when you connect with other writers as you can support each other in your writing journeys.

Once you have self published your book, you can use a personal hashtag to promote it or just to build awareness. By using the Twitter search facility, you can connect with potential readers too.

Facebook Page

Those who like your facebook page can be rewarded by feeling part of the journey if you share your writing process, your self publishing news and your successes. Sharing your reviews or even photos of your book in bookshops means that people share your excitement. However, don’t make your page all about you. Share information that is of interest to your audience, be it news within your topic area, articles and images that are entertaining, and encourage their interaction. Building a following on Facebook is a great way to create a loyal readership for future books too.

Pinterest

Pinterest can also be used in a variety of ways. Create a secret board for your novel’s inspiration using images of people to help you picture your characters, pins of spooky barns or windy days or beautiful beaches to help you plan your settings and  describe atmosphere, and drafts of your front cover. You can then make the secret board public once the book is published so that others can share in this insight.

Boards for book reviews and book related products such as quotes and bookcases are very popular.  Pinning your book reviews (for example, on other blogs) to your own ‘Book Review’ board for others to repin and read. You could also create a shared board for book reviews or other related topics and invite other readers to contribute.

 

Don’t forget about Linked In either – tell all your contacts that you are now an author! Social media also helps with getting publicity, journalists may have come across you or you can contact them directly.

A good book can enjoy huge successes even if self-published and as this post shows, some authors are turning down book deals in order to continue with self publishing. However, most books require the help of social media to build awareness and grow sales. It is never too late to start either so do get in contact if you would like some social media training.

“Free

 

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Posted in Self Publishing, Social Media Platforms, Tips

Reluctant Speakers – Here’s How To Make Powerful Speeches

How to make powerful speeches

It’s R in the #AtoZchallenge and today I’m focusing on Reluctant Speakers.

I used to be a reluctant speaker. It seems strange now but I was 29 when I delivered my first presentation. 29! I had gone all the way through school and three years of a degree and never given a presentation. How education has changed!  My first presentation was for half the marks on a module for my Masters degree so it had to be good. I practiced lots in front of my antique teddy bears which I scattered on chairs around my living room. I made eye contact with each and every one of them and they all looked back at me with encouraging expressions on their faces!  I still remember that I got 66% for that presentation and ended up with a distinction in my MA so I obviously got the hang of it.

I became accustomed to standing up in front of people as I was teaching and lecturing and always enjoyed it. Then after a couple of years break, I was asked to present to a women’s group and I floundered. I don’t think anyone in the group noticed and the feedback was positive. However, while I might usually be nervous for the first couple of minutes, I would usually then settle in to it and enjoy it. This presentation lasted an hour and I felt like I was on tenterhooks for every second. I wanted to get back to enjoying public speaking again so I went to Toastmasters for two years and achieved my Competent Communicator status.

I always enjoy listening to good speakers. If a speaker is poor, it doesn’t matter how useful the information is, nobody is going to be able to concentrate. Death by powerpoint – we have all experienced one of those and watched people fidget and squirm (or leave) around us.  I’m going to a Charisma Bootcamp next weekend and one of the reasons I’m really looking forward to it is because the presenters are so good at delivering their presentations.

How to make powerful speeches Eamonn O’Brien is another accomplished speaker and he trains people in improving their public speaking with his business The Reluctant Speakers Club (see where the ‘R’ comes in!) . I’m reading his book How To Make Powerful Speeches at the moment and it is excellent, not just for all the useful information it provides but also because it contains so much common sense that is easy to digest.

Here’s  points that particularly I enjoyed in the book (and it brought home to me that training for speech making is very similar to blog writing as I teach many of these points when teaching people how to blog effectively). There’s much more material in the book though – this is just a snapshot.

Storytelling – People love stories, they latch on to them, stories can become the most memorable part of your speech but as Eamonn says, many speakers make their stories about Me Me Me rather than using the story to teach the audience something or make something clear. How many times have you heard a speaker tell the story of how they got where they did, how they climbed the ladder to success and how many times have they been boring?  It’s all very interesting if it is humourous or if they are telling you about an error they made to prevent you making the same mistake but if it is Me Me Me, stop after a few minutes. As Eamonn points out, choose stories you know your audience will enjoy and learn from.

Audience – Eamonn uses many examples to show us how to ground everything from the audience’s perspective, to learn about the audience beforehand so your speech is prepared from them and only them. Plenty of pointers are provided to help you prepare for your audience.

First Impressions Count – To make your audience sit up and take  note, particularly if you have the 4pm graveyard slot, you have to remember that impression count and create the right impression, that your speech wilou are contain information that they value and that you are sincere and credible.

The Important 10% – It is rather sobering to think that people won’t remember more than 10% of what you say so make your main and most important message crystal clear, again and again and again.

Dispels Myths – Eamonn explain various ways to capture attention by hooking your audience from the start and concluding with a strong finish. It is good to read that the advice one often hears of ‘tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them and then tell them what you told them’ is nonsense, it will just bore them.

Death by Powerpoint – As I mentioned above, we will all have attended presentations when the slides were chock full with text, so much that we couldn’t even read it and seen people’s eyes glaze over as they tried to read and listen. Eamonn devotes a section to this and shows how to make the most of your powerpoint slides.  Props and video are also useful tools within presentations – if used well.

There’s much more to this book than I have suggested. If you have to make presentations or speeches in the future – get yourself a copy of How To Make Powerful Speeches. Its strength is its common sense and straightforward approach, all couched in easy to follow language and layout. Even those who consider themselves experienced speakers need to read a copy in my humble opinion. The delivery of the presentation is just as important as the information within it. An excellent step by step guide. I’ve just noticed it is now available in paperback as well as kindle so you can purchase both on the links within this post.

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The P’s and Q’s of Pinterest

Ps and Qs of Pinterest

I’m cheating a little today with the #AtoZChallenge. It’s the Easter weekend and between children, calves, lambs and writing my second book, I’m going to have to double up on two of the letters – P and Q.  I had thought of doing a ‘Quick Guide to ……’ for the Q post but I know that realistically, a quick guide is always a long blog post!

Ps and Qs of Pinterest

So here we have it – the good manners, the P’s and Q’s, the pinetiquette of Pinterest.

  • Saying Thank You - Pinterest doesn’t have the ‘chat’ of twitter and facebook even though the commenting facility exists so how should you react when someone repins one of your pins? Should you say thank you? That could get time consuming if you achieve a lot of repins. I would suggest following those who pin from your website, engage with them at some point by repinning their material or commenting on one of their pins (you can find this out easily by using Pin Alerts) .  I would also check your most popular repinners on a tool like Tailwind and engage with them at some level. See our post – Understanding Pinterest Analytics which shows you how to do this.

Ps & Qs of Pinterest

  • Share - Nobody wants to follow a pinner who only pins their own material. The whole ethos of Pinterest is to pin images that are beautiful, striking or useful to share with other people so it is a case of pinning images that you know your followers will like. Yes, they will include your own pins but it’s good manners to pin and repin other people’s material too. Don’t self promote too much. Share and others will share your material too.
  • Pin Little and Often - Pinning at various times of the day means that there’s a higher chance your pins will reach larger numbers but it also means that your pins aren’t flooding people’s gallery pages so they appear like spam. Pin little and often to give others a chance but also to reach more people.
  • Name Your ImagesWhat does naming your images have to do with good manners I can hear you ask? Well, if your blog post and website images are named, it saves the person pinning from your website having to write in a description. In other words, you are making life easier for them. Yes, they may edit the descriptor but it may be exactly what they wanted to say.  I have to admit I have cancelled a pin occasionally when I’ve gone to pin a blog post and found either no suitable images or loads of gobbly gook as the descriptor. Therefore, name your images when you are uploading them.
  • Credit the Source – Never change the link on someone else’s pin to your own site or add anything in a comment when repinning it that would suggest it is your own content. Always credit the source of the pin.  Similarly, when repinning, check that the source of the pin doesn’t lead to spam or anything unsavoury.
  • Auto TweetingPinterest permits us to send out our pins as tweets and also as updates to our personal Facebook profiles. However, don’t overdo this. Like in number 2 and 3, don’t flood the timeline with pins. If you are sending pins as auto tweets, remember to check into twitter to see if anyone has sent you a tweet in response to a pin.

Have_nothing_on_your_pinterest_boards_that_you_do_not_know_to_be_useful_or_believe_to_be_beautiful

  • Useful / Beautiful – Do exactly what Pinterest was invented for, to create and share beautiful images. Therefore, to alter William Morri’s quote – have nothing on your Pinterest account that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.

What do you think? Do you think the P & Q’s are important? Do you have any to add?

photo credit: J. Star via photopin cc

“Free

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Posted in Blogs, Pinterest

6 Ways To Organise Your Pinterest Boards

It’s ‘O’ today in the #AtoZChallenge. April seems to be going very quickly now!

I’m going to suggest how you can organise your Pinterest boards more efficiently. It is very easy to move your boards around by dragging and dropping them into place and it’s worthwhile re-arranging them occasionally or having a particular focus behind their organisation.

6 Ways to Organise your pinterest boards

1. Alphabetical

I’ve noticed some pinners with lots of boards organise them alphabetically and this can be an easy way of finding a particular board. However, it has disadvantages as other pinners may decide to follow you based on your top two rows of boards, hence they only see the first couple of letters.

2. By Theme

If you have a number of different themes in your business account, slotting similarly themed boards together in sections or rows can prevent your account looking rather hodge podge.

3. Seasonal

Place your seasonal boards in the top two rows and then move them to the bottom of your boards page once the season is over, for example, Christmas boards could be moved to the top after Hallow’een but should spend Jan – Oct at the bottom of the page.

4. Colour

Some visual boards are just a delight to look at, such is the colour harmony within the board. Choose attractive images for your board covers and arrange them appropriately. I noticed some businesses turning their board pages green for St Patrick’s Day by using green images for their covers this March.

See this post – How To Select Cover Images for your Pinterest Boards

5. Prioritise the Most Appropriate

Which boards show off your business best? Which boards contain the most focused pins and offer the best snapshot of your business? Put them along your top row.  Anyone contemplating following your account should be able to decide ‘yes’ or ‘no’ by glancing at your top two rows and your biography. Attract your target audience by being focused.

6. Number of Pins

Should you put your most popular boards in the top row? You could do. It’s more important though to ‘springclean’ your board every so often and consider deleting the boards that only have a few pins. We all create boards on the spur of the moment and discover after a month or two that we haven’t pinned much to them. Either make a conscious effort to pin more to those boards or delete them. The boards at the top of your boards page should certainly be well populated with good quality pins.

“Free

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Posted in Pinterest

Making Newsworthy Content for Your Social Media

How To Make Your Social Media Content Newsworthy

It is the turn of the letter ‘N’ in the #AtoZchallenge.

Today’s topic is about being newsworthy. I don’t mean in the writing news articles sense but I am referring to your social media. How can you make your social media content appear as and be newsworthy for your target market? Here’s 3 ways to do it.

1. Blog About New Developments

When blogging, write about new developments within your sphere.  You can give your own opinion and spin on these newsworthy events, thereby educating your audience. You can also show how your company is keeping up to date with changes in legislation and how you are going to make it easier for your staff and your customers.  By doing this, not only are you informing your target customers, you are also promoting your company as being ahead of the game.

How To Make Your Social Media Content Newsworthy

For example, if your business is a restaurant, many of your blog post will be able recipes or different ways of cooking dishes.  Including a positive discussion on topical issues such as childhood obesity, calories provided on menus or the availability of gluten-free food will show your willingness to engage with changes, the media and perhaps contentious issues while informing your customer.

2. Share New Content On Your Channels

Allocate some time every morning to check through news headlines as well as blog articles within your own niche. Make it a point to share those that are most useful to your target audience and schedule them across twitter, your facebook page and Pinterest. Become known as a good knowledge source and it will gain you respect amongst your competitors and your customers.

3. Structure

Think about what draws people in to read a newspaper or magazine article – it is usually the title and the first paragraph. The first paragraph often reveals the who, what, when, where and how in brief.  Ensure you tell your audience the main summary of your written piece and then expand on it with more detail. Tell them what they will know by the time they have finished reading. Let them know what reading your blog post will be advantageous to them. Make your blog posts newsworthy in that they are worthy of the reader’s time, they are interesting, structured and either educational or entertaining.

The most interesting piece of news in the world won’t be read if it isn’t phrased and structured appropriately. Here’s a good post on writing magnetic headlines. 

photo credit: nikkorsnapper via photopin cc

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Posted in Blogs, Social Media Platforms, Tips

3 Pinterest Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make

3 Pinterest Mistakes You Don't Want To Make

It’s ‘M’ in the #AtoZChallenge and I’m concentrating on 3 Mistakes that you really don’t want to make on Pinterest.

1. Not Linking Your Pin To Your Website

3 Pinterest Mistakes You Don't Want To Make Believe it or not, this is one of the most common mistakes I see businesses making on Pinterest, hence, I mention it quite a bit on this blog. As a business, you are using your social media channels to engage with followers and drive traffic to your website. If the pin doesn’t contain a link, the repinner has no way of finding your blog or website.

Many people believe that Pinterest is just for beautiful or striking images – for businesses that concentrate on fashion, crafts, food or interiors. This isn’t the case at all. My business is about teaching social media and I’m finding that by using clear images that show what the blog post contains (ie useful information), Pinterest is far surpassing facebook and twitter in driving traffic to my site and it is second to google organic search at 13% of my total traffic.

See our post How To Ensure Your Pins Link To Your Website to check you are doing it correctly.

2. Not Naming Your Images

Your images in your blog posts and on your website must be named appropriately, ideally with a keyword phrase.  Google can’t read pictures but it can read the title which is why  the naming of images will help the optimisation of your website.

It’s also important as if visitors to your website pin your image, if the description is there, they are more inclined to leave it as it is therefore the pin will travel and still contain your chosen keyword.  If the pin is named as 7579347.jpg or .medium76.jpg, the pinner then has to go and write their own description which may not be what you would like.

Pin this post and you will see how the title of the post comes up as the image description so it saves you having to write it.

3. Not Having Pinnable Images In Every Post

Ensure there is a pinnable image in every single blog post. If your business is a visual one, you will have no problem finding and using beautiful images. But if your business demands a mostly text based article, it still needs an image to break up the text and to use on Pinterest.

There is one particular social media blog (which is very popular and has excellent content) but every time I go to pin their blog post, I get a choice of three images which are pulled from the sidebar – their logo and two images of the blog founders, neither of which demonstrate what the post is about and neither have the appropriate description. I end up abandoning it.

I usually use Picmonkey to create a text image just like the one I have used in this blog post. There’s nothing fancy about it but it does what it says on the tin and works well with plenty of shares happening on Pinterest.

See our post ‘How To Add Text To Your Images‘ for a tutorial.

I hope this helps to prevent you making these Pinterest mistakes and improve the pinnability of your website and images.

“Free

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Do Your Pinterest Links Deliver Click Throughs To Your Website?

How much traffic do your pins deliver to your website

How much traffic do your pins deliver to your website It’s ‘L’ in the #AtoZChallenge. Today I am exploring the value of your Pinterest links in terms of the amount of click throughs they deliver to your website and showing you how to find this out on your own account.

As you probably know, each image pinned from your website to Pinterest contains a link back to your website, a link that means that any other pinner can click on that image and be brought to your website ready to purchase that product, browse or read your articles.

See our recent post: How To Ensure Your Pins Link To Your Website. This post shows you who pins from your website but not how many clicks are generated.

An important question though is – how many click throughs do each of those links in the pins generate? How much traffic does Pinterest with its clickable links bring to your website?  You need the repins to get the click throughs but the repins aren’t any good on their own.

If your Pinterest account has been verified, you will have access to Pinterest analytics in the drop down menu on the top right.  Opt for ‘Most Clicked’ and choose a the two week option on the top left. (It is a disadvantage that the time scale is limited). If you wish to use Google Analytics to find your most clickable pins, check out this post for how to determine your most effective pins .

How to find your most clicked pins

Click ‘ export’ on the top right and it will create a csv file for you.

Interpreting Pinterest Analytics

Interestingly, I find that a pin that has had 150 repins and 40 likes has only had 21 clicks during that fortnight but one that received 4 repins has had 63 clicks through to my blog. However, the 150 repins and 40 likes are over ‘all time’ and when I click on the pin url and paste it into my address bar, I discover that it is a pin on my own board that was pinned over 6 months ago – it just shows it is still delivering traffic – people who will read the post and see that I also offer Pinterest online courses.

The top ‘most clicked’ pin was pinned only two days ago so either the pinner or one of her four repinners is influential. I should check that I am following them (either an individual board or all boards) as after all, if their repin of my content delivers 63 clicks in less than two days, their following is interested in my content.

The CSV file is also handy for determining what are your most popular pins. Paste the url for them into your address bar and evaluate them – what is it about them that is proving popular with other pinners? Try to emulate the success of the most popular and most clickable by using them as a model for future images.

How often do you check your repins and click throughs from Pinterest?  If you are doing it as a result of this post, do let me know if you are disappointed or pleasantly surprised with what you find.

“Free

 

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The Importance Of Using The Keyword Planner Tool

Using the Keyword Planner Tool

It’s the turn of ‘K’ in the #AtoZChallenge and today I am showing you how to use the keyword planner tool, demonstrating why it is so important to use it on a regular basis. Using the right keywords in your website content and your blog posts can hugely influence the SEO of your website, determining how successful it is in terms of bringing more traffic to your site. You can read lots of articles about the value of short keywords and long tail keywords regarding which is best. Essentially though, it comes down to using keywords that people use to search and using similar keywords consistently.

If you would like to learn how to use the Google Keyword planner, this post of mine shows you how to use it in a step by step process and this post by Spiderworking is a video tutorial .

If a business wishes to bring more traffic to her website to book sewing classes, the google planner tool is really important to ascertain which are the most commonly searched for keywords – and are there any popular ones that she may not have thought of? Sewing lessons and sewing classes are the obvious ones but which is most popular? Which one should go in the page title or first paragraph?

When I searched for these terms, the tools threw up other ideas which were actually more popular in the monthly searches.

Using the Keyword Planner Tool

As you can see, within Ireland, ‘sewing classes’ is a more popular than ‘sewing lessons’ so the former should be used more within the website copy. Checking if one’s location is being searched for is a good idea too and we can see that ‘sewing classes dublin’ has even more searches. The two terms that surprised me (probably because I know so little about this area) were that ‘dressmaking courses’ is even more popular than ‘sewing classes’ and when I searched then for ‘sewing courses’ it yielded a result of 30 searches per month. ‘Sewing patterns’ was the one that surprised me and writing a blog post about sewing patterns would be a suggestion because while it will bring traffic that aren’t necessarily looking for lessons, they may require this business’s services in another way and it would certainly increase brand awareness too.

Another tip is to ensure that all the content on the website and blog are related in terms of genre – if a very different topic is introduced, it can confuse the search engine, people may arrive at the site because of the blog post on the other topic, such as foraging for mushrooms, and then they leave again straight away. That may seem an extreme example but it does happen. Keep content related and it will help its ranking so related topics for this business might include tutorials for altering a hem, sewing on buttons, altering a blouse, cutting a dressmaking pattern, fixing a sewing machine – all topics that will demonstrate the business person’s expertise and knowledge and convince potential customers that she will be the perfect teacher.

Do you use the keyword planner tool regularly when preparing for your blog posts?

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