Yvonne A Jones is your Client Retention Mentor| Online Marketing Strategist | Certified Professional Speaker who helps business professionals build strong customer relationships so they increase their revenue and have more FUN in their business. She’s been recognized as one of The Top 100 Most Social Customer Service Pros on Twitter by www.HuffingtonPost.com and one of the 25 Small Business Marketing Experts to Follow on Twitter via www.MercuryTalk.net
Please tell us something about yourself. Is blogging your profession or just a hobby?
Blogging is a natural part of what I do in my business. My business model has changed more than once since starting online in the fall of 2008, and it’s currently undergoing changes again as I move away from a Done-for-You Service Model to a Training and Mentoring Model. I believe that regardless of the nature of your business, you should have a blog because not only is your blog a means of educating your readers about your product and services, but it’s also a way to build a relationship with them so that they get to know, like, and trust you to a greater degree.
Your blog provides the space to be authentic and let your personality shine, while you provide content that addresses the concerns of your readers and market.
When did you get an idea to launch your own blog and how important is it for you to be online?
I started my online business, while working in corporate America, because I was marketing a line of skin care and color cosmetics and I wanted to reach more people. What I found was that at the time there were lots of restrictions from the company about linking to their website, etc. Therefore, I had to find another way to share information about skin care and beauty tips so I started my first blog on Blogger.com.
Eventually I began to add other articles about working from home because I’d left corporate life and started a business from home and discovered that there were thousands of women who were doing the same while working online.
In 2009 I connected with an excellent Mentor and began studying the different facets of online marketing, including Blogging, Article Marketing, Affiliate Marketing, etc. Then in 2010 I added Social Media Marketing to hone my skills to provide services for local businesses.
Throughout the evolution of my business, I kept blogging and using it as a tool to inform and educate.
Did you have someone help you make the website or did you do it by yourself?
Blogger was pretty easy and having been taught how to set up a WordPress website as part of the online marketing training, I was able to set up multiple websites through my C-Panel. Back in 2009 and early 2010 my Landing Pages were all html so I outsourced those. My current website at http://YvonneAJones.com was built by someone else and I’m getting ready to update that with another theme that’s easier for visitors to navigate.
The right domain name is important. How long did it take you to come up with the domain name for your blog?
My first domain was www.MySuccessCircleOnline.com and the website is still out there with over 100 blog posts. I wanted a name with circle to reflect the fact that I did multiple things but they all circled back to the one goal – being of service and building a relationship. My goal was also to help and support others to be successful. I had to include “My” as the rest of the name was taken.
I also have a blog: www.qualitycustomersatisfaction.com that I created when I wrote my first Kindle book on Customer Service. That was carefully thought out as well.
My current active website, which features a blog of articles published on my, site as well as guest posts, is my name as I made the decision to brand my name as I am the product.
What kind of Theme do you use on your blog and what are the “must have” plugins for a blog?
I’ve been using Weaver, which is a free Theme, but what I like about it is that you can customize it so that it looks different on every site. However, as mentioned before I’ll be updating my website to reflect more of the Mentoring and Training that I’ll be focusing on. Since I love writing, I will continue to offer writing services and content creation. This new Theme will be a paid Theme from Elegant Themes and will make it clear what my offers are.
Must have plugins include: SEO by Yoast, Askimet, Social Sharing plugins, Contact Form.
What CMS (Content Management System) do you use on your blog? How hard is it to navigate within your CMS (making a new post, inserting images, moderating comments, etc.)?
I use WordPress.org the self-hosted WordPress platform.
How much time do you spend blogging?
It varies. In the first three years of so I was blogging at least three times per week. Because blogging is not the only thing I do, but it’s important to provide good content on a regular basis, I write a blog post for my own blog at least once per week. I also write guest posts and submit articles/posts to online newspapers and also the LinkedIn publishing platform.
How do you promote your blog? Do you use social media channels to attract more visitors to your blog?
The statistic for my blog reveal that most of my traffic come via social media and it changes between Twitter and Facebook. I usually get a lot of Facebook traffic when I post to Groups on days that are designated for blog posts. Not to be ignored is Google+ to achieve ranking quickly. Make sure to post the link to your blog on Google+.
Would you encourage other people to make their own blogs?
Yes. Everyone in business has customers and you should want to educate those customers. What problem do you solve for them through your product or service? Share the benefits of what you offer as well as share information that they can benefit from. This allows you to build relationships of trust with them, while positioning you as the expert on the topic.
It does take time, but taking time to brainstorm some topics that revolve around your business ahead of time, it makes it easier. Keep abreast of changes in your industry, follow thought leaders, listen to your market. What questions are they asking? What keeps them up at night? All of these provide you with topics to write about.
It’s ok to be a copycat, just don’t plagiarize! What I mean by that is, take note of what the Influencers in your niche are writing about and come up with a different angle to the topic where you can present your own viewpoint.
Please give us some advice for new bloggers and for people who are still not sure if they need a blog of their own?
Make sure that your topic can go deep and wide. It should not be so limited that you run out of things to write about quickly. It should be something you know about or are studying, and will enjoy writing about. If not, it will not be fun. Take the time to develop your own writing style. If you’re not accustomed to writing on a regular basis, familiarize yourself with blogs in your niche and read blog posts. Find the ones that resonate with you until your writing feels authentic and reveals your personality. Don’t be discouraged if no one appears to be reading your blog posts at first but keep promoting through social media and through email as you build your list.
One way for new bloggers to increase their visibility is to join Blog Challenges where dozens of people, sometimes a 100 or more are in the challenge. When you visit and comment on their posts they will do the same for you. Promote posts you like on social media and they will also do the same for you. That strategy alone gave my blog a huge boost over three or four 30-day periods.
Photos ©: Yvonne A. Jones