5 Steps to the Perfect Blog

There’s a big difference between a great blog post and a good blog post; one, your readers will get to the end and share it around, the other will sound like a brain splurge of content that’s faintly interesting but soon turns your reader off. Maybe before they read the end and arrive at the Share Button.

5 Steps for the Perfect Blog with Digitally Sorted

Even if you’re not much of a writer, that’s not a problem – all you have to do is stick to the outline below to create something that’s not only readable, but gets the reader to take action too.

Your Blog Outline
1. Eye-Catching Headline

This is what makes the reader read your content over all the other on the page. It has to be attention-grabbing and it has create intrigue.

Here are 3 easy steps to producing a great headline:

  1. Know your target audience and write for them. Look at the other types of blogs that they read and the magazines they buy. What have they got on their front covers?
  2. Have a think about how you’re going to set your article out. For example, is it going to be a ‘How to’, a list, a personal story?
  3. Write several different headlines experimenting with the different benefits. Do the same identifying the problem. After all, people are looking for two things – something to solve a problem, or something to improve their gain.
2. Intriguing opener

Once you’ve pulled your reader in with your headline, don’t stop there. Provide your audience with a couple of lines to introduce further what you’re going to be saying. Statistics work fantastically well. Try searching for what you need online at National Statistics for example. Don’t forget to look at university research too.

3. Give Points and Evidence

Provide at least 3 points and supporting evidence. Give stories, provide emotional pull, use more statistics where relevant. Are there any case studies, graphs, or even cartoons that help provide colour to your article?

4. Conclusion

Don’t leave your audience hanging! Make sure you tie all the ends of your article together and think about giving them something to take away. Is it something to think about it or an action they take in the physical world?

5. Call to Action

If you don’t have a call to action, you’re not guiding your reader to take action once they’ve reached the end of your article. It’s a bit like presenting them with a dead end and no one likes that. Examples of call to actions include:

  • Share
  • Highlight a Product
  • Subscribe
And don’t forget:

Resources: if you’ve referred to any studies, don’t forget to provide a link to these.

Images: Images make all the difference to a blog post. However, you’ve got to be careful where you find these from otherwise you may get some unfriendly emails. Take a look at this list of free image resources to be on the safe side. 

Best Free Images Resources

If you don’t want to end up on the receiving end of a rather hostile email from a company accusing you of stealing images, you had better be smart about where you find them.
Death to Stock Photos

Death to Stock Photos – sign up and receive free photos each month.

Free image libraries don’t give you the same variety as royalty-free paid images and you’ll have to spend some additional time searching for the right one but they are fine if you’re on a tight budget.

Here’s my favourite list of best free images resources – believe me, I’ve tried several and these are the only ones I’d use.

Getty Images

Getty’s image service doesn’t let you download images, but rather to embed them onto your website. This does have the disadvantage that you can’t manipulate them but if an image is all you want, then it’s a good solution. It comes with a link back to the image on the Getty website.

Website: www.gettyimages.co.uk 

Unsplash

Unsplash is one of my favourite free image websites. Subscribe and you’ll receive 10 images every 10 days. The images are beautifully shot, although they have a certain style and may not be useful for every blog owner.

Website: www.unsplash.com

Death to the Stock Photo

Run by two self-taught photographers, subscribe and you can receive free images each month. The last ones were all to do with Desk images which are perfect if you’re writing about productivity, work environments etc. Each photos is beautiful and there is a wide variety of them. This doesn’t allow you to access the past photos – for that, there’s a Premium service which costs $10 a month and includes exclusive photos to your membership.

Website: www.deathtothestockphoto.com

Morgue File

A repository of free images with an easy search function. Some of the images look a little ‘homemade’ but the upside is that there are a lot to choose from covering almost every category you need.

Website: www.morguefile.com

Free Images

An easy search function and high quality images. Most of the images look professionally short and there’s a wide range.

Website: www.freeimages.com 

Flickr

Flickr is a photo sharing website that contains portfolios of professional photographers as well as the everyday enthusiast. Some of them are truly beautiful. Each user has the right to set different content rules and some of these are licensed to Getty. For those that aren’t, you can contact the owner directly and ask their permission.

For help with the Flickr photo using ‘rules’, click here. 

Website: www.flickr.com

And the best option of course? Take them yourself.

For a start, taking photos yourself means anything you snap belongs wholly to you and secondly it’ll be unique. You can also take perfectly good images with your iPhone and there’s a wide range of photo editing apps available for free or low cost.

Like this post? Share it with others.

Birds Eye’s Pay with a Photo Pop-Up

Birds Eye MashtagsI have to applaud Birds Eye for their novel way of thinking. Their latest experiments this year with their ‘Mashtags’ and now their Pay with a Photo Pop-Up Restaurant are commendable if a little flat.

To launch their ‘Food for Life’ campaign, aiming to change the public’s perception behind frozen food, Birds Eye set up The Picture House pop-up in The Ice Tank in Soho where diners can try their new chicken and fish products. Based on research that more than a third of Brits re-arrange their food with the intention of taking a photo and sharing it online, restaurant goers can pay for their food with an Instagram snap.

“Taking photos of food enables people to show off and to share their meal time moments – from the everyday to the very special. We wanted to tap into this trend and create a new reason for people to talk about and sample our Inspirations range.”

Margaret Jobling, Birds Eye marketing director  

Marie Marte, food photographer, is even on hand to give diners tips on how to take the perfect foodie photo.

Birds Eye Pay with an Instagram Snap

The Verdict

It’s an interesting concept and one that will certainly increase its visibility on Instagram. However, at the time of searching, there were only 410 Instagrams tagged with #BirdsEyeInspirations and some of them looked distinctly unappetising. For me, people take photos of food because it looks spectacular and some of the Birds Eye creations look… like frozen food products.

The Birds Eye Picture House is open from 13th May at the Ice Tank, Soho. Just tag your meal with #BirdsEyeInspirations to claim it for free.

 

WordPress Blog Template

If you write for an online publication and you don’t have access to the WordPress system then you’ll be asked to submit your blog, usually in Word.

If you’ve never had access to WordPress before, it can be tricky to work out how your blog post should be submitted and how you should lay out the content. Having worked with many bloggers across many different WordPress sites, this template is the one that seems to work best. So far at least – things are constantly evolving!

This template assumes that the WordPress website has an SEO plugin installed – most good websites will. Download it and get writing.

But before you start, it’s well worth reading this guide ‘Before you Start’.

Download your WordPress Blog Template here:

Free WordPress Blog Template

 

 

 

USEFUL LINKS

8 Things to Think About When Choosing Your WordPress Theme

Choosing your WordPress theme is fun and exciting, but it can also be stressful too – is this the ‘one’? Does it really reflect my product, business or service? Is it too serious? Too fun?

WordPress themes instantly add a professional look to your website yet unless you’re prepared to pay for bespoke coding and additions, be aware that you’ll also be limited to the functionality and layouts that the theme provides. Just ‘moving the logo along a little bit’ or changing the positioning of text isn’t possible unless you’re prepared to code it yourself or pay someone to do it for you. But don’t worry, there are plenty of great themes out there that will have more than you’ll ever need.

And before you get your knickers in a twist, take a deep breath and read through the main things to think about when choosing your WordPress theme:

1. How much do you want to spend?

Your WordPress installation comes with three free themes that are suitable for blogs and there are also free WordPress themes that you can download. If you want a company page or more functionality then paying for a theme makes sense and premium themes cost around $70 (approx. £42). For this, expect theme support, better functionality and ongoing bug fixes.

2. Match your theme to your purpose

Whilst WordPress used to be a platform dedicated to blogging, it’s now evolved so much so that companies are building their websites around their blog and many themes reflect this change, with more company-suitable designs being released.

3. Does your theme match your logo?

If you already have a logo then you’ll want to find a theme that it fits with. Check out the colour combinations that come with your blog and see what the fonts look like too. If you have further money to spend, you can have these changes made bespoke for you.

4. Don’t be fooled by its appearance

Many themes look great but also try out their live preview. Click through as much as you can and better yet, find other blogs and website using that same theme and test it out. Does it work from a user point of view? Also look at it objectively – the main criteria for your blog should be functionality – does it have the functionaliy that you want? If you’re setting up a blog for example and want to run adverts, then make sure it has a layout for at least 2 columns.

5. Choose a theme from a reputable supplier   

Anyone can design and code a theme and upload it for free or a small fee. If its not coded well or doesn’t have support then you may end up becoming hugely frustrated with your design. Changing themes at the start of a website isn’t too much of an upheaval but it helps to change it as little as possible as you then have plug-ins and widgets that may need reconfiguring.

A personal favourite is  StudioPress . They have high quality design and coding that is reflected in their prices, but it’s worth it. Their support team are responsive and there’s a great forum to find answers and guides to setting up your website.

Take a look: StudioPress Themes for WordPress

6. Is there Support?

Most reputable WordPress providers offer support as and when needed. Sometimes the designer is available to answer questions and help out directly, sometimes there’s a forum and in some instances wordpress theme providers require a fee in exchange for troubleshooting.

7. Is your theme compatible?

Make sure your theme is compatible with as many browsers as possible otherwise some people may not be able to see your content. By ensuring w3 validity and cross-browser compatibility, you’ll be off to a solid start.

8. Check the T’s and C’s

Especially when choosing a free theme. If a theme requires a lot of backlinks back to their site, move swiftly on – this shouldn’t be part of the ‘deal’. And there are thousands of free WordPress themes out there, it’s just a case of searching through them for the right one for you. A great place to start for free WordPress themes is the WordPress Theme Directory.

 

Which hosting with TSO should I buy?

Digitally Sorted TSO Host DiscountIf you want a website, you will have to buy hosting. There are often very reasonable monthly and annual hostings packages and often these include more than one website, as well as email addresses.

A favourite hosting provider is TSO Hosts. Having tried several in the past 10 years, TSO Hosts has never once had major, unexpected downtime (most hosting providers will have a small percentage of downtime – this is normal), have a responsive email ticketing service and customer care line and also have a one-click WordPress Installation functionality.

Here are instructions for buying hosting with TSO Hosts*
  1. Click here – www.tsohost.com – to land straight on the TSO web hosting page.
  2. Scroll down to see the Plans and Pricing.
  3. The Lite or Standard version is recommended.
  4. Click on Buy Now.

You will receive an email sending you all your dashboard details – keep these somewhere safe!

Which hosting to buy

*This is for people who want a personal website or small company website. 

Now you’ve got hosting – what about your URL? If you’ve not bought that yet, it makes your website easier to manage if you buy your URL and hosting from the same place.
Need some advice choosing a domain name? 

10 Things You Must Consider When Choosing Your Domain Name

Your domain name is your URL. It can be up to 67 characters in length and you can also include numbers and hyphens. Domain names can cost from as little as a few GBP a year depending on the extension you use and the likely popularity of the name. Choosing your domain name can be lots of fun as well being equally frustrating and painful. These handy tips will help you when choosing your domain name to make there’s no regrets later.

Where to start

Begin by summing up what your website is going to be about in 5 words. Then brainstorm these words, looking at ways you can combine them and work them together into something that makes sense.  There are several places online to check whether your ideas for domain names work.

A personal favourite is 123-reg.co.uk as it also gives suggestions for variations on your domain name as well as examples of different extensions that you could consider. However, before you go and buy your domain name, also think about hosting – it can make your website a lot easier to manage if you buy your URL and hosting from the same place. Whilst price is important, good hosting is essential so I would choose hosting first and after experimenting with various URL ideas, buy them from the same place. Take a look at ‘What is Hosting?‘ for more information about this.

Think you’ve come up with a good name? Before you click on any ‘buy’ button, make sure you ask yourself these 10 important questions:

1. Does it match your company / brand name?

With websites being the first port of call for people to go to when they’re searching for more information it’s important that your URL has some correlation with what your company or brand name is. For example, if your company name is Digitally Sorted these would be examples of names that could work, in personal preference order from best to worst:

  • DigitallySorted.com
  • DigitallySorted.net
  • DigitallySorted.co.uk
  • Digitally-sorted.com
  • Digitally-sorted.co.uk
  • DigitallySortedServices.com
  • DigitallySortedYou.com

If you try and reduce the ‘Digitally Sorted’ element down, it loses its sense of ‘what’. For example, ‘DSServices’ could relate to anything.

2. Does your URL say what it’s about?

If your URL describes what service or product you’re supplying then you’re onto a winner. This also makes it easier to remember. Single words make for great URLs although the availability of these are becoming less and less. There is a current trend for tech companies especially, to embrace one word names, such as Huddlah (sports community), Boxed (letting you buy goods in bulk from your phone), Estimize (crowdsourced earnings estimates for stocks), Watsi (crowdfunded low-cost, high impact medical care for those that need it most), Kiip (gives you vouchers for free products when you use certain apps), Lyft (easy to access, cheap taxi service).

There is also the trend to combine words together to form names and URLS, such as Coinbase (making it easy for users and businesses to use Bitcoins), WatchSend (helping developers understand how their apps are used), FlightCar (rent your car whilst you’re on holiday) and Homejoy (cost-cut home cleaning services).

3. Is it easy to remember?

Is it a made up word or a combination of words that already exist? Does it sound like something else? Whilst the URL may be easy for you to remember, other people may have difficulty so something as simple as possible is best. Having a random word as your URL is definitely worth it if you have time and investment to put in supporting brand development and awareness. Companies such as Google, IKEA, Starbucks, Skype, Amazon, Yahoo etc have all spent money on their branding.

4. Is the domain unique?

The domain name has to be unique in order for you to purchase this. However, is it similar to another website that’s out there at the moment? For example, if your service is organic health and food products and www.PlanetOrganix.com is free, then you may find yourself accidentally driving traffic to your competitor.

5. Is the .com version available?

There are so many new extensions becoming available such as .ventures, .company, .photography, .gb.net etc and the general rule is that the more unusual the extension, the more likely the domain name of your choice is available. However, the .com is the most common domain extension, driven by the fact that it was the first domain to be used commercially. Try if you can, to get your hands on a .com domain name as many people still believe this is the only extension available. If that’s not available, .net is the second most commonly used extension.

6. Is it easy to type?

This may sound silly but if your URL needs a lot of thought before the user types it in, due to length, unusual characters, use of unmemorable sounds or words then you may lose a good proportion of your visitors. There have also been studies in ‘awkward’ letters detracting from easy writability; these include letters such as ‘q’, ‘z’, ‘x’, ‘c’ and ‘p’.

7. Will other people like it?

Don’t forget that even though its your company and domain name, other people are your main target – after all, you’re already sold on what you’re going to be writing about, your service, product etc. Does it make sense in other people’s minds? Ask friends and family around you what they think of it.

8. Are you trying to be too clever?

If your company name is Made For You and the url www.madeforyou.com is taken, as are all other versions, think twice about getting too clever and replacing letters with numbers or adding hyphens. Whilst www.made-for-you.com works, www.m4de4y0u.com will be extremely hard for your potential customers to remember.

9. Does your URL infringe any trademarks?

Be sure to steer well clear from any already trademarked names, even if only part of the name is used. Whilst internet domain name law disputes are often full of grey areas, it’s not worth getting into a legal dispute over and these can be costly.

10. Does it still make sense as a URL?

Don’t make the mistake that some companies have done by not viewing their name as a URL. The Tech recylcling company, IT Scrap didn’t check what their domain name would look like and so it is unfortunate that it reads www.itscrap.com

The same is with:

www.whorepresents.com – Who Represents; a database of talent representatives

www.penisland.com – Pen Island; a pen company

www.therapistinabox.com – Therapist in a Box; a product offering emotional healing

www.powergenitalia.com – Powergen Italia; an Italian electronics company

And even if you think your name sounds ok, make sure you check it against the endings of your web address. As well as .com URLs, more are available such as .info, .net, .me, .name etc. Otherwise, you may end up with something like this:

www.budget.co.ck – Budget Car Rentals in the Cook Islands

www.swissbit.ch – Swiss Bit; for electronics

 

What is hosting?

Digitally Sorted TSO Discount Offer What is Hosting

In order to have a website that’s accessible via the world wide web, you need to have hosting. For individuals and smaller organisations leasing ‘space’ from web hosting companies is the most cost efficient and most easy to manage option.

So what is hosting?

Hosting is where your website will ‘sit’. Any images and content that you upload to your website will be stored with your hosting provider. It’s what gives the body of your website substance as it were.

If you’ve got personal websites or small business websites, then hosting can start from as little as a few pounds a month. Most hosting companies offer better deals if you buy annual hosting and this can start from £14.99 with companies such as TSO Host. Their Lite deal, for example, lets you host two websites, have 10 mailboxes and also has a one-click WordPress Installation functionality.

As well as using a hosting provider, many small businesses often have their own servers and can provide hosting for you, even if it’s not their main product. From a personal standpoint, managing your own hosting means that you have access to it as and when you want. In addition, many hosting providers have excellent customer service and can talk you through most problems.

 

What does URL stand for?

 What does URL stand for?

URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. It’s also known as a web address as well as a domain name.

However, the main thing you need to know is that it’s the unique identifier for your website. It’s what other people type in to arrive at your website.

The internet isn’t ‘just the web’ and there were several different protocols associated with the internet, such as:

  • www – world wide web – used to signify websites
  • http:// – hyper text transfer protocol – this could signify several different locations including on your computer
  • FTP – File Transfer Protocol – used to transfer files between two computers over a network.

Nowadays, the ‘web’ is much less separate. Because the ‘www’ protocol was the most popular, virtually all internet servers such as Google, Bing etc will open up the same page regardless of whether you’ve entered http://www.digitallysorted.com or http://digitallysorted.com

Your URL will show up at the top of your browser and unless you have any redirects, it will by default show the homepage.

 

Facebook’s Updated Algorithm to Favour Brand Tagging

Facebook’s latest algorithm changes has resulted in more favourable results towards brands that tag other brands in their status updates.

On 24th February 2014, Facebook announced that your brand’s updates can increase their reach by tagging other brands in their status. Whilst great content is one way of growing your likes and pulling in a crowd and will get you more exposure in other people’s news feeds, Facebook has now made it easier to increase your reach even further. If you tag another brand in your update, Facebook may potentially show this update to the tagged brand’s fans and followers as well as your own page’s fans and followers too.

This is what a tagged status looks like.

Facebook Brand Tagging Algorithm Update

As well as showing up in our fan’s feed, Digitally Sorted can also potentially show up in WordPress fans’ feed too, even if they’re not a fan of Digitally Sorted. And vice versa. This has huge potential to significantly increase reach.

However, the emphasis is on ‘potentially’, for Facebook won’t automatically display your updates when you tag another brand. If you’re currently writing a post with half a dozen brands tagged in it, stop now. Facebook’s new algorithm can tell if you’re going tag-crazy. For example, Facebook rates your tagged post as more high quality, the more congruent it is. So, if there’s a lot of people who like Digitally Sorted who also like WordPress then Facebook recognises that there’s something connecting the two pages. Better still, if there’s a lot of people who like WordPress and also like Digitally Sorted. Then, Facebook thinks ‘ah yes, this post would go down well amongst WordPress’ audience.’

What does this mean for brand strategy?

Think about the wider picture. You’ll probably be able to reel off half a dozen of your direct competitors but can you name brands who sit alongside you? What brands live in harmony with you? For example, if you’re a coffee brand, what are other brands that slot in nicely with you? By identifying the occasions when coffee is drunk, you can better work out your ‘friends’.

Coffee is drunk:

  • In the morning. So breakfast brands would be immediate prospects.
  • After a long day. Maybe with a book or a favourite TV Show. Therefore, what are the TV Shows that your audience like? Where would they buy their books from? What books do they enjoy?
  • With cake. Needless to say, what cake brands are often eaten with coffee?

It’s no longer good enough to think that your brand exists in a silo. It doesn’t – it sits along other lifestyle brands and building associations with these only makes your brand stronger.

Co-marketing is fast becoming the smart way for brands, in an ever-competitive and fickle industry to outrank and outreach their competitors.

Smart co-marketing taking advantage of Facebook’s new algorithm will certainly boost brands that are doing it in the ‘right’ way.

But what do you think? Is your brand open to this? As a consumer, would you appreciate seeing related brands’ posts in your feed? Or is that annoying?