Entries from July 2011 ↓

Powerful Testimonials

Testimonials are a very powerful marketing tool.

They instantly show potential customers what you are like, how you work, how trustworthy you are and how your customers perceive you.

And that’s why it’s so important to ask your customers for testimonials.

But a simple “thank you, we were happy with the service you gave” doesn’t really tell you anything. The best testimonials have substance to them. So how do you make sure you get what you need?

Asking the right questions

 The easiest way to ensure you get what you need is by asking them to answer specific questions in your email request.

Outline that their feedback is vital to help you and your company continue to improve and that you would be grateful if they would take the time to answer a few questions. Of course, you should also make them aware that their responses may be used as testimonials on your website and marketing materials.

So what do you ask?

Well, how about:

  • What made you decide to choose [company name]? Was there anything that made them stand out above their competitors?
  • What did you need from [company name]?
  • Did you have any concerns about choosing [company name]?
  • How did they help you with your challenge?
  • Were there any specific features of the service that you particularly enjoyed/found useful?
  • Would you recommend [company name] and why?
  • Would you like to add anything else?

By asking specific questions like this you will gain detailed testimonials that give potential customers a great picture of what you are like as a company.

 When should you ask for a testimonial?

 If at all possible, you should ask for testimonials from every client. Of course, for many companies that’s just not practical.

You should aim to ask for as many you can and, if you offer a range of products and services, try and get them for different aspects of your business to give a rounded picture.


Regularly updating testimonials on your website will not only help you show off your credentials, it will also help you add fresh content.


Remember, a good testimonial is worth its weight in gold so make sure you ask for them regularly and ask specific questions to really make them work for you.

Sally Ormond, freelance copywriter, blogger and social media addict

How to Get Rejected As a Guest Blogger

Have you ever wanted to guest blog for someone?

Do you know how to go about it?

Well, what you are about to read is how not to do it.

Why guest blog?

For many people, writing as a guest blogger is a great way to raise their profile. They are motivated by wanting to add value to the blog in question and its readers.

Very noble.

For others, guest blogging is all about links and promoting their products and services.

How to kill your chances

The best way to screw up any chance of getting your guest post accepted is to:

1. Send a spam pitch

You should always email the blog owner to find out if they are open to the idea of accepting a guest blog post.

But many people send something that is obviously being sent to numerous blog owners in the vain hope that one of them will bite.

If you want to stand a chance of being accepted, make your pitch personal. Show them you’ve studied their blog and understand their audience.

2. Get the name wrong

There’s nothing more infuriating than getting an email addressed to Sammy when you’re name is Sally.

Using the wrong name is another great way to get rejected immediately. But if you want them to consider your proposal it’s a good idea to do a bit of research and address your email using the right name.

3. Waffle

Don’t worry about the length of your email; the blog owner is bound to have loads of time to wade through your ramblings.

But if you want them to take you seriously it’s wise to keep it short and sweet and just come right out and ask.

4. Don’t research

This one is great for guaranteeing a rejection. You don’t have time to read through all those blogs to find the one that’s best suited to your writing and subject. Who cares if you write about insurance and you offer your post to a home furnishings blog?

Mind you, if you did want to get it published it might be a good idea to have a read through the blog so you can get a feel for the type of thing its readership wants.

5. Lashings of soft soap

Starting your email with loads of flannel about how amazing the blog owner is, how amazing their writing is, how amazing they are as a person…is bound to work. After all, who doesn’t respond well to flattery?

Mind you the only thing they want to know is that you’ve researched their blog and are offering a post that would enhance it. So maybe the grovelling should be forgotten about.

How to get rejected

We’ve looked at how to kill your chances of being asked to guest blog, now let’s take a look at how to get your post rejected.

The following 5 tips will ensure your post gets rejected:

1. Stuffed links

Most blog owners are happy to provide a link to your website in your author bio or maybe even one in the body text.

So if your post arrives stuffed to the rafters with links it will be rejected.

2. Typos

The blog owner will read your post before deciding whether to publish it or not. Sending it in full of typos is a pretty good way of getting it thrown right back at you.

3. Bad information

Writing inaccurately or about, shall we say, dodgy content (such as promoting black hat SEO techniques) will get you rejected.

4. Poor quality

The blog owner isn’t stupid. If you’ve written the post purely to get back links it’s going to be obvious. Your writing has to be of a high quality otherwise – you guest it – it’ll be rejected.

5. Bad fit

Researching the blog you want to write for is more than just taking a quick peek at one post.

If your article bears no relation whatsoever to the general subject matter of the blog it’s going to be rejected.


So there you have it – if you write badly, fail to research or are motivated purely by back links, you’re unlikely to make it as a guest blogger.

But if you want to discover how to write guest posts and how to get asked back you might want to take a look at this post.


Common Blogging Mistakes

Blogging is great for positioning yourself as an expert, boosting your profile and, of course, search engine optimisation.

It’s really easy to get started – all you need is a blog (preferably self hosted with your own unique URL), some ideas and a bit of time.

But despite it being that simple many people are getting it horribly wrong.

Here are a few of the most common mistakes made by would-be bloggers:

1. Not understanding your audience

This is a fundamental requirement if your blog is to be successful.

How can you write stuff your audience will want to read if you don’t know who they are? Granted, anyone could find your blog but you have to keep in mind the people you are writing for and trying to attract.

What is important to them?

In this blog I write about all things copywriting, marketing and social media because the audience I’m writing for are (in general) small businesses looking for some advice when it comes to marketing their businesses. If I suddenly started blogging about my favourite recipes or what my dog did at the weekend, my readers would get fed up and look elsewhere for the information they want.

2. Ignoring your niche

A lot of bloggers want to be all things to all people.

That’s not going to work.

As I mentioned earlier, a powerful blog is one that knows its market and what they want. Writing about something you understand will result in informative blog posts that are relevant to your readers.

Find your niche and stick to it.

3. Blanket writing

This is what happens if you don’t stick to your niche.

Suddenly your blog becomes awash with posts about all manner of topics, none of which gel. You might think you’re doing your readership a great service by taking this ‘all encompassing’ approach but all you’re doing is confusing them.

If you start out writing a blog about photography and start to build a regular readership, those loyal readers will come back time and again because they know they are going to get great information on photography. But if you suddenly start adding posts about cats, cars, insurance etc., the continuity is lost. Because they don’t know if your next post is going to be relevant to them they won’t bother coming back.

If you want to write about 2 very different subjects, get 2 blogs.

4. Being inconsistent

Every post you write has to be written well. The quality of your work can’t slip.

When you start out, fired up with enthusiasm, your posts will be top notch. But as time goes on and you squeeze your blog writing between other things, you might become a little careless; errors will start to creep in and the general standard of your writing might slip.

That is the first sign of a dying blog. Quality is everything so you have to keep your standards high.

But as well as quality, you also have to be consistent with your frequency.  Your readers are creatures of habit. If you blog 3 times a week, they’ll grow to expect a new post from you at that frequency. If you suddenly change it or miss a week they’ll be left wondering what’s going on and, ultimately, go and find a different blog that will meet their expectations.

5. No commitment

Just like a dog is for life, not for Christmas, your blog is for life and shouldn’t be started on a misguided whim.

When you’re sat in front of your computer writing your blogs you probably see each post as an unrelated entity. But your readers see them as a series of factual and interesting posts. They expect great things from you and on a regular basis which requires commitment on your part.

If you make the decision to blog, you must be 100% committed otherwise it won’t work.

6. Focus on quality

As I mentioned in number 4, the quality of your posts must be consistent.

To make your blog work well you should ideally be posting at least 3 times a week. Every one of those posts has to add value to your reader and must be thought through and written well.

The mistake many bloggers make is they are so conscious that they have to keep generating posts, it’s not long before quantity becomes more important than quality.

If the quality of your work slips you’ll get known for your bad writing rather than your great information and you really don’t want that to happen.

7. Writing for yourself

You are bound to blog on a topic you know well but you mustn’t lose sight of what’s important to your readers.

Writing about stuff you find interesting is OK but not if no one else is interested in it. If you want your blog to be successful, identify your audience, discover what they want to know and write about that.

8. Poor headlines

No matter how great your writing, if you come up with a lame headline for your blog no one’s going to read it.

Most people will just look at your post’s title. If it doesn’t immediately grab them they won’t read on. So make sure you come up with strong headlines for every post; something that will draw your reader in and make them what to find out more.

9. Blatant self-promotion

The whole point of a blog is to add value to your relationship with your reader.

If every single post you write is a thinly disguised advert for you and your products, your readers will see through you and walk away. So don’t write about your products and services; provide information that your readers can use to their benefit.

Sure, you can link out to your main website from your posts but only if it adds value.

At the end of the post you can always add an author bio with a link to your site.

10. No engagement

Every post you write must engage your reader and make a connection.

Don’t worry that’s easier to do that it sounds. All you have to do is write conversationally and in the second person (using you and your – just like I have done in this post). Your post will then be ‘talking’ directly to your reader, making it personal.

11. Unresponsive

When you start getting traffic to your blog you’ll start to get a few comments coming through.

You have a choice; you could ignore them and come across as someone who couldn’t care less about their readers. Or you could respond and interact with your readers.

It doesn’t take Einstein to work out which is the best option.

12. No promotion

How is someone going to read your blog if they don’t know it exists?

If you want your blog to succeed you have to promote it. Push an RSS feed through to your website, promote your blogs through Twitter and forums.

Basically shout very loudly to anyone and everyone about your blog and they’ll start to take notice.


There you go – 12 of the biggest mistakes new bloggers make. If you manage to avoid them you’ll be well on your way to being the owner of a successful blog.

Have I missed anything?

If you can think of anything else that could prevent a blogger making it big? If so please leave a comment below.

Making the Most of Your Twitter Testimonials

“Oh no!” I hear you cry. “Not another post about Twitter.”

Bear with me on this one.

Yes, I love Twitter and yes, I have written about it a few times.

If you take a look at the Twitter archive you’ll find everything from using Twitter for business, how to build your followers, Twitter and a return on relationships to why you shouldn’t automate your social media activities.

But there’s one thing I haven’t looked at yet – and socialmediaexaminer.com beat me to it!

Twitter Testimonials

Testimonials are like gold dust.

Everyone knows they show potential customers what you’re like as a company to deal with. They can do wonders for your credibility and are a fantastic sales tool.

Most business owners will ask clients for testimonials or collect them through sites such as LinkedIn. But what about those you get through Twitter? Are you making the most of them?

What do you do when you get something like this?


Do you just tweet “Thanks” or do you use them to your advantage?

Tweets actually make great testimonials.

At only 140 characters they are short and to the point. They are usually full of praise because people write them quickly in a moment of glowing enthusiasm and they’re written for the public domain so you don’t have to ask permission to use them as a testimonial for your business.

How to use them

You can save them by ‘favouriting’ them through Twitter and then those clever people at Twitter HQ have come up with a widget you can use on your website to show your ‘favourite’ tweets.

To find our exactly how to do it, take a look at this post on socialmediaexmainer.com – How To Embed Twitter Testimonials On Your Websiteand make the most of your Twitter Testimonials.

Article Marketing – It’s For Humans Not Search Engines

Content drives the internet and therefore search results – that’s probably why many people are still writing articles for the search engines rather than for people.

If you fall within that category and believe strongly that your primary audience are the search engines because your articles are there purely to provide links to your website, let me ask you a few questions:

Why do you do article marketing?

  • To generate links to my website


  • So I can boost my rankings


  • So more people visit my website


  • So I can generate more sales of course

Aha! So you’re doing this to get more people to visit your website.


So why exactly are you writing mainly for the search engines? You’ve just admitted you do article marketing to attract people – not search engines, people.

If your article is incomprehensible because you’ve stuffed it with loads of keywords do you really think someone’s going waste their time reading it?

Even if it is the number one search result, no one’s going to pay it any attention.

If someone does open your article and finds it unreadable are they really going to want to follow any links within it that will take them to your website?

I doubt it because they’ll think they are going to be faced with yet more incomprehensible drivel.

So the moral is, write for your reader first and the search engines second.

What to think about when writing your articles

 Before you even touch your keyboard you must think about your reader.

  •  Who are they?
  •  What’s important to them?
  •  How much do they know about your subject matter?
  •  What issues do they have that they’re looking for solutions to?
  • What do they need to know?

It’s not until you have answered those questions can you start to create an informative and interesting article that someone will want to read.

 But what about your keywords?

 Just because you’re writing for your reader doesn’t mean you have to forget your keywords all together.

  •  Make sure they are in your eye-catching headline
  • Break your article up into short paragraphs so it’s easy to read
  • Create informative sub headings to help your reader scan your article
  • Don’t fill it with links

To make sure it reads well forget about keyword density. When you write naturally about a subject you’ll automatically use your keywords and other words related to your subject.

Once you’ve written it read it out loud to check for rhythm, an easy flow and errors. If you find you are ‘tripping’ over your keywords you’ve probably included too many. Cut back within the body of your article but make sure they are present in your headings and sub headings.

At the end of the day, if you write with your reader in mind and not the search engines you can’t go far wrong.

Remember – when it comes to article marketing, your reader is king.