Why dating + SEO are similar a.k.a. why you aren’t making more sales

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

The end.

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.

What the Hashtag? (How to use Hashtags and why you'd want to)

This week I'm talking about hashtags, they’re a bit of a marmite subject, aren't they, you love them or you hate them, and you’re never quite sure where to use them or how to use them or when to use them!

I wanted to break it down in simple steps for you:

What are hashtags?

To the uninitiated, using a hashtag on whatever you're posting on a social media platform groups together what you say with everyone else who's used that hashtag. When you click on a hashtag, you can see who else is using that hashtag, nifty, huh?

Why is this useful to me?

We all want to feel connected, right? No more so than in running your own business and in wanting to join in conversations. You may have seen hashtags for particular news threads, for events, for topics, for scheduled conversations. By using the designated hashtag, you get to join in that conversation and add your tuppence worth. #ValuableFreeMarketing

How do I include hashtags in my updates?

You can either write a sentence for your update and then add hashtags afterwards like this:

I love cake so much. #cake #love

or include the hashtag in your sentence (but this can read poorly):

I #love #cake #so #much

If you want to add lots of hashtags, please make sure you delete the spaces between words. I cannot tell you how often I see wasted opportunities due to the spacing issue! e.g. #Marketing #SEO #YeahBaby

Notice I've deleted spaces between the words of multiple word hashtags e.g. #toomuchtodo (for 'too much to do')
and also make sure you add spaces after the final word before starting the next hashtag.

Should I be using hashtags? How?

That entirely depends on where you are. I've broken it down by social media platform to help:

FACEBOOK

Whilst Facebook confirms they technically help search results, the hashtags used aren't generally the terms searched and they're not actually clicked on or used to any large extent. I think the hashtag use on Facebook does help with branding (for example, with a particular campaign) or in a humorous way.

Verdict: No need to really use them on Facebook if you're looking to improve engagement this way. But using them humorously if you know your audience will enjoy them does work! Example below ;o)

TWITTER

With only 140 characters in each update, the power of the hashtag can be used here to group your tweet with other tweets talking about the same topic. When you click on a hashtag, you see who else is using that hashtag. You may want to connect with these people by retweeting them or favouriting them. If you and others who are geographically near you all use the same hashtag then you can make it start trending, which essentially means it appears more in your feed, and the feeds of those who are also geographically near you or otherwise follow a lot of the people who are using that hashtag (for example, I get trending hashtags about wedding discussions that I'm not necessarily a part of).

Verdict: Yes, use them! But sparingly - one or two maximum.

INSTAGRAM

Instagram, how I love thee. The hashtag here is gold. You can use up to 30 hashtags, but let's face it, that's a bit much to look at and it will take up way too much space on your followers' feeds. To get round taking up that much space, comment on your own posts with all the hashtags so that as soon as people start commenting on your posts, your hashtags disappear in the feed because previous comments are hidden, BUT the fact that they're there does not and so your post is still searchable!

Make sure you put hashtags in your first comment and not your caption - watch the likes flood in!

Verdict: You should be using these! But which ones? Scroll down to get the freebie list of hashtags for your business.

PINTEREST

In 2018, Pinterest made hashtags useful. After years of people using them anyway, they weren't actually clickable until spring 2018. So, use them sparingly but as they're so new, they'll be a popular new tool for sure!

ANY OTHER PLACE ON THE INTERWEBS

You can of course use hashtags anywhere you like, like I've done throughout the this blog post, but they won't work anywhere other than social media if you want to join your conversation to the masses. Sorry!

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE

Just for you, I'm offering a free copy of the Shine 10 Golden Rules of Using Hashtags if you sign up to my mailing list right here. You'll also have the opportunity to download hashtags of the category of your choice, but you'll only be able to see those from a link I'll send you in an email.

Have a fabulous rest of your week!

Muchos love
Maddy & Team Shine xo

P.S. Awesome video about hashtags right here ;o)