•on February 24th, 2010
The first thing you see when you visit Mikeslife.org is:
“Mike’s Life is a fantastic resource for bloggers who are passionate about writing and are serious about wanting to create a long term, sustainable income from their blogs.”
Mike’s message is bang on, his site’s a fantastic resource for all types of bloggers. Mike comes off as a really genuine and passionate blogger who really loves blogging and lives life to the fullest. I also loved how he added and mentioned his products in this interview (free publicity), they really are great and worth a read.
We corresponded through email, our conversation is below:
Mike: In December 2008, and shortly after I started my first blog which is a travel blog about the island I live on.
Q: Tell us a little bit more about Mikeslife.org? Why did you start it?
Mike: I set it up as website to help new and learning bloggers who are passionate about writing. It seemed to make sense to chart my learning from the travel blog, which we managed to take from zero to a full time income in one year.
There’s a big community that has developed at Mike’s Life life now and we share and learn about blogging together there. It also provided the platform for the book I co-authored with Nathan Hangen – Beyond Blogging, which tells the stories of 15 of the world’s most successful bloggers. That had an amazing launch and is available at Amazon and major booksellers all over the world.
My strategy with Mike’s Life is to put out really valuable content, for free, as much as I can. I write about 40 posts a month on the site. Then for the people who want a little more, I offer my own products like The Beginner’s Guide to Blogging and The Beginner’s Guide to Twitter. Enough people choose to buy those to ensure I can afford to keep writing the free stuff.
Q: You are very open with your audience, do you find this benefits you?
Mike: I think it’s important if you plan to sell something to your audience, that you are open about yourself and your life. And at the end of the day people do business with people – not with logos or companies.
Buying anything on line requires a higher degree of trust than doing so face to face, and one way of establishing that trust is to share a lot about yourself.
The other aspect that encourages me to share my life is that it’s interesting! I live on a small desert island in The Atlantic Ocean. That’s pretty unusual, so people enjoy reading about my exploits diving and sailing, and to see photos of our carnival processions and so on.
I think one mistake many people make is to assume their lives aren’t interesting to other people. If you’re living a suburban nine to five life in Surrey, that might seem very boring to you. But to an Andalucian Yak farmer, it would be extremely interesting!
Q: How do you deal with writers block and how do you get out of it?
Mike: I’ve never suffered from it, so I can only offer some general advice. If I ever feel my writing is getting a little stale, I get out and do something completely different, to stimulate my senses. I’ll go for a walk, do some diving, kayak a few miles, anything to stop thinking about writing. I always find I come back energised and full of good ideas.
Q: How do you leverage social media?
Mike: I’m good at Twitter and enjoy it, and it gives me a terrific return. I don’t believe in any kind of automation for my Twitter account – I simply invest time and energy into it.
I have several searches set up in Tweetdeck around things like “Twitter help” “New blog” and so on. When I spot people asking questions on those subjects, I try to answer and help them. I never send them to a link to sell them something. I just answer their questions. Most then visit my site, some will become subscribers and a few will end up buying a product from me. The secret is in being social and being helpful.
I’m just starting to apply the same to Facebook, which is a huge market, and to Buzz, which is brand new. I do have what I call “Outposts” at Linkedin and Friendfeed, but you just can’t keep up with everything, so I will continue to major on Twitter.
Q: Any tools you can suggest?
Mike: Livewriter is a fabulous tool for writing blog posts – probably the best thing Microsoft has ever produced. Aside from that I use Google Apps for my domain emails, Chrome as a browser, Reader for RSS feeds, Google Docs for documents and Wave for collaborating online, so I’m a bit of a Google fan!
I also love Remember the Milk for my task list, and I’m a committed Blackberry user.
Q: How can people find you?
Twitter is @mikecj
Facebook is fanpage
And you can get all my other contact details at my contact page
I’m always happy to hear about people and contact directly with them – I don’t hide behind my assistant.
Q: Any helpful tips for beginners?
- Look at every post after you’ve written it. Is it either going to inform or entertain your readers? If neither, then start again.
- Prepare yourself to work really, seriously hard if you want to become a successful blogger. Forget the dreams of four hour work weeks, and blogging from the beach for now. But if you can write, and you are prepared to work hard for a year or two, you can earn a good living as a blogger. Do it for five years, and then you can seriously think about the beach scenario.
Mike Cliffe-Jones is a blogger who lives on a small island off the coast of Africa. His blog, Mike’s Life helps other bloggers who are passionate about writing, create and develop blogs to earn themselves a long term sustainable income. He is also co-author of the best selling book Beyond Blogging.
Mike Diving...Living Life to the Fullest
•on February 17th, 2010
Social networking, used correctly, is a powerful marketing tool. We’ve all heard that word of mouth is the most effective way to market, and social networking lets you leverage that effectiveness. If you are looking for way to drive your ROI, consider adding Facebook to your marketing mix.
After only slightly more than three years of public existence – Facebook opened its doors to anyone with a valid email account in September 2006 – Facebook has grown to become the biggest online social network in the world. It has over 400 million users.
Facebook offers users the ability to post photos, links and messages and otherwise communicate with their friends and relations over the Internet. Facebook users love Facebook: the average Facebook user spends nearly an hour per day on Facebook. The site is also the most used social networking site on mobile phones. Marketers who are not inserting themselves into this conversation risk being ignored.
How Facebook Can Help Your Business
The easiest way to get yourself into Facebook is to create a Fan Page. Fan Pages allow businesses to interact with users profiles in an organic way, by letting the users interact with the business as if they were just another user. The New York Times has a fan page, as does AXE body spray.
There are a lot of benefits to this. When people join fan pages, they treat your brand or product as a part of their life. Consumers become more receptive to the messages or updates you send. They trade tips on ways to use your product or service with one another. They also come back to the fan page to check out games, competitions and free offers. They advertise the page to their friends.
To top it all off, the Fan Page is a great way to do research. The site comes with a way to explore the statistics of your fans with the “Page Insights” feature. Through this, you can gather valuable data on your consumers and their behaviours. Or do you want to know what flavour of ice cream you should put out? Put it in a poll, and your consumers will give you almost instantaneous advice on what you should do.
And all of this is free! Apart from the cost of getting someone to set up and run the page, your advertising costs are essentially non-existent.
Setting Up a Fan Page
The first step, creating a Fan Page, is easy. Just go here and follow the instructions. But for most marketers, Facebook’s layout might seem a little spare: whereas Myspace lets you add HTML and CSS, Facebook largely limits you to simple text. But follow some of these simple steps, and you’ll be able to create a dynamic Fan Page. For instance, this Facebook tab for Sunkist includes webisodes, photos, and Sunkist’s branding and imagery.
1. Use Static FBML to add new tabs and boxes to your page. To get started, you’ll need to download the Static FBML application. This site can also give you some tips on how to get programming with Static FBML. It works like HTML, and can help give your page a customized feel.
2. Another way to enhance your page is to use third-party applications. For instance, if you already have a twitter feed for your product or service, this application can push your tweets to your Facebook feed. You can do something similar for your blog with this Blog RSS Feed Reader.
3. Even more exciting – for your fans, at least – is the potential to incorporate Flash into your site. Use this application to post videos, widgets and games to your Fan Page. Flash helps make your page more interactive, which makes it more “sticky” – people will likely come back to your page more often and spend more time there if they find it has fun things to do.
4. And don’t forget your URL. It’s a small detail, but having a weird or awkward URL will make it more difficult for users to find you. Go here to create a customized one.
Social Marketing is a Two Way Street
Social marketing is all about dialogue. The more dialogue you create, the more likely you will get people to come back to your site and to integrate you in their lives. But if you are engaged in a dialogue, there is always the possibility that the people you are talking with might say something negative about your brand.
As a marketer and business person, your first impulse might be to stifle this, but it is not a constructive impulse. You have to allow dissent.
For instance, on the Coca-Cola Facebook fan page, the brand team filters out obvious vandalism (“Coke sucks”), but they let differing opinions remain, (“I like Pepsi”). The result? People feel the page is authentic and open, and they stick around. The page has nearly five million fans, and is one of the biggest on Facebook.
•on February 9th, 2010
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•on February 8th, 2010
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•on February 6th, 2010
So, you’ve set up your Wordpress site, you’ve filled it with great content and useful information, and you wait for the traffic to start flowing, and for people to start finding your site.
The only problem is: they don’t. The likely reason this is happening is because people can’t find your site.
When users are looking for sites like yours in a search engine, your site may find itself buried on one of the later pages of the search engine’s results. When the search engine is indexing your site, a lack of appropriate keywords, title tags, metadescriptions and working links may cause the search engine to rank your page below other pages. The process by which you work to improve your ranking through alteration of the code on your site – to make it easier for the search engine to index your site appropriately – is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Wordpress has several plug-ins to help in your SEO process. The following is a list of the most important plug-ins.
All-In-One SEO – All-In-One SEO is one of the most popular Wordpress SEO plug-ins. It is stable and generally without bugs. It optimizes titles and it automatically generates metadescription tags. Advanced users generally find it has some limitations that prevent them from achieving all of the SEO they would like. However, it is a good starter plug-in to help you begin SEO. Download
Platinum SEO – Platinum SEO is one of the SEO plug-ins that former All-In-One SEO users move to when they are looking for a more advanced option. It provides all of the options of All-In-One, but also gives you the ability to add noindex and nofollow meta tags to all of your posts. These tags make the search engines’ crawlers ignore parts of your site that could harm its ranking. Platinum is also compatible with other plug-ins (except the All-In-One SEO). Download
Robots Meta – Like Platinum SEO, this plug-in helps you put in proper meta robot tags in your site’s code to prevent search engines’ robots from indexing or following the parts of your site that will hinder its ranking. If you are using All-In-One SEO, this is a good add-on that helps it match the functionality of Platinum SEO. Download
Google XML Sitemaps – Google XML Sitemaps helps search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo index your site. The plug-in generates an XML sitemap, which makes it quicker for the search engines’ crawlers to retrieve information from your site. It also updates the major search engines every time new content is added to your site. Download
Broken Link Checker – It is as simple as it sounds – Broken Link Checker finds broken links on your site. Depending on the size of your site, this can be run in a few minutes, or it may take a few hours. When it finds the broken links, it provides details about it and offers several options to help you fix or get rid of them. Once you’ve done your initial check, you can get Broken Link Checker to monitor your site and to notify if you any new broken links have been found. Download
SEO Friendly Images – This widget scans your site to ensure that all of the photos on it have correct ALT and NAME attributes. If your images do not have ALT and NAME attributes, the plug-in will provide one based upon your specifications. Download
SEO Title Tag – This scans your site and determines if all of the title tags on your site are properly set. If it finds tags that are incorrect, it can automatically override it with alternate custom tags that you determine. Download
Simple Tags – Simple Tags helps you generates technorati tags to append to the bottom of your posts. There are already a few plug-ins that can do this for you, but the rest of them require custom fields in Wordpress. Download
Although these plug-ins won’t necessarily directly help your site’s ranking in search engines, they help enrich the user experience of your site. In the end, this can be one of the best ways to improve your site’s ranking.
Thank Me Later – A very simple plug-in that lets you send an email to any new commenters on your site, welcoming them. Download
WP Super Cache – This plug-in creates a static HTML so that your server can serve that file instead of the larger Wordpress PHP script. The result is that returning users find your page easier and faster to load. Download