How Far In Advance Should You Schedule Your Business’s Blog Posts?

No matter which business blogging strategy you look at, the one constant between them all is the production of quality content on a regular basis.

The topics will change from organisation to organisation and the style, tone and general approach can all vary massively.   It doesn’t matter what type of content it is, however – the most effective blogging strategies are the ones that deliver quality consistently several times a week.

To the reader, it can seem as though the blog post was written and published immediately that day.  There is nothing to indicate otherwise.

However, the business blogs that see the most success are very often the ones that not only utilise a long-term content strategy, but the ones that schedule content ahead of time.

Having an array of benefits, one of the questions we often get asked is just how far in advance you should schedule your blog posts.  A content strategy might be accurate for the next twelve weeks, but does this mean you need to have twelve week’s worth of blog posts scheduled and ready to go live?

Generally speaking, the answer is no.  In fact, with all of our business blogging services, we generally work one week advance.

Meaning we can produce content that’s topical or on trend with the latest discussions, getting the content ready a week in advance also ensures that any changes that need to be made can be done so with enough time from our point of view and the client’s.  It could be something small, such as a quote has been made that now needs to be included or it could be something similar to a full rewrite, due to a change in the news that has brought something new to light.

Imagine that happened if you weren’t scheduling your blog posts.  It’s never a good idea to edit an already published blog post, so you’d simply have to keep it unchanged, something that could potentially have a negative impact.

Whilst one week in advance is a good guide, it shouldn’t be stuck to rigidly, as for some organisations and in some general situations, more flexibility is required to meet the different needs.

One of the most common examples of this is when we are unable to work with a client for a temporary period in regards to messaging or content approval.  It could be a client’s internal project which is going to mean they won’t be available or it might be that they’re simply going on holiday.  In these situations, we often need to schedule blog posts two or three weeks in advance.

It does mean the blog posts won’t be as topical as they could possibly be, but for a temporary period, that doesn’t have to be too much of a problem.  It’s simply a matter of taking the time to develop content that will make readers not miss the topical feel – a ‘How To’ series, for instance.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are some organisations who are almost unable to schedule their blog posts any more than a day or two in advance.  Perhaps they have a technology blog or they simply like to provide the most up-to-date information within their industry, something that their readers have come to expect.

In these instances, although one week is unlikely to be a possibility, there should still be procedures in place that stipulate a blog post needs to be scheduled in advance, whether that’s by 12 hours or two days.  If nothing else, it ensures there is sufficient time to make any last-minute edits before it gets published to an audience of what could easily be thousands.

All blog post content should be scheduled in advance.  There might be the very rare occasion where a last-minute post needs to be published, but these occasions are few and far between.  Giving you a tremendous amount of control over the content that’s being produced and delivered to your audience, scheduling your blog posts should never be the question – instead, it should be ‘how far in advance?’.

And although all organisations’ needs vary, a good rule of thumb is one week.  For the majority, anything less is likely to be unnecessary and anything more could result in content that isn’t as topical as it could be.

More to read

TIPS ON HOW TO PACK WHEN TRAVELING LIGHT

Having two or more bags for traveling is not a problem, as you just need to throw in just about any stuff you think you need in your luggage. Sometimes, however, if you need to travel with just one bag, things could be way more complicated–careful choosing and deliberation must be done, as you will need to squeeze in all the necessities for the small space you have. 

Why travel light. …?

Before we give the tips, let’s enumerate some advantages of traveling light.

1. It’s cheaper – By having just one carry-on bag, you don’t have to pay the fees for excess baggage (this varies, so better check your airline for rates. By traveling with a single bag, you will also get to skip the usually-overpriced taxis and private vehicles and take public transportation like trains, buses, and shuttles instead. You won’t also be obliged to give tips to porters who will carry your other luggage.

2. You won’t have difficulty moving – mobility is one of the most important parts of travel, and if you don’t have much stuff to bring, you’ll easily be able to explore more places. Small bags will also save you from end-of-the-day back pains and throbbing arms. There’s a reason frequent flyers travel light…they have learnt the hard way that lugging a huge suitcase across a crowded airport terminal isn’t much fun, nor is dragging it in and out of taxis, buses and hotels. And unless you go upmarket you will be doing a lot of your own lugging!

3. It saves time – Having only carry-on luggage means you don’t have to wait for your other bags to go ’round and ’round the airport conveyor. Also, because you never know what will happen to your checked-in stuff while you’re in transit, you will not be at risk of waiting for delayed (and possibly damaged) luggage.

After choosing a bag (make sure that it fits the airline height and weight requirements for checked-in luggage–it’s usually 20lbs per bag), lay out all the things that you want to bring. Before packing, check everything twice, and only put them in the bag if you really need them. Don’t bring bulky items (big shampoo bottles, boxes of snacks) that will be available in your destination, and avoid bringing too many thick items of clothing.

Opt for doing your own laundry.

If you’re up for doing some laundry, bring a small pack of detergent with you. This way, you could wash your clothes immediately after you use them–these won’t feel like a chore, as you’d be washing them in small batches. If you don’t want to do your own washing but would be willing to shell out a small fee, you can ask the hotel to do it for you (they would usually give it back after 24 hours or less).

Roll your clothes.

This tried and tested way of packing will allow you to store more things in your bag. Aside from saving space, rolling clothes (many travelers even roll two items together) will also cause less wrinkles. This method will also allow you to easily find what you’re looking for–folded clothes will give you a harder time if you don’t want to take everything out of the bag.

Leave room for purchases/souvenirs.

Last but definitely not least: save some space for your purchases–pack your bag about two-thirds full so you’ll have extra storage. If this is not possible or if you think you’ll need a bigger space, you can also pack a separate light nylon bag that you can easily carry on your way back home.

Packing light won’t be difficult if you don’t rush, so take your time in listing/packing what you need. Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to having less headache and hassles when you travel.

More to read

How To Get A Guest Blog Post Spot Here On The Blogshop’s Blog

We’ve talked previously about our love for guest blogging.  We’ve used it ourselves, for our clients and have had people produce great guest blog posts here on our blog.

Sometimes we’ve talked about the benefits of guest blogging and other times about how you can go about securing a guest blog post.

We get e-mails on a regular basis from individuals asking whether they can produce content for our blog in exchange for a link, but the whole conversation is almost always poor for a variety of reasons.

The following information should give you a clear understanding of what we’re looking for (and undoubtedly what others are looking for), but don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions.

Triple check your e-mail

As humans, we aren’t perfect and the occasional typo passes through everyone’s checking procedure.  However, when you’re writing an e-mail asking to publish content on someone else’s blog, you need to be certain that the e-mail copy is as near to perfect as it can be.

If you add in an extra letter to a word (let’s say you wrote ‘For exampple’), chances are it’s a genuine error that’s simply been overlooked.  However, if you wrote ‘its’ when you actually meant ‘it’s’ all the way through the e-mail, that just shows either a lack of understanding of the English language or an inability to truly check through your work.

Ask to produce relevant content…

Blogging is a varied subject and with a little thought and imagination, you should be able to tie it in to a range of subjects.

We’re also quite open about content here at The Blogshop.  Yes, we like our blog content to have a focus on blogging, but the most important point is that it’s of value to you, our readers.  Therefore, if you approached us about a blog post on SEO that only touches briefly on blogging, chances are we’d be interested – our audience are interested in various digital tools, resources and platforms, so as long as there’s a bit of a discussion around blogging, an SEO focused article would work.

What we don’t want to see is an e-mail suggesting topics around medical insurance or football coaching.  Unless you have some fantastic story about them that you can link to blogging, the content is going to be irrelevant – and therefore useless – to our audience.

…and talk about relevant links

In the past we’ve had people contact us who want to produce content around blogging, which is fantastic – but they’ve then gone on to say they would like a link back to their completely unrelated website.

Whilst the content is going to be suitable, by providing a link to a seemingly pointless website, it’s going to be of little benefit to the guest blogger (guest blogging is a great way to develop backlinks, but SEO isn’t just about getting any links – one backlink on a relevant website will be better than 10 links on unrelated websites) and it’s going to potentially alienate our readers (remember, guest blogging might be of benefit to you as the blogger, but it needs to first and foremost be of benefit to the audience and the company you’re going to be guest blogging for).

Don’t forget to reply

Arguably one of the most annoying things we’ve encountered with guest bloggers is their inability to reply to e-mails.  They’ve e-mailed us, we liked their idea, got back in touch – and then never heard anything back.

Even when we don’t like an idea, we always reply thanking them for their time and explaining we’d be open to future suggestions if they were more appropriate, but we don’t get any response.

Whilst such a reply would mean you’ve essentially got your foot in the door and have developed that relationship with the company, it’s simply common courtesy to reply – you’ve contacted a company, they’ve replied, so an e-mail in return is considered to be the right, polite thing to do.

From increasing your online reach to improving the awareness of your brand, an effective guest blogging strategy to supplement your own business blogging activities can see some fantastic results.

More to read

How Important Is It To Add Meta Data To Your Blog Posts?

For several years, completing your website’s meta data was seen as an integral part of the SEO process.  Particularly with regards to the title, description and tags sections, filling these in for every live page on your website was considered to be an attributing factor to a high positioning in the search engines for your chosen keywords.

Whilst today its importance when it comes to SEO isn’t as substantial as it once was – some even say that its SEO value is negligible – the effective completion of your meta data when it comes to your blog posts can be extremely important to their success.

It must be understood that you don’t have to complete meta data for your blog posts to be a success.  Just like you don’t have to share them via social media and you don’t have to stick to a strict posting schedule, completing your meta data properly, however, can help your blog posts be as successful as they can possibly be.

The idea here isn’t to think of meta data as part of SEO, but instead, as a marketing tool and for this reason, we’re not going to talk about the tags aspect.  Yes, most WordPress plugins will give you the option to fill them in – and it’s good practice to do so – but it’s the meta title and description where, if used properly, you’ll be able to see some potentially huge benefits.

If you’re not particularly au fait with the meta title and description information, they’re the pieces of text you see for each individual website when you type a phrase into a search engine, meaning meta data is often the first interaction a potential customer will have with a company.

As an example, when you type “The Blogshop” into Google, “Business Blogging Services, Blog Writing Services | The Blogshop” is our meta title and “The Blogshop is a dedicated business blogging agency providing tailor made, SEO friendly business blogging services, from SME to enterprise level.” is our meta description.

With this example, we’ve used the meta data as advertising copy.  We’ve used it to attract the readers’ attention and provide them with a basic introduction to our company, including what we deliver so they know what to expect when they click through.

And this is exactly what you need to do with your meta data for each and every one of your blog posts.    You need to treat it as an advertising resource, thinking of it as something you can utilise to first grab the readers’ attention and then draw them in to your blog post – which is where, as a business, you’ll not only have your customer-focused content, but your calls to action.  Your links, your signup boxes and your promotions.

Starting with the meta title, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue, as it will almost always be your blog post title.  As this itself should be as attractive and enticing as it can be, it should be able to be copied word-for-word into your meta title.

Generally speaking, search engines only show the first 60 characters of the meta title and it’s therefore important that any text you enter here fits in – no one likes to see a title that cuts off mid-word.  This shouldn’t mean you have to completely rewrite your blog post title and more often than not, it’s simply a matter of restructuring the wording and potentially omitting a few words that aren’t absolutely necessary.

The meta description, however, can be slightly more tricky.

You have around 160 characters to draw the reader in.  You can’t use any more, as you’ll simply be cut off mid-word and you don’t want to use any less, as you want to ensure you fully utilise the characters you have available.  You want to refrain from giving away too much information, but you want to provide enough to make the reader interested and perhaps most importantly, you want to feel confident that as a reader, you’d want to click through.

The 160 characters need to be engaging.  They need to be informative.  They need to be honest.    They need to leave no room for manipulation.  In essence, the 160 characters need to act as direct sales copy for the blog post.

And once, as a reader, you’ve clicked through and are on the blog post itself, your expectations should instantly be met, else your work on the meta title and description is potentially going to be wasted.

For traditional SEO purposes, meta data isn’t as useful as it once was and completing the information for SEO is likely to have only a minimal impact on your positioning.

However, completing it for advertising, promotion and even reputation purposes could benefit your blog tremendously, not only helping to improve click-through traffic, but sending visitors who are highly targeted and more likely to convert from top of funnel leads into paying customers.

More to read

How Often Should Your Business Blog’s Data Be Analysed?

Take a look at a customer service strategy as an example – if you’re not analysing what your footfall or website traffic is, what your customer surveys say and what your overall feedback is telling you, how can you be certain that the level of service you’re delivering is meeting the needs of your customers?

Yet although it’s imperative any strategy’s data is analysed, it can be complicated knowing just how often the analysis needs to be carried out.

With blogging, there are various times throughout a strategy that analysis is required.  Sometimes it needs to be in-depth, other times a brief look will suffice and here we provide an insight into the times when we carry out data analysis as part of our business blogging services.

Annually / six-monthly

A business blogging strategy should run continually.  Blogging is a resource that should be invested in for the long term and considered an integral part of your organisation.  However, it’s important that a full and in-depth analysis of the strategy is carried out at least once every year, so to ensure the techniques used continue to be of the most benefit they possibly can be to both your target audience and your organisation.

In most industries, audience requirements change.  Customers start to have different needs and they look for different information from the organisations they interact with.  Therefore, what worked 12 months ago when you first kicked off your business blogging strategy may not necessarily be working today or continue to work in the future.  If the data suggests that this is the case, you need to discover (amongst other things) when the change started to happen, as you should then be able to work out which content wasn’t being as well received as it possibly could have been and how you need to develop it going forward.

Monthly

As part of our business blogging strategies, we carry out an in-depth monthly analysis of all blogging and social media activity.  Very similar to an annual / six monthly analysis, the monthly reports we produce provide an insight into how successful the strategy was throughout the previous month.

Looking at everything from unique visitor numbers on the blog posts through to interactions on Twitter, it’s vital that the strategy’s data is analysed after every month has ended.  Just as on an annual basis, customer requirements can change so quickly that you need to be confident you can respond in the quickest way possible – an annual review might highlight where you need to develop your strategy, but what if reader requirements changed only 30 days after the last annual review and you didn’t analyse your data on a monthly basis?

Weekly

A monthly review of your business blogging strategy should be considered the minimum, but a weekly analysis can be beneficial for a variety of reasons, particularly when looking to ensure your content is as user-focused as it can be.

No matter how involved you are with your target audience, you can never be certain that the messaging you’re delivering on any platform is as suited as it can be without understanding what it is they want and enjoy – and the only way to do this is to analyse the success of your previous blog posts.

When creating content for our clients’ business blogging strategies, as a general rule of thumb we keep two key points in mind – a subject that is either topical or informative (such as a news items or a ‘How To’ piece) and a focus, style or tone that has proven to be successful previously, information we gain by analysing the previous weeks’ data.

Daily

When you’re producing content for your business blog to keep your audience updated on business activities, a daily analysis of data isn’t generally required.  If you’re integrating your business blogging activities with other strategies, however, a daily analysis could prove to be extremely beneficial.

Imagine you had a landing page for one of your products or services and you were using blogging to drive traffic to it over the course of a month.  An analysis of the data on both your blog and landing page would tell you, for example, how many people clicked through to the landing page from which blog posts and how many readers followed a call to action on the landing page.  However, it would also help to highlight any problems with the page or if certain blog posts weren’t sending visitors.

By analysing data regularly, you would be able to see which blog posts were the most successful (allowing you to replicate their success moving forward) and make any necessary amendments to the landing page, so to increase the number of conversions (and ultimately sales).

All business blogging strategies need to include a period of data analysis – it’s the only way you can be certain the strategy is as successful as it can be.  With various periods of data analysis, the four here are those that we look at for our client’s strategies and which we strongly believe will allow you to see the most success when utilising our business blogging services.

More to read

The Halo Effect, Brand Strength And Business Blogging

In 1920, American psychologist Edward Thorndike published a paper which gave details of what he called the ‘halo effect’, five years after discussing the topic in one of his many studies around educational behaviour.

Having been studied heavily by a number of psychologists since, the halo effect has come to describe the process of an individual or organisation being thought of in a particularly positive light due to excelling in one specific area.  In its most basic commercial form, it showcases that if a brand does one thing really well, their audience will come to think of them as a being a generally great company.

A phrase you’re likely to be familiar with if you’re an experienced marketer, as the halo effect can essentially be the driving force behind a fantastic brand and its success, we want to provide details on the association with blogging, as it can very easily prove to be the perfect tool to achieve the halo effect for your brand.

Your customers need to see success

One of the key points to achieving or witnessing the halo effect is to ensure your customers can see what you’re doing well.  They need to see the success you’re achieving on a specific channel or with a certain procedure.  We can all showcase testimonials from our past customers and these are without doubt fantastic, but you’re effectively just telling people how good you are – you need to be showing them.

You don’t need to show how good you are at everything, but you need to have something that you’re particularly fantastic at, something that will make people stop and think.  It’s a common misconception that you have to show your positive qualities in regards to something that you’re actually offering, such as a product or service.  Although it obviously helps to have great products or services, the halo effect can be achieved by having a positive response to other activities, which is why a business blog can prove to be the perfect option.

Happy customers are customers who are being engaged with

The basic principle behind the halo effect with regards to business is when customers see an organisation doing something particularly well, they see the company in an overall positive light.  Having an unbelievable impact on brand strength, if you can satisfy a large number of customers in one way, they’ll be satisfied with your brand overall.

With business blogging, you get to reach to what could, in theory, be your entire past, present and potential audience.

Generally speaking, a blog is a public platform.  It’s one that as long as you have access to the internet, you will be able to view.  It’s a platform that allows the organisation to speak to their audience on a vast array of different topics.

You can cover product information, service updates or company news.  You can give your own take on the industry, provide details of your internal developments or simply just offer something that’s going to make your audience smile.

Whatever it is, it’s a form of customer engagement – and as customer requirements are increasingly being focused around an improved level of engagement from brands, the more a customer is engaged with, the more satisfied they are.

Business blogging is affordable

And whilst a high level of effective customer engagement is possible through other channels, one of the key reasons why blogging is such a suitable option is because it is one of the most cost-effective resources you can utilise.

The basic focus of business blogging is to provide customer-focused content to as many people as possible.  Taking this offline, let’s imagine you wanted to provide the same content to all of your customers in a bi-weekly newsletter.  With a distribution list of even just 1,000 regular readers, if we said creating, printing and posting the newsletter cost the equivalent of £1.50 per newsletter, that’s £3,000 per month to deliver your messaging to your audience.

As of September 2012, our blogging strategies start at just £350 per month.   And we have other business blogging services that come in under that price, too.

Blogging is in no way an easy option to achieving the halo effect and just like any other process, it’s not a guaranteed way to do so either.  However, when carried out effectively, business blogging can deliver all of the basic principles required behind the halo effect, suggesting that a properly developed and implemented business blogging strategy can have much more of an impact than simply ensuring you are continually communicating with your target audience.

More to read

NETWORK MARKETING, A DOOR OF OPPORTUNITIES

Network marketing indeed is a legitimate business model wherein, you get to make money not from an office but from home or outside with people. It is originally a small business concept of overcoming the prohibitive cost of traditional marketing and focusing instead on the flow of information in social settings as means to propagate a message.

 

The mistake of many who have tried network marketing is they treat it as “get rich quick” project. Aside from winning the lottery, nobody really gets so rich quick. Like in most meaningful endeavors, you have to invest time and effort in network marketing to make it work. Getting yourself fully devoted to your “business” will in no time result into a gold find. That’s the quick part.

A constant learning process, networking demands attention and presence of mind when you our talking to people. Each contact with a prospect is a learning experience and each sale or deal closed is a story of success. As much as its monetary returns, networking will also make you rich socially and psychologically. The richness of person to person contact in networking will eventually sync you with how the human mind works. Depending on your level of being, that can actually turn you into a very powerful person.

One common concept of ordinary networkers is to compete in bringing in the most people. For a while this can work. But over time the routine can wear you down. The idea then is to focus instead on helping people. That way each successful transaction is not a pure moneymaking stunt but an act of love, in a way. That way, instead of wearing you down, it can actually inspire you more.

Offer something new. That’s not always easy to do but that would always get people to listen and be interested in you. Actually you don’t have really find a new thing. Reinventing something old and presenting it in a new exciting manner will do. Once you achieved in capturing their imagination, you can actually tell people the choices they shall be making.

There are a lot of network marketing outfits in operation nowadays. Many of them are upstarts that are still starting to build confidence on their products and some are just out there swarming on whatever prey they can get. A key to choosing the outfit to join is how you feel about what they are selling and the system on which they sell it. It’s a personality thing. If after a researching about them and they check out and still the outfit still feels right, it is a sign that their program could work for you.

Today even large companies resort to network marketing to reach a larger audience and to expand their market by penetrating into market segments that traditional marketing cannot. The few bits about networking we discussed above are just a lead away for you to try the system out.

More to read

3 Reasons You Should Get Your Staff Involved In Business Blogging – And 3 Reasons You Shouldn’t

Blogging is one of the most versatile resources any organisation can utilise and because of this, our business blogging strategies are extremely flexible.

From budgets through to content, the versatility of blogging means that whatever type of organisation you are and whichever industry you operate in, blogging will be able to be of benefit.

Something that more and more organisations are coming to realise, what is still quite a surprise to some is that we can develop our business blogging strategies in such a way that we can work together seamlessly with clients to deliver their bespoke strategies.  There’s no doubt that we love to fully manage blogging and social media for our clients, but we do understand that there’s very often a need – or simply a desire – to be active in the strategy’s implementation.

Definitely something that can be fantastic, whenever we discuss this with clients, we always explain the positive aspects and the potential pitfalls, many of which come about through the organisation’s involvement in terms of their staff.  Sometimes it can work perfectly, but other times getting your staff involved can prove to be extremely problematic and the following information covers the ‘highlights’ of why you should and shouldn’t get your staff involved in business blogging.

They know what problems they’re facing on a daily basis and know what information they’re looking for.  Therefore, if they can gain an understanding of the basics behind blogging, they should be able to provide some invaluable input for content suggestions.

2.  They can increase the reach of your messaging – most people have a social media account of some kind.  It might be a professional Twitter account with several thousand followers or a private Facebook account with one hundred friends, but most people are active on social media to some extent.  As social media is a fantastic way to increase the reach of your blog posts, involving your employees in the process can mean your content is not only published via your company social media accounts, but by numerous employees’, too.

3.  It can improve staff morale – staff want to be involved.  It doesn’t matter whether they’re fantastic at working alone or they blatantly express their need to work in large groups, engaging internally with your staff is seen as one of the most effective ways of getting the most from them.  If you can involve them in some aspect of the blogging process, whether that’s suggesting ideas or helping to promote the final piece, you’ll find they feel they’re contributing, engaging and interacting more with both their audience and their organisation as a whole.

Shouldn’t

1.  It can impact upon them as an individual – staff should never be made to get involved with blogging.  By all means encourage them, but if they’re forced to come up with ideas for content or write draft blog posts on a weekly basis when they don’t want to, you’re not just likely to get poor ideas or content, but chances are you’ll have an unhappy workforce.

2.  Their productivity may decrease – even if your employees want to get involved with blogging, it shouldn’t simply be a straightforward decision.  Blogging involves a substantial amount of work – much more than most people first realise – and without the correct planning and preparation, an employee’s productivity outside of blogging may decrease, jeopardising their role, their duties and the organisation as a whole.

3.  Not everyone can blog – whilst blogging’s versatility can be of benefit in various respects, it can also cause problems, particularly in the sense that even on the content side alone, there can be huge variances in what’s expected.  For example, you may have a member of staff who is competent at writing a press release for your organisation and who you think could handle regular blogging, but not only is a 400 word blog post different to a 400 word press release, but a blog post can vary on everything from whether you’re a B2B or B2c organisation right through to the demographics of your target audience.

Weighing up the pros and cons of your level of involvement as an organisation when it comes to implementing your business blogging strategy and making a decision on it can be difficult enough – deciding on your employees’ involvement can prove to be one that’s too difficult to make.

As part of the development process with any of our business blogging services, we always talk through the various different aspects that need to be considered when it comes to staff involvement, so to ensure we achieve an outcome that is as suitable and effective as it can possibly be.  However, if you would like to discuss the possibilities of your staff being involved – or not being involved – in a business blogging strategy at any point, please feel free to get in touch.

More to read

How to shop abroad

Shopping is one of the most fun things to do when traveling. Before you start haggling and shelling out some hard-earned cash, however, you need to be take note of some guidelines on how to make the most out of your shopping experience. In no particular order, here are the things that all shoppers must keep in mind:

Related Stories:

Do some research before you leave.

There are two main shopping-related things that you must research on when before you leave home: the places where you can get the best deals and the local crime rate. Famous shopping destinations are easy targets, so you should be extra careful and be aware of the theft situation.

And once you arrive talk to the concierge at your hotel (eg. the Sofitel in Queenstown), they’ll be able to give you some insights into the local shopping scene and some local knowledge to help you snag some bargains.

Speak their language.

Learning how to speak in the country’s language would also help a lot. In addition to simple greetings and courtesies, you should also learn phrases like “how much?” or “can i get a discount?” to make the bargaining easier for both you and the seller.

Haggle.

You will not get a good deal if you do not haggle. In local stores or markets, you will really need to exercise your bargaining skills in order to save money. You must see to it, however, that you’ve already done your research about the haggling strategies in the the place you’re visiting, because these things vary in every country. Also, haggling should be a healthy transaction–you will not be able to get a good deal if you start raising your voice or start insulting the merchant.

Keep it simple.

Dress in simple clothes and do put that much jewelry on you when you go shopping. You will most likely have a more difficult time getting a good deal if you wear flashy outfits, because the sellers will instantly infer that you can easily afford what they’re selling.

Put your cash in different pockets.

This is one of the most common rules for traveling, but many forget or simply get too lazy to do it. If you’re going shopping, it’s a must to have small amounts with you because the chances of theft are higher–so place your money in different places like pockets, bags, purses, or wallets.

Go to different stores before you buy an item.

If you’re going to bazaars or markets, there will surely be competition, so it’s always best to walk around and compare prices first. Before you purchase anything, make sure that you’ve already hopped on several stores selling the same thing (this is one of the reasons why rushing will not be a good idea if you want to get the best deal).

Consider the space you have left on your luggage.

You’re on the other side of the world and you really want that vintage lamp or huge painting–they all may look wonderful and they’re way cheaper compared to the ones sold back home, but can you actually take it home with you? It’s possible to ship some extra or fragile items, but it would not be cheap. If shipping is not an option, however, you should be aware of how much space you have left in your bag and base your purchases from there.

More to read

Should You Integrate Your Business Blog Within Your Company Website?

We talk regularly about the importance of having great quality content on your blog and we hope that most of our clients – and regular readers here – understand at least the basic reasoning behind this.

Before any type of content is produced, however, you obviously need a blog in place to publish the content on.

We always recommend that WordPress is used when creating blogs, for a variety of reasons, most notably that it is such a versatile resource it can be used for almost any organisation with any specific requirements.

But irrelevant of the platform used, there’s one decision that has to always be made, which is whether or not your blog should be integrated with your website.

With various options available on both sides of the fence, the simple fact is we don’t believe there is actually any major consideration that needs to take place – we almost never recommend a business blog is kept separate from a website and there are two primary reasons why.

1.  The SEO benefits are too good to pass up on

For any effective SEO strategy, there are two key components – high quality content and backlinks.  If you can utilise these in the most effective way possible, you’ll be able to drive organic traffic to your website due to the high ranking for your target keywords.

Whilst having a blog that stands alone from your website would mean you could still create the backlinks within the content, you miss out on what Google is now considering an integral part of the SEO process – delivering quality content to your audience on a regular basis.

You can of course do this on a separate blog and link back to your company website, but how does Google know that the two are linked if they’re on completely separate domain names?  Google is becoming increasingly intelligent, but it has to be remembered that it is not human.  It can’t view images as we can and it can’t tell whether two websites with different URLs are from the same company.  It can of course distinguish similar phrases on websites, which some might think is enough, but having your brand name on your website and on your separate blog is no different to Google than if you had the word ‘steak’ on your website and blog.

2.  It builds trust amongst your target audience

There are various standalone blog options available.  WordPress, for example, have an option whereby you can have a blog that uses their software (albeit a ‘lite’ version) and which they’ll host for you – but you’ll have a URL that looks something like http://yourcompanyname.wordpress.com.

Although some of your customers will be able to make the link between the blog and your company, creating a blog like this can leave a bit of an unsavoury taste in your audience’s mouth.

For example, a business blog should be professional looking.  It should be attractive and engaging.  Your customers may be spending a substantial amount of time reading the content you publish on your blog and interacting with you via it, so it needs to be suitable for their needs.  This generally means an investment of both time and money needs to be made to ensure it’s as beneficial as it can be.

When you’re using a free blogging service, such as that mentioned above, you have limited technical functionality and limited design options.  It’s completely free, which is obviously great, but what image does this portray to your target audience?

You aren’t that interested in engaging with them?  You don’t think the interaction is worth the development and integration of a proper company blog?  You believe it might not be suited to your audience’s needs, so you’ll only give it a half-hearted attempt?

It’s easy to think this is only a small aspect that is somewhat irrelevant, but a blog can be extremely beneficial when building trust and continually improving brand awareness – but that’s only if you take the time to invest in it to start with.  It’s not a quick or easy option as many first believe.  The results can be fantastic and extremely beneficial for your organisation, but you aren’t going to achieve them with only minimal investment, whether that’s time or money.

However, when it comes to choosing between integrating a blog within your company website and keeping it separate, it has to be understood that more often than not, the latter option really should only be considered as a last resort.

More to read