Grow Your Blog – Follow These 8 Rules Of Blogging

Grow your blog - follow these 8 rules of blogging

Grow your blog - follow these 8 rules of blogging Are there rules to blogging? There are a number of written and unwritten rules that you should follow – both to ensure you stay on the right side of the law and that you increase your readership and grow your business.

Some will appear obvious, some may seem to have grey areas but the rules are actually quite strict and some are recommendations.

Here’s eight golden rules of blogging to help you grow your blog, increase readers and sales.

#1. Copyright and Plagarism

The most important of all the rules is that you don’t plagarise someone else’s content. If you wish to copy material from another source, perhaps because you wish to expand upon their argument or simply use that information within your blog post, you must cite your source. If you are quoting from them, it is best to put that within quotation marks or if you are summarising their content, simply state the name of the blog or the author’s name with a link to the source.

Here’s an example from a recent post on We Teach Social:

The rules of blogging

#2. Images

There’s two rules with images – one written and one unwritten! The written rule regarding images is that you either use your own images, use purchased images or credit your sources. If you are struggling to find free images for your blog, photopin offers a good selection – all in return for crediting the photographer.

You’ll find a great explanation for using photopin on the Spiderworking blog.

The unwritten rule is that you name all of your photographs, either when editing them or when uploading them to your blog post. Google can’t read photographs, only what they are called so it makes sense to name your photographs with the title of your blog post or with a keyword describing its content. You should also check that they are well positioned and appropriately sized. I often notice that beautiful scenic photos on lifestyle or tourism blogs are sized too small and just lose their impact.

#3. Asking Permission

While most bloggers are happy when they see a pingback to one of their blog posts (this means a blogger has linked to a specific blog post in their own blog), they probably wouldn’t be happy if they click through and see chunks of their material copied, particularly if it includes photographs. While most companies will be happy to have their photographs reproduced (with a link), it’s best to err on the side of caution and ask permission before using another blogger’s images – they may be very happy to say yes. It may also be the start of a beautiful friendship! If you use material (particularly photographs) without permission, you just might receive an invoice and/or a solicitor’s letter. It’s rare but can happen so if in doubt, either ask or use a source such as photopin.

#4. Structure & Presentation

This is another unwritten rule but it is hugely important. If your blog post presents a wall of text, it is going to be off-putting to readers.  The presentation is even more important than the content in many ways. The content may be wonderful but if people don’t stick around to read it, you have wasted your time. According to a Nielsen study, readers only read 28% of online content. We skim read through subheadings to find the material most relevant to our needs.

Therefore, use whatever means you can to highlight the most important aspects of your blog post. Use subheadings, bullet points, underlining and either use the bold feature or a different colour to highlight some keywords. The TBR Pile, a new book review blog,  is using four tabs for each part of her book reviews – Her thoughts, Editorial input and design, Book club suitability and Purchasing details. I think it’s a smart way to structure it.


#5. Grow Your Readers

It can take time to build readers for a blog and there’s various ways to help them find your wonderful content. These include:

  • Using keywords – here’s how to use the google keyword planner to help you find those highly searched keywords
  • Using the Yoast plugin (for self hosted wordpress blogs) will help you to determine the success of your own blogging as it provides you with feedback too. Here’s how to install and use it.
  • Adding social share buttons so your readers can share your content too, helping you to reach a larger audience. Don’t forget to share your own blog posts too!  I like the flare social share buttons – here’s how to install them.
  • Engage with your readers by responding to them when they comment on your blog or reply to your tweets. It’s a good idea to comment on other blogs too – you would be surprised how this will increase people’s awareness of you and your blog.

#6. Don’t Forget Other Pages

Don’t forget about some of the other pages that are essential to a blog. It’s incredible how many blogs don’t have ‘contact us’ pages or don’t have their email addresses or telephone numbers available. What if a journalist wants to contact you – not to mention a potential customer? About Us pages are also important – people buy from people and they need to see who is behind the business. Having a nice smiling photo of yourself and/or your team is a good idea too. I really like Marian’s About Us page over at Herbi & Carni – nice photos and a good synopsis of what they do.


#7. Calls To Action

I learnt this rule the hard way! When I started blogging for my online retail business back in 2008, I didn’t know anything about calls to action. When I received phone calls from people wondering where they could buy the product I had blogged about, the penny eventually dropped. Not only had I not included a call to action at the end of the post to prompt them to purchase, but I hadn’t included a hyperlink to the product to make it easy for them either!

People will have come to your blog post because they are interested in the information you provide or they want to buy your product. Make it easy for them to buy by including a call to action at the end of your post. It might be in the form of a banner photograph/ad, such as the one at the bottom of this post, which is a prompt and link to purchase our ebook. Or it might be in the form of a direct link, such as the one I am using to link to our blogging elearning courses.

#8. Don’t Get Disillusioned!

Another unwritten rule! Do remember that while it can sometimes feel that you are blogging in a vacuum, particularly if you’re not getting that much feedback on your posts, the results can be surprising over time. I recently wrote a post on my other blog looking for interviewees for my next book and people who have never commented on my blog posts or facebook updates got in contact – both to be interviewed and to tell him how much they enjoy my blog and my first book.

If you would like to learn more about blogging, do check out our two blogging elearning courses at We Teach Social. One is for total beginners, the other is for business bloggers. 

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Tuesday’s Tip: How To Share Pins To Facebook Business Pages

How to pin from Pinterest to your Facebook business page

How to pin from Pinterest to your Facebook business page Pinterest and Facebook are both popular social networks and both are supplying many businesses with significant web traffic and sales. What about when you want to create some synergy between the two?

Do you sometimes want to share a Pinterest pin to your Facebook business page? Now you can and it’s a quick and easy process once you know how.

How To Pin To Your Facebook Business Page

Click on the pin so it enlarges.

Click on the ‘f share’ button  on the top right (above the pin).


It offers to share the pin to your own timeline (your personal profile) as a default. Change this by clicking on the drop down menu and selecting ‘on a page you manage’. If you have more than one business page, select the appropriate page and then all you have to do is write a description before you click ‘share link’.

Easy when you know how but so difficult if you don’t!


How To Pin To Pinterest From Facebook

Here’s a previous post on how to pin to Pinterest from Facebook if you’re wondering how to do it the other way around.


Pinning To Your Personal Profile

Note that if you click the ‘post to Facebook’ button when you are repinning a pin, they will be pinned to your personal profile, not your business page.



This is one of the tips in our 365 Social Media Tips ebook. The book is available for £3.65 if you’d like to benefit from the other 364 tips.

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3 Changes To Pinterest Businesses Need To Know

How to pin from Pinterest to your Facebook business page Have you noticed lots of changes to Pinterest over the last month? Are some of them confusing you? Here’s three of the most recent changes that you need to know about to keep on top of your pinning for your business.

1. Uploading a Pin

It can happen that business owners wish to upload an image to their pinterest account rather than pinning it from their website. Why might they do this? Probably because that image isn’t on a specific webpage.

The “upload a pin” button has moved. It’s now down on the right side of your screen and no matter how much you scroll, it will stay in the bottom right corner. You can also add a pin from a website or create a board from that button too.


If you upload a pin, don’t forget to add the link to your website page too. Remember a pin without a link won’t add any value to your business. To do this, click on your pin so it enlarges. Click on ‘edit’ and then paste the website url into the source box.


Click ‘save changes’. When people now click on your pin, they will be brought to that webpage.

2. Change Your Board Cover Images

I have to admit it took me a couple of minutes to work out how to change the board cover images after the changes.

Changing your board cover images regularly is important because:

  • The cover image should reflect recent quality content. It can be frustrating for a pinner to spot an interesting pin on a cover image and then have to scroll for absolutely ages to find it at the bottom of the board’s pins.
  • Changing the image (particularly if your business uses seasonal images) reflects that your business is aware of current trends.
  • The image should reflect the content of the board – this can alter slightly according to trends or timing.
  • It gives you an opportunity to give a new pin more visibility.
  • Sometimes business users opt for a common theme across all board covers, for example, some will make all their board cover images green to symbolise their Irishness in the run up to St.Patrick’s Day.

To change your cover image now:


  • Click ‘edit’ under your board.
  • Click ‘change cover’.
  • Scroll along to find one of your suitable images. Bear in mind that the size of the board cover image is reduced so choose one that fits nicely into the box!
  • Click ‘save changes’ and that is it.


3. Changes to Pinterest Analytics

The analytics provided by Pinterest (to business accounts) are now much more comprehensive, providing a wealth of information. To access the Pinterest analytics, click on your name in the top right and then the cog at the right side. Analytics is accessed in the drop-down menu. There’s so much information available but for today, I’m just going to focus on one aspect.


Repins on Pinterest are great but business owners want to know how to get more traffic to their website, hence you need to know which pins are sending the most click throughs. You can establish if they go on to purchase by setting up goals in your google analytics but for now, it’s Pinterest’s job to get those pinners to your website.

What I like about the ‘clicks’ option within Pinterest’s analtyics is that it shows the pins receiving the most clicks in the last 3o days – these aren’t necessarily my pins and in my top 5, only three are from my site. What you can do is try to work out what it was about those pins that encouraged their click throughs so you can emulate it in future pins. What I found interesting when looking at this today is that a post from 18 months ago on how to get more Pinterest followers is still delivering click throughs.


Pinterest analytics offers so much more but that’s one of its really useful features. It’s so easy to access too. It’s a good idea to check it out once a day and look at something different each day to analyse how you can improve.

What other changes have you noticed and have they confused you?

If you’d like to get to grips with all the changes on Pinterest plus using the Pinterest Analytics effectively and an introduction to promoted pins, we are running a one week elearning course soon. In just five days, you’ll be up to date with all the new updates regarding how to use them for your business.

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How Will Social Media Further Your Goals For 2015?

365 Social Media Tips

Have you started planning your goals for 2015 and wondering how you’re going to achieve them? You know the expression ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’? Without planning, you can feel a bit like you are stuck amongst the cogs of a machine, like you are constantly turning the wheels but not recognising your achievements and more importantly, not celebrating them either! I’m noticing that social media is playing a much bigger role now in how I set out to achieve my goals. Here’s a snapshot of my goals for 2015 with some suggestions for how you can use social media to achieve your goals.

  365 Social Media Tips

My goals for 2015:

Ghost writing: Part of my business is writing blog posts and website copy for clients – I’d like to secure two more long-term clients for regular blogging. I’ve found Twitter and LinkedIn to be instrumental in developing and continuing relationships with business people – some of whom go on to request copywriting.

Training courses: Our plans for We Teach Social, our business for social media elearning courses, we’ll be using a variety of media to grow this side of our business. This part of the business is also B2B (Business to Business), hence LinkedIn is also invaluable in terms of growing awareness of the training offered – in terms of individual training, group training and online courses.

Book sales: Sales of my book Would You Marry A Farmer? have a particular target market and I find my blog, twitter and facebook page essential in gaining press coverage and growing sales. Traditional media still has a huge place in increasing sales and I find that my social media contributes to achieving free press coverage. Looking at my press and reviews page on my other website, I know that my social media presence is responsible for helping me secure at least two third of the press and reviews. When I was recently asked to be a panelist on the daytime show Midday, the invitation came via a DM on twitter.  I have plans to bring a second book out in September and will be using social media and traditional media to publicise it. I also wish to secure a paid column position and I know that my social media content as well as my following will have a bearing on decisions made by employers.

Planning Your 2015 Goals:

I’ve just noticed that Pinterest is letting users to look back on their 2014 pins by showing them a overview of their pins. Here’s a link to mine! They are also encouraging them to use Pinterest to plan what they want to try in 2015.

Do you use social media to get to know other people, to engage with them and to let them see the personality behind your business. Do you use Facebook to share articles and material that you believe your target will enjoy. Do you use twitter to share articles but also to chat and to share opinions. LinkedIn provides your online curriculum vitae, many valuable connections and the potential for worthy discussions within the groups – not only can you learn from others but you can share your own expertise too. Pinterest can be used for planning, learning and sharing knowledge. All have the potential to drive traffic to your website, generate leads,  and help with sales and bookings.

365 Social Media Tips If you are thinking that you would like to improve your social media in 2015, have a look at our latest social media ebook. Entitled 365 Social Media Tips and available on Amazon, it is designed to help you master social media one day at a time by learning how to use the various tried and tested tips we share with you. I co-authored it with my Blog Awards Ireland and We Teach Social partner Amanda Webb. We even found that we learnt loads from each other as we brainstormed the tips we wanted to share with our readers. Somehow, I had never noticed that if you click on the ‘number of people reached’ under your facebook updates, it provides you with lots of data as to the interaction, click throughs to your website and any negative feedback. Were you aware of that tip?

Amanda had been confused by some of the recent changes to Pinterest so I was able to help her out with those. Have you ever noticed that so many of the social media tools are tricky until someone shows you how to use them efficiently and then you forget that you once found it difficult? It’s all easy when you know how.

Many of our 365 social media tips contain illustrations to make them easier to follow. There’s over sixty tips on each of the main social media platforms plus many tips on various tools to make your usage more efficient and effective. Do take a look at the sample and if you wish to purchase, the book is £3.65 (approx €4.99) on and $5.99 on You can read the tips a week at a time, a month or a time or make it your new year’s resolution to try out a tip each and every day.

photo credit: Profound Whatever via photopin cc



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How to Market and Sell Your Non Fiction Book

How to market and sell your non fiction book

How to market and sell your non fiction book You have written your book, you’ve had it edited, you have hired a professional to design the cover art, you are going to sell it online on Amazon and Smashwords and you are have printed a substantial number or printed a small number via a print-on-demand. You have your ISBN numbers, the blurb is written, it looks as professional as a traditionally published book – how are you going to market and sell it now?

From what I hear from many traditionally published authors, while they don’t have to worry about getting it into bookshops, most of them are having to do all of the marketing of their books. The differences between independently published and traditional published books are certainly diminishing. Whether your non fiction book is a business book or a humourous gift book, writing a book will certainly raise your profile.

Marketing Your Non Fiction Book

Press Releases

One way to market your book is to send out press releases and hope that the local, if not national, media will pick up on them. However, you have to work out how to make it topical. Just stating you have published a book is unlikely to gain coverage, your local paper may publish a story about you if they have plenty of space or if you’re well known by them.

Aim to tackle a topical news angle within the press release – either focusing on the content of the book or your own status. If stay-at-home mums becoming successful in business have been getting coverage in lifestyle magazines and you are a mum, business owner and a writer, then focus on the stay-at-home mum angle.

Another possible angle is to share some tips from your non fiction book within the press release so you are, more or less, writing the article for a journalist. For example, when trying to get press for my ‘Would You Marry A Farmer?’ this September, I included five tips on how to find eligible farmers at the Ploughing Championships! As a result, I got eight radio interviews and about four print articles. Take tips from your book and show how your target market can benefit from them.

Read, Look, Listen!

Listen to the radio, read the newspapers and set up google alerts for related topics. Then send a copy of your book or a press release to the journalist or radio presenter. Two weeks after self publishing my book, I sent a copy to  Ryan Tubridy of 2FM after hearing him discuss a related topic and received a phone call the next day with an invitation for a radio interview.

Be prepared! Have a high resolution photo of your front cover available to send to a journalist at a moment’s notice and it’s a good idea to have an ‘author photograph’ ready too.

Book Reviews in Newspapers

It’s not easy to achieve book reviews in newspapers as the publishing companies will be keeping those reviewers busy with a steady stream of material. However, sign up to the books4media email alerts and you might spot a relevant request. My book was recently reviewed in Horse and Countryside as a result of an email alert.

Book Reviews in Blogs

Ask book bloggers to review your book but ensure that you have checked out that the blog material is relevant. There’s no point asking a reviewer of mostly romantic fiction to review your self published gardening book. You should also ask bloggers writing about your topic, many may be delighted to receive a free book in exchange for an honest review.

It’s a good idea to arrange a ‘book blog tour’ whereby the bloggers all feature the book on a specific date. I organised my tour over six consecutive days as it was getting close to Christmas but it can also be a good idea to have one post a week over a number of weeks. Do ask the bloggers to link to the previous blogger and to the next blogger too. Do share each blog post on your own social media platforms and comment on the blog post too.

If you can ask the bloggers to post a slightly modified extract of their review on Amazon or Goodreads, that will help too.


Listing your book on goodreads may gain it some traction there. You can host a competition there for free, just for the cost of your book (not an ebook) and posting it to the winner. Catherine Ryan Howard wrote an excellent post recently on how best to run competitions on Goodreads.

Social Media

Using social media is crucial but the trick is to use it well! Do not send out ‘buy my book because it is 99c’ or even ‘buy my book’ tweets. You can send out occasional ‘call to action’ tweets but try to include a benefit of buying the book within the tweet. Remember that people buy from people and if they are impressed by your content on twitter, they will be much more inclined to follow the links to your blog posts and from there, they will see your book for sale, particularly if you have a link to it in your sidebar.

A blog is really important – not only can you write posts in a similar style to your book so you attract your target readers but your blog will also publicise your book. You never know what journalists might be reading your blog and decide to write a feature on your book! That has happened to me. Sharing relevant content with your fans on facebook will help to grow your loyal fanbase too.

Pinterest is becoming effective as a marketing tool for authors too, pin any reviews you have received, pin links to where your book can be purchased. If you had created secret boards for planning your book, consider making it public so readers can see the thought processes and inspiration behind your book too, it’s a little like letting them in behind the scenes.


How To Sell Your Non Fiction Book

Book Launch

Having a book launch is a good way to really kick start the sales of your book and gain some local press coverage too. I didn’t have a book launch for my first book as I’d already received a lot of pre-orders with my crowdfunding campaign (plus it was such a tight schedule, I didn’t have the time) but I managed to secure sales of 750 copies in the first three weeks due to crowdfunding, social media and press coverage (all pre-Christmas too so the gift season helped). I will be having a book launch for my second book though.

Own Website

Do sell it from your own website. Although that will involve design costs for a website, you are going to need a website in any case.


While you will have to prove steady sales to have your book stocked nationwide and by book wholesalers, you should be able to get your book into local bookshops. In Ireland, the two main wholesalers, Easons and Argosy, take 55% of the RRP so do take that into account when you are deciding on your pricing. If you are supplying directly to a bookshop, they will probably look for 30-40% of the RRP.

If you can show that you’ve got some press coverage, local bookshops should be open to stocking your book. If they’ve had people coming in to ask for it, they’ll be delighted to see you.

Do bear in mind that while the local bookshops may pay upon receipt of the books or at the end of every month, the wholesalers wait three months before making their first payment.

Boot of your Car

Always, always, always keep copies of your book in the boot of your car. You never know when you might get into conversation with someone who shows an interest in your book and you then have a sale.


The advantage of selling your book at shows is that you get the full RRP so it can be fairly profitable – depending on the cost of your stand and your set up costs (promotional material such as a pop up banner and bookmarks / leaflets). Another advantage is you get to talk to your buyers and your readers. You find out why people are interested in your book and more importantly, their reasons for not buying it.  What is really lovely is when people come up to you to say they’ve already bought your book and enjoyed it – it’s all the sweeter if they say that while beside someone who is wondering whether to purchase or not, it really helps the sale along!


Enjoy your self publishing journey – it can be a rollercoaster but with a good book, some planning, plenty of leg work, substantial sales can be achieved. As you’ll see from the tips above, you can’t start too early – so much of it is building up relationships on social media and offline while you are writing the book. Another advantage of putting in all the legwork with the first book is that you have all the contacts when you bring out the second book.


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How To Use Twitter: Twitter Conversations

How to use twitter, twitter conversations

“I just don’t get twitter.”

“I’ve been using twitter for a while and haven’t sold anything yet.”

“I send about one tweet a week but haven’t had any response.”

“It takes me ages to work out what to write in a tweet.”

How to use twitter, twitter conversations This are some of the comments I often hear at the start of social media training. Do you empathise with any of them? Have you ever felt like that? Are you wondering how to use twitter, how to have a twitter conversation, how to sell within a tweet?

The truth is that twitter is about being sociable, it’s not about direct sales.  It’s where you have conversations, where you can answer questions to show your expertise, it’s where people can find out more about topics they are interested in, perhaps going on to purchase your product or service. I’m going to share a recent twitter experience with you to demonstrate how twitter is about having chats with like minded people to build relationships and yes, often for mutual benefit.

I use my @IrishFarmerette twitter account to promote my book about farming. During the summer of 2013, I used twitter to promote my crowdfunding campaign which involved sending out many ‘call to action’ tweets. I was very conscious that I didn’t want potential pledgers to look at my tweets and see a list of ‘please pledge’ type tweets. That meant I engaged in many conversations on twitter, I wanted to be seen as chatty and friendly, as well as knowledgeable about my subject area.

A couple of weeks ago, I met another self published author on twitter. As a farmer’s wife, she bought my book. I was genuinely interested in her just-to-be-published fictional novel and purchased it, saying I would also review it on my blog in a couple of weeks. We have plans to meet for coffee to share experiences of farming, writing and self publishing and I know from experience we will learn tips from each other as well as exchanging PR contacts.



This came about because of a twitter conversation. I was busy writing a Nativity Play one day, one in which Joseph and Mary are using a Sat Nav which inadvertedly brought them to the wrong Jerusalem (the village near Carlow town) and from there they had to travel up to Crettyard (our village) to the portkey there! My tweet mentioned Crettyard and a mutual twitter contact picked up on it and tweeted us both, including a link to Karen’s recent blog post where she had judged a Strictly dancing competition organised by Crettyard GAA. Small world!

People buy from people and twitter makes your business much more personable. Don’t be afraid of it or believe that each tweet has to be perfect.  It helps you to have conversation with like-minded people, with those who are interested in similar topics or even your product. Twitter isn’t about direct selling.

Have you any stories to share about how twitter brought you in contact with like-minded people or how conversations resulted in sales?





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How To Schedule Pinterest Pins Using Tailwind

How to schedule pinterest pins with Tailwind

How to schedule pinterest pins with Tailwind Scheduling your pins on Pinterest is good for business because:

  • You should pin ‘little and often’ to maximise your exposure.
  • Scheduling offers you flexibility and can save you time.
  • If your target audience is in another time zone, scheduling is an essential tool.
  • If you schedule pinterest pins, you can experiment by pinning at various times of the day and night so you can find your ‘best day and time to pin’.
  • Pinning is addictive and it’s very easy to get carried away, pinning and repinning away with enthusiasm. Spread the love by scheduling so you’re not overwhelming your audience. Your followers might even unfollow you if they see too many of your pins in their home feed at the one time so scheduling is definitely a good idea.

Some time ago, I wrote a post showing you how to use some scheduling tools but Tailwind, one of the most useful Pinterest tools in my opinion, has eventually added a scheduling mechanism to its site and I do think it is now the best scheduling tool.



Here’s how Tailwind Scheduling Tool works:

1. Once you sign up to Tailwind using your Pinterest log in details, you can add the scheduling bookmarklet  to your toolbar, making it very easy to schedule pins when pinning from any website as well as your own site. Alternatively, you can pin using the usual Pinterest bookmarklet tool and choose the ‘schedule’ option.

How to schedule Pins with Tailwind

2. You can also schedule repins of any pins directly from Pinterest.

How to schedule pins on PInterest

When you see a pin you would like to share to one of your own boards but would prefer to repin it at a different time, click on the little ‘Tailwind’ icon on the pin, choose a board from your dropdown menu and a time and click ‘Schedule now’. It is as easy as that.

How to schedule pins on Pinterest

What is also handy is that when you are pinning from a website, you can now opt to schedule that pin then and there. No need to go into another website. Simply click the ‘schedule’ option and then choose a day and time and that’s it.

3. If you are using the Chrome browser, just as the ‘pin it’ button will show on any photo if you hover over it, the Tailwind ‘schedule’ button will also show now too, making it very easy to schedule your pins.

4. You can also schedule repins of your own pins on Tailwind. Why might you schedule a repin of your own pin, I hear you ask!  If a pin is doing well or if you would like it to do even better, it’s a good idea to share it to two or three other relevant boards too. It’s very easy to forget to do this so by scheduling a repin, you are ensuring that your pin gets more visibility amongst your own and group boards.


5. You can even check your scheduled pins on Tailwind, alter the time, add to different boards and edit. You can shuffle the pins in the queue.  You can even change your mind about the scheduling and decide to pin right now, if you wish.


Some of the Tailwind packages are expensive for small businesses but it does provide excellent data on your account. It’s scheduling tool is easy and efficient to use too. If you upgrade, it will also provide you with information on your ‘best day and time to pin’ but don’t forget to put in your own timezone. I believe the package with the scheduling tool is $15 per month.

Tailwind is now offering a free trial for 100 pins at the moment- all you need to do is log in with your Pinterest details so I suggest you give it a go and then decide if it is worthwhile paying for the service, particularly in the run up to Christmas.

Do you think the scheduling tool will be useful for your business? Let me know how you get on if you try using Tailwind to schedule pinterest pins for your business.

Follow Lorna Sixsmith’s board How To Use Pinterest on Pinterest.

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Pinterest Tips & A Speaker’s Experience – Web Summit

Lorna Web Summit People's Stage

There’s been much written about the Web Summit in the last few days and yes, it was a brilliant event, being described as the ‘Ploughing Match for nerds’ (The ploughing match is the biggest agricultural 3 day festival in Ireland, attracting almost 300,000 people this year). It was even better in fact as @GoodFoodIreland were providing the food in Herbert Park and there were a number of food/farming talks too. As a dairy farmer / social media trainer, I loved seeing the merge of #websummit and #foodsummit, and of course, Paddy Cosgrave is a farmer’s son. It was my first visit to the Web Summit and I really enjoyed the relaxed and slightly chaotic atmosphere. Many of the speakers didn’t ‘present’ as such, their nuggets of wisdom were delivered in a conversation / interview with both interviewer and interviewee sitting on a variety of comfy armchairs and sofas on various stages. I was also chuffed to be there as a speaker – more on that further down!

Lorna Sixsmith Web Summit

One of my favourite talks was by Joanne Bradford on Pinterest:

Pinterest Is About Your Future

‘Pinterest is about your future’. I loved this opening line by Joanne Bradford on Tuesday. Pinterest is where you and your target audience plan things you want in the future – be it inspiration boards for decorating a new home, travel boards for a holiday destination, patterns and inspirations for arts and crafts, find book reviews to help you find new reads, new fashion trends, gifts to purchase for Christmas and much more. Of course, we also use it for enjoyment as well as education but so many of people’s boards contain pins planning their future.

For the majority of pinners, Pinterest is about inspiration and then action. Pinterest is where people find the perfect pair of shoes, the nicest hotel, the wallpaper for their hallway, the best books to read, the most impressive birthday cakes, the most inspiring ideas for transforming pallets into furniture and so much more. Once they have compiled sufficient pins in their ‘My Dream Kitchen’ board, they have plenty of ideas to help them decide on their perfect kitchen. From a business perspective, it is just a case of working out how your products can inspire your target market to take action.

There are now 70 million users with 30 billion pins in 750 million boards on Pinterest so there’s no getting away from the fact that this social media platform is a significant player.

Pinterest is now delivering up to 25% of traffic to some websites. If you have an ecommerce store, the potential is significant. All online stores should use product rich pins. By doing so, the shop’s name and logo will be displayed as well as the product description. The price is also visible and all pinners will receive an email notification if the product price is reduced, this is a really effective way to reach these pinners again. People are now using Pinterest to bookmark information too so it’s a good idea to use the article rich pins so your blog posts stand out amongst the other pins.

There are three elements to a pin’s success, to helping it gain repins and drive traffic to a website. The pin itself must be striking and attractive. The pin description should be compelling and the pin must be linked to the correct (and attractive) landing page if it is to increase your website traffic and help conversions to sales. While the majority of a pin’s repins are within a couple of days, pins are ‘evergreen’ and can re-surge in popularity again after months or years.

Shoes on Pinterest

Bradford argued that Pinterest provides a much more varied yet tailored search than Google. If you search on google for ‘shoes’, you are going to see  links to well known brands and shops. In Pinterest, you will see a wide variety of beautiful shoes and with the new ‘Interests’, you can choose to narrow your focus into subcategories, making it easier to find those perfect shoes. From a business perspective, it highlights that the pin description needs to be quite focused – ideally incorporating the relevant ‘interest’ subcategory name into the description too.

Did you know that humour is the most popular category on Pinterest? I hadn’t realised, I had presumed it was women’s fashion or home decor. According to Bradford, ‘Pinterest is as much comedy as cupcakes’ – be it funny captions, humourous images, hilarious quotes with hilarious images of animals being one of the most popular. I’ve made a note to make more use of Pinterest for my humourous guide to marrying a farmer book!

My Web Summit Speaking Experience

I wasn’t on a big stage with hundreds or thousands of people in front of me – I started small!  I was on the People’s Stage in the corner of the Enterprise Summit but there was still a buzz. Maybe it was the drama of the stage curtains beside us that added drama to the occasion, maybe it was the attractive and relaxed assortment of chairs for the audience that added character, maybe it was all the background noise, it still felt special to be speaking at the Web Summit.

Lorna Web Summit People's Stage

Delivering a rehearsed presentation is very different to being on a Q & A panel. When I spoke at the National Women’s Enterprise Day a couple of weeks ago, I knew that the butterflies would ebb a few seconds into my talk, I knew what I was going to say, I had slides to prompt me in case I forgot anything in any case. By the time the Q&A came around, I was perfectly relaxed and ‘in the zone’.

Being on a panel means that you’re not quite sure what the questions are going to be, and while you know you can adjust your points to suit the question, it still lends that element of uncertainty. However, the atmosphere at the Web Summit is really relaxed and between chatting to the other panelists and meeting friends who had come to hear me talk, I didn’t have  a chance to feel nervous in front of our small but significant audience.  The questions were all fine – based on best practice for blogging and using social media, how blogging can contribute to a business’s pillars of growth and why businesses should consider outsourcing their blogging if they don’t have the skillset inhouse.

One thing I liked about the Web Summit was its relaxed nature, everyone was friendly and happy to be there. The sun was shining so the ten minute walk between the 3 areas was a pleasurable stroll. I liked the relaxed dress code too – most male speakers wore jeans, open necked shirt and a jacket rather than a suit and the ladies were ‘smart casual’ too. It suited the atmosphere of the Web Summit. While the rest of the country seemed rather bemused that the failure of wifi at the Web Summit was getting so much attention, it was a tech conference with most attendees using twitter to take notes, share nuggets of information with their followers and have conversations with other attendees.

LornaSixsmith RTE Digital

And that’s one of the beauties of twitter – how friendships and business relationships can develop. I first ‘met’ Jojanneke van den Bosch when we were both listening to RTE Countrywide, an agricultural radio show on Saturday mornings, we were both tweeting and when Jojanneke realised that I also taught social media and as she was coming to Ireland for a holiday, she got in contact and came down to the farm for an afternoon. We met again at the Web Summit and in conversation with RTÉ Digital, they decided they’d like to interview us about our similarities – we both teach social media, we’ve both self published book unrelated to our main jobs and we’re both interested in agriculture!

Were you at the Web Summit? What was the highlight for you?


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Posted in Blogs, Pinterest, Tools for Conferences

Writing for the Web: How To Improve Your Blog

How To Improve Your Blog

Did you know that readers of online content only read 28% of the text (Nielsen study)? I was aware that we tend to scan, rather than read, when we read text on our computer screens or gadgets but I hadn’t realised it was such a low percentage. How do you ensure that readers of your blog engage with the most important information, that they act on calls to action, that they even read to the bottom of your blog post?

When asked to speak at the National Women’s Enterprise Day conference last week, I was provided with the topic ‘Writing for the Web’ and decided to concentrate on the anatomy of a blog post.

Do you visualise your target reader when writing your blog posts. Writing successfully for the web involves writing for your reader. First you need to identify:

  • Is your target reader male or female?
  • In what age bracket do your target readers fall?
  • Where do they live?
  • What is their disposable income? Are they on a tight budget or can they afford luxuries?
  • What is their knowledge about your industry, the products you sell, the services you offer? Do you need to explain things in simple terms?
  • What do they need from you?
  • What questions might they need answered?

Once you have answers to these questions, you should be able to visualise what a typical target reader looks like. This makes it easier to write for your target market if you visualise them when writing, you can even imagine telling them about the blog post over a cup of tea, this will add a friendlier tone to your posts.

Remembering that people scan online content and can be distracted easily, so make your content attractive and easy to absorb. Here’s how to improve the content and presentation of your blog posts.

Improve Your Blog Titles

Just as in newspapers, it’s the title and the first paragraph that helps people decide if they will reach the whole article or not and blog posts aren’t any different.


By using rhetorical questions, readers know that you will answer them, thereby providing them with the answers to questions they may not have even considered yet.

Questions for blog titles

This question by Saucepan Kids attracted my attention. As a mum, I fall into their target market. My daughter makes the most delicious bread occasionally and I was intrigued by the play of words on ‘our daily bread’.

It’s a good idea to make a note of questions that customers ask you. After all, if customers pick up the phone to ask you a question, it is likely that others will be typing the question into a search engine. Many of my most popular blog posts have been written in response to questions asked.

Twist on the Negative

Warnings as blog titles

Providing people with tips on ‘what not to do’ or how to prevent mistakes also work well in that people always want to know how to stop themselves committing errors. As you can see from the shares on this post, the title worked well.


Lists tend to work well too. If people see that the blog post promises tips or entertainment within a certain number, they know it will ‘do what it says on the tin’. Lists are usually divided by numbered subheadings or bullet points so they suggested short and focused paragraphs under each number or subheading.

Lists as blog titles

Many online newspapers are using the number 10 when creating articles now but apparently odd numbers such as 9 or 11 gain more attention. Maybe the rounded numbers suggest that the last paragraph was included just to reach the round number?

Tips / Secrets

Blog Titles with Tips

Promising your readers tips on how to attain something, such as the example here from StyleCaster with their promise on how to look taller with 14 different fashion tips, will prove popular.

Guides / Tutorials

Blog Titles as Guides

Promising readers a tutorial, guidelines or instructions promise that you will be sharing your expertise and that your readers will learn from it. Amanda also created a post recently that shows you three tools that are handy when helping you come up with good titles and testing their effectiveness.

Emotional Appeal

Appeal to their senses. As it is coming into winter and as nights draw in, our thoughts turn to log fires, armchairs, good films and books, warm jumpers and cosy Sunday afternoons. Okay, many of us will also be thinking of evening classes and exercise but nonetheless, the emotional appeal of honest to goodness comfort food, preferably wholesome and lashing with custard, is bound to attract.

Titles with Emotional Appeal


I loved this title by One Man’s Meat and yes, fruit crumble is on my ‘to bake’ list since. The line ‘food to heal your soul’ seems poetic, warming and comforting.

Puns, Alliteration, Assonance


Playing on words is a fun way to engage your audience too. This blog post by Dolly Rouge demonstrates that their target audience are in their twenties with the use of the word ‘lippies’ rather than lipsticks and the pun on Aren’t / Orange.


Titles that promise stories

People love stories and this blog title by Drawn to Sport suggests that there is quite a story to be told as Rachel moved from being a city slicker to a country girl. Rachel doesn’t disappoint and continues on the story to reveal how she started painting country sports, ending with a skilful call to action to view her new Etsy shop. Extremely well done for a blogger who has only been blogging a couple of months.

First Paragraphs

The first paragraph must continue to hook the reader, provide more insight as to the value of the blog post and encourage them to read on. Remember that many of your readers will only see the title and part of the first paragraph in their feedly reader so you have to hook them within that limited content. For those seeing your blog post in the search engines, they will also see the beginning of the first paragraph if it acts as your meta description.

How to hook your blog readers

This blog post by One Fab Day clearly has winter brides as its target market. By the time I got to the end of it (even though I got married in the summer many years ago), I wanted a winter wedding. I almost felt as if Naoise was confiding in me and sharing the best moments of the photoshoot, how it will inspire you to make the most of the winter season for your wedding.

How to hook readers in the first paragraph

Presentation and ‘white space’ are just as important as the content and this post by Mona of Wise Words uses white space and punctuation effectively to emphasise her disbelief of being asked to plant potatoes as a challenge, with the idea of harvesting them on Christmas Day. The full stops between ‘I.Know.’ emphasise it further. Do you want to read on to hear how the planting went? Would you like to visit the blog at Christmas to see if the challenge worked? I would.

Body of Blog Post

Readers will be turned away by a solid wall of text. No matter how long or short the blog post is, do divide it into reasonably short paragraphs using subheadings, numbers or bullet points to break up the text too. Use italics or bold to bring attention to your main points too.


How to hook your readers

How to attract your blog readers with interesting titles, compelling first paragraphs, excellent presentation and strong calls to action.

A picture tells a thousand words and serve to emphasise the main points of your blog post. Photos work to break up the text, providing visual relief. If  your business involves selling attractive products, you should have plenty of photos to choose from. Do ensure that your beautiful images are large enough to be clearly visible, ideally the full width of your blog post.

Portrait images are best for sharing on Pinterest and Amanda’s guide gives plenty of tips for ensuring your blog photos are sized well for the various social media platforms. She also advises on sizes for uploading to the various platforms too.

Don’t forget to add a watermark or your logo to the photos too. I usually add my Write on Track logo to my text images so they can be instantly identifiable on Pinterest and other social media tools too when shared there.

Calls To Action

If your readers have read to the end of your post and either been entertained or being informed by your content, it’s time to ask your readers to do something – not just for you but to benefit them too. Examples of calls to action would include:

  • Ask them to buy your product or use your service
  • Ask them to sign up to your email newsletter (tell them what the benefits are)
  • Ask them to follow you on one or two of your social media platforms
  • Ask your readers to comment on your post and continue the conversation

Social Sharing Buttons

The social sharing buttons should be clearly visible on your blog post, encouraging your readers to share your wonderful content with their followers. Your blog post should be the hub of your social media activity, once people arrive at your blog they are in the centre of your website and can act to purchase or contact you. If more and more people share your content, you’ll really increase your web traffic.


I hope you enjoyed the slides and this blog post. Let me know if you agree with my analysis of the anatomy of a blog post and if you have anything else to add. I’d love if you used the social sharing buttons to share this post with your followers too. 


photo credit: stavos via photopin cc

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Posted in Blogging for Success, Blogs

How To Defeat Bloggers Block

How to get your blog back on track and defeat bloggers block Do you find you suffer occasionally from bloggers block? I’ve been experiencing it lately even though I have plenty of material to blog about and I know that once I commence blogging again, the fingers will tap away on the keyboard and I’ll get back into the habit reasonably easily. Although I love writing and really enjoying blogging about social media, I found that breaking the habit of twice-weekly blog posts meant I lost my momentum.

1. Not Maintaining Consistency

I generally write a blog post twice a week here but when I was busy with the blog awards (Yes, I recognise the irony in this!), my posts slipped from two posts a week to one and then to none. Even though the awards event was on 4th October, I had a number of appointments slotted in last week and it just seemed to take more energy than usual to restart the writing. Losing consistency meant that it was harder to re-start.

2. Limited Time

Writing a good blog post takes time.  Being short of time meant that I was prioritising my ghost blogging work for clients and simply hadn’t scheduled in enough time to write my own posts. Being tired after the awards, I just didn’t have the energy to write my own posts ‘after hours’.

Maintaining consistency is the easiest way to keep on track with your blogging and that means being realistic with your expectations. If you feel you will struggle with writing two posts a week, then write one but stick to it. Don’t beat yourself up about something that isn’t realistic.  Maintain the quality of your posts by giving yourself sufficient time to devote to writing a good post. Allocate yourself up to 90 minutes on a particular morning of the week to write your blog posts. After all, if you finish early, you can reward yourself with the treat of going for a walk or reading. Pushing your blogging to be fitted in at the end of the day means that it turns into a chore.

3. Advance Planning

I underestimated how busy I was going to be – organising an event, organising judging, publishing posts about the blog awards sponsors, client work, training, putting a proposal together, taking a stand at a 3 day event with my book and achieving significant press coverage meant that all those interviews ate into my time too, it all added up for a hectic month. I knew it was going to be busy but I should have planned in advance and written some posts to schedule. Alternatively, I should have arranged for some interview posts or some guest posts. Although these take time, they can be effective in time saving.

Planning content is important too so it’s a good idea to brainstorm some topics for your blog. If you are struggling with getting back into blogging after a break, choose your favourite or the easiest topic to increase your motivation.

4. Not Using A Content Planning Tool

I was using Co Schedule for a while to ensure I stayed on track regarding my planned theme for each month. However, once I realised I wasn’t sticking to my schedule, I reverted to writing my ideas for posts in my trusted notebook. I had plenty of topics in mind so lack of material wasn’t an issue. However, if I had maintained my use of Co Schedule, it may have kept me on track.

I recently explained how to use Co Schedule to help you stay on track with your blogging and also for sharing your posts to social media platforms such as Pinterest. Amanda posted a video tutorial yesterday too. Using a content planning tool with a realistic timetable really aids successful blogging.

5. Ignoring Traffic

Even though I was still getting enquiries about training and ghost blogging, I wasn’t paying attention to my google analytics reports. When I did look, the results weren’t good. My traffic had decreased by 20% over the last month. This just proves that regular blogging really helps with traffic. I’m sure if my blogger’s block continued, it would have an effect on enquiries too.

Stay motivated by keeping an eye on your website and blog traffic. Give yourself a pat on the back when you see increases in traffic and when you know that sales and conversions happen as a result of your blog. This will motivate you to maintain your consistency.

6. Not Celebrating The Achievements

Writing a good blog is hard work and you should reward yourself by celebrating your achievements. Many Irish bloggers celebrated their achievement of getting into the finals of the blog awards by attending the event on 4th October. I had been too busy to celebrate the fact that my blog was generating more paid work but it’s important to stop and give yourself a clap on the back – even if it is just an extra cup of tea and an extra big slice of cake on a Friday afternoon!

It can happen that we are too busy to celebrate the achievements or sometimes we just aren’t kind enough to ourselves, that we drive ourselves too hard. Take time to stop and smell the coffee as well as rewarding yourself.

I’m back in the saddle now and yes, I enjoyed writing this post. The next two weeks will be busy so I’m going to be realistic with my schedule and I plan to write one post a week, then I should get back to my norm of two posts a week!

What do you sometimes struggle with when keeping up with your own blog? I’d love to hear.

If you are a businesswoman in Ireland, do come along to the National Women’s Enterprise Day conference in Galway on 22nd and 23rd October – I’ll be presenting on Blogging and Writing for the Web on Wednesday afternoon.

Posted in Blogging for Success, Blogs
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