Predict the Future – Day 17 of 30 days of blog post ideas

Welcome to day 17 of my 30 days of blog post ideas series. Today we focus on crystal balls…

Predicting the future is easier than you think. The secret is….you don’t have to be right.

Seriously all manner of experts and futoroligists predict the future everyday. What is the economy going to do? Who is going to win the world series? You can too.

It’s back to our old friend: opinions. Everyone loves them, so why not provide your own opinions on what’s going to happen to your business or area of interest in the future. Don’t worry about being 100% accurate that doesn’t matter, no one is going to come back in twelve months and hold things against you. Especially if you let readers know these are your own opinions of either where you see things going, or where you’d like to see things go.

Either think about where you’d like your business, industry or hobby to go in the next 12, 24, or 36 months and write a post about that (the happy future), or think about where others are taking your industry or hobby in the next 12, 24, or 36 months (the real future).

  • You can go really wild with your imagination or you can play it safe in your predictions just let people know which path your taking.
  • Be bold, and don’t be afraid of predicting something others don’t see. It will give you a unique viewpoint.
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Review your Competition – Day 16 of 30 days of blog post ideas

Welcome to day 16 of my 30 days of blog post ideas series. Today we focus on pushing the boundaries…

I’ve spoken a bit about Marcus Sheridan aka The Sales Lion before. The NY Times wrote up a great article on his marketing strategies for his Swimming Pool company. While I do find him a bit full on ‘sales guy’ (The Sales Lion?? Really? Too much corporate male macho bullshit for me), I do respect his ideas – he is very smart and creative.

In the NY Times article he talks about a blog post he wrote reviewing OTHER swimming pool installation companies in his area. He didn’t mention his own company, just provided readers with an objective review of the options out there. That was a very bold move. Something that his competitors still probably don’t get (‘Thanks for the free advertising!’). Marcus was trying to help his readers and was busy building relationships with them while his competitors were still trying to just sell something to them. Where did people go when they wanted an opinion on other Pool Companies? Straight to Marcus’ blog. Smart Marketing.

The review should only focus on your competition, not yourself. But how will people know where we rank against our competition you ask? Here’s the clever thing…they will figure it out for themselves. Make sure your website is clear in laying out the advantages of your company over your competition. This review blog post may even help you in clarifying what it is that makes your company stand out.

For instance if a competitor charges a lot less than you, but their service is bare-bones, make sure you website points this out. (Our service includes X, Y and Z. It may cost a little more, but the price we quote is the price you pay. Guaranteed). People are smart they’ll be able to join the dots and see where you fit in the space.

Document the advantages and disadvantages of your competition, write it up in a review post either as a paragraph on each competitor, or a table listing the differentiators and where each competitor stands on each point. This is a very powerful post so make triple-sure it is written very well. Ask multiple people to review it and be critical. Only post once you feel comfortable.

  • Above all, be fair. Remember your goal is to help people. Write the review as if you didn’t have a bias on the topic. All companies will have some advantages as well as disadvantages. Review to make sure both sides of the review are balanced.
  • Don’t mention yourself. That will destroy any credibility you are trying for.
  • Be honest and don’t pull punches, but don’t try to destroy your competition. If there is something really damaging, or you are unsure, hold back, (you can always talk to clients about it in person).
  • Be bold, and don’t be afraid of this type of post. You WANT to stand out from everyone else. This will help you do that.
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Promote other businesses – Day 15 of 30 days of blog post ideas

Welcome to day 15 of my 30 days of blog post ideas series. We’re halfway through the month and the series, and today is my daughter’s third birthday – Happy Birthday Eleanor!

Blogging is all about the reader, and the more you can help the reader the more they’ll help you (by continuing to read you blog). One way to do this is to give something away, and one thing you can give away easily is knowledge. Help your readers discover other great businesses that may be of use to them.

For instance, if you are a lawn care company, why not review and suggest other local trade companies, like painters, electricians, plumbers and landscape designers, to your readers. They trust you, so they are likely to trust your recommendations. Be careful though: your recommendations are a reflection of you and your business. You can’t just recommend any old business you know – only recommend the businesses you personally believe are great, and would reflect well back on your own business. Of course, if you already have a link with other great businesses, all the better. If you don’t have links with other local businesses go out and create them!

Another example is my sister’s luxury, custom knitwear company: Polly Purl. She could recommend wool producers and retailers, knitting machine repair businesses and knitting pattern websites. Her core audience probably has a great interest in knitting themselves, and may do their own knitting, so these kind of links would be a great help to them.

Don’t be afraid that you are sending customers away – you’re not. Your strengthening your relationship with them by letting them know they can trust you. More trust = more business.

Build links with other local businesses that you know do great work. Review and share them on your blog. Write about them in a natural, non-sales type of way. Provide concrete examples of the work you’ve personally seen them perform that is awesome.

  • Don’t be too pushy and sleazy car salesperson about it. You’re not trying to sell work for them. You are merely recommending other business based on the strength of the work you’ve seen them complete, and they type of people they are.
  • Make sure it really is relevant to your own area of business.
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Argue Against Something – Day 14 of 30 days of blog post ideas

Welcome to day 14 of my 30 days of blog post ideas series. Today we focus on opinions…

As I’ve said before – everyone has an opinion, and everyone likes to share their opinions. Start a conversation with your readers by arguing against a well-known fact or opinion in your blog space, or business. You don’t have to actually hold that opposite opinion, but just play devil’s advocate for the blog. You can either do it openly and let your readers know at the start of the blog post that this is not your opinion but you are exploring a topic from a different angle, or you can keep that to yourself.

For example, if you are in the media business you could argue that fewer ads, not more ads result in more sales. Or if you were a ‘mommy blogger’ you could argue that giving kids unlimited access to candy is good for them.

Don’t just state the opposite opinion. You really need to think about it first, and come up with some solid reasons why you are stating the opinion you are. You don’t believe it yourself, so work really hard to convince yourself, the more you end up believing it the more they will be persuaded to listen to you. Think of it like debate club, and you are trying to convince your readers to change their minds. The more solid your facts and reasoning, the more likely they are to agree with you.

Of course, you don’t want them to agree with you – you want them to be so moved that they leave a comment stating their opinion on the matter. However it turns out, you don’t want to alienate your readers so tread carefully, and listen to their side of the story. Be respectful when you reply to comments and try and stay objective.

Think about a long-held belief or opinion in your blogging space: something everyone takes for granted. Sit down and ask yourself ‘how could the opposite be true, or better?’ Generate some logical thinking, facts and reasons to support your argument and write it up in a blog post

  • If you’re worried about too much controversy on your blog, then let people know that you are exploring an opposite opinion at the start of the post.
  • Make sure it remains objective, and that you only discuss ideas, and not specific people.
  • Make sure you give a call to action at the end of the post, and directly ask people for their thoughts on the subject.
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Hold a Competition – Day 13 of 30 days of blog post ideas

Welcome to day 13 of my 30 days of blog post ideas series. Today we focus on WINNING! …

It’s well-known among the brainy scientist types that people are TERRIBLE at estimating odds. They tend to over-estimate the likelihood of good outcomes, and play-down the likelihood of bad outcomes. What all this means for you is that running a competition is a great way to draw in new people – people love entering competitions for free.

It’s not going to win you any new fans – because holding a competition doesn’t really say anything about you, your company, or your blog. But it is a great way to catch people’s interest and once they are on your blog some of them may stick around and read some of your other posts. There is a little trick to increase this conversion rate, which I’ll explain below.

You’ll need some sort of prize for the competition. It may be something you can give away for free, such as a product you make, a service you offer, or some swag that has come your way (E.g. a customer may have given you two tickets to a local ball game). If you don’t have anything you can give, then just go out and buy something. Buy something that will create a desire among the audience you are going after – e.g. don’t offer a tech gadget if your audience is not into tech.

You can play the honesty card and tell them you are trying to increase readership of your blog, and ask them for help in finding new readers by passing along word of the competition to others they may know. You could even go as far getting new readers to enter the name of the person who recommended the blog to them and the person with the most entries (i.e. the person who made the most recommendations) will win the prize.

Launch your competition and ask people leave a note in the comments to enter themselves into the draw. Ask your readers to publicize the competition to others they think might be interested. You can get a bit more out of your audience if you make them work a little to win the prize. Some ideas are:

  • Ask people to comment with the year your company was founded to get them to read up about your company a little
  • Ask people to give an answer, fill in a survey, or take part in a poll, to give you some feedback you’re looking for
  • Set a challenge, or ask a tricky question to get people thinking and engaging a little more. A good example of this is Ann Emery’s Microsoft Excel challenges (although she doesn’t offer a prize other than bragging rights)
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Tell the Story of How Your Company Started – Day 12 of 30 days of blog post ideas

Welcome to day 12 of my 30 days of blog post ideas series. Today we focus on storytelling…

People love stories. People love people. People love hearing stories about people they care about. Use all this to tell the story of how your company was started.

Your founding story may not make a Hollywood blockbuster, but that’s OK. People want to hear the real story behind your company. They want to get to know you better and telling your story will help them do that. You don’t have to write a novel, but make sure you include lots of interesting details.

Here’s a couple examples to give you some ideas: Firstly the founding of Pintrest and secondly the founding of a small social media company called Buffer.

Recount the story of how your company was founded, where the idea came from that made you start your company, who was involved in the early days, how you did business in the early days (‘we processed every order by hand until our processing system was up and running’) and any funny stories from the early days (‘On April 1st we included a whoopee cushion in every order’)

  • Make it real. Don’t be tempted to make things more exciting than they were.
  • Don’t be afraid to include details that are a little embarrassing, or were mistakes – it makes it even more real.
  • Contrast how things were done in the early days to how they are done now to show how far you’ve come.
  • Include some stats to show how you’ve grown, but don’t let the data take over the story.
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Create a Top 10 List – Day 11 of 30 days of blog post ideas

Welcome to day 11 of my 30 days of blog post ideas series. Today we focus on giving an opinion…

I love Top 10 lists. A friend created a small web site where people could upload top 10 lists and their friends could then rearrange the list as they thought it should go and somewhere find the middle ground – or have fun arguingdebating it. It sadly, no longer exists, but it looks like something similar exists at Listverse

What is it about top 10 lists? I think it gets people thinking and ranking. We all love to do research. I think it’s actually a problem for some – i.e. me. I am definitely a maximizer and not a satisficer. Creating a top 10 list forces us to put our thoughts, desires or likes in order which is good for our decision-making process.

The other thing it does is force us to express an opinion – in a nice way. An opinion is great, because once you have one person taking a position and expressing an opinion it gives others a reference to contrast their own opinion against, and we ALL have our own opinions and love expressing them. Now, if you do a Top 10 list blog post, you might not have a ton of comments but be assured, people are expressing their own opinion in their own head, or to their friends offline (‘She said X is best, and she’s quite blatantly wrong! Z is much better.)’

Pick your topic and write down potential items for your list. Start to order your list. Put it down and come back to it a while later and keep tweaking it till you’re happy. Give some reasoning about why each entry has the position it does. People want to understand your though process.

  • Don’t be afraid to express an opinion. That’s the whole point.
  • It doesn’t have to be serious. The list or the reasons for ranking can be humorous or silly (E.g. top 10 pieces of software that will help you waste time. Top 10 cars based on the shade of red paint they offer)
  • Don’t feel you have to do a Top 10 list. You can do a Top 5, Top 3, Top 7. It all works.
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