I get asked a LOT "Do I really need to blog?" For people who work visually whether it's creating photographs, styling events, painting portraits, I know it's a challenge. If you want to have more content to promote yourself online then blogging really is the easiest way to do it. But whyyyy I then hear people reply. So I wrote a list of reasons....
I mean, the obvious ones are there - it's free, it's not complicated, it's a great way for your audience to get to know you, but I know what it's like. There are literally a million reasons why you'd prefer to do something else sometimes. But those excuses are always there, will always be there and you haven't let those excuses get in the way of growing your business before, so why do it now? That isn't what you signed up for when you became self employed. If you want to know more about why blogging is good for SEO you can check out my post about that here too.
So grab a pen and post it notes, have a read of my 65 reasons, write down your favourites and pin them above your desk, What's more - when you get to the end of the list there's an exciting news I'm dropping in to celebrate International Women's Day next week. Yasss.
It's a free way to promote your business
It’s great for building your brand
It gets you noticed
It builds trust in your readers' minds
It makes you stand out from the crowd
It helps you grow in confidence
It gives you content to use on social media and newsletters
It ensures your latest work is always published
It’s a chance to offer value to your clients
It shows potential clients more in-depth information about the products you sell
If the posts are engaging, gives people a reason to return to your website
It’s a way of sharing helpful advice, tips
It’s a source of pride in your website - you’re happier for people to look at it
It’s great for getting found online by a new audience
By publishing more, you improve and attract more
It’s a great way to practice writing
It increases your audience’s confidence in you
It’s a way for you to express your creativity
It brings traffic to your website
It shows off your best work
It establishes authority in your readers' minds
It lets you help others
It’s a way of sharing examples of your work
It shows experience in specific areas
It updates your website with new work
It lets people know that you’re still here
It’s a way to communicate your values
It helps you guide them
It’s a way of getting to know you, so they can proceed to the next stage of decision making
It’s a great way to build relationships with others you mention
It gives others content to share
It gives your target audience content to share
You can send specific posts to people who enquire to help them with their questions
It provides a good reason for sorting the cream of the crop images to update my gallery
It gives you content for sharing on social media.
It challenges you, and being challenged is good, it stretches you
You learn how to do a new thing
When you monitor traffic coming to your site, it’s motivating
It allows you to share your thoughts and develop them
It has a higher reach than your website alone
It creates new opportunities
It documents your work and life
It shows you care
It sets the tone for what you’re like to work with
It’s a way to share your expertise and experience
It helps you stay in touch with your audience
It keeps your shopfront updated
It can be fun to share something you’re passionate about
Readers can relate to you
It shows off your ideal clients so you attract more of the same
It gives you a voice
It reminds your clients you exist
It's a fantastic way to express your values and message to the world.
It enables you to showcase your latest work.
By adding content with different keyword phrases you improve your SEO
By giving your opinion you pitch yourself as an expert in your field
It builds the "knowing who I can trust" factor.
It gives your audience an excellent opportunity to show images of behind-the-scenes.
It gets you writing and writing is a fantastic way to show your creative talents
It gives people a glimpse of what it's like to work with you
It gives people an insight into who you are
It calls out to your ideal client
It drives traffic to your website
It helps build your network
It enables you to share your knowledge
Wowsers, what a list, right? So hopefully this will satisfy your question 'Do I really need to blog?'
I promised you some exciting news so here it is - next week to celebrate International Women's Day I'm running a competition in my Facebook group So Exciting Obviously SEO for Creative Women and it's strongly related to this post. Come and join me as I go live on Friday 1st March at 2pm in the group where I will help you to stop overthinking everything and get cracking with improving your SEO.
Well hello there! Today I want to talk to you about your Best of 2018 blog post. You know, the ones where you summarise all your favourite bits of 2018 on your blog. Have you considered doing one?
Perhaps you’ve *just* published it, perhaps it’s sitting half complete in your drafts folder.
Perhaps you think they’re only for certain types businesses, and not for you?
Perhaps you’ve seen the super fancy lovely slideshows set to music and thought “Not only do I not know how to do that, I also don’t know if I have that many images that I love and the very task seems daunting”?
You aren’t alone, and I’m here to help.
In this blog post I will not present different types of Best of 2018 blog posts but also, I’ll share with you how to make the most of this kind of blog post and the added SEO and marketing benefits of creating this blog post.
Your best of 2018 isn't limited to those with lots of images (looking at you, wedding photographers!), and it certainly doesn't always have to be a slideshow set to music. Of course this is a lush idea, but there are many other ways you could present your Best of 2018.
Where do you start?
Obviously, as your SEO Queen, I’m going to focus on the SEO benefits of having such a blog post and it’s also going to inform how you choose your content. Creating a Best of 2018 is not only a fabulous opportunity to reflect on how awesome you are, but also to repurpose the content that worked really well for you in the past year.
Blog your Top Ten Blogs using Google Analytics
One way to present your Best of 2018 is to create a blog post from your 10 most popular blog posts of the past year. To do this, just look at your Google Analytics. Then, go to Behaviour on the left hand side menu, click on Site Content, then All Pages, change your dates to the past year in the top right corner of the screen, and finally look at the nd look at the most popular content over the past year.
You can then link to each blog post and add one image from each blog post. The text you use to link to the blog needs to be something very relevant to the blog post itself such as “Dorchester Hotel wedding - Tom & Rachel” because you want to attract more traffic for Dorchester Hotel weddings, right?
Of course, you don't have to add images, but if you're an visual business then it makes sense to. Otherwise, you could just list them like this... ;o)
You could create a Best of 2018 blog post by linking to the 9 weddings/projects that were your most popular on Instagram, or simply using it as inspiration of course. This idea makes the assumption that
a) you have Instagram b) you have discovered your best 9 c) you blogged about each project.
If you don’t have Instagram, then skip to the next idea.
If you didn’t yet publish your best 9 then you can look that up by searching on your app store for Best Nine.
If you haven’t blogged about each of the projects that were on your best 9 then you don’t even need to refer to the best nine and instead just link to the ones you did blog about and/or add the best nine images to your slideshow if you're doing one, along with links to the photographers who took the photos.
Here's my best nine of 2018 - it was a fun year! More of me laughing in 2019 to come (gotta give the fans what they want!) 🙂
You could go through your Facebook Insights and check the most popular content from there and use that to create your top ten weddings and link to those blog posts on your blog. (Why do I keep going on about linking to other blogs in your blog post? It keeps traffic on your site which is AVGT i.e. A Very Good Thing) If you haven’t blogged those projects and instead they’re popular just from image alone, then you can link to blog posts where you’ve worked with that particular photographer, or supplier, or collaborator.
Go to your Facebook Page Insights, click on Posts on the lefthand side, scroll down to All Posts Published, continue to click "See More" at the bottom so you can see all posts from the year. Then you want to focus on the posts that had the most blue & pink numbers (Engagement & clicks) NOT orange as this is impressions only and counts everyone who thumbscrolls over you.
Blog your Numbers of the Year
Some people have done this as Facebook or Instagram updates and that’s cool but that’s not driving the traffic to your website, and your website is your best employee. Why not let it work for you?
Create a blog post where you list your numbers of the year. And no, I don’t mean publish your turnover, but by reviewing the year in this way, you celebrate your wins! And you could create quite a quirky list depending on your brand 😉
Here are some examples of numbers you could share
X amount of weddings planned X holidays booked X continents travelled to X cakes made X berries picked X cake tastings given X amount of clients served X cream teas served X Ubers taken X miles travelled X planes caught X amount of miles walked / run X amount of first kisses you cried at X amount of Mums you hugged X amount of times you had to help a bride to the loo X amount of babies born X amount of Brooklyn 99 episodes watched whilst editing (I bloomin' love Rosa, even though I am clearly an Amy) You could link to your top 100 songs most played in Spotify (here's mine - teehee) X amount of colours you put in your hair this year (looking at you, unicorn haired friends) X amount of hours you've spent watching Black Mirror Bandersnatch (11 and counting for me, gulp)
So you’ve created your blog post, what now? What’s the best way to share this on social media?
Here are some ideas for you:
Choose an image from each of the 10 blog posts you’ve shared and share for 10 days.
You can mix it up on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest.
Pin each image to Pinterest with a detailed caption
You can paste the link to your Instagram bio, you can say something poetic or a line from a song you love to accompany the image.
You don’t have to always say it’s from your best of. Do not be afraid of repeating that it is, but at the same time you need to mix it up.
Link to Best of 2018 blog post in your Autoresponder/Out of office
Link to the Best of 2018 in your email signature
Email out to the couples who are in it with a link to your Facebook and blog post for them to share it.
Email the suppliers and collaborators you feature
Tag your couples, suppliers, collaborators each time you post. This will be more effective if you post one image at a time.
Email your list to tell them (if you have one!)
But wait, you haven’t even talked about creating a slideshow to music - how do you promote that?
Sharing the slideshow directly to social media will be most effective for engagement rather than just posting a link to your blog post with the slideshow in it. Make sure you still post a link to the blog post so your audience can continue to engage with you if they wish to.
Notes to Behold (this is my new meaning for N.B. 🤣)
Don’t include images of clients that didn’t fit your target client. You will attract what you promote. If they were let’s say, a little tricky, don’t include them in your Best of post, no matter how awesome the image is.
No one cares when you post it OR if you don't post it but they do care when you DO publish it. You can publish this whenever you like! Your audience wants to hear from you! Your potential audience is eager to see your work!
You don't need to do all of these ideas I've listed here. Just choose one! 🙂
Your website is your best employee, and your best employee represents your brand, promotes your values and works damn hard for you.
Don't have too many images - this will slow down your website a lot! No one wants to wait that long - be brutal with your culling (hence why I suggest top 10 for example)
But wait there’s more....
Now that I’ve planted these seeds, and you’re on board, you can use this information to spark future blog post ideas. What was popular this year? Blog more of that kind of content, particularly if it's a good excuse for you to share your expertise. It reminds people they're in the right place to find the solution they're looking for.
Like I said at the start, you want to create great excuses to repurpose content you already have. You also want to have great reasons to link to other content ideally published on your website but if not then external links that are highly relevant to your brand (submitted weddings or shoots, collaborations, etc)
And finally, remember that your blog is not there for you to sell directly but to increase awareness, show your expertise and to increase engagement and traffic. Don’t forget to measure these factors on Google Analytics, and on social media insights. By taking the steps in this blog post, you can achieve fantastic results.
I get asked this question a LOT so I thought it was high time I wrote a blog post - Does Google know I exist? In this blog post I talk about how to tell and how to change that.
When I work with Shine clients, I always ask, have you submitted your sitemap to Google before? The question is often met with one of these responses:
Yes, a long time ago I think it was done
Isn't that the same as Google Analytics?
What's that, then?
I then ask the same question but in another way:
What shows up when you Google your own business name?
Three things need to be showing up as a the very foundation of getting found online:
Your website (ideally more than one page of your website)
Your social media links
Your Google Maps/Google My Business listing
Now, if you're not showing up when you Google your business name, it's almost certainly because you haven't told Google you exist.
How do you do that?
You need to submit your sitemap to Google Search Console and Bing Webmasters. This includes whenever you make significant changes to your site, such as creating new pages, changing your menu, then you need to tell Google about it.
Fear not, I'm here to tell you what you need to do.
What is Google Search Console? Google Search Console is a free online tool provided by Google. It used to be called Webmaster Tools and can still be found at that URL.
Why is it important?
The main reason you need to know about this tool is to submit your website to be read by Google so it will send over its spiders they look at the menu, the pages and posts, and what they're looking for is if your website is useful, is it a quick website, is it all seamlessly linked together- how useful you are. And then it will know about all the pages and posts on your website.
Google Search Console is needed because a) we need to tell Google we exist and b) we're human and we make mistakes. This handy free tool tells us where we've made mistakes and helps us fix them, and then helps us make sure our sites are as error-free as possible.
Google Search Console vs Google Analytics?
Google Search Console is different from Google Analytics but the two can connect smoothly. Analytics shows you a lot more information about how people are using your site, whereas Search Console shows you what people are searching for to find your site as well as tracking how your site shows up in search engine results.
OK, where do I start?
I'm so glad you asked. I've put together a PDF guide completely free with the step by step process on how to submit your sitemap to both Google AND Bing. Download it by clicking below!
Download your free guide here
How do you let Google and Bing know about your website? You need to submit your sitemap.
This week I had the great pleasure of being interviewed on The Flourishing Pantry where I was asked a fantastic question on the Live interview: why is blogging important for SEO? I realised then and there that perhaps you're persuaded that it's generally a good idea but not quite convinced of the SEO benefits of blogging
So, today I decided to share with you just how it helps specifically as I think it might help spur you on into blogging more often....!
SEO is not stand alone.
The first thing to note is that SEO is not a stand alone activity. It's not as cut and dried as that task is SEO related, that task is marketing related, it's ALL about driving traffic to your website. Once you have traffic on your website you then set up about converting that traffic into repeated traffic, and from there you have the opportunity to convert them into a sale.
Not every blog post is there to attract sales
People come to me all the time wondering why they didn't get enquiries as soon as they published a blog post, or an Instagram post. It doesn't work like that. This is the second key point. Not every blog post is written with the goal of attracting sales and therefore the social media posts that promote the blog posts should not have the goal of attracting sales. It's a rule of marketing (and therefore SEO) 101 that you can use the AIDA model: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action. Most of the content you produce is there to create awareness and interest, in order to move onto the third and fourth stages of Desire and Action. I made a pink diagram to highlight this model 🙂
Create more content
The next thing to note is you are probably not creating enough content in order to get your audience to remember you and to buy from you. I get a lot of questions about blogging. People wanting to make sure they do it right. Guess what? Most of those people are using these questions as reasons not to blog more often. Create more content to get found by your audience. You need to constantly remind people that you exist. The easiest way to do that? Create more content.
But that doesn't mean get lost in creating a beautiful aesthetic on Instagram. That means providing valuable information that answers key questions that your audience has. For example, like writing a blog post about why blogging is important for SEO (see what I did there? ;o) )
What do you do with the blog posts?
You need to create content that attracts attention, that increases awareness of who you are and what you offer the world. You need to point this attention to your website. This is why LINK IN BIO is on Instagram posts (or should be!) and this is why people try to figure out the best way to post links on Facebook status updates (remove the image, post the link in the comments, the options seem to be endless don't they?)
On my last blog post I talked about what I learned when I didn't blog for 2.5 months as an SEO expert - talk about putting your money where your mouth is! This attracted a LOT of traffic. It piqued people's interest. It sparked people's motivation. It jolted people into action. It got people talking. The key thing was I tracked all this on my Google Analytics.
How did I get this traffic?
I posted the link on my email newsletter, I shared the link on Facebook page, personal Facebook profile, Instagram bio, tweeted it. I shared it via private message with a few people in my network. I can see from Google Analytics that people were sending it to each other too.
As a result, I watched my search engine rankings increase because more eyeballs were looking at my website.
But hang on I hear you question...if I have blog posts already on my site, can't people just see them and that will work for me without me having to focus on that for a while?
The short answer is nope.
Remember what I said earlier - people want a reminder that you exist constantly. Therefore, search engines LOVE regularly updated websites. The easiest way to update a website? BLOGGING. This is because you're much more likely to actually write these rather than update your main website pages. You're much more likely to attract traffic if you post a link to a new blog post on social media.
Every time you publish a piece of content online it creates a unique link. Search engines love websites full of juicy content with lots of pages and posts all linking to each other. Therefore, you need to create more unique links.
Don't try to shortcut this.
Don't get lost in creating hidden pages, black hat SEO techniques. Write more consistently on your blog. Publish the link to social media.
This is just the start.
There's much more to learn about SEO. SO much more. In fact I teach a whole course on this (are you on the waiting list?). But until you do this one thing of following my advice on blogging, you won't be able to grow your business and attract the enquiries you want.
Why aren't I getting more sales? I see this question on Facebook groups, hear it on the phone and I want to help.
You see, putting the time in with your business is a bit like dating. You actually need to put in the work, play the long game, to get what you want out of it. Bear with as I share more about what I mean….
Every day I receive requests for guest blog posts on my site. Some more spammy than others, some wanting to buy a guest post spot. They’re just trying to get a link back to their site from mine so as to collect backlinks, clearly having ignored Google’s latest algorithm updates about relevancy and quality over quantity.
I have a template stored that I copy and paste in response to these requests which is essentially a polite but firm no together with some tips on how they might be more successful in their future link endeavours.
I rarely receive a response but when I do they fall into two categories:
1. IGNORE: They’ve ignored my advice and they’re still trying to go in for what they want out of the situation
2. YEAH BUT: They use the excuse ‘yeah but’ and try to make me feel sorry for them in some way
When I started to notice these two attitudes in link building, I started to notice it everywhere.
I see it when people complain about the follow/unfollow strategy adopted by some on Instagram
I see it when I have spammy requests on Instagram (why thank you, darling, yes I *am* a gift from God!)
I see it when people comment in my Instagram feed and try to make a sale right there
When they ignore my advice, they’re not just ignoring me, they’re ignoring everyone. They’re blindly moving on with asking for the sale because they just want the sale goddammit why aren’t you booking already….
And the second…they have a huge To Do list and getting through it is more important than getting results.
Now, I know I’ve found myself in these two camps many times before and I have to say that these two attitudes didn’t work in my favour then either.
This is pretty similar to turning down someone you’re just not interested in and actually, they’re not particularly interested in you either, they were just hoping to get lucky. It’s not a good sign of a lasting romance now, is it? I’m not saying I want to be sent chocolates by these companies, but I am saying I don’t want to feel used. I know I’m not the only one who receives these requests, and this definitely is not a “poor me I get so many emails” post, but it got me thinking.
It reeks of desperation, and no one likes a desperate date. You want to feel a bit special, right?
So what’s the solution?
Let me tell you a funny story I share with friends over wine…it’s where I say I’m going to write a book called “How to date” and it’s quite short.
1. Ask the other person questions 2. Listen to the answers 3. Ask more questions based on those answers 4. Remember the answers in future conversations
And this is how it is with getting more sales.
You have to warm up your audience…put out your work, listen to what the audience has to say about it (likes, comments, engagement, analytics) and drip feed them with metaphorical compliments, roses and chocolates and listen to them.
Everyone’s favourite topic is themselves. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you spend more time thinking about yourself than anyone else. Therefore, it makes sense that people want to see themselves in what you do.
Make them feel good with Instagram photos and stories that speak to them, with blog posts that are helpful, that entertain, that provide value.
People buy from people they like. It’s why social media is so good for business. People want to buy into the idea of you because they think they belong in your lives, which is great! But so many people are scared that they won’t be liked. They’re scared that they won’t be accepted. I say embrace who you are, go for it with all your soul and be unashamedly you. Listen to what your audience likes - which photos get the most likes and post more of them! Which blog posts get more eyes on them - check your Google Analytics and share those blog posts more often.
Just like with dating, you don’t highlight the bits you don’t like about yourself, you highlight the bits you do. It’s not enough to just exist and be gorgeous like you are. You need to show off, but listen, and pay attention.
Maximise your best features and you’ll make more sales. But only if you’re willing to put in for the long game. Which I’m guessing you do, otherwise you wouldn’t be running your own business, am I right?
P.S. this was a bit different, wasn’t it? But I figure, I haven’t blogged in two months, it’s about time I put my money where my mouth is.
It may or may not surprise you to know (if you watch my InstaStories) that I enjoy a gin of an evening. Whilst having my gin, I have been having a few conversations over Instagram about personal business stories recently and this got me thinking that whilst my About page is all spruced up and sparkling and ta-dahhh, I haven’t actually shared my business story here on my blog. I do love reading other people’s stories, and so I thought it might be fun to share my own almost entirely in GIFs. It's important for me to inject humour as much as possible into what I do because it's a crazy world and I think kindness and humour is key.
I have always loved weddings. When I was a little girl I had an alter ego. Her name? Mrs Wedding.
I went to a convent school which I kinda loved actually.
I grew up by the seaside in Devon....
....where I watched Splash a lot indoors on VHS....
I actually won certificates at school for smiling so much. Whilst others got them for doing well in geography or achievement in maths, I got awarded for being so happy.
I learned to code in HTML in 1999 when I was 16 - my dad gave me a page on his business website! The masterpiece was all about Ace Ventura....
I went to university in Bristol and studied business, and left for London and expected this.
But it was more like this...
But as a side job, I worked in rowing PR...as you do. There were quite a few perks...
Oh, and I used to organise a LOT of fancy dress parties.
I got very, very tired and needed a break. It was the recession and I lost my job.
My partner at the time loved India and encouraged me to go...so off I went. I expected this....
and instead got this...
Having space to think about life made me realise....
After six months, I came back to England to live on a houseboat, engaged.
I read about 100+ wedding blogs regularly. I entered all the competitions. I won my wedding photographer in a competition on a blog!
I started interning for the blog, and then, dear reader, I got married.
Meanwhile, because I like to keep busy (LOLZ) I led an international media campaign to save my houseboat community from extinction (side note: they're still there seven years on)
I qualified as an English teacher so I could work abroad. After travelling for 18 months, I was ready to come back to England
I started to network (read: fangirl) the shiz out of the wedding world. And things started to happen....
The wedding blog where I won my wedding photographer (Darling Lovely Life) offered me a job where I wrote and shared my adventures.
I helped organise a networking event and met Nu Bride who hired me as an assistant researcher. She sent me to John Nassari’s masterclass at the Savoy later that year where I met Laura Babb (who I totally fangirled over and she forgave me) as well as Nicola at Propose PR.
That was 2014. In December that year I finished my last ever temping job and had my first logo and was officially madeleinenoblejones.com.
Having gathered a group of clients, I went off to Goa again for a few months but this time came back single.
Pouring all my energy into the business, I started getting speaking gigs.
(this is actually how much I talk with my arms...)
I had to change my name and therefore updated my brand, fully embracing my love of pink and became Madeleinejones.co and hired two assistants - Bex & Emily, so now we were 3.
I was asked to run 1:1 SEO reviews with attendees at Snap Photography Festival which went down a treat, it was here I was crowned the Queen of SEO by the fantastic Snap community, so much so that I was asked back again for a second year in 2017. (I gush publicly fairly often about the wonder that is Laura Babb but I'm not going to stop now!)
In the winter that year I made the brave decision not to go to Goa and stayed in England.
The gamble paid off and 2017 was the biggest year yet!
I rebranded the business with the amazing talents of Becky Lord.
We completed over 70 client projects and countless internal projects! I travelled all over the country sharing more SEO goodness, Pinterest fun and drank gin with wonderful people.
In 2018, I kicked off the year by publishing the research I had spent much of 2017 working on with (mostly) positive reception and we’ve been busy setting goals for the future, I ran hundreds more SEO audits for clients, and designed more glorious websites for clients before realising I was doing WAY too much and after some valuable advice, I cut down, meaning I no longer offered copywriting as a service, web design on its own or Pinterest management, leaving me to focus on
Working with 1:1 coaching clients on marketing and SEO