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The Annual Birthday Bash Giveaway!

The Annual Birthday Bash Giveaway - she is giving away some GREAT prizes & discount codes!For my birthday, I reached out to friends of mine and gathered up several of my favorite things to give to you as gifts! It is like party – where YOU get some super awesome gifts to take home!!! YAY!!!

I feel like Oprah! And YOU get a gift! And YOU get a gift! And YOU get a gift!

BLOGSTOMP – I *love* using BlogStomp! It will resize your images for the web, help you create gorgeous collages for your blog posts, and watermark your images. You can frame your images, share them to Facebook and Twitter, you can even write your blog posts from within the app. It is stand-alone as well – no Photoshop or any other software is required to use it! LOVE! Click HERE to get BlogStomp using code CTBIRTHDAYBASH for 20% off any product in the Stomp Software shop – including AlbumStomp for you photographers! – between now and October 6, 2014 at midnight. I’m also giving away one free Single User copy of BlogStomp! Enter below to win!

SALESOGRAPHER – As a photographer, switching to In Person Sales completely changed my business. I know it isn’t easy to get started – I put it off for a few years – but Salesographer didn’t exist back then! Pick up a copy of this course to help you get your photography business sales higher than ever before! I’ll be giving away one free copy of Salesographer! Enter below to win!

PHOTO FLASH DRIVES – One of my *all time* favorite products that I’ve EVER used! All of my clients rave and LOVE their drives from PhotoFlashDrives! The best part? You can order one at a time with no set-up fees, so these also make great gifts for bloggers! Take 10% off at the PhotoFlashDrive website using the coupon code BIRTHDAY10 by October 6, 2014 at midnight. I’ll also be giving one lucky person a $50 Gift Card to use at PhotoFlashDrives! Enter below to win!

RACHEL BRENKE – THELAWTOG – I’m sharing my birthday week with Rachel of TheLawTog! Whee! You may not know this about me, but I worked in the legal field for years, and I consider contracts to be a super important thing for keeping your business running smoothly. For this week, you can take 30% off of contracts and anything else in TheLawTog shop, using code BIRTHDAY30 (only good for TheLawTog shop, not including 1:1 services), and be sure to enter below for your chance to win a $150 Shopping Spree in TheLawTog shop! Make sure you go wish Rachel a happy birthday too – and enter her giveaway to win as well!

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Check Your Blog in Other Web Browsers! 30 Days to Awesomize Your Blog

Check Your Blog in Other Web Browsers! 30 Days to Awesomize Your BlogI redesigned my blog in mid-September, and I merged the Business of Awesome blog in with my current one. Lots of content moved around in to new places, but when all was said and done I was looking at a lovely site with everything in its place.

Or so I thought.

Turns out that everything was in its place … if you were using Google Chrome. Using Safari? The top three graphics in my sidebar were missing. The day after I did the launch, my friend C.C. mentioned to me that the graphics were missing, but I thought it was just a loading issue on his end. After all, I could see them.

It never occurred to me to ask him what web browser he was using. Or to check some other browsers myself. You would think I learned from the last time when I had not clicked all the buttons to test things on my site. Turns out, the lesson still needed some reinforcement!

Today I decided to use Safari instead of Chrome — and there they were. Three missing graphics on my sidebar. About 15 minutes after I spotted them, my friend Jamie K mentioned them as well. *sigh*

I’m grateful that my friends are looking out for me, but I feel right now like the woman walking around with her skirt tucked in the back of her underwear. Whoops!

Check your blog in other web browsers. Try it on every browser you can get your hands on. Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer. Mac & PC. iPhone, Android phone, Android tablets & iPad. Make sure you know what it looks like in every web browser. Save yourself from the embarrassment I’ve experienced today!

30 Days. You, me, and our blogs. Lets make them AWESOME! If you’re not on the email list already, make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss any updates!

Check Your Blog in Other Browsers!

No, that is not embarrassing. Nope, not at all.

Why You Still Need a Blog. Yes, Really. Day 14 – 30 Days to Awesomize Your Blog

Why you still need a blog for your business. 30 Days to Awesomize Your BlogWhenever I hear a question come up more than once in a day, I take it as a sign that it is something I *really* need to blog about. Twice yesterday I was asked, “Do you think blogs are still important?”

Yes. Yes. OMG YES. Very much, yes.

You still need a blog for your business. The biggest reason? Evergreen content.

Once you write that amazing post on Facebook that gets a 100 likes, it eventually scrolls away and no one sees it again. Twitter has a fast shelf-life of posts too, since it moves so fast. Instagram as well – someone might view all of your photos and see something that catches their eye, but they might not. Definitely not 3-4 months later.

Even better? Facebook actually hides some of your posts later! What?! Yes. Shocking, I know. A month or two ago, I posted to Facebook to get feedback on some blog themes I was considering using. Several links were in the post, and I got a lot of great feedback. I went back to find my own post later, and it was nowhere to be found. I finally posted about it, and a friend linked me to a third party website (outside of Facebook) that I could go to to see my entire timeline.

Well, that is pretty pointless if you’re hoping to get business from Facebook. Should you share your blog posts there? Absolutely! But make sure that you keep the content on your blog as well!

Now when people search for something? Your blog will come up in the search results. When you want to share a blog post again with someone, or on social media (yes, you should repost your content), you can reference your blog. It is your own personal archive of all of the goodness that you create. One that you control.

Did you notice that I didn’t mention Pinterest up there? That is because Pinterest is also awesome for Evergreen content! When people pin your blog posts, they get passed around and you continue to get traffic to them for as long as other users see them. When I find a new board that has a topic I’m interested in, I often scroll down through the board to see what else is there, sometimes going back to things pinned a year or two ago.

Behold, the power of evergreen content! Keep posting to social media – you need that too – but think of your blog as your home base. Your warehouse. Your distribution center. Where everything should live. That way, you can always find it again – and so can the rest of the internet as well.

Do you still need a blog for your business with all the social media options out there? Yes, yes, an emphatic yes!!!

30 Days to Awesomize your Blog is my own personal journey through cleaning up my business coaching and my Have Gear, Will Travel blog — I’m sharing them with you so you can awesomize your blog too! Enjoy – and be sure to leave a comment so I can visit your blog as well!

Back, Back, Back it Up! (Backup Your Blog, That Is!) Day 13 – 30 Days to Awesomize Your Blog

Backup Your Blog for safe keeping!I know I left you with some pretty heavy homework yesterday in Creating Your Ideal Client Avatar, so today we’re going to focus on something a bit lighter and easier. Down to business, this one is a task without a lot of creative energy required.

Back, back, back it up! Do you have a plan in place to backup your blog? What if your hosting company disappeared tomorrow? Or what happens if their server dies, and their backups are all 6 months old, and you lose everything? What if you go to update WordPress and BOOM! your whole blog is gone? Or a hacker gets in to your site, and deletes everything?

While the likelihood of these things happening is low, they could still happen. I’ve actually been through the hosting company / server disappearing situation back in 2001, and let me tell you – it suuuuuuuuuuucks. When I ran my blog hosting company, we had people accidentally blow up their websites, and one person managed to do it just as the daily & weekly backup happened – so we had to resort to the monthly backup to restore their site. They lost 2-3 weeks worth of content. At least we recovered a lot of it, but those few weeks were never seen again. It suuuuuuuuuuucks.

Plugins to Help You Backup Your Blog

First a little lesson about your WordPress blog – it actually has two main components to it – the Theme, which is the design, the look & feel, the plugins, the widgets, your CSS, your logo, all that stuff that impacts how it looks – and the Database, which is where your posts actually live. Logging in to your hosting account and backing up the WordPress directory will only capture the theme elements, the design, the graphics. You need to back up the database too, and that is a little harder to do directly from your hosting company unless you have some geek fu experience.

Fortunately, wise geek fu people have created backup plugins for WordPress! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!! (Imagine me running around like Kermit, wildly flailing my arms in the air. That is how excited I am about these plugins!)

  • Backup Buddy – this is the one you probably hear the most about out there. It is not free, and it isn’t as user-friendly as some of the other ones. That is the trade-off for the fact that it is full of great features. It will backup your entire site (the whole WordPress install, all the content, the themes, the plugins, the widgets, the database, all of it), they include storage for your backups, AND it also does a malware scan for you when backing things up. My favorite part is to do a full restoration it is just a matter of uploading your backup file and the importbuddy.php file (which is downloaded from within the plugin when doing a Migrate/Restore) to the document root of your Web server and then pointing your browser to the importbuddy.php file website address. Bam! Magic.
  • Backup Scheduler – Free, faster to configure, and full of features as well. It will back up your whole WordPress install, the database, all the good stuff that we want. The down side? There is not a built in restore tool. You would have to get your website online manually, but there are tools out there to help you do this. phpMyAdmin would help you upload your database into the Web-based interface. You can copy the remaining files/folders to the server through FTP. Plus it is free.
  • VaultPress – this one is from Automattic, the people that make WordPress. It involves a monthly fee, but if your blog is your business, this extra insurance is worth it! It also backs everything up, and it does it in real time. Write a blog post? It backs it up. Sign up for the premium service and it will check your site for malicious code as well as other features. If anything happens, they make it easy to get back online.

You really can’t go wrong with any of them, and the best thing? You’ll have peace of mind knowing that your website is safe! So back, back, back it up!

But Christine, I use Blogger! How can I back it up? Yeah, sorry about that. I have no idea. I haven’t used Blogger in 10 years or so, but I’m sure Google has tips on how to do it.

Creating Your Ideal Client Avatar! Day 12 – 30 Days to Awesomize Your Blog

Creating Your Ideal Client Avatar for your Business & Your BlogBefore we get in to talking about the editorial calendar, there is one more very important thing we need to think about. Creating your Ideal Client Avatar! This is a great exercise for your business as a whole, not just for your blog. What can you tell me about who you are talking to with your marketing?

Years ago, I attended a workshop for wedding photographers and the speaker asked us to describe our ideal client. Most of the people he called on answered, “A bride looking for photojournalism wedding photography.” Or maybe “A couple getting married in Houston.” Really vague, general answers. My hand shot up in the air. I was giddy with excitement, ready to answer his question.

My ideal wedding photography client* is in her late 20s to mid 30s. She had chosen to have a career before getting married. She drove either a Honda or a Toyota. She carried a Coach or Kate Spade purse, but she bought her t-shirts at Target. She had no qualms spending money on luxury items – but liked to keep things simple if it was something she didn’t value much or was just a staple. She had a college degree, and often additional education. She was likely marrying an engineer or a geek. Most of the time one if not both of them were from the Midwest, not Houston. They loved good local restaurants, great wine, and dinner with friends and family was one of their favorite activities.**

The speaker was stunned. He did tours around the USA, and he said that in years he had never had someone describe their ideal client in that much detail. (Which, by the way, was exactly what he was looking for in an answer.)

Knowing with that much clarity who I wanted to speak to made writing so much easier for me. You need to be authentic in what you share and in your passions, and especially be aware of what passions your ideal client or ideal blog reader shares with you. Coming from that place allows you to be you with no apologies! Once I figured out who my ideal client was I discovered something else that was really important – I fit that description as well. (I didn’t finish college, but I’ve owned a number of successful businesses over the past 15 years, so I’m counting that.)

How can you know what to say when you don’t even know who you’re talking to?

Grab a piece of paper, and lets dig in. Skip something if it really doesn’t apply. I went with “she” for the pronoun, but if your ideal client is a man? Change it. Here is what I want you to think about:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Hair color / eye color
  • Location (city, state, country)
  • Neighborhood (if in your city)
  • Education
  • Income
  • Career
  • Married or single?
  • When does she wear makeup, if she does at all?
  • How does she normally style her hair? Is it often in a ponytail?
  • What are her interests?
  • Does she have any hobbies?
  • Any causes or things she is passionate about?
  • Magazines she reads?
  • Favorite books / movies / TV / music
  • What other blogs does she read?
  • Her favorite social media platforms
  • Her favorite stores to shop at?
  • What kind of car does she drive?
  • How does she dress? Her favorite clothing item?
  • What is her favorite type of restaurant?
  • Beer or wine? Coffee or tea?
  • Mac or PC? iPhone, Android or Windows? iPad or Android tablet?
  • Does she like to travel? Where does she like to go?
  • Is her favorite Saturday night one out partying on the town? Or home with friends?
  • Where will she share your website with her friends?
  • Where does she go to ask for recommendations?
  • What is her favorite guilty pleasure?
  • What are the luxuries she can’t live without?
  • Why is she reading your website?
  • What will she want to buy from you?
  • What problem can you solve for her?

Putting it together in a Ideal Client Avatar

Do you feel like you are in their head now? Awesome! Your next step in creating your Ideal Client Avatar is to give her a name! Whatever you want. I want her to be so tangible to you that you feel like she could walk up to you on the street at any moment. You know her almost as well as your best friend.

Take all the information you’ve gathered and summarize it in to a brief. Tell me what her name is, describe her to me. Where does she live, what is she like, why is she reading your website. Keep it to just one page. If it helps you visualize her, find a photograph that matches your vision of her. (This is only for you, so you can use any photo you want.) If one of the questions does not apply to you? Leave it off. Use as much as you can and be as detailed as possible.

Now, with every post you write, you can ask yourself what you want her to know. What do you want to say to her? What would she get out of the post? What problem are you solving for her with your content?

Creating an ideal client avatar helps you know exactly who you’re talking to in your business & your blog. << Click here to Tweet! >>

The fastest way to clear writer’s block? I think of it as if I’m writing a letter to my ideal client avatar. What can I tell her that will benefit her? Once I think of it from that angle, the words just flow.

Now that we know who you’re writing for and why you’re talking to her, we can create an editorial calendar full of content that will speak to her!

If you want, I’d LOVE to hear about your ideal client avatar! Leave a comment for me and tell me all about them!

* I rarely book weddings now, only taking them on for family, friends & referrals from my past wedding clients. My ideal clients now are in their 30s-40s, and probably having a destination wedding. The rest still applies!

** I didn’t realize as I started to describe her, but as I was talking I knew I had an exact client in mind. I later told Tricia that she was my “poster child” for wedding photography.

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