How to Create a Meaningful Marketing Plan for Your Business

I’m sure you know what you want to achieve—but do you know what to focus on to get you there? Daily marketing tasks are some of the most important parts of your business when it comes to getting new customers. But you might be spending your time and money on the wrong marketing mix.

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The Secret to Make Your Audience Love You

Do you crave a deep and genuine connection with your audience? We all want to be a trusted resource for our blog readers so they come back time and time again, purchase our products and services, and become advocates of our brand. The problem is that many times we miss that mark and many of us attribute that to inner failures, whether it’s not having model looks, a star’s personality, or enough to invest in our online endeavors.

Over the years of blogging, I tried so many different things to attract and keep an audience around. But it didn’t feel like I was doing that well at it. In fact, I thought a lot of my readers just didn’t like me. I thought I wasn’t pretty enough or had an attractive enough personality or didn’t have enough time or money to invest in myself to get to the right audience. Ultimately, I thought it was all internal failures I couldn’t fix and that the problem was intrinsic to being, well, me!

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Why I Moved to KimberlyHerrington.com

Rebranding your blog is a huge endeavor you shouldn’t take lightly! I’ve just launched two new sites, rebranded from Bear & Beagle Creative. If you’ve ended up here from Bear & Beagle Creative, you might be in the right place—or you might not!

It all has to do with speaking to the right audience’s needs at the right place. And that’s why if you’re considering a rebrand, you need to read this! The short of it? Don’t try to talk to two different audiences with completely different needs at the same place. It’s just not productive.

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Reporting to Marketers after a Sponsored Post

You’ve been hired to do a sponsored post. Congrats! But now what should you do after (and before) you publish the post to best serve your new clients? Today I’m talking all about how to best work with marketers for sponsored posts.

It takes a bit of preparation before hand to do a sponsored post well. In fact, it’s almost always more work than just any other regular post. Watch this week’s vlog to find out how you can be a better blogger, work great with marketers, and score even more sponsored posts.

What to do After a Sponsored Post

Today I’m talking about what kinds of statistics to share with marketers who hired you to do promotional posts.

This week’s question comes from my gal pal Susannah over at Feast & West. Thanks Susannah!

She recently did a promotional post, or native ad, with a juice company and wrote to me asking about what to do after the post is published to report back to the company that hired her. She asked:

  • What kinds of stats should I be sending brands after I collaborate with them?
  • What’s the best way to present them?
  • How long after the post?

Why Bloggers Must Charge for Sponsored Content

Before we dive into stats for sponsored posts, I want to underline that bloggers should always charge for sponsored content. Sure, you could write posts in exchange for product and many bloggers do this. Keep in mind that marketers are asking you to provide a service for their clients. It’s work and you absolutely deserve to get paid for it!

Now that I’m off my bloggers should charge soapbox, let’s talk about what kinds of stats marketers are looking for.

What Marketers Want from Bloggers

The first thing to know is the purpose of the campaign. Marketers seek sponsored content for a number of reasons. It might be:

  • Increased brand awareness
  • Building brand aesthetic
  • Increased sales
  • Or something else

Generally, marketers are hired by companies to increase sales, no matter what path they choose to get to that point. Always keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to produce a lift, or what those in the business call increased sales. Since I’m in Arkansas where Walmart is headquartered, I’ve worked with a number of national brands doing these kinds of campaigns.

Keeping that in mind, it will dictate what kind of stats you hand back in after the post is published. Be sure to ask what the goal of the campaign is before signing on and it’ll help dictate your content so you can perform better for them!

What to do after a sponsored blog post and how to report back to marketers who hired you from @bearandbeagleWhat Kinds of Statistics Marketers Want from Bloggers

I’ve created a short little worksheet gives you a list of all the stats you should send to marketers. Just put in your email and it’ll arrive in your inbox so you can refer to it as many times as you like.

Grab the Worksheet

How to Present Stats After a Sponsored Post

Marketers are busy people who have to sort through tons of information, synthesize it together, and make sense of it for their clients to tell the story the client wants to hear. So what can you do to help them?

Instead of just sending the stats along, provide a short narrative of no longer than about 200 words on how your post went, what the stats can say about the product, and any recommendations on what marketers can change for the future for the campaign to be more effective.

When to Report to Marketers After a Sponsored Post

Generally, marketers have a timeline they want to stick to so finding out this information ahead of time is important. It’s also important to understand what’s expected of you for the campaign.

  • How many times will you promote it on social media after publication?
  • How long after the post is published will you still be working on getting traffic to the post?
  • How long is the marketer running the campaign?

Basically, think about the projected life of the post and report back to the marketers when the post is towards its end. Typically, that’s a few weeks out from when you publish it but can be as long as a month.

Get Testimonials For Your Work!

As a final tip here, be sure to send along a quick questionnaire with your stats to the marketers about how you did. It’s important to gather testimonials for your work so you can entice other marketers to pay you. If you have a proven track record of working well with marketers and helping them better serve their clients, you’re well on your way.

Choosing the Right Blogging Goals: Video

Today I’m talking about the most common blogger frustration: not meeting goals. Watch the video above for all the details on how to better select blogging goals and what makes a good blogging goal.

Choosing the Right Blogging Goals

Hey bloggers! I’m Kim Herrington of Bear & Beagle Creative. Every week I share blogging tips and tricks to help you turn your blog into a goal getting machine.

Over the years, I’ve been able to get to know a lot of bloggers. It’s one of the parts I enjoy the most about my job. And there’s been one common thread between all of the discussions I’ve had with bloggers.

None of them are happy about how much time they spend blogging and how little they’re getting in return.

As bloggers, we spend hours every week creating content for our blogs. It can easily rack up to 10-12 hours per week of blogging time.

When you look at what else you have going on in your life, putting that much time towards a blog can easily seem like a bad deal.

I recently spoke with one blogger who was focus on her goal of getting a certain number of page views each month. She really wanted to hit her goal number. And she was so dang close. So she asked me what she should do to get there.

So I asked her one question in return before answering her:

What did that certain number of views do for her?

She couldn’t really give me an answer. She said that it meant a lot more people were looking at her blog. So I followed up with the same question. And we kept going back and forth. She’d say something and I would ask her what it did for her.

Eventually, she discovered the point I was getting to. Some blogging goals we have just don’t make sense!

Page views are great and all but they don’t actually contribute to our lives. So having a goal of so many page views is kind of silly, isn’t it?

I’m a firm believer that your blogging goals should actually do something productive in your life.

So think about your main goal right now for your blog and ask yourself—what is it doing for me? What will achieving that do in my life?

I’m sure that you might be surprised to find out that it’s not what you thought it was.

I’m hosting a webinar on December 2 at 7 pm central time about how to choose the right blogging goals and how to better fit blogging goals into your life. Be sure to grab your seat by signing up.

I really hope to see you in the webinar!

Till next time,

Keep blogging!

Creating Value on Pinterest: Video

We all know that content is king, value is where it’s at, and that we need to be creative and engaging. But how do you actually do that on Pinterest? It’s just a bunch of images with links, after all. So how do you ensure that every single pin you add to your boards is going to bring in new followers and new readers to your blog?

Creating value on Pinterest involves a number of steps, a keen eye for branding, and a clear purpose for your social media outlets. Let’s get to it in today’s video.

Creating Value on Pinterest

Today I’m talking about how to create value on Pinterest.

Hey Bloggers!

I’m Kim Herrington of Bear & Beagle creative. Every week I answer blogging questions and talk about tips and tricks you can use to grow your blog and start achieving your dreams.

I recently shared about Pinterest’s new Smart Feed and how that affects your blog content shared on Pinterest. The most important thing to know, if you haven’t watched that video, is Pins are now ranked on an algorithm that places good pins first in people’s feeds. Good pins are also shared on feeds of individuals who don’t follow the pinner through a new feature called related pins.

As a blogger, you need to capture as much of this ability to get your pins in front of the right people as possible. Making sure that your pins are well ranked by Pinterest is important.

What goes into a “good” pin

Pinterest wants you to pin things that are authentic and resonate with your audience. But that’s just the basics. If you want your pins to go even further, there are a few traits to aim for:

  • Vertical pins that are longer than they are wide
  • Clear images that attract attention and quickly tell a story when show in a small size
  • Positive messages that engage and excite

But applying these things can be kind of difficult to understand when it comes to your own blog.

Showing your Personality

The best way to use Pinterest is to show your audience what you stand for and who you are through your pins. Pinterest is a great tool to cultivate a visual identity that quickly explains what your brand is all about. After all, images speak louder than words, right?

Think about your brand and what personality it has. What kinds of images help showcase that brand?

Another thing you can do to show your personality, if it’s hard for you to do, is visually walk through what you can do to help produce results and the value you place on different aspects of what matters to your brand.

Answer needs of Your Audience

Your audience might be really enticed by your Pinterest’s look and feel but if you don’t offer them something useful, they’re going to go elsewhere.

It might be as simple as providing ideas for projects or more elaborate showing them how to use your products and services. Think about what your blog and brand is trying to achieve for your audience and provide a way for them to get there through your pins.

Tutorials are popular on Pinterest for a reason, after all!

Interact with your Audience

Pinterest can seem like a very one-way street. You pin things and your audience might repin some of them or click through. There’s not a lot of direct interaction. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

I’ve been experimenting lately with using Pinterest comments to engage qualified leads.

Qualified leads, in case you don’t know what that means, are people who are already interested in what you offer. These might be people who are engaging with your pins, for instance.

When someone interacts with my Pinterest account in some way, I’m always sure to thank them for pinning my articles and refer them to my free audience building course. It’s a way for me to capture their emails and prove my worth more than just a pin or single article and starts us towards building a relationship.

You know what? It’s been super effective at getting qualified leads to sign up for my email list and to get others who didn’t even pin my articles to sign up too. They see the comment on the pin in someone else’s feed and click through to the course almost as often.

Think about a way you can better interact with your audience through Pinterest other than just giving them great pins!

I hope these tips help you with your Pinterest account but if you’re still lost, I’m offering a special blog audit service until the end of 2014! I’m only offering 10 of these blog audits that take a look at what you’re doing with your blog and what you need to do to grow. Learn more and reserve your spot before they’re gone!

Till next time, keep blogging.

3 Scariest SEO Mistakes

This week is a special SEO video for Halloween. I see a lot of SEO mistakes that bloggers make all the time. I share the three most common SEO mistakes I see made over and over again and some explanations about what changes you can make to improve your SEO.

(Don’t worry, it’s not really that scary. Just cheesy sound effects! I hate scary things.)

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Developing a Basic SEO Strategy: Video

Did you know that search engine optimization can be a great way to attract more leads and score more readers and customers? Today is all about the basic steps you need to take to implement SEO for your website.

What SEO Really Means for Your Website

We all think that SEO is the magic bullet that we’ve all be missing our blogging lives. SEO is supposed to bring us lots of new traffic and sustain us over time, if done right. The truth is, using SEO is just like any other strategy for online growth. It takes a lot of planning, time, skill, and patience to pull it off well.

SEO has lots of little bits to it, like heading tags, keywords, and all kinds of small changes you can make to improve your search performance. I’ve even written about them before on my blog.

The reality is that without a great strategy behind these small changes, you’ll never see the big changes you want for your online growth. Instead of focusing on the nitty gritty of SEO, you first need to focus on the bigger picture of your blog and website.

Here are the first steps you should take when developing an online SEO strategy.

Is a Local SEO Strategy Needed?

If you’re a hyper local blogger only writing about stuff in your area of have a business that doesn’t sell products nationwide and only serve a small area, you’ll need to focus on creating a strategy for your community that’s targeted specifically for your area.

The rest of us, however, don’t compete only locally and have a much wider audience. It also means we typically have a much larger pool of competitors. But there are a lot more opportunities for us!

Neither approach is better than the other—it just matters what works for your goals. It wouldn’t really make much sense for a company that only sells their products in Arkansas to market to California unless they planned on expanding soon.

Do Competitor and Search Research

Start researching your competitors and see what people are searching for in your niche.

Don’t focus solely on keywords and minute details here. Take a large big picture approach when you’re first developing your SEO strategy to make sure that you’re not missing out on important trends and information.

Search for things you think people might search for to find you and see what comes up.

  • Who’s at the top?
  • What are they doing?
  • Do they blog?
  • Do they have lots of article about them in different magazines and newspapers?
  • What kinds of things are they banking on for marketing?

It’s important here to use the Google Keyword Planner Tool to start figuring out what people might search for when looking for your services and products. Google can help give you a good direction but remember you shouldn’t rely on it too much at this stage. This is just to give you a basic idea of what you want to work towards.

The goal is to figure out what your future customers are looking for and what kinds of words and terms they use to find it online. What you might think about how people talk about your products might be entirely wrong.

Bloggers, remember that your articles are your products in this situation so you want to think about what you love writing about and what kinds of words people might use to find what you write about.

Create a Content Strategy Based on Search Research Findings

Before you get too far into keywords and SEO specifics, start creating a content strategy.

  • What are the most common concerns and questions your audience might have?
  • What have you been asked in the past about your business or blog?
  • How can you provide answers to readers about your niche?

If you’re starting completely from scratch, that’s okay. Just make some educated guesses and get to work.

Be sure to provide sincere value with your content and that it is something useful to your audience. That’s more important than SEO at this stage of your website. If you need help really digging deep into what you audience wants, sign up for my free audience building course.

Make choices informed by your competitor research and start to really think about how to best serve your leads before they decide to be loyal customers or readers.

Analyze Your Results

This is where you start to really dig into your numbers and see what’s working and what isn’t. Google Analytics is your best friend when it comes to this stage of the SEO development process.

You need to start digging into your data and seeing how your content is performing and what actions people are taking at your website.

  • Are they reading it?
  • How are they getting to your website?
  • If they’re coming from search, what’s happening to their traffic?

Make conclusions here about your audience, like what they’re looking for and what directions you might consider going in for your content and SEO strategy.

Revamp Your Strategy and Include SEO

Now that you’ve got some data, start focusing on making your content better both to serve your audience and better from an SEO standpoint. This is when you can start thinking about SEO nit-picky things, like using keywords appropriately and setting your website up to be better for SEO.

While other SEO experts will say to do this step first, it’s got a pretty high level or entry for people who haven’t had much of a strategy in the first place. Most SEOs don’t start websites from scratch but fix them up after they’ve been around for a while. Taking this same approach can help you make better choices about what directions to move in for your SEO strategy, especially since you’re not a professional.

Keep SEO Simple—For Now

Of course, this is a super simplified approach to SEO strategy and you could stand to get a lot more information from me. After all, I work every day to help my clients do better in search!

I’m releasing an SEO workbook soon to help non-seo professionals get the most out of Google. Be sure to sign up to receive an alert when the book is released, as well as a little special something when it comes out that I’m only sending to my subscribers.

Pinterest Changes Their Stream: Video

If you’ve been spending time on Pinterest lately, you might have noticed your home feed is looking a bit different. Noticed little text on pins that says “Related Pins?” How about pins from people you don’t actually follow?

Well, that’s because Pinterest changed. And you need to know about it! You can watch the video above for a visual example of how it works or read the transcript below.

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Tips for Better Blog Photos: Video

Wonder how to take better photos for your blog content to gain more traffic? This week’s Build Your Blog Vlog is all about three simple things you can do to take better photos. It’s not difficult to learn how to take better photos for platforms like Pinterest. All it takes is some know how and persistence!

How to take better blog photos

I’m talking about three things you should do to make your photo standout!

Hey bloggers! Welcome to the Build Your Blog Vlog. I’m Kim Herrington of Bear & Beagle Creative. Every week I answer blogging questions sent in by you!

We all know that photos are really the way that we attract a lot of attention especially on platforms like Pinterest. If your photos are eye-catching and it is immediately clear what they’re about, you’ll see more click throughs to your content. Pinterest is a huge referral traffic source for many bloggers so taking advantage of all that it offers your visual content is really important.

Here’s the three things that you need to do to make your photos really awesome.

Use a Decent Camera

You’ve heard it said over and over again by lots of bloggers they all use what’s called a DSLR. I use four cameras on my blog. I have two DSLRs, aCanon Rebel T3 and another Canon 60D that I used to record this video. The other two? I use my iPhone 6 and my iPad mini!

Between my two DSLR cameras I can take really great, detailed photos because I have great sensors with good lenses. I use my iPhone and iPad for quick photos for social media and sometimes for blog content.

However knowing how to take the photo is even more important than my equipment. Having great equipment does make good photos look better. There’s no denying that.

Before you invest in cameras, learning first how to take great photos is important. Make sure that you know the basics about taking photos. You can learn with your smartphone camera about composition to get started.  The iPhone 6 has a fantastic camera that takes great shots to get you started. But, if you’re really serious about images and have a photo-heavy blog, you’ll really need to invest in a DSLR.

If you do have one, I really recommend shooting in Raw. You can clawback the data if you mess up and it’s much easier to edit photos quickly!

Have good lighting

They key to clear images is clear lighting. Great photos can be ruined when they’re in a really dark setting. Most photos that are really successful on Pinterest are well lit.

Take some time to think about how you can better light your photos.

If you’re taking photos at home try to do it in front of a open window and use pieces of white paper to reflect light onto your subject or go outside. Another trick you can use is actually to construct a large array of lamps. That’s what I use for these vlogs instead of a professional lighting rig a lot of other vloggers use.

I went and picked up a few $10 lamps. It’s super easy and I even use these lights in my apartment for regular lighting.

If you do want to get crazy you can always make a desktop lightbox using dowels. It’s really easy to make good lighting for your blog photos. It just takes creativity.

Think about Composition

You’ve heard me say over and over again so far that you need to think about how to construct your shots.

One of the hardest things to learn is actually how to look at three-dimensional objects and see it in two dimensions. To start to see the world this way, compare the differences between your viewfinder screen and what you see. Ask yourself “If I saw this on Pinterest, would I click through? Is this grabbing my attention?”

Creating attractive graphics really depends on how you present the story. When you’re taking your photos, think about ways to tell your visual audience what the post is about.

I use a lot of stock images on the Bear & Beagle Blog but take all of my own for my lifestyle blog. One image that worked really well is one of my email templates post. Can you see the story? A woman is sitting at her computer alone, trying to write an email to someone but doesn’t know where to start. Combine it with the attention grabbing text and it’s pretty enticing.

I’d love to get to know you on Pinterest! Comment below with your profile and let’s get pinning.

If you loved this video, you might like this week’s article about the boards every blogger needs on Pinterest. If you enjoyed this, please share this with friends and subscribe!

Thanks for watching the Build Your Blog Vlog and until next time, keep blogging!