One of the first people I met in Paris was illustrator Yukié Matsushita. This was around 2004. I built web sites and was always on the lookout for talented designers. Her own web site reflected her professional background as a designer in a marketing agency in New York and her talent as an illustrator. We became good friends and when Yukié started a blog we decided to get together regularly. I could give her tips and she, being an artist in the kitchen as well, would reward me with something delicious!
In September, Yukié committed to start blogging about her life as an illustrator in Paris. She had a Blogspot blog and we talked about her first step being the creation of an editorial calendar where she would list at least a month's worth of weekly blog ideas, even if it was one drawing about what she was working. Lunch ended with tea and the tea inspired a post.
She dove into her calendar. The next time I saw her she proudly presented a hand-bound leather notebook she had made to record her ideas, and which she would reproduce in limited quantity to sell at a Christmas fair she has signed up for in November.
Today we are getting together to go over the process for being seen and talking about keywords.
In a nutshell, if you are going to offer something to the world, it is helpful to make it easy to find. When Yukié's art and those who find it inspiring meet on the Internet, a friend of mine calls those meeting places "touchpoints". I might be reading an article on another blog, seeing the posts of people I follow on social media, stumbling upon things for a moment of diversion, or tumbling through micro blogs. All are points where Yukié's art might meet her audience.
The Marché de Noël is the subject we will be optimizing a blog article for.
1. Write your first draft. Yukié first writes what she naturally has to say about this event:
Marché de Noël 2012 - Christmas Market - Saturday, 17th of November 11h - 17h. Free entry. -this was noted in her illustration for the blog post.
"I will be participating in at The American Church in Paris on Saturday. I will have a stand next to Laurie and Blair Pessemier and Susan Perez. Come see us!"
2. Use the Google Keyword Tool. Then, we go to the Google Keyword Tool to see what kind of traffic some of these words are getting. https://adwords.google.com/o/Targeting/Explorer
This free tool lets you choose your country (we chose France), language (we chose all) and devices. You have to choose between desktops and laptops or mobile devices (3 subchoices here for all mobile devices, WAP or phones, etc. with full Internet browsers.) Mobile devices are searched on much more often with the addition of location information.
You can also enter your website and let Google suggest words for you, or choose a category like Apparel.
Marché Noël Paris has an average of 8,100 searches a month. It probably goes up this time of year, and you can see that in the data they provide for each keyword.
Marchés Noël Paris = 6,600 searches
American Church Paris = 1, 900 searches
Chistmas market Paris = 210 searches
Even this very brief example shows that not only different subjects, but variations like plural or singular can make a difference on how many opportunities you might have to touch your audience by choosing the same words people use when they are looking for what you are offering.
3. Go back to your draft and use the variations of your key concepts that people use to look for what you are offering. Now we know that Marché is better to use than Marchés or Christmas market. Next, those words need to be used in readable text so the search engines, social networks and services delivering results by topic will be able to recognize what the blog is about.
4. Make sure your words are readable text. Yukié is going to put the words from her illustration in the textual content as well. She knows that fewer people will see her article if she uses Christmas market alone.
5. Name your images with appropriate keywords, too. She will also use those words on the "alt tag" or description of her image.
6. Think outside the box. She might try the names of the other artists attending the show or the area of Paris the event is in.
7. Categories, tags and labels. In Blogspot, the "labels" she puts on the blog become categories it is listed under, so she is careful to use words that categorize, like "holiday events" and "Paris". These labels are often called tags in other blogging tools. In the HubSpot blogging tool, tags also become categories.
8. Growing authority for a subject. If she is planning a series of posts that will talk about the books, illustrations, cat pins and gifts you can buy from her there, or if she will be attending every year, she might make a label for the Marchë de Noël itself and focus each post on a different variation around this idea.
9. Extend these words to social messaging. If Yukié uses Twitter, she will craft her tweets about this blog with the keywords as well. Same for Facebook or Pinterest. Pinterest, being a social network for sharing images, might be a priority place for Yukié if she does not have the time to spend curating three social networks. She wants to focus on her art and so in a future session, we are going to look at ways to engage her supporters who use other networks to share her information for her.
10. Ask people to spread the word. Yukié asked her friends and followers to spread the word. Asking people to help get the word out increases the percentage of sharing. For Twiitter "please share" or an equivalent increases the sharing by up to 30%.
P.S. This afternoon I will go to the Marché du Noël, which is today, and buy some of her Christmas tree cards.
As a copywriter, I like to find great ideas I can use right away in my daily copywriting work. I discovered these tips in the article "What can we learn from the 'real world'?" written by Steve Crescenzo in the November/December 2011 issue of Communication World, the magazine published by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).
When it comes to writing great headlines, Steve says you have to look no further than Cosmopolitan. Yes, that's right, the woman's magazine Cosmo, famous for its provocative headlines. The magazine uses several simple tactics that draw readers in.and get them to buy magazines.
1. "The list". People like lists that offer an opportunity to learn a number of points about a specific topic. For Cosmo, these include: "10 Things You Should Never Say to a Guy" or "13 Things that Make Him Act Totally Bitchy". If you're writing for a business audience you can use "7 Simple SEO Tips to Increase Your Web Traffic". Another benefit of using lists is they provide an outline or frame for your article, breaking the content into easy to read sections.
2. The "direct address" or "it's all about YOU". Talking directly to your readers gets their attention. Which headline would make you want to read more: "How to Tell if a Man is Keeping Secrets" or "10 Secrets Your Man is Keeping From You"? Exactly.
3. The "dot, dot, dot". To really get a reader to take notice, ask them a question followed by an ellipsis (...). "Are You Obsessed..." or "Have You Discovered Your...". What is this obsession or life-changing discovery they don't know about, the reader will ask --and read on to find out.
Thank you to Steve Crescenzo for the inspired headline writing lesson. Since I've read these tips I've been using them whenever possible, in my own writing and in the articles I edit for a client's newsletter.
Here are two more tips to optimize your headlines for online writing.
Use keywords. Remember to use the top keyword in your headline. Be sure to repeat this keyword in the first paragraph, in the first line if possible.
Don't forget Twitter. It is always satisfying for a writer to have their work appreciated, and the "retweet" is the "thumbs up" for the digital age. Think about how easy it is for others to publish your headline on Twitter. In the tweet put your URL right after your headline and finish up with a call to action.
We are inspired by food blogs, in part because they are examples of remarkable, authentic content. Our mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers handed down their favorite recipes over the years, often scribbled on a card or a piece of paper. Stories about the origin of the recipe were often told as well, and these collections were prized and shared again and again over the years. Contemporary food writers adapted quickly to blogging and tell their stories to much larger audiences. They are the new creators and historians of recipes and food memoir and it's helpful to have a guide to the very best.
We asked one of our favorite food writers, Pat Fusco of the Pacific Sun newsweekly in the San Francisco Bay Area, to give us a selection of her ‘must read’ food blogs are and tell us why they are at the top of her list. Pat’s feature stories are well known and loved by her readers. She often incorporates moving family tales of her childhood in the South and her young married life in NY with her Italian in-laws. These are her choices when you are looking for more than a recipe. (To read more of Pat Fusco food writing, visit: www.pacificsun.com.)
www.teaandcookiesblog.com, Tara Weaver
“Tea” (I know her by that name from another time in our world) is a gifted writer, a published author whose passion for food shines through in her journal-type entries of life in – now – the Northwest. She is also a photographer whose sensitive images catch the mood of landscape and food, people and places. Her recipes are invariably simple, always seasonal . She writes openly and honestly about her personal experiences as a single woman, and is not afraid to appear so very human in her work.
www.eatthelove.com, Irvin Lin
I knew Irvin before he began his blog and have loved following his smashing success in the San Francisco food-writing scene – and he has gained national recognition as well, with awards for his blog. He is Asian, proudly gay, and irreverent. His passion for creating new desserts is boundless, and it’s infectious. He has been using a lot of gluten-free ingredients lately, proving that sophisticated sweets can be “righteous”, but not everything is geared to that niche and his recipes are seductive. I so appreciate the way Irvin takes the reader along as he tweaks each cooking experience. The photos on his blog are by his partner A.J. Bates, a very good photographer who is also a scientist and helps Irvin explain a lot of “whys” (especially about baking).
www.101cookbooks.com, Heidi Swanson
Heidi is a respected cookbook author and proponent of natural foods cuisine. Her blog brings us a sense of joy-in-freshness, simple-is-best philosophy and it’s exciting to read, making me feel in touch with her curiosity about ingredients and her discoveries in world foods as well as those of our own California sources. She is unfailingly careful in her recipe writing; there’s never any questioning her authority.
Okay, for sheer escape into other realms I (daily) read two blogs from Italy:
The woman who writes this fascinating journal of life in northern Italy is a native of Kauai, my favorite Hawaiian island, and she writes from both locations. She has been documenting sagras (food festivals) wherever she finds them, often traveling across the country to catch a celebration of a specific ingredient or a saint’s day festival and parade. She cooks, too, and likes to surprise Italians with American and/or Hawaiian specialties and she loves learning from her Italian husband’s family or reproducing some of the almost-disappearing dishes served at sagras. She has a great sense of humor and throws into the mix videos (popular music Italian television commercials, movie scenes) and photos, from landscapes to crazy signage to close-ups of food in shop windows.
www.luculliandelights.com, Ilva Beretta
I challenge anyone to read Ilva’s blog and not be drawn into her very special world. A Swedish woman married to an Italian, she lives in Tuscany (Pistoia) and is a professional studio photographer (food, lifestyle) as well as a woman who finds magic in the kitchen of her stone house, making up recipes as she responds to weather, mood, the harvest. I confess that I’ve been addicted to her photographs and her comfortable approach to cooking/eating since I first came across her blog several years ago. I feel the day is incomplete unless I see what she has posted.