The need to be creative is perhaps paramount for bloggers. It doesn’t just come down to being creative with your posts either. Creative thinking exercises could be spread across a number of needs, such as how to make a brand out of your blog, or how to make its look fit in with your message among other things. In all, it takes a lot of energy, focus, dedication and commitment to be creative all the time, and most certainly at times when you need it the most. But creativity scares the living daylights out of most folk. It’s not a mystical, magical, crazy land that is unattainable folks; it’s not like creativity will hit you like a lightning bolt hurled from the hands of Zeus himself. The reality is that we are all creative, and a few creative thinking exercises can keep you sharp and up to the task all the time.
Write on something you’re passionate about
This is perhaps the single most important thing I can tell you. If you’re not passionate about something, it will show. Admit it. You’ll struggle to write on something that is of no interest to you, far less write about it passionately. Celebrity blogging might be where the greenbacks are at, but if you couldn’t care less about them or if you’re not going to do it to the best of your abilities, why do it? Leave it to the TMZ’s and the Perez Hilton’s of the world to hunt down celebs. If wine interests you, write about it. Extoll its virtues until kingdom come, why don’t you? Perhaps if you’ve lost some interest in your blog, find an angle that can rekindle that interest. Be creative. The more unique the angle, the better.
Keep on learning
There’s something I cannot describe about learning new things that just gives me joy. It’s invigorating as experiences go and it often helps me pull myself out of a creative rut more often than not. You don’t even need to learn by going to classrooms, seminars, conferences and meetings. All you need is a sense of curiosity and you’ll never stop learning. Online classes, e-books, podcasts, conversations; there’s something to learn everywhere, so sharpen that mind of yours today.
Jot down your ideas
Sometimes, I’m riding the subway or in a bus or in the shower and a great idea hits me. It could be an idea for a birthday gift, or a blog post or just about anything. I make it a point to note down any such ideas because they rarely hit me when I’m staring at the laptop. I am at my most creative in the oddest of locations. I had a terrific idea for a blog post hit me once when I was at a Starbucks, and that’s not even the oddest of locations, if I were to be honest. Don’t let that idea vanish into nothingness. Scribble it down somewhere, come back to it later. Never hold an idea in your head, consign it to something physical, like paper or on your phone. You can always come back to it later then.
That’s it then. Three of my top creative thinking exercises for you to do. They’re not really exercises as much as tips, but there you go. I hope it was of some assistance to you.
This is something that you perhaps haven’t considered, but ponder over it for a second; is your website ready for mobile devices or does it need further mobile optimization? Many reports have predicted that there will be some 1.7 billion mobile internet users by the year 2013. And if they find that your website isn’t fully mobile optimized, they’ll simply turn elsewhere. It’s quite safe to say that more than a few of them will visit your site and view it on a screen no larger than your open hand. That is why you need mobile optimization. Could you imagine surfing through a website that is cramped, counter-intuitive and hard to read from a mobile device? Well, neither can your user base.
It’s not just about ease of navigation or viewability either. It’s about connection speeds. Your website will usually be rendered nicely on laptops and desktops with their higher connection speeds. But mobile users have to make do with slower connections. Telecommunication service providers ramp up their services all the time, but the experience is still a slow one for users. That’s logical; the more capacity that is added, the faster it is consumed by users. No matter where your visitors come from, they need to have a good experience on your website. And the requirement for mobile optimization holds true for regular and first-time visitors.
What good is that fancy, even gorgeous site design if you don’t consider the needs of your users? An increasing percentage of your users are going to come from mobile devices such as the iPad, the iPhone, Android devices and the upcoming PlayBook. In the light of that, great looks is only so important. What needs to be prioritized is usability and a high quality experience. You have to make sure your website feels great for everyone out there. The problem is sometimes we don’t know how to do that and that’s understandable. But there are some very easy things you can do to take your first steps towards mobile optimization of your website.
The first thing to do, especially if you are using WordPress, is to make the website more mobile friendly by using plugins. All it will take you is 30 seconds (yes, really) and WP Touch is perhaps the best of the lot. The price is right (it’s free!) and it’s a very customizable tool that you can use to suit your needs and your site. Of course, visitors should be given the option of visiting the standard site too. But before you install any plugins, make sure you back up the website. Seriously, do that right now.
Sometimes, solid marketing can be so hard to resist. Just yesterday, I stumbled upon this pair of shoes in my closet and I wondered how the hell it got there in the first place. Surely some ex-girlfriend hadn’t left it behind after a night of crazed debauchery? But a closer look revealed to me that it was not so. These were, in fact, men’s shoes. So I can only presume that I bought it previously for god alone knows what reason. It’s fancy, it’s too small for my feet and I’ve never really worn them. Well, maybe the once, but that’s it. What the hell came over me and why did I buy these stupid shoes? All I could think of was that some savvy marketer had made me part with my dollars. It made me feel like a fool, but in my foolishness lies a lesson on how to build your business.
Too often, I see compelling ads forcing me to take action now. Oh my god, my favorite product is now available at an 85% discount! This expert on the mating habits of the African Swallow will only discuss its relevance and value until Monday! This service promises to change my life for better or worse or they’ll give me my money back! Okay, so I made a few of those up. But the best way to build your business is to increase an element of urgency and risk to things. This makes customers take action right here, right now. And maybe you too will sucker someone in, just like I got suckered into buying those fancy pair of shoes. I was tempted by some seemingly irresistible offer, although I know not what it was, and it is something you too can do.
Sometimes, this marketing works a charm. You end up buying something you just don’t need at all. I have no idea why I pick up some of the items I do at the supermarket, but I do anyways. And I am not alone in acting so randomly and in such an unexplainable manner. Perhaps like me after I realized I was suckered into buying those shoes, your customers too might feel resentful and angry and not return to your business. So make sure what you are offering is a good fit for your customers and that they can be happy with them. That will make them repeat customers.
And that’s a surefire way to build your business, by drawing in your customers, but making sure they are happy with the buying experience. They might not say a word to you about their displeasure, but they just won’t buy from you. That’s a pitfall to be avoided. Sometimes, you just have to tell someone the shoe doesn’t fit. Or they’ll be really pissed off, like I am at this moment.
This is a story of two women. One of the women in question is my hairdresser and the other woman in question is my massage therapist. Yes, this is a tale of two women, but in it there is also a lesson to be learned. A lesson about how to deal with people, a lesson that will offer online marketing tips. But if you expect me to simply offer you that lesson without getting into details, you’re nuts. That’s not my style. I’d rather teach you to fish than you hand you a giant fish. So, without further ado, allow me to compensate.
Let’s talk about my massage therapist first. Now, I was involved in a reasonably bad car accident some years back, and my back has never been the same since. So yes, I do indulge in massage therapy every now and then and it is safe to say that I feel a strong connection with my massage therapist. Perhaps it’s the fact that a bond is created since you get naked that much around a person, but I’m not sure that’s it. I just see her very often and she’s close to my age. I think that’s it. If you’re thinking, “where the hell are my online marketing tips”, I’m going to tell you to be patient. Good things come to those that wait, didn’t you know?
A month, maybe more ago, my hairdresser simply asked if I’d recommend her for a “best of” compilation that a website was running. They rank a lot of things, restaurants, places to go, and yes, among other things hairdressers too. Mind you, her request wasn’t cheapened by bribing me or begging me. She didn’t say “I’ll give you a free haircut if you do this.” I’d have said no straight away if she had proposed that to me. She just made a request and I went home and gladly did so. It took me all of two minutes, and I felt it was deserved.
Imagine how sheepish I felt when, a few weeks later once the recommendations had shut (for now) my massage therapist told me that she was also looking for recommendations and I felt bad I didn’t give her one. But could you blame me? I never even knew about it! I’d have been more than happy to recommend her services. It’s not just about supporting her business, I’d just have liked to do something for her. Perhaps I should have checked the other categories. But that is all moot now. I only wish she had asked it of me.
And there, ladies and gents, is one of the biggest online marketing tips I can give you. Ask and ye shall receive. We don’t ask for guest posts or donations or advice or purchases to support the blog or business or service. Heck, we don’t even say “just click this link”. It seems very commercial, like you’ve sold your soul to the devil for a cookie, but that’s not true. It’s not even pushy! Some people do get pushy, but that’s not you, is it? Yeah, I thought not. Don’t be aggressive, and don’t be passive. Make a request, be nice and just trust that those loyal to you will help you. Stop giving and look to get something in return. If you don’t do that, you’re a very nice person. A very nice person that’s poor or broke. And you don’t want to be that, do you?