Real people talking honestly about stuff versus SEO

6 June

why-i-love-medium-articles

I’m standing barefoot on my high horse today. Friday is the day to share my thoughts on two things; my love of (the writing platform) Medium and my exhaustion with the world of keywords, algorithms and search engine optimisation. What does it mean to connect with humans on the web these days? Should all conversations start by researching the words that people are most likely to click on? Or should we start with ideas that make us jump up and down?

Have you noticed that a lot of people are regurgitating the same content? People are afraid of standing out or speaking their opinions out loud. This is what draws me to the magic of Medium – a shared writing platform for a community of writers. It’s a blog style site that was set up by two founders of Twitter – they wanted to give us more than 140 characters to tell our stories!

Getting real means presenting a less ‘perfect’ picture of ourselves some of the time. Can we get comfortable with that? I know it takes a bit of practice! Maybe it’s time to take a break from looking at your own industry. When I blogged about the wedding industry, I stopped reading other bridal blogs because it was too tempting to write in a similar way. How about looking at how a butcher tells their story?

It’s so easy for me to sum up the magic of Medium below – I recommend you check it out. It’ll inspire you to write with honesty and purpose. What’s the point otherwise?

1. It’s got a clean simple layout with a large font size – yes, that makes me feel relaxed already!

This is one of the most important elements of your blog or website. Make it a calm place where people want to spend time. Get a good interior designer to help you out!

2. People choose titles and sub-headers that make your brain whir with anticipation – how about Basil, Babcock Peaches and Salt Air?

When I scroll through the article titles, my brain gets a work-out! Keywords are replaced with exciting words that make me want to find out more. Check these out:
“The Sky’s the limit” is bullshit. Think small. That’s the answer.
Basil, Babcock Peaches and Salt Air.

3.Articles are curated into collections so you can explore writing of a similar theme.

Here are some collections to explore:
On writing; The messy, imperfect, wonderfully strange world of being a writer. And many of the other thoughts that happen to occupy the mind.
What I learned today; Reflect on your day by sharing one thing that you learned. Mistakes are welcome.
Human parts; Human Parts explores the patchwork of the human condition through personal writing.

4. Most writers are opinionated and offer me the chance to question my beliefs!

Such as Starting your own business will not make you happy

5. By signing up to their newsletter, you’ll receive a small number of recommended articles to read… a sweet pond compared to the ocean of distractions that bombard us daily!

Finally I’ll leave you with a thought-provoking article titled “20 things I should have known at 20” by Juien Smith. You’ll find more of his great articles on this site.

What do you think about the heavy emphasis on analytics and keyword searches? I’d love to hear your thoughts publicly below or over a coffee or something stronger!

One-to-one tuition on how to write a business blog

20 May

At Three Thought Bubbles, I teach businesses how to write an authentic blog. Put simply, I help you get clear on exactly what you do and who you help. This helps us create a strategy for promoting your business online. I realise that people like to learn in different ways. Some of you love my small group workshops and others value one-to-one attention. I want to tell you about a new course which is designed for individual learning.

learning-to-blog-dublin-three-thought-bubbles

I’ll support and encourage you as you learn! I will de-mystify the jargon and help you to confidently tell the story of your business on the web. I’ll help you understand who you are writing for and what they need help with. And I’ll show you how to create content that people like to read online.

This course includes:

  • Three two hour classes in a central Dublin location or at your business premises by arrangement
  • I’ll give you some creative writing assignments which I will provide feedback on
  • You will have access to both an online resource library and private community forum of Three Thought Bubbles students

Have a look at the outline for this course. Tuition is always customised to suit your level of knowledge

Session one is about gaining clarity about why you want to blog. The more focused you are, the more successful your blog will be.

  • An introduction to blogging and some of the terminology. Looking at the different social platforms and which ones suit your business best.
  • Clarity is the key goal with blogging; why do you want to blog and who you are writing for? This will lead us to your aims and goals for the blog.
  • What are your readers interested in reading about – what problems do they have?
  • Understanding how to write for an online audience as well as how people read content online.
  • I’ll show you examples of businesses who blog well.

Session two is about learning the importance of being human online. This is all about revealing the ‘personality’ of your business and speaking in a way that connects with your audience or customers.

  • Learning how to connect with your audience. What voice does your brand have?
  • Creating your ‘About’ page. The ‘About’ page is the second most visited page on any website. Your customers want to get a real feel for what the team are like.
  • Different ways of storytelling – adding variety to your content with text, visuals, audio and video.
  • Visual storytelling – looking at different ways to strengthen your message with pictures. We’ll look at sourcing and creating your own visuals as well as the issue of copyright. I’ll share lots of free/inexpensive online image manipulation tools.
  • We’ll get inspiration from looking at businesses who have a human and authentic brand.

Session three is about the technical aspects of blogging. It’s full of ‘How tos’. Once you have the information and skills, it’s time to start! Blogging is an ongoing learning experience.

  • Researching ideas for content. Looking at ways to save and index your ideas.
  • Tips on how to plan your content. Creating a number of categories that will trigger ideas for posts. Outlining a content plan. Looking at seasonal content ideas. Making time for blogging. Tips on time management and techniques to speed up your writing.
  • How to add links, embed videos or podcasts.
  • How to use keywords in your posts. How to create categories and tags for your posts.
  • Calls to action – what do you want your readers to do next?

Read what my clients say about how I have helped them –

Aine Teahan fromAnd Baby Makes Three‘.

I enlisted Aisling’s help last year when I was in a bit of a blogging rut. I know how important blogging is for our business but for some reason I had lost my mojo and I needed some help!. My time with Aisling completely invigorated me and I’m in love with blogging again. She helped remind me why I was blogging and gave me the direction to go forward. I am now blogging consistently on a weekly basis and I can see huge benefits for our businessmore that 80% of our business comes as a result of the blog! If you’re on the fence about blogging or have lost your way, Aisling will get you on track. She is enthusiastic, full of great ideas and she will inspire you to get your story out there. It will be the best investment you could possibly make for your business.

Siobhan Berry from Mummy Cooks

It was such a pleasure to meet Aisling and work with her on my blog for my business. Up to this point I had just winged it getting inspiration for other bloggers and writing about what I know. For me the course just brought it all together and gave me a template as to how to move forward with my blog. My blogging would rely heavily on imagery and Aisling really helped in this area. Aisling brings out the creative side in everyone (despite my belief that I had none!) and has really given me the confidence and tools to move forward.

Pricing:
This three session programme is priced at €550.
Your training material includes workbook notes and access to an online resource library, a written review of each session as well as feedback on your written projects. You can choose to add on additional training sessions on specific topics you need help with.

Let’s start that conversation – I’d love to help you to launch your blog! My one to one classes take place at a time that suits you – either in a central Dublin location or at your place of work (by arrangement).

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How to find and make time to blog

24 April

“How can I find the time to write a business blog?” This is the top question I get asked by business owners who know that their business would benefit from writing one. I totally get this question; I’ve run two businesses since 1998. Time management is something that I struggle with daily! This year though, I’ve made a huge effort to look at how I spend my time. Just like you, I get overwhelmed with ‘busy work’; battling ‘inbox zero’ or getting distracted by mind-blowing Twitter links. Here’s the best thing I learned this year – if you make something a habit, it is much more likely that you’ll keep it up. In this post, I’ll tell you about my latest 30 day habit challenge along with some resources to help you manage your time.

how to make time to blog

I watched a Ted Talk by Matt Cutts – Try something new for 30 days and loved the idea of really committing to something new to see how you like it. I wrote about it back in August 2013 and pushed the idea to the back of my mind. You see, I wasn’t totally committed just yet 🙂 More recently I came across the online programme SeaChange by Leo Babauta from Zen Habits. The timing was right, I was looking for ways to simplify both my work and personal life. 30 days seemed totally manageable and I was ready for a challenge. The suggested habit for April is Mediation but I’m already a regular meditator so I decided to jog every morning for the month of April.

This involves getting up at 7am and climbing into my jogging gear. If you knew what a challenge early mornings are for me, you’d know that I don’t do much talking at this time of the day. But here’s what I found – I committed to doing it and it became an established routine. I’m already on day 24 and feeling great about myself. Here’s some other things I discovered:

  • I was really hard on myself at first because I couldn’t run very far. I constantly compared myself to those nimble joggers who passed me by with ease! I was uncomfortable because I hadn’t ‘mastered’ the skill. This is what I felt like when I started blogging first. We need to ease up on ourselves and allow time to learn something new.
  • Brain chatter is HUGE when you are jogging (Or is it just me?) “I’ll keep going to the next post and then I’ll stop”. As the post gets nearer… “I’m exhausted, I can’t go another step without stopping for a rest”. I learned to tell that voice to shut up and told myself another story instead; “You can do this, you feel fine”. It worked. Tip number two; ignore (or be understanding of) the negative voice that tells you that you can’t blog or don’t have time!
  • And there were lots of positive results too – I discovered how quiet the world is outside at 7am! I’ve slowly built up to running non-stop for 18 minutes in 24 days. This challenge has made me totally hooked on choosing and having new experiences.

So, committing to writing the blog is the first big step. Well done if you’ve got to this stage. Next you need to have a clear plan of action. The clearer you are about your customer and content, the more succesful your blog will be. This is something I can help you with in one-to-one or small workshops.

Here is a tip to get you started. Experiment by setting yourself regular times to write or brainstorm ideas for your blog. The Pomodoro technique might be fun to try out. It’s an application that is based around a 25 minute timer. The idea is that you block off this period of uninterrupted time to focus on doing one task. No distractions are allowed. You’ll soon see how many times your attention wants to wander in just 25 minutes. You may need several pomadoros to complete a task. Setting a time limit, is a great incentive to get your ideas down on paper or screen.

Finally, I recommend that you take Claire Burge’s‘short test on ‘Time Organisational Styles. You’ll discover how you manage your time at work. It’s a brilliant eye-opener for discovering where those lost hours go!

So, are you going to challenge yourself to start a business blog? What could you achieve in just 30 days? Remember, you can keep your blog private to start. I’m here to help answers any questions you might have – leave me a comment, email or give me a call. I’d love to hear from you or chat about how I can help you launch!