Essential Keystrokes is…

where I share my favorite tips, tools, reviews and commentary on web design, marketing, blogging, new media and related topics. For more about this site and the voice behind it, check out my About page.


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Archive for Blogging

SOBCon09For the past few years, Liz Strauss of Successful Blog and Terry Starbucker have put on a blogging conference like no other in Chicago. For many the conference has dramatically changed the course of their business and  how they view their online relationships.

Well, SOBCon09 is going to be even better than its predecesors. Guaranteed. The theme is Business School for Bloggers and getting that return on investment in your online (and offline) business relationships. Its being held May 1-3, 2009 in Chicago.

Want a sneak preview of the type of expertise you will have access to? Stop in at Liz’s site, Successful Blog, today between 11 am (Central) and 10 pm (also Central) for 12 hours of questions, answers, conversation, and fun with:

11:00 - Liz Strauss on How to Build a Personal Development Network
12:00 – Mark Carter on Saving The World With Social Media
1:00 – Lucretia Pruitt on Twittering the Way that Works Best for You
2:00 – Andy Sernovitz on Amazing Word of Mouth for Your Blog
3:00 – Mary-Lynn Foster on Podcast and Blog Interviewing Tips
4:00 – Easton Ellsworth on Visionary Blogging Improvements
5:00 – John Haydon on Social Media and Trust Online
6:00 – VickyHennegan on Writing for the Web
7:00 – Becky McCray on Successful Entrepreneurship
8:00 – Shannon Paul on Internet People and What They Do
9:00 -Angela Maiers on Literacy and Learning in the 21st Century
10:00 -Terry Starbucker on Pitching Social Media to Clients — 5 Key Questions for Potential Clients

Need more reasons why you should be going to the blogging conference of the year? Check out the post I wrote for last years conference – 10 Reasons you should go to SOBCon – and I’ll give you reason 11 now. This year I will be at the conference. (You know what they say, third time is a charm).

Join us for the mini-conference today and then register for SOBCon09 by Feb. 14, 2009 and get the special early bird rate.

Categories : Blogging
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You’re starting up an online business. You’ve got a product. You’ve written a business plan. You’ve figured out how you’re going to try and make some money. You’ve built a great website with a strong logo, lovely images and well-written text. You’ve created a brand. Well done. Now what?

If you can’t afford to hire someone to look after your marketing and PR, you’ll have to promote your venture yourself. A great way to get the word out about your new business and add value to your well-crafted brand is to start a blog. Here are 11 reasons why you might like to try it.

1. Blogs are unofficial – A blog is basically an online journal, where you can write about whatever you like and other people who read it can leave comments. The beauty of blogging is that it’s really informal. There are very few rules (beyond basic etiquette and being polite). You don’t have to stick to your official brand line if you don’t want. By writing about your business in a laid back and off-the-record style, you’ll be able to create a friendly and approachable feel for your online venture. Writing in the first person also helps to create an atmosphere of openness and honesty, both great values for a business brand.

2. A blog gives you freedom of expression – You don’t have to toe the company line on a blog if you don’t want. Of course you’ll be blogging about your business, so you’ll always be ‘on brand’ but if you want to create a more relaxed tone and to present your business to some of your customers in a new light, then a blog could really help you. For example, you should use a different writing style to describe what your business does on a blog than in, say, a funding proposal to your bank.

3. Let the business come to you – One of the great benefits of creating online content is that it’s searchable by the many search engines out there. It’s amazing to think that people all over the globe sitting at their computers can simply tap a few words into a search engine and find you instantly. By blogging regularly you’ll be creating loads of lovely content for search engines to pick up and to let potential customers have access to your information.

4. Blogging can be done for free – If you want, you can create an entire blog free of charge (apart from your time) using online software from some of the major providers. WordPress and Blogspot are two you might want to investigate, and you can keep your business card in your wallet. They have loads of different styles to choose from, allowing you to create individual and personalized pages relevant to your business and your customers.

If you want to take your blog in-house and have it designed there will be costs in terms of design and hosting. These vary hugely, but need not be expensive. You might also want to buy your own URL, but the costs associated with that need not be high.

5. Blogging is fast – If you can write an email, you can write a blog. If you want to get a message out there to your customers quickly, a blog post can be written up and issued to the world in a matter of minutes. Want to tell your customers about a new product, service or development in your business today? Blog about it.

It’s also important to note that a blog needs new content if it’s going to succeed. If you don’t keep adding fresh material to your blog on a regular basis search engines will not rate it as highly as other, more regularly updated blogs.

6. Plugins can do a lot of the work for you – Once you’ve set up your blog (and as long as you keep on adding fresh content) there’s a lot of technology which will work behind-the-scenes to keep your material organised and to keep people coming to read your content and learn about your business. Spam-blockers like can help reduce the number of bogus comments you might receive. And if regular visitors want to subscribe to your blog, they can have your fresh content delivered automatically to their inbox for free via an RSS feed or a regular email.

7. A blog post is more than one hit – If you pay for an advert in a magazine or on television, you’re relying on people to read that particular issue or watch that specific program. If your target audience misses that one chance to learn about you, you’ve lost them. But because most blogs archive all their content, everything you write remains online for as long as you want it to be available. That means it’s available for search engines to find and provides more opportunities for new customers to find you online.

8. Connect with the rest of the world – The worldwide web isn’t simply a place where people stick information for other people. It’s an incredibly complex, well, web really. It’s a whole series of computers connecting to each other, communicating with each other in new and exciting ways. A great way to tap into this mass communication tool is to create links to other places in that web. Search engines and the public love blogs which relate to other conversations and websites in other places. Again, showing that you are part of networks and relationships makes you look popular and well-connected and that’s a good thing for a business brand.

9. Blogging is interactive – A blog is more than a stream of your thoughts posted online. Blogging is often a two-way process. If you want to know more about what your customers think of your product or service, you can offer them the opportunity to provide feedback to you via your blog. That’s a huge advantage in terms of business development – customers discussion what’s so great about your business in the public domain. And if you are seen to enter into dialogue with your customers, your business image grows to become even more open and approachable.

10. Bad news can be good news – But what if a customer posts something negative about your business? Blocking comments or refusing to post feedback is generally frowned upon amongst the online community. It instantly sends out a message that you are controlling and not open to criticism. Just as good news spreads fast on the Internet, so can bad news. Much better is to allow people to provide constructive criticism. Your blog gives you the opportunity to put your side forward, plus it also allows other customers to leave comments too. Sure enough, if someone posts something negative about you on your blog, someone else will come to your rescue.

And in most cases, if someone has a real gripe with you, they’ll contact you directly to bring it up, rather than posting something negative about you on your own blog.

11. Complete creativity – The world of blogging is a vibrant and creative one. You don’t just need to write text on your blog. Take photos of your products and post them on your blog. Get people to review your service. Ask your staff to write about what it’s like working for your company. Post short films or slideshows of your latest promotional event or new services. Link to reviews in the press. And with each new technological advancement come new opportunities. There are almost no limits to what you can do online.


Categories : Blogging, Doing Business
Comments (8)

Go Pink for October

Posted by: Char | Comments (3)

pink for octoberEach October websites across the world go pink in support of a very good cause – Breast Cancer research.  Last year approximately 800 sites registered their pinkness with Pink for October. With October just around the corner, have you given any thought to going pink? Check out my 13 favorite Pink for October designs from last year if you need any inspiration.

My personal site went pink last year and will do the same this year, but as I roll out a new look for Essential Keystrokes over the next few weeks, it just may have some pink attitude as well.

On a related note, another big blogging meets a good cause event in October is Blog Action Day, which already has more than 4,000 blogs committed to help raise awareness about Poverty across the world. Last year’s event focused on going green for the environment was a huge success (read my 5 Rs for a Greener World entry) with more than 15,000 blogs participating.

As October gets closer, consider using your voice to help support both of these very worthwhile events.

Categories : Blogging
Comments (3)


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