Be Your Brand

If we ever met me in real life, I’d be just as I am in the following video.

If we ever met in real life, I would be encouraging, talking about others who have inspired me that I think you should check out. 

Be Your Brand Building a brand isn't really that hard. In fact, there's one branding question you can ask yourself every time you try to connect with other bloggers, creatives or just people a video post by @faithfulsocial

If we ever met in real life, I would take you to my favorite ice cream shop where they serve up Maple Bacon Ice Cream.

If we ever met in real life, I would have a smile on from ear to ear, just like that picture of me on the right.

If we ever met in real life I would listen to you, ask questions and make you laugh your face off. I’m funny. Even this chick thinks so, and she’s a hilarious humor blogger that has written for HuffPo, Scary Mommy and others.

If we ever met in real life, you’d get that I am no different online than I am in real life (except maybe that funny part. I think my funny doesn’t translate as well in the written word. You need all the theatrics because I’m 4’11”).

Be Your Brand. Be who you are and own it. 

In today’s video post, I talk about being the same person on line that you are in real life. It should be an equal blend. If not, what’s the point? I talk about a person I met over the weekend who embodied this perfectly. It blew me away. 

Take a peek…

Remember that the profiles you are connecting with online, are real people.

People want to feel like they are being heard, because deep down we all want to matter. 

To stand out, all you have to do is remember that in every interaction you make. Ask yourself, how can I make this person feel heard? And act on it.  

The book I referenced is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

And here is Uncustomary Art (Mary), on Facebook so her birthday present of 2,000 fans will be realized!

Here is the Instagram quote I referenced that was the inspiration for this post

I’m going on vacation next week. I’m authentically being my brand and taking a break, for realsies! I am not just doing it in real life and pretending that I’m on with automated tweets and shares. In real life, we need time to recharge, refresh and spend time with our families. But, you can go on vacation with me! Wouldn’t that be fun! We can share caramel lattes and glazed donuts on the lake and talk about that time I thought cutting my hair short was a great idea (The Karate Kid circa 1984 is not a good look for me).

I am sending an email to my VIP subscribers telling them how to spend a week with me in the Adirondacks (along with an exclusive social media tip of the week, per usual). 

Be Your Brand Building a brand isn't really that hard. In fact, there's one branding question you can ask yourself every time you try to connect with other bloggers, creatives or just people a video post by @faithfulsocial

5 Easy Ways to Unlock Fresh Blog Post Ideas

How do you feed your content monster? In this post, I am sharing the step before turning your ideas into content, where you come up with your ideas in the first place. If you’ve got a system down for this, great! At the end of this post, head over to my post on The SITS Girls, where I share the next step in the blog writing process.

5 Easy Ways to Unlock Fresh Blog Post Ideas by @faithfulsocial

 

Still with me? Great! Let’s get started.

1. Check your analytics. I once did a whole post around the random things people searched to get to my blog. Considering that I was able to use ridiculous search terms to create a post, think about ways you can slice your analytics to come up with ideas. Search terms are certainly one way, but what about those posts that get the most hits? Why recreate the wheel?! Try writing about the same topic from a different angle, or ask other blogger friends in your niche how they would respond and gather up a round up post.

2. Know your audience. You can certainly use your character persona. Mine is named Terese, by the way. Why? It’s my Confirmation saint. I know what she does when she wakes up in the morning and know what she daydreams about as she’s doing the dishes. It’s important to have that one person that you write to and for every time you click “New Post” because whether you really know her or not, she’s out there in real life and she loves that you write just for her. 

You can always ask for the kinds of topics your readers are interested in via a note in your email newsletter, a quick question on Twitter or post to Facebook. If you feel weird about that, ask your online communities what they would be interested in reading about. I do this to gather up ideas for Twitter chats that I host for The SITS Girls. Speaking of which, I am hosting 4 more this month: June 8th, 22nd and 29th at 8pm and June 27th at 10am (all times ET).

3. Steal like an artist. Blog reading isn’t just to pass the time or keep up with friends. You can keep a list of posts that you really loved, or save it to Pocket and look at that later for ideas to share your thoughts on a particular subject. You can even share the link to the post you are referencing. I know I don’t have to tell you that you shouldn’t do this if you’re going to blatantly bash someone. We all know how hard blogging is and how important it is for us to support one another in our writing endeavors.

If you just read 10 Ways to Make Homemade Cheese, why not write 10 Ways Not to Make Homemade Cheese or 10 Ways for a Newbie to Make Cheese? You don’t have to come up with ideas yourself. You do have to follow others in your niche and take their ideas a step further, because you’re that smart!

4. Trends. Are you signed up for Google Alerts? It’s free! I have a few keywords that I zone in on and receive an email daily with all of the information on the interwebs on that keyword. I have a digest of ideas to parse and put back together in a way that my readers want, or don’t know that they need, yet. You can easily generate ideas this way, not to mention keep on top of the latest and greatest going on in your niche!

5. Feedly FTW. This is also a great title generation practice too. Go to your Feedly account (or whatever you use to read all of the sites you love) and view them in list form, so no thumbnails. You just want words here and it’s best done on a desktop so you can skim quickly. If you need to use your fingertip, you can. Go to the first headline and pass your finger over the titles and stop when you read something that catches your attention. Write it down. When you have 10 or so, see if there are any commonalities in those titles that you can use to reference in future posts you write, or as springboards for new ideas you could write about. 

To use this as a title generator, take that same list of titles that caught your eye and see how those titles were crafted. Coming up with catchy titles isn’t easy and when title creators and analyzers aren’t giving you titles that flow (they’re not foolproof!) take lessons from sites that are doing titles well, like Copyblogger. 

Here’s an extra tip, that’s just personal to me that I wanted to share with you. When I am coming up with blog post ideas, sometimes being too close to it frustrates the process. I have to walk away from it and do something else so the idea generation becomes fuzzy. I do this by actually going for a walk and using my phone to record ideas on the way, flipping through a magazine or taking a hot shower or bath which ALWAYS generates idea, it’s a scientific fact! 

Those are just 5 ways you can unlock fresh blog post ideas. Interested in learning how to turn your ideas into great blog posts? Head here and read my top 7 tips!

What other ways do you generate blog post ideas?! I would love to read them in the comments! 

Just a note, I will be on vacation with my family June 13th. I am taking this time to enjoy the lake, go for long walks, stuff my face with deliciousness and feed the ducks. This means that from June 13th – June 22nd there will be no posts! I will be around on Instagram sharing all the pretty that upstate New York has to offer. Come on vacation with me!

5 Easy Ways to Unlock Fresh Blog Post Ideas by @faithfulsocial

How to Actually Delight Your Audience and Be Irresistible

Being authentic is something I preach on the daily. In social media, it’s easy to get lost in the cacophony of constant @replies, “buy this now”, “check out my book it’s on sale!” and hashtags. As a social media marketing fanatic, that’s not lost on me. I get how overwhelming it can get.

I make it a point to instill the following tips in my personal strategy, and know it will help you to be irresistible to your audience as well. You’ll see, that a lot of it is living the Golden Rule. If you’re here from The SITS Girls, you’re already 8 tips in! Bravo for wanting to grab a few more!

How to Actually Delight Your Audience and Be Irresistible Actionable tips to engage your readers and keep them coming back for more! @faithfulsocial

 

1. Get to know that new follower 

When someone follows you on social media, don’t just automatically follow back. That’s phoning it in and not being intentional about the relationship your forming and trying to cultivate. Automatically following back without checking the person out shows that you don’t care about relationships, you only care about numbers.

Do this instead: when someone follows you, friends you or adds you to one of their circles, check out their profile. Find something you can relate to, and then follow them back with that relatable nugget of information. 

There’s always something you can connect with someone on. If they’re a Yankee fan, tell them you love the Mets and shame on them! With a smiley face of course. Even if it’s just to say that you love the flowers in their header. It shows that you took a beat to check them out.

Bottom line, you don’t have to wait for the other person to start the conversation and you shouldn’t. Be the “real-ational” social media user and cultivate your community. It starts with finding common ground just like in real life.

2. Be helpful

In my latest exclusive VIP weekly email, I shared how to listen in on conversations on Facebook, like a ninja. You know, stealth mode style. I listen in on conversations going on in over 30 groups on Facebook alone! I do it to keep my finger on the pulse of what other bloggers needs are and to help in brainstorming blog topics. But mostly, to help them out. 

Genuinely sharing your awesome, expecting nothing in return is just good business. You’ll instantly become the one people go to when they need help.

Blogging and social media takes a lot of knowledge about a myriad of subjects to really pull off. If you can help a fellow blogger who is frazzled, stressed or tapped out, why wouldn’t you?

3. Use first names

Use first names when you can. I use first names when I reply to tweets, craft emails replies or respond to comments. Your readers aren’t just handles, they’re people. Showing that you took some time to find out what their name was, and personalize a response just to them? That sets you apart, my friend.

Those touches make people feel special. It’s done so rarely that you will look like a diamond amidst coal. Ok, maybe not that dramatic. But you get my drift.  If their mother saw fit to give them a name, you should use it. 

4. Reply via email to new subscribers

I know what you’re thinking: “Cristina, I don’t have time to reply to email subscribers!” Yes, you do. Think about it, do you have swarms of people flocking to your subscription list (If you do, let’s talk)?

How much time does it really take to respond and say thank you for subscribing to an email list? Yes. I still hear you. “But Cristina, doesn’t my subscription service do that automatically?” Yes, it does. What I am doing here is an automation disrupt! 

Don’t know what I mean, here’s a sample of what I write:

Dear Real Name that I took a moment to include 😉

This isn’t an automated e-mail. I received a little note saying that you signed up to receive my emails in your inbox and wanted to personally say thank you.

I don’t give out my email to just anyone, and I’m sure you don’t either. So thank you. 

I can’t wait for the weekend! Heading to NYC! Hope you have a good one.

Warmly,

Cristina

Is that hard? How would you feel sending something like that? You’d feel like you were connecting with a friend. I rest my case.

5. Mention your readers in your blog posts

I love doing this. I take comments that readers leave and respond to them in full on blog posts. Like this and this. One of them even went viral (I didn’t plan that part). I did learn something, taking the pain points of your readers and fleshing that out into a blog post shows your readers you really listen and care. More often than not, it’s not just the one reader who has that particular question (as was the case with the viral post) but a whole slew of other people are looking for the same information.

Lately, I have been leaving a call-to-action in my posts that give them the opportunity to ask questions and in return, I include that I will link to a social platform of their choice. 

Do what works for you, but remember that blogging isn’t a one way street, a monologue or a solo dance number, you get my drift.

6. Give ’em a peek.

Everyone wants to know everyone else’s business. Don’t believe me? What posts are you most interested in? How to’s with pictures of how they got this amazing thing done, right? Lifehacks, tips, tricks and listicles. Or maybe you like personal reflections sharing how someone overcame a terrible time in their lives?

Regardless, people want a peek behind the scenes. We want to know the real you, so don’t hide behind your laptop. Share your process, share your wins but share them in a way that you’re teaching your readers how to replicate the win for themselves.

Winning alone isn’t really fun. Right?

Did you want more? Head over to read the other 8 tips I shared on this very subject over at The SITS Girls. Read Social Networking and Blogging: How to Authentically Connect With Readers.

In the meantime, get out there and start delighting your audience. They’re waiting for ya!

How to Actually Delight Your Audience and Be Irresistible Actionable tips to engage your readers and keep them coming back for more! @faithfulsocial

Can Your No to an Opportunity Really Mean Yes?

We’re changing things up a bit for June. I am guest posting for The SITS Girls this Friday and upcoming Monday. When I post there, I share a sister or “pivot” post here. What I mean by that is, I volunteer for a topic at The SITS Girls  and then shift my focus slightly and take another angle and write about that here.  

Video posts are usually on Thursdays but, since this week is a little different, I thought we can get away with a video post a day early, right? Let’s do this!

Can Your No to an Opportunity Really Mean Yes? by @faithfulsocial

I really do think that opportunities come the harder you work. I don’t think they just fall out of thin air because of your inherent greatness. Doing the work is everything. That said, just because an opportunity comes your way doesn’t mean you have to say yes. 

As I mention in this video, I have qualifiers that the potential opportunity has to meet before I say yes. The opportunity can be anything from guest posts to sponsored posts to collaboration with others. These qualifiers are:

It has to help solidify your brand. I don’t think it would make sense for me to take on a sponsored post opportunity for Drake’s Cakes, even though I love them (Coffee Cake? YUM!) but that’s not the brand I’m building is it? If it doesn’t align with the brand that you are trying to create, sorry Charlie, don’t do it. You don’t want to dilute what you’ve worked so hard to build up.

Money or “The Grand Exchange”. This isn’t because we’re money hungry. If you spend time away from your family or loved ones and work on your next best thing, you should be compensated for it. Know your worth. The caveat here is, let’s say the opportunity checks all your boxes, but there’s no money. There is something to be exchanged though, expertise, knowledge, networking and building up that portfolio of work. Sometimes, that trumps the almighty dollar, right? 

You have to feel at home doing it. If you feel like you are putting on sunblock when you’re creating doing something, you’re readers are going to know it. Putting on sunblock, for me anyway, makes me feel like I am sheathed in plastic wrap. Whenever you create anything, you should feel like you doing it, or it’s not worth your time.

That said, if it scares you, that’s different.

Always say yes to what scares you.

Every opportunity is an opportunity to solidify your boundaries, highlight who you are and what you’re about – whether that’s a yes or a no.

When you say no, you’re saying yes to yourself.

You have to walk away from the declined opportunity with your head held high. Honor the person who thought of you in the first place and feel genuinely flattered that they thought of you because that means you’re doing something right. You’re getting noticed because you’re doing the work.

Friday, expect a post on how to delight your audience in a really authentic way (that ties into my post over at The SITS Girls) and my VIP email subscribers will get the 411 on a hashtag strategy that I am loving. Over the weekend, I’m heading to BlogU to get my learn on in Baltimore. While I can’t party on Saturday night, I am taking advantage of all the awesome they have going on Friday and Sunday. 

On Monday, you’ll get another post from me about coming up with fresh blog post ideas with another post on how to get from idea to great blog post over at The SITS Girls too!

Lastly, this month I am hosting some Twitter chats this month for The SITS Girls too. I am still working out the topics we’ll talk about, but would love it if you were able to join in the fun. Those dates are: 

  • June 8th, June 22nd and June 29th at 8PM 
  • June 27th at 10AM
  • All times ET
  • Use #sitsblogging

So, talk to me. What are your qualifiers? Have you said yes to an opportunity and regretted it? I want all the deets!!

Can Your No to an Opportunity Really Mean Yes? by @faithfulsocial

How to Make Your Social Strategy Successful

You work hard at social media.

You strive to share the content of others more than your own.

You read everything you can from every respected blog and site on best practices.

But the needle isn’t moving. When will your “tipping point” arrive? When will all of your hard work pay off?

You read everything you can from every respected blog and site on best practices. But the needle isn't moving. When will your

In this video, not only do I talk about what not to do, I share a couple of ways to make your social strategy successful. You may already be using these strategies without even realizing it. If you are using these strategies, you’re more ahead of the game than you think. You can always level up these strategies by pivoting. Let me explain:

See how simple that is? Social media is daunting enough, let’s make it a little easier to cut through the noise and get to what matters, connection.

If you watched the video, you know what I’m going to ask you and you know what your challenge is. 

I’ll share my top 3 to 4 people, if you’ll share yours, in the comments.

You read everything you can from every respected blog and site on best practices. But the needle isn't moving. When will your