7 Things We Learned at #CEOBootcamp

Earlier this week, Stephanie and I attended the American Express Open Forum #CEOBootcamp for women entrepreneurs here in New York City! It was such a wonderfully inspiring conference to attend that was filled with networking, workshops, discussion panels from women who are kicking some major butt in their industries – and a speech from one of my fashion and business mentors, Diane von Furstenberg.

Not only did Stephanie and I learn a ton and meet so many amazing women, we walked away with new ideas as well as a very settling feeling that we are on the right track in our businesses and that many of the concepts we talk about with our communities were aligned with what many industry leaders spoke about at the conference. Here are 7 things that we took away and want our amazing blogger network to learn and think about as well.

ceo bootcamp

1. Measure the success of your business, but not always against financial growth.

Of course it’s important to be monitoring the success of your business or blog in different ways, but financial growth isn’t everything. You need to make sure you are looking at the big picture and measuring success against your personal goals for the business as well. Was your goal to make a part time salary working 2 days per week? Were you spending extra time on Facebook this month to raise your click through rate and increase engagement? List your overall business goals and applaud yourself for reaching those milestones.

2. Don’t be afraid to come up with new ideas!

We sat in on a workshop catered to start-ups and were all given a white paper napkin on our seats as we entered the room. After the speaker (the amazing Budget Fashionista) was finished, she instructed us to write down a new idea for our business in the few minutes that we had and then gave a few businesses the opportunity to pitch that idea to the audience. Yes, we were put on the spot for a moment, but it was a true reminder to sometimes work outside your comfort zone and NEVER be afraid to brainstorm new, money making ideas for your business!

3. Try out the Twitter small business planner App.

This is a new App, just released last week, and making life easier for every small business. You can check out all the details and purchase from iTunes HERE, but essentially it helps you stay on track of your marketing and activity on twitter as well as providing you with strategy suggestions and tools to help you grow.

4. Buy The Lean Startup book.

This book, by Eric Ries was a very popular topic of discussion as it is built around the belief that “entrepreneurs are everywhere” and has created a movement transforming how new products are being designed and launched. You can check out the website HERE, and I can guarantee that you will be inspired!

5. Learn what your audience really wants.

If you aren’t able to answer the question, “what doe my audience want?” then you need to start asking – and not be afraid to ask! Reach out to your readers through small questionnaires, surveys, or simply take the time to pay more attention to monitoring your analytics. Either way, you should be able to answer this questions every time it is asked.

6. Know what kind of entrepreneur you are and use it to your advantage.

There were two types of entrepreneurs that were outlined at the conference. Type 1 is the more analytical side, the entrepreneur who is always measuring data, working on business plans, etc. Type 2 is the entrepreneur who can sell their dream to anyone. Figure out which category you fall into and learn to work that into the way you are managing your business.

7. Use website cards in your regular twitter promotion.

Website cards offer a rich snippet preview of the link that you are sharing which includes an image + a bio summary. You can learn more information about this process HERE, as well as how to set it up. Overall, this is HUGE for engagement since people are much more includes to click through and retweet photos!

Keep in mind, you are all CEO’s and in charge of the destiny of your blog. Where are you going to take it?

If you are like us and love having the opportunity to connect, network, and learn with others, join in on the monthly INTRO NYC Lunch & Learns where we discuss media trends over a 2 course lunch! We look forward to seeing you there!

Blogging Ed: 5 Pinterest Tips & Tricks {Giveaway}

Whenever we first start blogging, we are most inclined to spend our social media time focusing on twitter and Facebook, as they can be the easiest to use and engage on. But as you get more advanced, you will learn just how important Pinterest is to your blogging business and how it can increase your traffic exponentially.

pinterest-tips

Why Spend Time on Pinterest?

The most recent study from July of 2013 by the social media agency Semiocast revealed that there are 70 million people world wide using this platform. Wow. We are pretty certain that people in your target demographic are spending time there, too.

1. Get organized.

pinterest boards layout

Make sure to have your boards organized, and that your main boards correlate with the categories on your blog. For example, your main Pinterest board should be the same name as your blog, and every blog post image gets pinned here. Then, you should be pinning from that “anchor board” to the correlating categories that each image relates to.

2. Create eye catching images.

Make sure your blog posts are always accompanied by at least one pinnable image that includes text and a watermark with your blog URL. This will help pinners know what you pin is about and how it applies to them. If you aren’t advanced enough in graphic design to use Photoshop, try using the free service PicMonkey.com to help you create images that will connect with your Pinterest community.

3. Track your analytics.

pinterest-analytics

Make sure that you are signed up with a business Pinterest account so that you are able to view your analytics. If you are searching for something more in depth, try using Tailwind as a way to monitor which boards are the most successful, who is viewing, and engage your community. There are free options to use this service as well as monthly rates, depending on what information you are seeking.

4. Build your audience.

While just like any social platform, it’s important for bloggers to focus on the number of people following them, Pinterest is a bit different. In a sense, Pinterest is used by its millions of users as a search engine, and very few people actually log in, eager to see what the people they are following are pinning. Focus your time on creating beautiful, pinnable images for your blog posts and you will start gaining traffic.

Easily grow your following by using keywords the same way you would in your blog post, utilize hashtags in your descriptions, create more niche boards (ex. cakes vs. baking), follow relevant people, and as always–engage with others! While you still want to have a following–you don’t need to obsess about it the way you do with other platforms.

5. Make use of the Pinterest “pin it” plugin.

This easy to install plugin will place the “pin it” button over every image on your website, allowing and prompting readers to pin your images.

– The Giveaway –

To help you further your blogging education, since the industry is constantly evolving, we are giving away 1 spot to an upcoming INTRO NYC webinar of your choice! The giveaway starts today and our winner will be chosen on Thursday October 16th. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Why Google+ Is Critical for Bloggers

A lot of people question the usefulness of Google+. You mean, we’re telling you to add yet ANOTHER social media platform to manage? There are lots of reasons you have a presence on Google+, and here is why you’ll want to set yours up today:

Why It’s WorthWhile

Google+ has lots of advantages, and a lot more functionality that other social media platforms – plus it’s connected to hello! Google! That means Google is taking your posts and keywords and working them into their search rankings. Ok, this doesn’t mean you are going to pop up on page 1 of Google, but you might for your circle of friends!

Google is set up to have “circles” – so instead of one large friend list, you can categorize them into specifics: friends, family, NYC bloggers, people you like to creep, etc. Now, Google is smart – they know that the majority of us have our emails open at all times on our computers – because we’re all email addicts – so if you are signed in and you search anything on Google, anything that is relevant to that search that anyone in your circles have posted will pop up in the results.

That means you want to be be in a LOT of circles. The more circles you are in, the better chance you have of being seen in your audience. It’s like Facebook’s version of their algorithms for popping up higher in other people’s news feeds.

So why is one better than the other?

They aren’t – but the ongoing battle is: are people using Google or Facebook more these days? How are people getting their news? What are they using to search for information? Simply posting your blogs and images on Google+ means your audience (circles) will see it – IF it’s relevant. So what is relevant? Say you post an article on spaghetti squash on Google+, and you hashtag it, add the link, etc. Now say someone in your circles decides they want to make spaghetti squash and they search for it on Google – viola! You are going to pop up in the search results. Amazing, right?

(Below are my actual search results for my own spaghetti squash recipe – popping up on page 1. And, notice I wrote it over a year ago. That’s called passive traffic!)

page rank

How To Set It Up:

1. You need to start with a Google email account. We recommend that you set up Google Apps to run the emails for your business, and if you are, this is just the next step! Once you have an email, Google will automatically set up a Google+ account for you. If you are still getting started, and have a regular gmail account (ex. stephanie@gmail.com), that is fine, too! But we recommend that you connect your PERSONAL Google+ account through that email.

Google+ is just like Facebook in a sense – there are personal and business accounts. Just like you have your own personal blog page on FB, separate from your personal Facebook account, you’ll want to set up a blog page on G+ as well.

2. Go to the upper-right corner of your email and click the drop-down arrow. Here you will see the option to “Join Google+.”

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3. It will ask you to confirm your name, age and gender. Then suggest some people you may know (if you have other social media platforms, it’s the same process).

4. Then you can fill in details such as a photo, your employer, that you love cats – whatever. Then, viola! You have a G+ profile! It was that easy!

profile

5. There are two apps you will want to download for your smart phone: (1) Google+ and  (2) Hangouts. Just like Facebook, hangouts is Google’s version of Facebook messenger, only way cooler. You can actually video chat with other Google friends – from your phone!

Using Google+

We recommend you go in and play around with your new social media platform. You will see that there are many things in common – how to share a post, image or video. You can also host events – and events can include hangouts!

video

We use (and recommend) Google Hangouts for our own webinars here on INTRO NYC. It’s a great way see who is in your hangout, and actually hold personal conversations, unlike typical webinars where you don’t know who is on the call, and only the host is talking while walking you through a PowerPoint. This allows you to have conversations with each other, and ask questions just like you would in a real classroom.

Troubleshooting

Sometimes Google Hangouts can give you some issues when first setting them up. Also test a hangout before the main one you plan to host. If it’s not working properly, try these two things:

1. Make sure you are running Hangouts on the Google optimized browser, Google Chrome. (If you don’t have Chrome, install it here).

2. Try installing this Google Hangouts Plugin.

 

Four Important Pieces Every Website Needs and Doesn’t Have

When you’re designing your new website – it’s easy to get caught up in how it looks. Everyone focuses on layout, colors, consistency – don’t get me wrong they’re important too – but, how pretty is your website if NO ONE can find it??

There are 4 Important Pieces Every Website Needs and Don’t Have:

componets

1. SEO (search engine optimization)

SEO is more important today than ever. If you aren’t promoting your own website and blog posts to be seen – who is really seeing them? You spend all this time writing and perfecting the perfect content, and damn it, you have something VALUABLE to say or sell! But are you preaching to an empty auditorium? You say that it’s too technical for you to know how to do – and yes, SEO can be complex but that’s why we’re here to help you, and why most bloggers and websites go unseen.

WordPress sites. SEO is easiest to manage on Wordpress.ORG (not .COM)  as a go-to blogging platform. There are plugins like “SEO by YOAST” that you can install to help you optimize. Red, yellow, or green will show you how well search engines will find your content. However, note that YOAST is just a check-list tool to make sure your keyword is properly installed throughout your website.

The main component of SEO is making sure you have the CORRECT key word optimized. And for that my friends, the world is not free.

If you’re using Google Adwords to search for Key words – that’s a rookie mistake. Read this article by Dan the Man to see why you’re doing it wrong. Then realize you have to spend money to make money – and you’ll have to invest in a SEO tool link like BrainstormTools.com (what I use and recommend!) Market Samuari or WordTracker.

There are no more excuses! Companies and software have made SEO user-friendly, and without it – you don’t exist. 

You need at least 50-60 % of your own traffic coming from organic search engine traffic – meaning it’s an investment. It will continue to keep sending people to your site day after day long after your website or blog post has gone up.

2. Copyright Stamp

Did you read the previous blog post on stealing copyright images off the Internet? Tisk! Tisk! DON’T let people steal your content! A simple copyright stamp on your website lets users know that you OWN your stuff – including images. So, if anyone DOES use them, they need to:

1. Ask your permission
2. Take them down if you didn’t give permission
3. Even pay a royalty if they are using it for profitable use – such as on their OWN website.
Now it may be a lot of work to keep checking to see if ALL your images are being used anywhere else on the web, but if you have a main image, logo or profile photo of yourself, it’s not a bad idea to make sure you’re not being catfished out there.

How to check for your images being used elsewhere on the web:

1. Save your image on your computer desktop.
2. Go to google.com/images and drag the image into the search bar.
3. Google will run an image search to see if that exact photo is popping up anywhere else on the web.
*For a more detailed article on how to protect your images, click here.

3. Privacy Policy

I hardly see people with privacy policies on their websites anymore and this can be dangerous territory if you’re not careful. It’s just a simple way to protect yourself and let your users know you are not maliciously collecting their information and selling it to marketers for money.

The other really cool thing? There are companies that will make these for you – for FREE! You can join a trial membership with Rocket Lawyer, and have them generate your own privacy policy (along with lots of other really cool business documents you might need). Now, just be sure to stick to your word and follow what you say in your privacy policy.

4. Terms of Use

Another key component to your website that a lot of other people overlook is the Terms of Use. Terms of use define in detail the purpose of your site, how you and your visitors interact, and what you may or may not do with that information. Such as – you can dictate how a community board is used and monitored on your site, as well as comments. Or you can discuss third party vendors, and how you may not be responsible for visitors once they leave your site via a link.

You may think it is redundant and boring, however, it is always better to take a few minutes and set it up so you can protect yourself and your content! You’ll thank me in the future.

Why Working With Bloggers is the New Media

Let’s look at the big picture—traditional forms of advertising are dying.

Yes, you can spend thousands (sometimes hundreds of thousands) of dollars investing in billboards,  print advertisements, and commercials– but are those really reaching your demographic and turning your advertising dollars into sales? Where exactly is your audience?

According to Mashable, American adults are spending 11 hours per day on digital media. That’s longer than we spend at the office – meaning there’s a better chance your audience will see your product on social media than they will finish writing that email.

Who rules digital media? One word: BLOGGERS

Since the first moment a blogger pushes the publish button on their first post, they make a connection with their audience. Their audience trusts what they say, and comes back for more each and everyday. And it doesn’t stop at the blog. Their readers follow them through all forms of social media – creating a community around the blogger that is built on that foundation of trust.

business people meeting in office.

What are the benefits of working with bloggers?

1. Direct connection with your demographic

Unlike other forms of advertisement, blogging is essentially niche marketing. The blogger knows their demographic, and can help connect your directly with a large group of people who are interested in your type of product or service, helping your advertising dollar reach those who are most likely to buy it.

2. Lifetime SEO for your brand 

When using traditional media, your advertisement only goes up for a certain period of time before the advertiser moves on to the next company. With bloggers, your content stays live on their websites and social media as long as they are active–which in most cases is years or even FOREVER! Therefore, the content that is written about your brand or company, the keywords/phrases used, and the links back to your website will be active for years as well, giving you stronger SEO practices for your company website.

3. Long-term relationships

Bloggers aren’t looking to take payment from a company and then never speak with them again. Bloggers are looking to develop a long-term relationship with you and your brand that is mutually beneficial. If you find an amazing blogger that really understands your brand message, and spreading that message with their readers, hold onto them!

4. A blogger’s credibility with their audience

The main component that bloggers have over huge corporations, such as magazines and radio networks, is trust. Whenever a commercial comes on your satellite radio,  you know that it is just paying the bills for the broadcasting company, while bloggers truly believe in the products they are promoting–and their readers know and trust that. Contrary to what you make think, most bloggers won’t accept advertising or sponsored content for their blogs unless it is relatable and beneficial for their readers. Bloggers know how much of an impact their voice and opinions have on their readers, and they won’t risk that for anything. They always remain a true and credible resource because that’s what helps their audience.

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5. Bloggers know their audience, how to speak to them, and what type of content will keep them engaged

Bloggers spend a good portion of their working hours studying their audience, their behaviors, what makes them react, likes, dislikes–everything. They know when their audience will be online and exactly how they need to cater to them. This is a huge advantage for brands looking to expand and reach the blogger’s audience because the blogger you are working with will have a complete understanding of how to best promote your product to their audience.

6. Bloggers will be your brand’s biggest advocate

As we mentioned above, the information that bloggers promote about your company will be live on their blog for a very long time. This means that bloggers will continually promote your brand because they want people coming back to their blog everyday for increased pageviews. Lastly, whenever a reader, family, or friend asks for a recommendation, they will turn to your products and let them know how amazing it is! They are on your side, and their job is to serve their audience and provide them with products or services from companies that they personally love and believe in.

7. The blog is only the beginning

Yes, all bloggers start with the blog, but they also have a HUGE social media presence which they are highly active on. Whenever you work with a blogger to promote your brand, the information starts at the blog, but then gets filtered through many social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. The Real Time Report recently reported that even though bloggers have a smaller social following than traditional media, their followers are much more loyal, resulting in 16% more social engagement for brands they are working with than “the big guys.”

 

What are YOU waiting for?

Are you interested in directly connecting with bloggers and turning your advertising dollars into sales? Join our brand network HERE, or email us directly at sales@intronyc.com

Source: Social Media Today

How To Start A Blog

Blogging. It’s now a requirement more than option. It not only helps your brand by offering quality content for your customers and viewers, it boosts your SEO (search engine optimization) and chances of gaining NEW viewers online!
So, where do you start?

How To Start A Blog:

how to start a blog

1. You have to purchase and own your own blog/website.

If you’re serious about it – you need to buy your blog. WordPress and Blogger are free to start, and they make it’s super easy to move/upgrade and buy your URL to your own website/blog. (Make sure to use WordPress.ORG not wordpress.COM so you can install plugins down the road!) You can also use GoDaddy.com to see what’s available to purchase, and buy from them. This usually costs $8-20 per year.

– Templates and hosting. If you’re serious about blogging, it’s worth  the investment of a one-time template purchase. I have used Elegantthemes.com (WordPress compatible), which is about $40 to have access to all of their WordPress friendly designs. It’s also a great investment to purchase and use Genesis themes. These are always designed best for bloggers, and will make the backside of your site easier to manage.

**Remember you have to HOST your blog as well. We’ve all heard of Godaddy.com which is a great way to host your URL purchases and hosting all together. Personally, hostgator.com is my favorite because they have amazing customer service for the novice blogger.

2. Setting Up and Understanding SEO

I think the word SEO (search engine optimization) is scary and confusing to a lot of people, but it doesn’t have to be! Once you own your WordPress site, you can set-up the SEO by Yoast! (plugin), which will help get your blog in-front of eyes for free! Note this plug-in is NOT SEO, but more a guide to make sure your posts are optimized correctly.

– Take advantage of Google. Google is a powerful force, and if you’re blogging using Blogger – everything is already set up and built in for you. It even pulls in your Google+ account and sets up your Google Authorship for you automatically! AMAZE! Speaking of –

**Setting up your Google+ account and linking up Google Authorship to connect your name with your blog and show up in the search results is a MUSTClick here to read a really-great how-to on setting up Google Authorship by Host Gator.

how to start a blog

3. Start a social media plan.

Social media is overwhelming, even for us who live it everyday! So I figured I would throw together a quick set-up plan for you to get going on your blog!
– Pick one or two social media sites and hit them hard. It’s impossible to be everywhere at once, so pick the ones you’re most familiar with/ones that will drive the most traffic for you, and stick to them.
– Make them personable. People want to follow you because they can relate to you – so give them little peeks into your life. Real photos engage MUCH better than fake ones. Plus, you can’t get in trouble with copyrights for using your own shots!
– Recommendations? Facebook is always a given. Twitter is great for networking and sharing the word if you can commit the time (using scheduling platforms like HootSuite can help!). Google+ is a great for SEO, and Pinterest is GREAT for driving traffic (BUT – you have to pin a really catchy image!)

My traffic? #1 Pinterest. #2 Facebook #3 Google Search Results. (Don’t underestimate the power to go viral on Pinterest!)

how to start a blog

– Overall best time to post? Research shows it’s between 1-5 pm, but now Facebook and Twitter let you analyze your own analytics to see what time works best for you. Think about your audience. If you’re trying to reach moms, the best time isn’t going to be posting during dinner and bath time before bed. Photos get the best engagement, so add one to with your link. And don’t forget #hastags! A post should look like this:

how to start a blog

BEST PRACTICES ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

FACEBOOK

– make a page and invite your friends. (how to).
– schedule to post in advance. (how to)
– post at least 3 x a week.
– photos get the most engagement.
-search for and join local facebook groups or mom/blogger groups.
-the more ‘likes’ and engagement from them = more your other posts will start popping up in their newsfeed.

TWITTER

– is great if you can stick with it. You can connect with ANYONE – especially other bloggers and brands.
– tweet to other people or brands personally.
– build lists
– join community twitter parties (@SITSGIRLS are great!)
– tweet 10x a day at least. Retweet other tweets that you like, it will engage that person to tweet you as well.
– set up Hootsuite for free to schedule out tweets of other blog posts, weekly. No one sees all your original tweets.

GOOGLE+

-google ranks your posts in their real time search results with #hashtags (among those in your circles)!
-the more circles you are in, the more your info shows up in their google searches.
– join local and mom/blogger communities (help a mom out!)
– plan a hangout for moms!
-get really creative and set up google authorship. For advanced techniques, contact us.

PINTEREST

– recommend just using your personal account unless you’re already killing it with a brand.
– ‘pin’ your articles.
– make sure you are using pinnable images in your posts.
– create boards with specific categories. Make sure you are pinning other content 80% of the time so you aren’t spamming your followers.

4. Set up an Editorial Calendar.

You need to figure out what you are willing to commit to. Once a week? Twice? It’s best to write only when you’re feeling creative, forcing posts just because won’t be worthwhile to read. Knowing that you will post once a week gives you plenty of opportunities to find something to write about in your daily life to get started.

– Then Post!  Schedule to post on Facebook 3 x a week, and schedule out your tweets. Don’t forget to pin your article with a pinnable photo!

5. Promotion!

Blogging isn’t just about writing quality content, you have to post it all over the Internet and SIEZE YOUR DESTINY! Bookmarking sites are GREAT for this. Every time you write a new post, be sure to include it on these sites:
– Stumble Upon
-Digg
– Reddit.com
– Delicious
-Technorati.com

7. After you have promoted your posts – consider Syndication.

Syndication means letting others spread your information for you – sort of like a press release site for businesses. Hey – you want people to actually READ your awesome posts right? Then it requires some heavy lifting at the beginning – start here:

– IFITT – you can syndicate to over 50 sites at once.
– Doing Reviews? Use Scribnia.com – this is THE place for reader reviews of bloggers and columnists.
– NetworkedBlogs.com – a great place to start for generating traffic to your site.

Is your anxiety starting to flare up yet? haha – it’s okay – really once you get into a groove, it’s smooth sailing! Set-ups are always the hard work. If you need some help, or someone to hold your hand through it all, feel free to contact us or book one of our classes here in NYC!