Eric Brantner

10 Reasons Your WordPress Site Sucks

One in every four sites is powered by WordPress. That’s a lot. WordPress has become as popular as it is for good reason. It’s easy to setup, simple to design, and painless to update. However, there are also a lot of things you can screw up pretty easily if you aren’t careful. And with the vast majority of websites failing in the first couple of months, well, these are mistakes you can’t afford to make. So if you’ve chosen WordPress, how can you make sure that your site is working correctly, and you’re set up for success? Well, you’re probably okay if you don’t make one of these mistakes that are sure to make your WordPress site suck.   #1 You’re using free hosting. If you simply need a blog to write about your adventures in parenting or other life experiences for the sake of memories, fine, free hosting might work. But if you plan on your blog growing or ever making money, don’t make this mistake. You don’t want “myblog.wordpress.com.” It’s ugly. Not to mention a WordPress.com blog can’t be monetized.   #2 Your comments go unmoderated. Don’t let your comments turn into a cesspool of spammers. Moderate! Start by activating the Askimet plugin. This will take care of half the problem. Then get in there and respond. Blogging is about conversation. The more you discuss, the more...

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5 Ways to Lose Blog Readers

To put it as simply as possible, a blog without readers isn’t a blog at all. It’s just you talking to yourself. For a blog to be successful, it needs to have readers. More specifically, it needs to have readers who will interact with you and share your posts with their friends. So what can you do to get more readers for your blog? To understand, you need to first know what things you shouldn’t do as a blogger. These are the 5 things that will cause you to lose blog readers. Not having a specific focus—Your blog needs to have a niche. I’m not saying you can’t push the boundaries of that niche, because you should. After all, no one wants to read the same old, same old time and time again. But your readers do have expectations, and if you suddenly switch things up on them, they’re going to leave. Updating inconsistently—How often you update is really up to you, but I recommend setting a publishing schedule and sticking to it. This way, your readers get used to hearing from you at a certain time each day or week. Giving out bad information—If you start dishing out bad advice and incorrect information to your readers, they’ll stop trusting you. Always fact-check your info, and make sure you’re comfortable standing behind everything you say. Turning your blog into...

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4 Easy Ways to Determine the Quality of Your Web Copy

If there was a single right way to write copy, every company would have a great website that attracts traffic and converts visitors into buyers. But the truth is that copywriting is part art and part science. Sure, there are some right and wrong things you can do, but for the most part, copywriting and most marketing is very subjective. However, there are some things you can do to help determine the quality of your website copy. Use the We-We Calculator—Your copy needs to be focused on your customers. It needs to be about them, not you. You should be talking about how they will benefit by taking action. The We We Calculator grades your copy on how customer-focused it is. It’s an essential tool that every copywriter should be using. Read it aloud—The easiest way to tell if your copy has a smooth, natural flow is to read it aloud. Take note of any phrases that sound awkward or are troublesome to read. This is especially important when you’re optimizing your copy for keywords as you want to make certain you’re not guilty of keyword stuffing. Have someone who doesn’t know your business read it—Sometimes, you can be a little too close to your business. It’s easy to just assume everyone understands who you are and what you’re selling. That’s why I like to have an outsider read...

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4 Grammatical Mistakes That Can Enhance Your Copy

I spent 5 years as an elementary school teacher before I became a commercial freelance writer. Along the way, I think it’s safe to say that I became a bit of a grammar snob. Besides making me pretty annoying, this also made my transition into freelance writing more difficult. Since getting into the business, I’ve learned to drop my grammar pride. It’s all fine and dandy for writing research papers, but when you’re writing marketing materials, the rules don’t always apply. Sure, you don’t want punctuation mistakes or misspellings, but there are some academic no-no’s that work great when writing sales materials. Here’s a few of them. Fragments While complex sentences impress the scholar, they only hurt your conversion rates. Fragments offer a way to cut down your average sentence length. Making your copy more readable by setting a rhythm. By the way, that was a fragment. Starting with conjunctions I remember getting points off on papers for beginning sentences with conjunctions. Well guess some what? Sometimes it just makes the transition flow more smoothly. And frankly, I like beginning sentences with “and.” One sentence paragraphs — Nothing draws attention to a key point like a one sentence paragraph. Here let me show you: Often people define a paragraph as a block of text with a minimum of three sentences. Anything less and you need either need to expound...

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My Thoughts on Ghost Tweeting

Thanks to a recent feature story in Entrepreneur magazine, ghost Tweeting has once again become a hotly debated subject. So, I thought I’d throw in my $.02 on the subject. Note: For those who don’t know, ghost Tweeting is when you hire someone else to Tweet under your name. It goes against the whole point of social media—Call me crazy, but isn’t the whole point of social media to be, umm, social? Social media is about interacting, building relationships, getting to know one another, and just being yourself. Now, if someone else is Tweeting under your personal name, doesn’t that violate all of this? It’s like when a 50 year old fat guy in a chat room pretends to be a 21 year old blonde chick. Not cool, man. It can distort the brand image—Celebrities and high-profile execs are usually the ones who hire people to ghost Tweet for them, and I get it. They’re busy. The last thing they have time for is to Tweet all day, but they also want to build their brand and keep their name out there. However, I think this is a bit dangerous and can easily backfire. Even if the ghost writer is good at capturing your exact tone and personality, there’s no way they can know the celeb’s thoughts on every subject they Tweet about. Sooner or later, something will be...

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13 Tips for Getting More ReTweets

For those looking to spread their message far and wide on Twitter, attracting ReTweets (RT) is a must. When your followers RT your content, it can create a snowball effect.—Your followers RT it, then their followers RT it, and then their followers RT it, and so on. But to enjoy that snowball effect, it all starts with knowing how to attract those initial RTs. Here are 13 tips for getting more people to RT your content. Message your friends to ask for them—I’m assuming you have at least a few close friends on Twitter. To get that snowball rolling, shoot them an email or an IM asking them to RT your content. Most times, they’ll be happy to help. Just make sure you don’t constantly bombard them with RT requests. Moderation is key. Include “Please RT” on your tweet—It might seem a little desperate, but adding “Please RT” at the beginning or end of a tweet can help you get some good RT action. Again, this is something you don’t want to overdo as your followers will begin to ignore you. I prefer only using “Please RT” for important causes, rather than something that just benefits me. Install a Twitter button on your blog—Placing a TweetMeme button on your blog makes it easy for your readers to instantly share your content on Twitter with only a single click. Make...

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9 Specific Ways Your Business Can Use Twitter

By now, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the reasons to use Twitter for your business. However, most conversations on the subject rarely offer specific strategies for using Twitter for your business, and instead they consist of vague statements like connect with and engage your audience or build your brand. Today, we’re going to take a look at specific actions you can take on Twitter to help your business. Provide customer support—While I certainly don’t recommend using Twitter as your main source of customer support, it’s helpful as an additional option for customers. JetBlue and cable service Comcast are just two major companies that provide customer support through Twitter. Make sure the employee providing customer service over Twitter is trained properly to solve problems and to offer excellent service every time. Hold contests—Twitter is an excellent medium for holding a contest for your business. Last year, web hosting services company @HostGator held a contest where the company gave away an iPhone every day for a month. To enter the contest, entrants had to Tweet the details of the contest each day. This created thousands upon thousands of mentions about the web hosting company, making the contest a viral success. Alert customers about special sales—Many companies use Twitter to update customers about special sales and coupon codes. @MarcJacobsSales and @DellOutlet are two examples of Twitter accounts where you can learn of the latest...

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The Most Common Challenges of Running a Social Media Marketing Campaign

photo credit: Intersection Consulting As more and more companies jump on the social media bandwagon, they’re beginning to realize that running an SMM (social media marketing) campaign isn’t always as easy as it looks. It’s not like you sign up on Twitter, send out a few meaningless Tweets, and then experience a sudden surge in business. Social media marketing requires a long term commitment, and the results are not always easy to measure. Today, I want to talk about some of the challenges you’ll face when you start an SMM campaign. By knowing what you’re up against, you’ll be better prepared to avoid these common pitfalls. •    Finding the time—Personally, this is my biggest challenge. I run a one-man show, so it’s overwhelming finding the time to do all of my work plus staying active on social media outlets. But here’s the thing you (and I) have to realize: Marketing can never be placed on the backburner. It’s just as important as doing your actual work. Marketing should be something you do day in and day out. It’s the only way you’ll ever gain any attention and build a following on the social networks. I recommend scheduling time each day (maybe in 10 or 15 minute blocks a few times each day) for handling your SMM business. Consistency is key. •    Handling negative comments—This is usually the challenge that...

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10 MORE Examples of Creative Twitter Uses

photo credit: arvindgrover In December, I wrote a post talking about the 10 most creative Twitter uses I had seen. Based on the plethora of comments with more suggestions for the list, I could see I had barely scratched the surface of creative Twitter uses. For this reason, I bring you 10 MORE examples of creative Twitter uses. Some of these are user-submitted while others are accounts I’ve recently come across. Enjoy. TwittMinder– To me, this is about as cool as it gets. TwittMinder is a service that Tweets you to remind you of important events. All you have to do is email them the event info (date/time/etc) and they will send you a Tweet when the time comes to remind you of it. Sure, you could just set an alert on your phone or calendar, but this is pretty darn cool if you ask me. WaffleTruck– This was recommended to me by one of our readers, Simon. This company serves up waffles from their truck throughout the streets of New York. They Tweet updates regularly to let their customers know exactly where they are. Mmm. Waffles. ImagineChurch– Regardless of what your religious preferences are, you have to admit ImagineChurch is pretty creative. For those who don’t have time to go to church, they’ll Tweet a live play by play of their Sunday service. Church via text message. Who...

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Facebook’s BK Sacrifice App and 6 Other Examples of Brilliant Viral Campaigns

Hamburgers. TV shows. Office products. These are just a few of the things being promoted in an unorthodox manner through viral marketing campaigns. For those who don’t know, viral marketing is any technique that entices users to pass on a company’s marketing message to their friends and family, thus creating more exposure for the message. Of course, doing this often requires an “outside-the-box” approach. After all, few people are going to spread a blatant advertisement to their friends. That’s why I’ve created this list of some of the most brilliant and successful viral campaigns. The one thing that each of these has in common is that they engage their target audience and elicit a response. BK Sacrifice– This Facebook App is brilliant! Burger King is no stranger to viral marketing. Almost everyone came across the Subservient Chicken at one point or another. This time, Burger King used Facebook to launch their newest viral campaign. What is it? Users install an app that gives them a free coupon for a Whopper after they delete (or “sacrifice”) 10 friends from their profile. Every time a user sacrificed a friend, a message would be sent to them stating their friend chose a Whopper over them. Of course, Facebook wasn’t thrilled with the campaign, and they pulled the plug shortly after its launch. However, the buzz had already been created, and all in...

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