15 Tips for Building a Better Blog

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The A Dot Blog celebrated its two year birthday last month! In just two years, our blog has hit a couple of milestones:

  • We’ve had 5 main bloggers (& 10 guest bloggers) contribute a combined total of over 370 posts
  • Our posts have received over 850,000 views!
  • We have readers from Canada, USA, United Kingdom, Germany, Finland, France, Australia, Italy & 63 other countries!
  • More than 100 individuals are subscribed to receive our posts directly in their inbox daily (you should be, too!)

We’re thrilled to have found such success with a blog that no one had really ever imagined would have a global footprint. We’re proud that our little blog which started in Azilda, Ontario (a.k.a the original A Dot) is so well-received from our community and beyond.

Today on The A Dot, I decided to share with our readers a 15 tips for building a better blog.

  1. Brainstorm ideas. When we first started The A Dot Blog, we sat down to discuss who would write what. Whatever you choose to write about, own it!
  2. Think of a great blog title. This is sometimes difficult for many bloggers. Sometimes it is easier to write your piece first before dreaming up a catchy title. Make an effort to use a title that explains the post—“How to…”, “3 Tips”, “5 Ways”…etc. as these posts typically have more views. For tips to help you create hard-hitting headlines, click here.
  3. Add photos. Insert a stock photo at the beginning of your blog that visually describes your article or place images throughout your blog to describe each concept. Choose attention-grabbing images to entice readers to check out your post.
  4. Choose an appropriate length for your post. Typically, our blogs are 500 – 1500 words in length, depending on the topic. Many readers do not like to spend more than 3-5 minutes reading a post.
  5. Find your voice. Don’t make your posts so formal that it bores readers. Add your own style to everything you publish. If you’re witty IRL (in real life), then be witty in your blogs! If you’re blunt IRL, be blunt. Readers want to feel like they know the real you!
  6. Always have a call-to-action. Sometimes it is difficult to wrap up your blog. An easy way to do so is to add a call-to-action at the end of each post. Some examples include:
  • “What’s your favourite tip presented in my post? Comment below.”
  • “Do you have any additional advice for our readers? Add your thoughts below!”
  • “Know someone who may benefit from our services? Share this post with your network!”
  • “To learn more about our product, visit our website at:”
  1. Add links and resources. Reference back to your past posts, or link to other blogs. If you’re lucky, the owner of the blog you just mentioned may reciprocate which could lead to more readership on your own blog.
  2. Invite guest bloggers to write on your blog. If you know someone who is also a blogger, consider asking them to write a post to feature on your blog and vice versa.
  3. Conduct research. If you’ve brainstormed a few blog topic ideas, consider conducting research to learn more about the topic as a whole to ensure you’re providing your readers with the most accurate/interesting information as possible…and remember: always put your own spin on it!
  4. Add keywords to each post. Insert as many keywords/tags that you can think of that relate to your post. This will help your blog posts become discoverable.
  5. Add widgets and menu bars. It helps to use a website that specializes in blogs, such as WordPress or Blogger. Choose a simple layout and add widgets and menu bars to make your content as easy to discover as possible. Things to consider: create an archive menu for your readers to quickly access past posts, and perhaps add an additional menu bar to divide your content into certain topics/categories. Also include a widget for your readers to subscribe to your blog as quickly as possible.
  6. Align your blog with your brand. Consider the overall theme, logo, colours, etc. Your blog should be an extension of your business’ brand.
  7. Get a great domain. Purchase a .com domain instead of a generic .wordpress.com, or .me, or .info, etc. It will make it easier for your readers to remember!
  8. Develop your “About” section. People want to get to know you! Be personal. Let readers know your backstory. Keep it relevant and update it as necessary.
  9. Be unique! Don’t focus on what everyone else is doing. Use your own voice, knowledge, expertise, and niche to draw readers to what you’re doing and writing about.

There you have it – 15 tips for building a better blog! Stay tuned for more tips in the near future. What is one piece of advice you have for new bloggers? Feel free to comment below!

MeganSignature

 

10 Things You Should Do Every Day

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With September right around the corner, I thought it would be an ideal time to share a list of things that I feel everyone should do every day to better your life and improve your mindset as the end of the year approaches and things naturally get busier.

  1. Get a good night’s rest. Lack of sleep will eventually take its toll on you. Personally, I used to get about six hours of sleep per night. This year, I made it a resolution to squeeze a few more hours in each night and it’s been absolutely game-changing; I’m more alert, more productive and happier overall.
  2. Read, write or listen to music. Take a break from the screen for awhile. Get lost in something other than your day-to-day.
  3. Learn something new. Expand your horizons and keep your mind sharp by studying a new language, picking up a hobby, learning a new skill, etc. Keep striving to be the best possible version of yourself.
  4. Treat yourself. This doesn’t always need to involve spending money; read a book, have a bubble bath, watch a movie, etc. We generally spend the majority of our day being busy and serving others, so be sure to spoil yourself, too!
  5. Create a positive environment. Your atmosphere can definitely impact your overall mood and wellbeing. Keep your workspace neat and tidy to help relieve stress and maintain a clear head. Create a living space that you actually look forward to going to after a long day of work.  Lastly, don’t forget to surround yourself with people who are optimistic to keep you in a positive frame of mind.
  6. Spend time alone…it’s good for you! There has been many times where I will drive to or from work without listening to music to really help clear my head. Take time for yourself and learn to enjoy it!
  7. Create something. This one’s easy for me since a large portion of my day is usually spent doing something creative thanks to my job. Whether it’s a blog post, a meal, a document, snapping and editing a photo, etc., strive to do something creative each day; doing so allows you to think differently and step outside of your comfort zone!
  8. Touch base with someone you care about. Let your loved ones know you’re thinking about them. Go out of your way to make them smile. Life is too short not to let people know how you feel about them.
  9. Go outside. Enjoy nature! Go for a walk. Get some exercise. Spending time outdoors and getting a breath of fresh air can help with your mood, relieve stress and restore your energy!
  10. Spend time on self-reflection. Take a few minutes at the end of each day reflecting on your day as a whole, making mental notes of what you need to do the next day, and see how your goals and resolutions are progressing. Doing so will help keep you on track for whatever you are trying to accomplish!

MeganSignature

Social Media Day

Happy Social Media Day!.pngDid you know that June 30, 2017 is observed as Social Media Day across the globe (and the web)? It’s no doubt that social media has completely changed our lives over the years and has defined how we interact with our friends, family, colleagues and the rest of the world.

The launch of MySpace in 2003 allowed teenagers and college students to connect with each other, post bulletins (think Facebook Statuses, but much, much longer), share their top 8 friends (that changed weekly and was the source of a lot of drama in friend circles), and try their hand at HTML coding to spruce up their profile. Although it is no longer being used for its original purpose, many consider MySpace the beginning of the social media era.

Next came Facebook—the social network founded in a college dorm back in 2004 for the purpose of communicating with other college students and was referred to as http://www.thefacebook.com at the time. Early adopters surely remember the days where virtually “poking” others was all the craze and how the permanent “is” at the beginning of status updates resulted in poor grammar for many. The demographics on this platform shifted and Facebook recently surpassed 2 BILLION USERS! Yes, you read that right—2 BILLION! Gone are the days where individuals used this social network solely for the purpose of creating weekend plans with friends. Businesses and advertisers have recognized the significance of using Facebook as a tool to market their products and services directly to those in their target market—at a cost that typically beats that of traditional marketing. Live videos, news updates, instant messaging, trending topics, pages and groups round out the many reasons why people LOVE Facebook.

Shortly after the launch of Facebook came Twitter, a “microblog”, where users are forced to confine their thoughts to 140 characters or less. Its growing popularity has allowed users to quickly find trending news topics, Tweet along to live television shows, find others at events with a simple hashtag search, show your support for causes, host question & answer periods, conduct polls, and connect with brands. Have a question regarding your new present on Christmas Day at 10 AM? Simply Tweet to the company and you just might receive a response. Breaking news story? Search a relevant hashtag on Twitter and receive the latest updates from various news sources, bystanders/attendees, and opinions from others reflecting on the story. Stuck at work for the Olympic championship hockey game? Luckily for you, other Twitter users can provide us all with play-by-play Tweets so we won’t miss a minute of the action.

The rise of Instagram followed soon after. The popular photo-sharing platform (acquired by Facebook in 2012) boasts approximately 700 million users! The allure of creating and sharing a professional looking photo feed with friends and the rest of the world is what allowed its popularity to soar. Now, users can interact via direct message, live feeds and stories to share glimpses of their lives. Brands can advertise, create communities through hashtags, and even provide customer service to their followers in seconds in a more personalized way.

One of the newer platforms taking the world by storm is Snapchat, an image messaging application that launched 5 short years ago and is already exceeding 165 million active daily users. Something about sending self-destructing images and videos with animal filters on them to friends and family or broadcasting moments in your day just feels right to many. Users can spend a large chunk of time discovering and reading news stories and articles from popular outlets (such as DailyMail, Buzzfeed and Cosmo) and watching video stories from their favourite celebrities, influencers, brands, and events. Perhaps the reason for Snapchat’s growth is the fact that it consistently provides updates to keep things fresh and exciting for its users, while many other networks have yet to embrace this strategy.

Whether you use social platforms because 1- you’re generally curious (or nosey) about the lives of others, 2- you want to learn more about what’s happening in the world, 3 – for entertainment purposes, or 4- because it’s simply your job, we can all agree that social media has shaped the way we communicate, and that’s something that should be celebrated! So on June 30th, 2017, I encourage you all to share what Social Media Day means to you using the hashtag #SocialMediaDay on your favourite platform.

MeganSignature

Trade Show Exhibiting Done Right – Part 3

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Welcome back to part 3 of my series Trade Show Exhibiting Done Right, where I share tips and tricks to make the next trade show you exhibit at a huge success!

A quick recap from the last 2 weeks: booth location is important so book early, use your brand colours when designing your booth, make sure your logo can be seen from far distances, be engaging & friendly, connect with other exhibitors, dress similarly to your team, add some element of fun to your booth, have a unique offering, bring free promo items, and be sure to switch things up each time. You can read these posts in their entirety for more information: Part 1 & Part 2.

Now, on to part 3…

Bring business cards & name tags. Seems straightforward, but surprisingly many people forget both of these important items. Bring more business cards than you think you’d ever use because you never who you may meet. Ensure your name tags are branded so when others see you off the trade show floor they can still make a connection and remember which company you represent. Remember, attendees and exhibitors will likely see thousands and thousands of people over the span of a few days and it’s hard to memorize that many names and faces.

Get social. Use social media to your advantage before, during and after trade shows or conventions. Prior to the event, find out if there is a hashtag for the trade show you are attending. Build hype prior to attending by creating content for the week leading up to the conference. Search the hashtag on Twitter and see who else has already Tweeted and make a connection. Find the social media accounts for the the organization/association that is hosting the event and reach out to them on social media letting them know you’re excited to attend. Be sure to include your booth number/location when posting content. When you’re at the event, ensure one person is in charge of using social media; snap photos of booth setup, trade show hours, seminars, special events, panels, etc. and share them across various social media platforms. Again, be sure to use the hashtag and your booth number to join the conversation WHILE you’re at the trade show! After you attend, share moments, make connections with exhibitors and attendees alike, and reach out to hosts and thank them for a great time!

Follow up promptly. After the trade show, make note of all the individuals you connected with and follow up with them via email. Don’t be too “sales-y”, but let them know it was a pleasure to meet them and remind them of your exclusive offer and its expiry date and don’t forget a call-to-action! Just a reminder: even if you connected with other exhibitors and you feel like they may not benefit from your product/service, be sure to touch base with them regardless because you never know what may come from a simple email.

There you have it—over 10 tips to ensure your company gets the most out of the next trade show you attend. Good luck and happy exhibiting!

MeganSignature

Trade Show Exhibiting Done Right – Part 2

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Welcome back to part two of my new blog series, Trade Show Exhibiting Done Right, where I share pre-, during and post-conference tips and tricks to make your company’s attendance at trade shows and conventions worthwhile.

Let’s quickly recap last week’s blog: booth location is important so book early, use your brand colours when designing your booth, make sure your logo can be seen from far distances, be engaging & friendly, connect with other exhibitors, and dress similarly to your team. If you’d like to read last week’s post in its entirety, click here.

On to this week’s tips…

  1. Bring the fun. Whether it’s a giveaway, contest, scavenger hunt, game, unique promo item, a theme, or some other element you decide to add to your booth, get creative in order to stand out among the rest and attract attendees to your booth. The Plan A & StaffStat team have taken selfies with attendees in branded cut-out polaroids, played multiple “Minute to Win It” style games, and even brought a photo booth complete with props and unlimited prints to a few trade shows. A quick Google search can help you come up with some fun trade show ideas that your company can put its twist on!
  2. Boast your offer. It’s important to figure out exactly what your end goal is for attending/exhibiting at a trade show; are you launching a new product, promoting your free trial, showing off upgrades or enhancements, etc? Whatever your reason for attending, make sure you have a call-to-action that you share with every attendee and be sure to offer a special conference incentive, such as an extended free trial, reduced rates, etc.
  3. Bring freebies! Let’s face it, people LOVE free things and offering FREE things at a trade show can definitely create interest around your brand. According to a survey conducted by the BPMA, 83% of individuals can remember the brand of a promotional item they were given without even looking at it, and perhaps more surprising, 73% of people who have received a promo item from a company went on to purchase a product from said company! When exhibiting at a trade show, be sure to put a lot of thought into choosing promo items. Some things to consider: does the item match your brand?, is it tasteful?, is it unique?, is it practical?, is it of quality? For an in-depth look at selecting swag for your next event, check out this post I wrote on The A Dot Blog.
  4. Switch things up. Whether you attend more than one convention in your industry that features repeat attendees, or if you attend the same convention year after year, strive to refresh your booth each time. You do not need to necessarily revamp your booth completely, but adding or changing some elements can really give your booth a brand new feel; something as simple as re-designing your backdrop or  can make all the difference.

That’s all for this week! Stay tuned for next week’s tips and tricks for trade show exhibiting!

MeganSignature

Trade Show Exhibiting Done Right – Part 1

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Looking to step outside of the box and think BIG for your next marketing initiative? A great way to get in front of a large number of individuals in your target market and/or industry is to exhibit at a trade show or conference. Attending such events, however, comes at a cost. In my new blog series, Trade Show Exhibiting Done Right, I will share a few tips and tricks for making a splash at your next trade show and how to get an incredible return on your investment.

  1. Location, location, location! This saying has never been more true when exhibiting at trade shows. Spaces at most shows sell out fast, so be sure to book months (or even a year!) in advance to secure the best spot. If you can afford it, pay the extra money for a prime location that has extremely high foot traffic, such as corner booths and those near common areas.
  2. Get the look. Eyes are always drawn to big, bold, and visually pleasing things. When designing your booth and purchasing elements (such as technology, furniture, etc.), be sure to choose colours that match your brand in an effort to keep things consistent. You should also consider things such as lighting, carpet, and signage—which are elements that usually come at an added cost—but can really make your booth stand out. Most importantly, be sure your logo can be seen from a mile away! What’s the point of exhibiting if no one is attracted to your booth?
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  3. Be engaging. There’s nothing worse than attending a conference and seeing the people who are supposed to be manning their company’s booth sitting behind a table and fidgeting with their phones. DON’T BE THESE PEOPLE! Ensure that whoever is representing your company can speak the speak and understands the reason why your company is attending. Be animated, energetic and approachable and be sure to smile often!
  4. Get out there. You don’t have to stay at your booth—just make sure you don’t leave it unattended, either. Go out of your way to introduce yourself to attendees. Take time to connect with other exhibitors and your competition. You never know where these interactions can lead and the possible synergies that may exist.
  5. Dress the part. You’re likely going to dish out a lot of money to make your booth look awesome, so your booth staff members should look great, too! Aim for every member to dress similarly; you don’t all need to wear the exact same clothing articles, but coordinating outfits helps complete the overall look of your booth and creates familiarity in attendees’ minds. If you’re exhibiting for more than a day, add a few different outfit styles into the mix to switch things up!

That’s all for this week! Stay tuned for next week’s post for part two of this series! Good luck!

MeganSignature

 

Facebook & The Job Search

facebook-under-a-magnifying-glass.jpgCareer change? Fresh out of college? Whatever your reason for searching for a new job, we all know that it can be an incredibly daunting task.

As you may or may not know, I am a Marketing graduate, but I have also completed my post-grad in Human Resources. Working in a Marketing role at a staffing & recruitment company has not only been the perfect marriage for my educational background, but it has allowed me to be exposed to the application, interviewing and hiring process as well as regularly frequenting social media to recruit new candidates. I’ve mentioned it in past blogs, but a huge chunk of my day is spent on social media… and I come across the profiles of thousands of individuals on a daily basis.

It’s becoming increasingly more popular for companies to conduct social media checks on potential employees—a practice that many disagree with. The fact of the matter is, however, that it’s a practice that is occurring. It’s incredibly easy for recruiters or those in charge of hiring to find your Facebook profile since you’ve given them pertinent information—your real name, email address and phone number. To ensure your Facebook profile is leaving potential employers with a positive impression of you, the candidate, consider the following:

  1. Check yourself out. When you’re logged into Facebook, click on your own profile, hover over your cover photo, click the ellipses (…) on the bottom right of the photo, and click “View As”.  Facebook will automatically refresh your page to show you how the public (those who are not your friends) view your profile. From here, you can change your settings to make certain sections (such as your photos, friends list, timeline, etc.) viewable by your friends only. The key to this is to change everything so that random people clicking on your profile can only see the bare minimum: your profile picture, your cover photos, your city and your name.  lld.jpg
  2. Speaking of your name… it doesn’t hurt to change it by using your middle name in place of your last name instead. This isn’t necessarily being deceitful, but it can limit the likelihood of someone finding your profile.
  3. Choose your profile picture wisely.  For obvious reasons, pass on the photos of you drinking on a night out. Sure, you had a fun time, but you’re trying to land a job. Your photo doesn’t necessarily need to be a head shot, but having one may lead others to view you in a more professional manner. Aim to be presentable. On that note, Facebook now automatically makes your profile picture viewable by the public and many are unaware of this. Go back through your pictures and change the privacy settings of each one to be viewable by friends only.
  4. Untag, untag, untag.  As I’ve mentioned, your profile represents YOU. Take some time to untag yourself from photos that your friends/family have added of you that don’t portray you in the best light.
  5. Delete, delete, delete.  This goes hand-in-hand with untagging; spend a few moments scrolling through your timeline to review the content you or others have posted to your profile. Sure, you might’ve thought something was funny in 2008, but how does it reflect on your character in 2017? Tidy up!

It may seem like a lot of work to get your profile in tip-top shape, but your goal is to become employed at a company you are obviously interested in. If you’re offered the job, you’ll likely “friend” your coworkers and they’ll end up seeing your entire profile, anyways. At least you’ll be one step ahead! Good luck!

MeganSignature