Top tip from BloggerConf 2015 — Be true to yourself

If there was a single, over-riding message at last weekend’s sell-out BloggerConf it was “find your unique voice”.

Bloggerconf advised delegates to stay true to their area of expertiseTime and again throughout the day speakers with different perspectives stressed the importance of having a distinct voice and staying true to your area of expertise.

The event, organised by Emma O’Farrell (EOF Media) in partnership with Lifes2Good took place in Dublin’s five-star Marker Hotel on Sunday 22 November 2015 and attracted a strong turn out of Irish bloggers who specialise in everything from beauty and fashion, to travel, fitness and business.

A packed programme had BloggerConf trending on social media from early on Sunday morning as speakers shared their insights on the business side of blogging.

The perspectives varied — some focused on opportunities, others sought to raise awareness of  threats and challenges. From monetising blogs to social media and the law, the emphasis throughout was practical and there was lots of good advice for novices as well as for more experienced bloggers.

Masterclasses provided expert advice on working with brands, Google Adsense, Video for Vloggers and Twitter while networking breaks ensured delegates had the opportunity to meet and learn from each other in a friendly and supportive environment.

Top BloggerConf Tips

Tips for bloggers included:

  • the need to claim/register your blog name on all platforms even if you focus your social media activity on just one or two
  • the need to create a media kit for your blog
  • the importance of balance when creating content and knowing the difference between opinion and fact
  • the benefits of collaborating with other bloggers who can help you grow your audience

If you’re interested in blogging, take a look at #BloggerConf on Twitter where delegates are sharing links to their learnings from the event.

When’s the last time you checked your accounting firm’s online presence?

Accounting firms that are not visible online can miss out on attracting potential new clients. This came home to me recently when I set about engaging an accounting firm and found it surprisingly difficult to identify suitable firms in my local area. It’s not that the firms don’t exist. There were actually quite a few listed in various directories but these listings provide little information and, like most people these days, I do my homework online before making that initial phone call.

Accountants are trusted advisors and it is important to find someone you can get along with.  Being in the content business, I wanted someone who understood digital media and marketing and I also wanted someone younger than me because I hope that the firm I choose will continue to look after my needs until I retire.

Whatever the combination of factors likely to influence a potential client’s choice, the chances are the first place they’ll look for a service provider is online.

Accounting firm's onlineSo, how easy is it to find your firm?

One way to check your accounting firm’s online presence is to ask a friend or neighbour to run a Google search and see where your firm’s website shows up. If you made it on to the first page of the search results, congratulations! If you didn’t, you may need to look at your website design and content. (Those are topics I will discuss in future blog posts).

For now, let’s assume that the potential client found your firm, clicked the link and they’re now on your website. What they see may depend on whether they are using a mobile phone or tablet,  a laptop or desktop computer.  Unless your site is easily readable on each of these devices, you risk losing your potential new client. Responsive sites display correctly on all devices and with more web searches now done from mobile devices, it’s really important that your site is mobile friendly. You may have heard of Mobilegeddon earlier this year when Google introduced a change in favour of websites that are mobile friendly. So, if  your firm’s website is not responsive, you again have work to do.

Assuming that your site is responsive, your potential client is now browsing your firm’s content and is likely to be interested in a range of details such as location, services, recommendations, personnel, qualifications and regulation. It is worth checking that you have covered the following:

  • Does your site provide your address, telephone number, email and social media links?
  • Does your site list – and describe – the services that your firm provides?
  • Does your site provide testimonials from satisfied clients?
  • Does your site provide an ‘About us’ page with photos and biographical information about your firm’s partners and key staff focusing in particular on their qualifications and individual areas of expertise?
  • Who regulates your firm and have you included the relevant details on your homepage?
  • Does your website provide an easy means for clients to contact you? If your website provides a contact form, is the inbox for messages from that form monitored and responded to on a timely basis?
  • Are your social media links easy to find and have you included links to the LinkedIn profiles of your key personnel and your business’s LinkedIn page? Potential clients may be more likely to contact you if they find that you have contacts in common.

It is useful to provide some additional options since not every potential client will be ready to call you following their first visit to your website.  You can improve the chances that they’ll come back when they’re ready to talk if you provide an option for them to subscribe to your firm’s newsletter, request a free report or ask to join the mailing list for your next client briefing.

Finally, while this article has focused on websites, remember that potential clients are also likely to search for you and/or your firm on social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. So, if you have a presence on those platforms, it’s worth considering whether the information you provide is sufficient to meet your potential clients’ requirements.

Thanks for reading and if you found this article useful, please consider sharing it and/or subscribing to my newsletter for future updates.

Crowdsourcing the Digitisation of National Archive Collections

Any researcher who has had to rely on microfilm to read old newspapers for research will welcome steps to digitise and make searchable the newspaper holdings of national libraries. In an initiative that takes advantage of widespread interest in history and genealogy, the National Library of Australia is using crowdsourcing in an interesting project to move forward with digitising the NLA’s newspaper collections.

What is crowdsourcing?

Crowdsourcing is a process that engages large numbers of individuals in projects that have some public benefit. The National Library of Australia’s Trove  project allows users of the the NLA’s newspaper archives to correct the text of digitised news. For example, if you are searching for your Australian ancestors and come across relevant news or announcements in any of the newspapers in the Trove archive, you have the ability to correct typos in the text and submit the corrections. It takes only a couple of minutes to correct a block of text but if enough people do it, it greatly speeds up the process for the project as a whole. The National Library of Australia is leading with a great example that demonstrates how crowdsourcing can be used by national libraries to improve access to collections and enhance their services for the benefit of all users.

Content Curation alternatives for Google Reader

You might not realise it, but if you’ve been using Google Reader as a shortcut to your favourite websites, you’ve effectively been engaged in a form of content curation. With Google Reader going to be gone from June 2013, it is time to think about exporting your RSS feeds (via Settings in Google Reader) so that you can import them into your new feed reader. The shift offers an opportunity to review your subscriptions, eliminate areas of duplication and perhaps discard some of subscriptions that are no longer of interest or that you are not reading on a regular basis.

Content curation alternatives for Google Reader

Alternatives to Google Reader include FeedlyNewsblur and The Old Reader and it is likely that finding a satisfactory replacement reader may require some experimentation.

Depending on how you choose to consume your feeds, the following may be of interest:

Tablet/Mobile

Flipboard is an app developed for iOS and Android that you can use to create a magazine-style reading interface for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and your favourite RSS feeds. It’s easy to use and easy on the eye.

Alternatives include FeedlyNewsifyPulse and Google Currents.

Web

If you are using RSS to monitor industry trends or particular themes as well as or instead of RSS feeds, then Netvibes might be a good choice. It is visually attractive and easy to build “dashboards”. The basic service is free but depending on how you want to use Netvibes, you might need to pay for additional services.

Protopage is a relatively simple, easy to use reader with some basic widgets such as calendars, to-do list and a comment box and will import OPML files.

The Old Reader also reads OPML and will import your Google Reader subscriptions.xml provided that you have exported and downloaded it (which you do from “Settings” in Google Reader).

With plenty of individuals currently in the same boat, a useful idea might be to try out some of the services mentioned above and include “GoogleReader” when setting up your hashtag and subject watch lists.