Speaking at WordCamp Philly 2012

A preview of my presentation for WordCamp Philly 2012, which runs on 20th-21st October 2012 … in Philadelphia (Duh!)

WordCamp Philly 2012

In a very exciting turn of events, I am going to be presenting at WordCamp Philly 2012 later this month. In a presentation entitled Designing for WordPress, I’ll be speaking about what designers need to know about how WordPress works as they encounter the content management system for the first time.

Here’s the presentation description, as listed on the WordCamp Philly 2012 website:

As web designers and print designers encounter WordPress for the first time, it can be a challenge to understand how WordPress works. Yet, it is so important for designers to know the system for which they are designing. This presentation will address key points for helping designers understand the basic functionality and structure of WordPress — so that they can design truly beautiful and functional sites that run well on WordPress. This presentation will aim to help designers understand what developers do to get their designs live on a WordPress site.

As I clicked the “publish” button for this post, there were still tickets available for Saturday’s sessions.

Another 5 Valuable Blog Posts for Small Business Blogging

A selection of posts for small business owners that are primarily focused on intertwining online marketing efforts with in-person networking.

Small business blogging

Earlier this year, I published a post that filtered through the blogosphere to share valuable articles to help small business owners get better value from their blogging efforts. Since I received a lot of positive feedback from that post (mostly via email and Twitter), I am rolling out that format again. I’ve done the legwork so you can reap the rewards. Enjoy.

For this post, I primarily focused on intertwining online marketing efforts — blogging and inbound marketing — with offline efforts. As you can read below, the interaction of events, networking and blogging can pack a powerful punch for your small business.

1: A Blog is So Much More than JUST a Series of Blog Posts
12 Things You Should Be Using Your Blog For Besides Blogging is another gem from Corey Ediron of Hubspot fame.

2: Tie Your Online Efforts to In-Person Networking and Events
The minds at Philly Marketing Labs detailed 5 Reasons to Boost Your Marketing with In-Person Events. This is a post that I have read and re-read several times.

3: Online & In-Person, a Winning Combination
Another solid post from Darren RowseTraffc Technique 7: Networking and Collaboration

4: Affordable and Management Market Research on Your Smartphone
In Using Social Media to Test Your Ideas Before You Try to Sell It, Melinda F. Emerson highlights a brilliant tactic on the NY Times Small Business Blog.

5: A short and easy guide to keeping clear of social media gaffes and missteps
A no-nonsense and succinct guide to Top 5 Tips for Avoiding Social Media Fails from Stefan Töpfer.

As always, I welcome you to share links to great articles that you’ve found. Add ’em to the comments please!

Related posts:

A Review of the PressReader App

A review of the PressReader app for iPad, a nifty way to download, read and store more than 2,000 periodicals from around the world.

PressReader

Earlier this summer, I was approached by PressReader to write and publish a review of its app on this blog. Although I’m no “news junkie”, I do like to stay informed about current events. I’m always eager to checkout new ways to access and read news content about local, national and global topics.

Mixing Digital and Printed

Earlier this summer I did get a chance to review the PressReader app — it’s really fantastic. It offers a great way to get local newspapers from anywhere in the world. In a nutshell, PressReader delivers digital versions of thousands of printed newspapers right to your iPad. In a very smooth and easy-to-use interface, PressReader mixes the look and feel of a printed version with the portability and searchability of digital while maximizing the flip, slide and zoom capabilities of the iPad. PressReader allows users to see the printed layouts (local ads included) in a digital version. While I only reviewed the iPad app, PressReader is available for other devices and operating systems.

Tools for the Traveler

One of the more impressive features of PressReader is its ability to translate all the available periodicals into major languages like English, French, Spanish and German. That seems a very useful tool for those who travel for business or pleasure. Being able to download and read recent, relevant and English versions (alas, I cannot read other languages) of Berlin’s local newspapers would be very valuable for those arriving in the city for the first time.

For those who travel both domestically and internationally, PressReader allows for periodicals to be downloaded and saved locally to the iPad. This feature allows for reading when wifi is not available.

Powerful Search Functionality

For those looking to research a particular topic, PressReader boasts a powerful search tool that allows for searching for keywords across its library. Users then only need download the relevant titles to read on-topic articles. Searches can be restricted by newspaper title, country of publication, language and date. I can see this being a valuable tool for researchers.

Although the app is free, PressReader does charge for accessing periodicals. There are two price models: pay-as-you-go and monthly subscription. The former, which better suits me, charges $0.99 for each downloaded newspaper. The monthly subscription is $29.95 for a unlimited number of periodicals.

In thinking about the app, I am not sure that I would use it on such a regular basis. While interested in local and world news, I have no loyalty to a particular publication. I jump from news site to news site. That said, I could see using the app if I was heading to, for example, Minneapolis-St. Paul for the first time. PressReader would be a great way to conveniently review the local news, culture, sports and life.

5 Cons of Scheduling Posted Content

The second in a two part series: 5 Cons of Scheduling Posted Content

Scheduling Posted Content

The second post in a two part series, I’m considering the cons of scheduling the publication of content, particularly as that functionality relates to inbound marketing for small businesses.

As you can read in the 5 Pros of Scheduling Post Content, I had intended to run this series over the course of two weeks. But then a significant back injury threw a few hurdles in the way and I am only getting around to publishing the cons side of the conversation a month later. I suppose we can add this anecdote to the pro side of the argument.

Cheers to Dave Miller for the push on Twitter to get this post live!

https://twitter.com/DaveJamesMiller/statuses/232054849095729152

Cons of Scheduling Posting

1. Appearing to be everywhere

It’s a matter of fact. A reality for small businesses. It’s simply not possible to be everywhere at all times. We don’t have the staff numbers to manage that. We also have work to do — we can’t always be marketing ourselves. There is a chance that if we appear to be everywhere on social media, especially when we had a major client project due, that this omnipresence could cause confusion and tension with our clients.

2. Lacking relevancy

Conversations move quickly on the internet. What we schedule for publication next week might no longer be relevant at that point. Someone else might have found the answer, developed a work-around or already shared the news. Pre-scheduled content can make us look old hat.

3. Seeming out of touch

Major global and local events happen every day. Taking a particular angle in a blog post that is appropriate this week might be completely insensitive or cruel next week. Our scheduled content can look sorely out of touch if something significant (and tragic) happens between the time we click the “schedule” button and the time it goes live on our blog or Twitter feed.

4. Failing to respond in real time

To be most effective, social media must focus on conversation. So, while our scheduled content may be poignant and fresh, if we’re out of the office for three days, we certainly won’t be able to respond to comments in the generally accepted time frame. It’s like we start a conversation and then walk out of the room before anyone has a chance to respond.

5. Forgetting the publication schedule

As small business owners, we’ve got a lot going on a daily basis. Keeping focused on what’s in front of us can be enough of a task without trying to recall what we’ve scheduled for publication tomorrow or next week. This runs the risk that we forget about our publication schedule, causing us to publish similar content twice or forget about the post that went live when we were on holiday.

In covering both sides of the coin, I have to say that I think there definitely is scope for scheduling posted content. Like most marketing approaches, using scheduled posts requires planning, forethought, savvy and a bit of luck.

What’s your take on it?

5 Pros of Scheduling Posted Content

The first in a two part series: 5 Pros of Scheduling Posted Content

Scheduling Posted Content

In mid June, I began to prepare to get out of the office for a few days. I had a vacation scheduled for the end of the month. I was looking forward to the break, and in particular, to the break from all the digital online activity. It was to be a break from the hustle and bustle of the online marketing world.

This preparation got me thinking about the value of scheduling the publication of content on this blog, on Twitter and elsewhere. As most readers know, on most content management systems for small businesses (like WordPress) and apps like Hootsuite, content can be scheduled for publication at a certain date and time. As part of a two post series, I will look at the pros and cons of such functionality, particularly as that functionality relates to inbound marketing for small businesses.

Pros of Scheduling Posting

1. Greater flexibility

As a blog reader, I appreciate when a writer established a publication schedule. Every Tuesday morning a new post is published. Or maybe it’s the third Wednesday of the month. Whatever. The point is that, as small business owners, we can’t always be in the office or online at our desired publication time. Scheduling posting can cover us when we have an important client meeting at our regular publication slot.

2. Increased efficiency

If we’re conducting an extended promotional campaign on Twitter, for example, it can be helpful to spend an hour or so at a single instance drafting, editing and scheduling a number of tweets which will be scheduled for publication throughout the week. We’re focused and attentive to the task and can make sure that

3. Avoiding distractions and hiccups

For small business owners, the “to do” list never really gets shorter. The “to do” items simply change names. A real value of scheduled publication functionality is that it can help ensure that we don’t forget or get too busy to carry on, for example, an inbound marketing campaign. We may want to run a series of blog posts connected by a topic stream. We might write a lengthy article on a particular topic and then divide that into a number of individual blog posts to be published over a few weeks. The publication scheduling feature ensures that those posts are published on time and in the intended order.

4. Covering more ground

This particular benefit is more for Twitter than for blogging. We may want to share links to important and relevant content on a daily basis. That can be difficult to manage on a day-to-day basis. Any small business owner will tell you that some days just get away. Scheduling a tweet a day, interspersed with our more organic tweets as and when we can, is an effective way to maintain a bigger social media presence.

5. Avoiding “Need something now”

We’ve all been there. A publication deadline looms before us. We feel its pressure and know that we have to get something online. Our mind wanders back to late last week when we had the hour of downtime. Why didn’t we write the post then and schedule it for publication today?

Of course, there are two sides to every coin. While there are clear advantages to scheduling posts and tweets in advance, there are also downsides. Stay tuned next week when I’ll publish a post covering 5 Cons of Scheduling Posted Content.

Content generation is difficult for small businesses

Tips and techniques for the on-going process of generating content for small business blogs.

As the owner and director of a small business, I am very well acquainted with the difficulties of trying to maintain a consistent and well-managed online marketing campaign. The creation of fresh, interesting and relevant content can be very difficult indeed for small businesses to achieve on an on-going basis. It requires a lot time and energy – time and energy that can be hard to find in the packed schedule of a managing a small business in a difficult economy.

My own blogging efforts have me writing, editing and posting on three primary outlets every month: liamdempsey.com, my company website and chickenmonkeydog. In addition to those sites, I post periodically on other blogs including Brainshark’s Ideas Blog and The Governance Partnership’s AOB (Any Other Blog). This list does not consider the posts that I write on monthly basis for clients. So, yes, I get it: it’s not easy to allocate resources to developing a convincing and valuable online marketing presence.

Here’s a short list of tips that I use to help keep me on track. (Confession: there are times that I fail to meet my own marketing targets. I admit that. It’s not easy to always stay on track.)

1. Plan, plan, plan

I cannot say this enough: strategic planning is key to a successful inbound marketing campaign. Knowing in advance what needs to be done and when makes it so much easier to ensure that there is sufficient time, resources and ideas for blogging. I review and update my own online marketing strategy every six months.

2. Keep an ideas list

Ideas for great blog posts pop into my head all the time. “Oh, there’s a blog post in here …” is a little phrase that regularly runs through my head. If I don’t take a minute to jot that thought down, I’m likely to lose it. I store my ideas list for blog content in Evernote. I can’t tell you how many times that list has proved hugely valuable to my blogging efforts.

3. Develop a method for writing

Those who write for a living tell us over and over: have a system for writing so that when the writing gets tough, the writing still gets done. For me, blog posts always start on paper. Generally, it’s bullet points in my work notebook. I’ll work through that outline to the point where I have a detailed picture of the complete post in my head. Then it’s onto the computer. I write directly in WordPress, or in Inbound Writer. I complete a draft, leave it for a day or so (or at least for a few hours), then edit and publish.

4. Carry a camera at all times

Have you ever seen a sign, a product or a landscape that captures that exact point you’ve been trying to drive home with a client for what seems weeks? Yeah, me too. With increasingly more powerful smart phones and point-and-shoot camera prices dropping like rocks, it’s now easier than ever to always carry a camera. Take a moment to stop and snap that picture. Capture that message. Photograph that moment. It could make that blog post we’ve so been wanting to publish.

5. Get back on the horse

I admitted it earlier in this post: Sometimes I fail to meet my own blogging targets. That’s life in the small business lane. Yet, I’ve learned that the sooner I force myself to get back on the blogging horse, the sooner my inbound marketing efforts will get back on track and delivering returns.

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Managing Online Resources for Blogging Content and Tech Tips

An approach on how to keep links to blog sites and online resources, sites and articles organized.

As a communications designer and small business blogger, I am ever on the look-out for quality reading material. Yet with so many fantastic blog sites and online resources out there, keeping links, sites and articles organized can prove overwhelming. The organizational process proves even more taxing when as I struggle to sync systems across my laptop, iPad and mobile phone.

My primary aims when in developing an organizational approach for managing online resources are twofold: (1) ease of use and (2) filter/search functionality. I want to bookmark items across all platforms (on websites, on Twitter and via RSS) and all devices. I then want to tag, filter and search those stored items on any of my personal computing devices.

What follows is my approach for managing it all. Certainly there are others — this is simply what currently works for me.

For industry news and trends: Pocket (formerly Read It Later)

I’ve been dabbling in Pocket for a little over a month now. I find it very helpful in meeting the two primary aims mentioned above. For a great overview about Pocket, check out Coreen Tossona’s post about it. There’s no point in me posting what Coreen has already written succinctly.

For tech tips and “how to” articles: Pocket

As recently as last week, I used Delicious.com to save technical and “how to” articles. However, there is no great way to save links, tweets and the like directly to Delicious from Twitter. Delicious.com does not play nicely with the iPad either — no Delicious.com app. Since I source so many links and articles while using my iPad, Delicious.com is relegating itself to the dinosaur pile. As of Monday of this week, I’ve transitioned to Pocket for this task.

Unfortunately, I still have not yet worked out how to migrate Delicious.com bookmarks to Pocket. Ideas anyone?

For blogs that I follow: Google Reader and Flipboard

When I discover a valuable news or tech blog, I add it to my RSS feed to my Google Reader account. When I have some time, or when I’ve hit my dedicated reading time, I’ll go through those saved feeds using Flipboard. Google Reader is a great desk tool, and my preferred option for searching for a specific topic or post within my RSS feeds. But for browsing though feeds, Flipboard is ideal. The user interface on the iPad is so graceful and it’s dead easy to save a particular post to Pocket for subsequent reading/tagging.

Of course, there are new apps and bookmarking sites being launched on an almost constant basis. Only time will tell how long I keep using my current setup.

5 non-monetary benefits to shoot for with small business blogging and social media

A list of 5 non-monetary benefits that can be attained through blogging, social media and online marketing

Blogging goals

As a communications designer, I often coach clients on the value and methodology of small business blogging. I regularly advise on the benefits of inbound marketing, making sure to include plenty of reasons that do not directly relate to sales. On the back of those conversations, I am sharing a list of 5 non-monetary benefits that can be attained through blogging, social media and online marketing. The list is focused on small business bloggers, but the perks certainly apply in other situation as well.

1. Stay tuned-in to industry news, trends and pulse

As a small business blogger, you will be more aware of the news and trends in your industry. You’ll follow relevant news and blog sites so that you can flag up and respond to those updates on your own website. That practice of monitoring the news and trends will keep you more in tune with your industry. Through an active social media presence, you will know more than your competition about what is going on in your industry.

2. Maintain a bigger library of case studies

Men and women in sales love stories about how their products or services have helped out clients in need, or how they saved a major customer project. By using stories to sell products and services, sales people make a stronger connection with their own key audience. If you’re involved in sales — and which small business owners or bloggers are not? — then your online marketing efforts are bound to contribute to your case study library. You’ll always be looking for new posts and exciting stories to share on your small business blog; you can then use those same stories during a sales visit. That’s an inbound marketing win that pays offline dividends too.

3. Grow a business network more quickly

Business networking, especially for small businesses, is all about expanding our list of contacts. Online marketing, and especially inbound marketing, is a very productive way to network more effectively. Your small business blog, your Twitter account, and your other social media outlets give you an ever-growing way to contact and develop business relationships with your target market and audience. You don’t need to wait for the next meet-up or networking event. You can connect today on your blog by inviting comments from a potential customer.

4. Increase knowledge of specific online resources

The internet is a treasure trove of knowledge, information and best practices. You can find important “how to” advice, tips and resources about practically every industry. Through an active web presence and social media focus, you can develop an online library to sites that keep you ahead of your competition. You know the sites because you’re online and because you have them bookmarked (I use Delicious.com), you can quickly refer back to them as and when needed. Your inbound marketing campaign might also include sharing links to these resources through your blog and social media presence.

5. Be perceived as truly knowledgeable

Knowledge is power. By focusing your inbound marketing campaign around your blog — where you share ideas, news and guidance about your industry — you will develop a reputation as a knowledgeable person. Sure, it will take time, but that reputation will grow both online and offline as your key audiences come to rely on your social media presence as a valuable resource.

The benefits, all very attainable through online marketing, can provide great value to your business, even if they are not immediately connected with sales. Online marketing can deliver so much more than just sales — so be sure to demand much more of it.

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