KD Web Strategies Blog

May 25, 2010

Kelly Duffort is not a blogger, but here is my blog post about a blogging conference

Filed under: On My Own — kellyduffort @ 2:56 pm

If I’m not a blogger, why did I go to a blogging conference? Well…actually, I went to the WordCamp Conference, which was held this past weekend (May 22nd and 23rd) at the Sheraton Raleigh Hotel. (Many thanks to the conference organizers, volunteers, sponsors and speakers for a great event, by the way!)

WordCamp is a conference that covers the WordPress open source software, which was originally used to build blogs, but can now also be used to build websites. I was hoping to learn more about WordPress as a website content management system (CMS). I didn’t walk away with the information I had hoped to learn, but I did indeed learn a lot from speakers who know a great deal about blogs, websites, online marketing, traditional marketing, etc. So much, in fact, that I decided it was time for me to sit down and write one of my quarterly blog posts.

Blogging is a great marketing tool. It’s an easy way to communicate with current and prospective clients. You can say what you want to say any way you like. You publish it yourself and it’s out there for all to see … or find (assuming you’ve got that search engine optimization stuff working). Of course, if you want to do it the right way, blogging does require some hard work.

Reviewing my notes from several different conference sessions, I pulled the following recommendations.

Ten Blogging Tips from WordCamp Raleigh Speakers

  1. Don’t start with just a topic and content ideas. Devise a content strategy. @jeffreylcohen. Think about not just what you will write, but how the content will be presented. Will you be the only one to write posts? Will you have guest posts and if so, how often? Will you include pictures? Where will you get those pictures? Will you include video? How about podcasts? Most importantly…decide…”What do you want people to do with the content?”
  2. Prepare and follow an editorial calendar. @jeffreylcohen. Be strategic about when and how often you publish posts. One week you can write about xyz, the following week you’ll be at a conference and that should be a topic, then you’re off on vacation and you realize now would be a good time to seek a guest blogger for that period. Jeff also recommends publishing posts on a regular schedule (e.g., every Tuesday morning at 9:30am) so that your followers know when to expect something new and so that you can become the “go-to” resource.
  3. Make your “calls to action” super clear and include them at the end of each post. @waynesutton, @jeffreylcohen. At the end of each blog post, tell your readers what you want them to do. Ask them a direct question, invite them to take a survey, encourage them to download your white paper, remind them to print and use your monthly special coupon. If you want them to pick up the phone and call you, don’t expect them to go hunt down your “contact” page. List your toll free number at the end of that post. Wayne suggested checking out HubSpot’s Blog to see how they have a call to action at the end of every single blog post.
  4. Don’t call yourself a “guru,” “maven,” or “expert.” @davemoyer. If you do, you’re probably compensating for something. Instead, just BE an expert and show that you are via your blog.
  5. Immerse yourself in your field and stay “ahead of the pulse.” @davemoyer. Familiarize yourself with tools that are out there to help you do this: Twitter, Feedreader, Google Alerts, social media aggregators (e.g, Yahoo! Pipes) and social media tracking services. (Argyle Social and SAS Social Media Analytics are two locally-based social media analytics resources.)
  6. Involve your audience. @davemoyer. When you get comments, respond to them. Join the conversation. Use e-mail, instant messaging services, polls, Facebook, Twitter, and hey…even the phone.
  7. Keep your blog titles short so they can be re-tweeted and briefly commented on in Twitter. @lawpower (Lawrence Ingraham).
  8. Include your brand name in your blog titles so that your name appears in search results. (Thus, my third person title on this post.) @lawpower (Lawrence Ingraham).
  9. Invite others to be guest bloggers for general cross-promotion of your two blogs and “link juice,” which is important for better search rankings. @lawpower (Lawrence Ingraham).
  10. Don’t have too many “traffic leaks” with outgoing links. @beley (Brandon Eley). If a visitor is on your blog and clicks on a link to another blog, a social media site, an ad, etc., what are the chances they’ll make it back to your blog anytime soon?

How to wrap up a blog post that doesn’t even skim the surface of all that was covered at WordCamp Raleigh 2010? How about I borrow Dave Moyer’s closing thought?
“Blogs take persistence and time and a whole lot of effort.”

*Attribution for each tip is made by including the conference speaker’s Twitter name. This setup makes my blog post a lot less cluttered than including links to each of their websites … and it cuts down tremendously on my traffic leaks. In case you are not on Twitter, I’ve included given names (when not already obvious) so that you can google that person and find out more.

Question: What is your best blogging tip?

March 16, 2010

Three Pieces of “Going Out On Your Own” Advice

Filed under: On My Own — kellyduffort @ 3:35 am
Going for it

Photo by -nolly on Flickr

Real bloggers write all the time. I blog when the mood strikes. The mood struck me today after having coffee with a friend who has toyed with going out on her own over the past year, just like me. She is leaning toward a return to the corporate world and I wish her all the best. I admitted that I might be on that path again someday, but for now, I’m sticking it out, working hard and enjoying what I’m doing.

The following is a blog entry I’ve had swirling in my head for a few months. It is the best three pieces of advice I was given in my first year of going out on my own. Thanks, Jennifer, for inspiring me to finally sit down and put these thoughts out there in the blogosphere.

Use a simple, descriptive name for your business.
When I was first getting started, I put some pressure on myself to come up with a creative name. It was a daunting task because at the time, I wasn’t absolutely sure I wanted to go out on my own. Yet, I knew my business name would be used on my logo, my business cards and my website…for starters. Then there are bigger issues like officially registering the business name and applying for trademark rights. Aye yai yai.

Then, someone told me to keep it simple, especially as you get started. State your name and add whatever it is your business does. Thus, Kelly Duffort Web Strategies. Not a lick of creativity in that, but it gets my name out there and it does give you a good idea of what I do. Thank you, Steve.

Listen to your clients, they’ll help define your business.
This advice came from one of my first potential clients. She had been building her business for about a year and she was still working on defining her niche market and her key offerings. What she said made sense that day and several months later, it still applies to what I do today as I continue build my business.

Yes, I build websites. (That’s the 3-second answer I give to folks when I’m being lazy and pretty darn sure they don’t want to hear my elevator pitch no matter how slick and polished it is.)

The truth is I am a communicator and I LOVE working on the Web. I enjoy talking to potential clients to find out what messages they want to communicate, who their audiences are, what website development tools they have available to them now, how much they can spend on upgrading those tools if necessary, talking through the advantages and disadvantages of social media, mapping out strategies for “feeding the social media content beast” if it’s in their best interest to go that route, coaching them on data that is available in their analytics reports, etc.

I’ve done a little bit of all of the above as I have spoken with clients over the past six months. I enjoy the variety and I am discovering that I can help clients in many more ways than I originally thought. Indeed, they are helping me define my business.

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.
I do not know where I first came across John Wooden’s quote, but it is one that really helped push aside my self-doubts and go for it.

I build websites, but I don’t design them. There’s a difference. I’m a website producer, a project manager, a communicator, a writer. I have great appreciation for excellent design and I’ve worked with designers throughout my career.

So…I had to let go of that design obstacle and get started on everything else that I could  do. That’s exactly what I did and since then, I’ve worked with overseas designers (whom I found via freelance websites) and connected with local artists whom I look forward to working with in the near future. Funny thing is some of the designers I have met have been eager to connect with me because it just so happens they have a client who could use my expertise. I never imagined that connecting with them would lead to reciprocal business. In hindsight, of course, it makes perfect sense.

I agree with statements like “you can’t be everything to everyone” and “know your strengths and weaknesses.” For some reason, the way John Wooden said it made the most sense. Do what you can do, don’t worry about what you can’t.

December 3, 2009

Lemonade with the Kids

Filed under: On My Own — kellyduffort @ 6:37 pm
I know one of the top rules for a blog is posting fresh and new content on a regular basis. I realize that I haven’t posted an entry on this blog for 3 ½ months. I am still working hard to start my own business. I know that if I could work 40-60 hours a week, I’d be so much further along on my “To Do” list. The thing is … I’m working part-time on my business because my other role is being the mother of two young children.I just came across a blog post by Chris Brogan, “Have You Been Laid Off?,” which features  the “Lemonade Movie Trailer.”

My answer is “Yes. I was laid off a long time ago.” In fact, when I was laid off, my oldest child was two and a half and my “baby” was a newborn. We celebrate the baby’s 2nd birthday tomorrow.

I’m not going to get rich by going out on my own. In fact, I don’t know when my income will make a real dent in the bills. What I do know, after watching the “Lemonade Movie Trailer,” is that I’ve enjoyed turning recession and unemployment lemons into “time that I’ll never have again” lemonade with my kids.

I look forward to seeing the whole Lemonade Movie as soon as it is released.

August 17, 2009

Raleigh-Durham Entrepreneur Organizations: A Whole New World

The movie “Aladdin” is a favorite in my house with the kids right now. Actually, the movie is a favorite in my house and the soundtrack is a favorite in my car so there is no escaping it. Thus, the song, “A Whole New World” is often running through my head.After going to my first Council for Entrepreneurial Development meeting last week, I realized that “A Whole New World” could be my current theme song. I’ve participated in several professional associations over my career, but they have been ones that catered to the corporate world. I had never thought about exploring organizations that support entrepreneurs…until now.

The Council for Entrepreneurial Development kicked off their CAFÉ series (Competitive Advantage through Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship) last Thursday, August 13th. The program was sold out. The meeting was titled, “Expanding Your Network: An Introduction to the Area’s Entrepreneur Support Organizations.” Representatives from 17 organizations spoke to the approximately 150 people who filled the room. I took pages of notes and I plan to check out the websites of each organization over the next few weeks to decide which ones I’d like to visit.

The number of organizations that support entrepreneurship, the variety of their services and the depth of their resources astounded me. After listening to the representatives, I really felt like “a whole new world” was opening up before me.

I figured there might be some other people in the Raleigh-Durham area who are exploring entrepreneurship and who were unable to make it to the meeting. In case you stumble across my blog, I wanted to share the website addresses for the organizations who attended. Please note that I have pulled website addresses for the local Raleigh-Durham chapters, but many of these organizations have chapters throughout the U.S. and/or around the world.

Raleigh-Durham Entrepreneur Support Organizations:

  1. Association for Corporate Growth (ACG)
    http://www.acgrtp.org/
  2. Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals (ASAP)
    http://www.strategic-alliances.org/chapter/rtp-carolina
  3. Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO)
    http://www.eonetwork.org/Pages/default.aspx
  4. The First Flight Venture Center (FFVC)
    http://www.ffvcnc.org/
  5. Licensing Executives Society (LES)
    http://www.lesusacanada.org/MainNav/LocalChapters/LES-USA-East-Region/RTP.aspx
  6. National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD)
    http://www.rtc-nacd.org/
  7. National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)
    http://www.nawbo-raleigh.org/
  8. North Carolina Biosciences Organization (NCBIO)
    http://www.ncbioscience.org/
  9. North Carolina Biotechnology Center
    http://www.ncbiotech.org/
  10. NC IDEA
    http://www.ncidea.org/
  11. North Carolina Chinese Business Association (NCCBA)
    http://nc-cba.org/
  12. North Carolina Technology Association (NCTA)
    http://www.nctechnology.org/
  13. Renewable Energy Business Network (REBN)
    http://www.rebn.org/administrator/research-triangle
  14. Small Business & Technology Development Council (SBTDC)
    http://www.sbtdc.org/
  15. Triangle Gaming Initiative (TGI)
    http://www.trianglegameinitiative.org/
  16. The Indus Entrepreneur (TiE)
    http://tie-carolinas.org
  17. Triangle Technology Executive Council (TTEC)
    http://www.ncttec.net/

Thanks to CED for the wonderful program for people like me (Raleigh-Durham entrepreneurs in the making). I’m sure “Aladdin” will be in my DVD player and CD player for a few more months at least. Each time I hear “A Whole New World,” I’ll think of my first CED event and be thankful for my magic carpet ride. Who knows where it will lead?

August 12, 2009

Dear Recession, You Leave Me No Choice

Filed under: On My Own, Uncategorized — kellyduffort @ 4:32 pm
Source: istockphoto.com

Source: istockphoto.com

I give up. I give in. I’m giving it my all.

I’ve been out of work for a long time (let me repeat L-O-N-G) and I have been looking hard for a job. Job hunting during the recession has been a roller coaster ride. I’ve come close to landing great jobs and I’ve gone months without seeing or hearing of a position that remotely fits my skillset. Extreme highs and real lows.

I am a corporate woman. Well, at least I used to be – for 12 years. When the idea of “going out on your own” came up in conversations, I’d listen in awe to the “go get ‘em” entrepreneurs. They all had a certain quality that propelled them to do what they do and I didn’t think I had it.

I liked the “safety” of the corporate world. Yes, yes, I know it’s not a “safe” place, but I liked the regular paychecks, the healthcare and retirement benefits, the fact that I worked as part of a team. If I couldn’t immediately figure something out, then there was usually someone to call.

Well, I have grown weary of looking for the corporate job that doesn’t exist right now. I give up.

A few months ago, I decided to take a break from the hunt and learn some new skills. I’ve done a couple of pro bono projects for friends and built up confidence in my new self-taught skills. Now, I’m talking with two prospective clients and should one (or both?) of them hire me, perhaps I’ll do something I said I’d never, ever do – go out on my own, start my own business. I give in.

It has been only a couple of weeks since I admitted to myself that I’m really, really going to give small business ownership a serious try. As I’ve started laying the groundwork for my business, I’ve gotten more and more excited. Still, I know it is going to be tough and this next roller coaster ride could have even bigger hills and faster falls. Nevertheless, I’m giving it my all.

Question: If you have ventured out to start your own business and you are giving it all you’ve got, do you have any words of wisdom?

August 5, 2009

Getting Started

Filed under: On My Own, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — kellyduffort @ 2:17 am

I’m looking forward to writing about my new adventure. Just need to collect a few thoughts before getting started – give me a few days. I’m glad to finally have a topic to explore and thus, a reason to try WordPress.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.