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Guest Posting: Getting Started

Posted on September 6, 2013 by Jessica

A great way to gain a lot of exposure for your own website is to write guest posts for someone else. This is going to increase your visibility for readers, and if your post happens to contain links directing the reader back to your own website, it increases your visibility to several search engines. 

 

Familiarize Yourself – Before you write a guest post on a blog, you should be pretty familiar with the specific site. Know who their readers are. Notice if their tone is professional or more casual. See what subjects the site normally addresses. A good type of guest post is supposed to add something to their content and should be enjoyed by all their readers. Ideally, the guest post will pull some new followers back to your own blog site. 

 

Do Your Homework and Research – Another way of becoming more familiar with the site is to look at other guest posts they have sponsored. If you suggest a guest post on a topic that was just addressed, it won’t go over too well. This would be nothing but a repetitive proposal, and it shows that you are not a regular reader on that site. Instead, try to spot a gap or need that has not been met yet and fill it with your own post. Oftentimes, an outsider can see something that the main author is not seeing because they are too close to it. Someone new, like you, can give a fresh insight. 

 

Networking With Others – It is always possible to simply offer to write a post for another site owner, but you might be more successful if you form a relationship with them first. Start slowly by leaving a few comments of some of their blog posts. If they are offering a subscription to a newsletter via email, reply via email now and then. You’re not trying to become their best friend, but you want them to know your name so that your own guest blog request is considered because you are not a complete stranger to them. 

 

Following Protocol – Always remember that if a site has a specific guide to follow to request a guest post, follow those guidelines instead of offering suggestions. Just like some businesses want you to mail in resumes and some want you to come in and fill out an application, each website has their specific way to do things, and the best idea is to respect that. 

 

Search For Visibility – One of the most important parts of guest blogging is the nice bump they give you on search engine results. Each guest post is linking back to your website. The more back links your website has, the better your page rank is in the search engine results. Try to include a link or two back to a relevant article on your own website to push the ratings a bit higher. Be cautious, however; no website owner respects guest post that appears to be spam advertising for the guest author’s website. 

 

If you do things right, your guest posting will benefit yourself, the readers on both sites, and the other website owner.  If you try any of these tactics when guest posting, I'd love to hear about it - please do let me know in the comments below!  

10 New Content Ideas for Business Blogs

Posted on May 28, 2013 by Jessica

Keeping an updated blog is one of the best way for businesses to stay active and in touch with their customers. Finding the right content for that blog, however, can be a difficult task. What will business blog customers want to read? What helps to promote the brand? Here are 10 easy and interesting content ideas for your company's blog.

  • Reference other blogs - Keep an eye out for other articles, blogs, or news stories that connect to your product or service. Quote an excerpt from it on your blog and add your own introduction and conclusion. Make sure you cite the original, of course.

  • Lists - Short lists are easy to write and easy to read. Find lists that would be interesting to your customers. For example, a bookstore could blog about 5 Great Books for Kids.

  • Interviews - Seek out people who are influential in your chosen field and ask to interview them. Include your audience by announcing who you'll be interviewing and asking them for questions.

  • Success Stories - If a customer expresses great satisfaction with the product, consider asking them to share their experience as a testimonial.

  • Share other links - Do a "best of the month" post on the first of every month, sharing links from other relevant blogs. This not only generates content for your own blog but may encourage those other blogs to share yours as well.

  • Answer Questions - Encourage your customers to ask questions in the comments. Take time in future blog posts to answer them. This helps your customers feel like they are a valuable part of the business.

  • Ask questions - A great way to generate content for several blog posts is to ask a question of your customers. As they answer, share their comments and stories in subsequent posts.

  • Hint at future plans - Got an exciting new product coming up? Give your blog readers hints. Then when the new product or service launches, make sure and write all about it on your blog to answer the questions you raised.

  • Review a related product or service - Don't review something in competition with you, but seek out other things you think your customers might be interested in. A bakery blog, for example, could review a new kitchen gadget.

  • Do a video post -  This shakes things up a little bit. Shoot a promo video, or go behind-the-scenes with a tour of the offices and interviews with various employees. Giving your brand a face can be very compelling for customers.

I hope this post has inspired you to shake things up a bit on your blog, or at least spark your creativity a bit for future posts! Please let us know if you have used any of these tactics, and how they turned out for you in the comments below! We love to hear our reader's success stories. 

Five Killer Blogging Mistakes

Posted on February 12, 2013 by Jessica

Blogging is an excellent way to bring traffic to a website. However, there are many common mistakes that people make when they make posts to their blog. These mistakes drive traffic away, rather than bring it in. With that in mind, it is important to know how to avoid these issues in order to build a superior website and boost traffic. 


The five most common mistakes in blogging are:
1. Focusing too much on SEO
2. Not running a spell check or grammar check
3. Focusing too hard on sales
4. No facts and no fact checking
5. Making posts too long

When most people start writing a blog for traffic purposes, they immediately focus on SEO, or search engine optimization. While SEO should be considered in writing a blog, it should not be the only thing keeping the blog together. When posts are stuffed with search-engine friendly keywords, they start to make less sence and provide less useful information. Rather than focus on several keywords similar to the topic, focus on writing useful content and keeping the keywords at a minimum.

Another easy mistake is simply not running a spelling or grammar check before making a new post. Blog posts that are riddled with spelling mistakes make the piece appear unprofessional and rushed. This detours people from reading further, even if the information provided is extremely beneficial. Simply proofreading the work usually takes care of this issue. There are also several spell-checking programs that can aid those who are continuing to have problems.

Focusing on sales is also another pitfall many blogs see. People browse blogs for interesting information, not advertisements. When the focus of a blog becomes sales, many people shy away from it. One easy fix is to create blog topics that relate to the product or service, then making a casual reference to it in the post, such as “I recommend using this product to solve this common problem.”

Having facts and useful information is what drives people to blogs. People want answers to their issues. Having factual information helps to gain trust and bring traffic to the blog. Many times, new bloggers will focus on strong opinions in their writing. While this can be good, it is hard to initially get a following of dedicated readers without having facts to back up the opinions expressed in the blog.

Lastly, long posts can be difficult for the reader. Many people simply browse the internet and skim-read most of the content that they find. Keeping a post under 800 words helps to give concise information the reader can quickly digest.

If you are a blogger, have you identified any mistakes that affect your blog's success? Or if you simply read blogs, are there things that bloggers do that affect your reading enjoyment? Please share with us in the comments below.

The Top Posts from 2011 - eCommerce and Entreprenuership Blog

Posted on December 28, 2011 by Josh Mc

Every year we like to look back on what posts hit home the most for our readers, and this year is no exception. 2011 was a year of ups and downs, with Google’s Panda shift effecting SEO’s, big changes from established social networks and new companies trying to carve themselves a piece of the pie. Our top five blogs reflect many of these ups and downs as well as many other practical pieces of advice for eCommerce marketers. Check them out below and let us know some of the top things you learned this year in the comments.

5. Providing Exceptional Customer Service
Arianna starts off the top blogs list this year was a post she wrote only 2 months ago about providing excellent customer service. She provides four tips you can use as a customer service manager to hopefully spur your team on to providing better service to your customers.

4. Six Tips for Gaining Twitter Follower
Twitter became increasingly popular this year with millions more people and businesses joining the service, as well as a lot of traction from the media and celebrities. This post helped provide tips for gaining followers on Twitter and helped to build out your personal network.

3. Best Practices for Ecommerce Upselling
Another post from earlier in the year, Joelle wrote a whole bunch of great tips on how to increase your ecommerce sales team’s ability to upsell customers. This is especially relevant in today’s marketplace where almost every company is making the transition into the online world.

2. How Google Makes Their Money
Just a simple infographic, this post made its way around the social networks as it showed in design form how Google makes money from its keywords. It was extremely interesting to see that some keywords can cost up to 50 dollars per click. Check it out if you haven’t seen it.

1.    The Top Nine Social Media Sites for Website Traffic
The number one post this year was one that collected the many different social networks currently making a splash and broke down the nine best ones for traffic to your site. It was well received and started a lot of conversation on which were better and why.

So there you have it, another year gone by. Hope you enjoyed our posts here at the eCommerce and Entreprenuership blog, and we look forward to connecting with more of you next year as well. Make sure to leave a comment if there is a topic that you would like us to cover in more detail next year. Here’s to a great 2012!

Halloween and a Dessert Contest at the Office

Posted on October 31, 2011 by Josh Mc

One of my favorite days of the year at the Gordian Project office is halloween. On that one day every year you can keep the dress shirt and pants in the closet and let out your inner pirate, zombie or boy scout to make your day at work that much more enjoyable. You can check out the outfits from years past here and here. This year we decided to switch it up a little bit and to also tack on a dessert contest to the normal festivities. We have an awesome group of really creative people at GordianProject that just so happen to love to bake. This works out in favor of the whole office, as we are able to not only dress up in creative and unique ways but also eat sweets throughout the day. Check out the pictures below and let us know what your office did for halloween this year.

The entries for the dessert contest.

The whole crew that dressed up.

Until next year... Happy Halloween!


Three Simple Tips for Staying Focused at Work

Posted on August 2, 2011 by Suzanne

I find that I often have the hardest time staying focused during the summer time. I think there will always be something inside me like an alarm that signals vacation time! I know there must be a lot of people out there like me so I thought I would write my tips for staying focused when all you want to do is relax at the beach.

1.    Make a List

It’s really easy to lose track of time, as well as where you are in your work without a list. If you have due dates add those to your list first and then smaller tasks that also have to be done after that. When approaching any project I normally have two lists that I work from. One has all the items that I have to do for that project and the other includes all the other daily tasks I need to get done that do not relate to the main project. Not only does this help me stay focused, but it helps me multitask as well. Having a list with tasks you can cross off goes a long way to motivate you to complete projects.

2.    Make it Fun

Setting goals for yourself is one way to make work fun and stay focused. I usually work back and forth between my lists and give myself little “treats” when I reach my goals. Usually in the morning my goal is getting a certain amount of items on my lists done before I can go to lunch. Then I usually like to break my afternoon up into two parts so once I reach my afternoon goal I usually take a break as well. There are a lot of great programs that can help you manage time such as these great Google Chrome extensions. The extension called time tracker that shows you how much time you spend on other sites can help you to stay motivated.

3.    Take a Break

We all need a chance to step away from our desks and just have a moment to ourselves. I usually like to do this in the afternoon because it allows me to take my eyes off the computer screen and step back to make sure all my daily projects are getting done. I normally go outside of the office and take the chance to soak in the warm summer sun. I like to take walks, but some of us here enjoy taking our lawn chairs out to the grass and just relaxing for a couple minutes.

What about you, do you have some tips you use to stay focused at work? Leave them in the comments.

eCommerce and Entrepreneurship Blog: Top 10 Posts of 2010

Posted on December 29, 2010 by Josh Mc

As we reach the end of the year, it is time to recap the top ten blogs of the year on the eCommerce and Entrepreneurship Blog. This year brought many changes to internal sources like personnel, as well as external sources such as earthquakes in Chile and Google’s ever changing product, search. Our top blogs bring to light all of these changes as they show that our readers are interested in the many facets of business ranging from search engine marketing to supply chain management. Check out the posts below to see our top blogs, and catch up on some of the ones you may have missed.


10. My Favorite Interview Questions – Ellen starts us off with a blog that provided great resources for the every business HR rep by showing some of her favorite questions to ask prospective employees. There are some great ones in the list that can help you dive down into the employee’s motivations and work ethic.


9. Google Wave is Dead – There was so much promise with the release and marketing of Google Wave. I remember beta keys selling for hundreds of dollars on Ebay just to check it out early. Unfortunately it never was able to take off and officially died in 2010, highlighted by this post from Josh.


8. The Impact of Social Media on the Earthquake in Chile – My first entry into the top ten was a post on the interesting ways social media was helping to find survivors and connect relief workers with people on the street. This was a hard time for the world, but it was interesting to see the way social media affected it.


7. ForeSee Results Releases Spring 2010 Customer Satisfaction Index for Internet Retailer Top 100 – Vanessa wrote this post about the satisfaction index for the Internet Retailer top 100 companies. It was interesting to see, and showed that Netflix and Amazon are still the top rated companies in satisfaction.


6. Customized Facebook Publishing: Difficult but Doable – Trevor wrote one of his many posts on Facebook integration by helping webmasters to integrate the like button onto their websites pages. Definitely worth the read if you haven’t done it yet.


5. Google Site Speed Ranking Factor and SEO Dilemma – Google made a large amount of updates this year with different ranking factors, new products and different search add ons, but one of the most talked about was their addition of speed as a ranking factor for web pages. Josh covers this in detail on this blog.


4. Six Best iPad Apps for the Business Professional - The iPad turned into to one of the biggest stories this year, and still topped many peoples Christmas lists this holiday season. I bit the bullet early and invested in one; in this post I discussed my favorite apps (that weren’t called Angry Birds).


3. Internet Retail and MAP (Minimum Advertised Pricing) – Jeff wrote on the confusing topic of adhering to manufacturers MAP pricing. This is a really interesting article that I would suggest you read for more clarification.


2. PayPal Pay Later Replaced by Bill Me Later? – By far the most comment spammed blog this year was Zac’s post on Paypal getting rid of pay later in favor of Bill Me Later. PayPal finally made use of their acquisition of Bill Me Later in 2008.


1. From Google Street Views to Google Store Views – Our number one blog of the year was Vanessa’s recap on the tip Barry Schwartz received about Google taking pictures within a store to eventually provide store view (like street view) allowing the user to navigate around the store virtually.


Well that is it, our top blogs of the last year. Thanks to everyone who subscribed and commented on our blog this year. We can’t wait to keep the news, tips and information rolling into 2011!
Happy New Year from all of us at the eCommerce and Entrepreneurship blog!

 

Competition Redefined – Lessons from Wesabe’s Demise

Posted on October 11, 2010 by Sean

Competition breeds excellence and we all enjoy the fruits of the fight. It brings us better phones and better food and better experiences at (usually) better prices. Without competition we might not have Android smartphone software or the Macbook or the commoditized coffee chain from which I write this blog.

There are two groups of winners in any competitive arena, first and most obvious - the winner of the event, whether it’s a sports team who won the series or start-up who secured the most VC interest. The second group of winners is us - the market, those for whom the gadget was designed, for whom the game was played. If the winning team is at the receiving end of millions (or billions?) of dollars, we’re at the receiving end of a product polished, edited and refined by the competitive process; and for us, the more brutal the competition, the better.

In his post-mortem essay, “Why Wesabe Lost to Mint” Wesabe co-creator, Marc Hedlund responds to speculations surrounding the Wesabe vs. Mint competition, and debunks several misunderstandings associated with Wesabe’s eventual acquiescence.

If you haven’t used or heard of either, both Wesabe and Mint were/are personal finance web-applications. In his essay, Hedlund makes his intentions clear. “I prioritized trying to build tools that would eventually help people change their financial behavior for the better, which I believed required people to more closely work with and understand their data” he says.  A noble pursuit, to be sure, but in the end, not enough.

It wasn’t the name.  Hedlund mentions several examples of screwy-names-turned-profitable, listing Google, Yahoo and Amazon (I might also submit Hulu). While the term “mint” helps conjure images of fortresses full of gold bars or the literal creation of money, Wesabe supplements bland sushi. No matter, he says, it wasn’t the name that held them back.

And it wasn’t the timing, either. According to Hedlund, Wesabe had nearly a 10 month head-start on Mint. In the world of all-night programming binges and instant market feedback, 10 months is an eternity. While he admits that there are some advantages in not being first (learning from competition missteps, free market research etc.) it is generally valuable to be the first to market. Wesabe was first and they still failed.

“Most people simply won't care enough or get enough benefit from long-term features if a shorter-term alternative is available” Hedlund concedes. As someone deeply interested in personal finance (and well-versed in the usefulness of web-apps) I’ve tried both services and found Hedlund’s hypothesis true, without question. While Wesabe might have yielded the most permanent results (Long-term personal finance improvement) I never got past the myriad of fields and required data-entry. Simply put, Wesabe was too hard to use.

Mint, at the other end of the spectrum, might be too simplistic to effect real change. Yes, it gives me a nice macroscopic view of my finances. It sends me emails when I am approaching my determined budget-limit in certain financial categories. It’s effective in that regard, but I believe long-term, sustainable personal finance goals are met when the user develops responsibility and discipline - qualities likely to come through a series of repeated micro decisions. The sad irony is that while Hedlund and I are simpatico in this regard, he is the co-founder of an out-of-business personal finance enterprise and I am the user of a semi-ineffective personal finance web application.

In my experience, most of us slave over branding issues and domain name ideas and spend too much time doubled-over and panting with exhaustion trying to beat the competition to market. Mint wasn’t first, and yet they won because they gave us what we wanted.  Maybe it’s time to consider what the user actually wants, rather than what we want them to want.

For now, I’ll just check my email and make sure it’s okay to buy another cup of coffee.

 


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Five Reasons I Moderately Dislike List Blogs

Posted on May 26, 2010 by Sean

I read a lot of blogs. Ashamedly, I’ve fairly recently been introduced to a fantastic piece of technology from Google (only a few years late, right?) so now it’s easier for me than ever to read my favorite blogs in one sweet location.  In my ocular travels, I’m starting to notice a few things about list blogs.

Five Reasons I Moderately Dislike List Blogs

  1. They’re everywhere. With something like Google reader, all of my favorite blogs are aggregated into a neatly formatted page allowing me to consume or navigate away from the latest offerings from my favorite writers. This is great for convenience, but because it allows for almost side-by-side comparisons of different authors, the homogeny is often obvious.

  2. They promote the “lowest common denominator” - I suppose if you want your blog to read like journalism or quick info-fare, a list blog might be fine. What happens when we read list blogs (or anything with a list) is that readers are visually drawn to the list, leaving the requisite intro paragraph largely unread. For me at least, it seems that while they might generate readers, they do very little to convert readers. That is, draw them into your story, compel us to learn or feel, or support. These are the kind of viewers/readers/customers that companies pay billions for.

  3. Life isn’t a list. There are many days (all of them) I hope for neatly packaged instructions for life. Sadly, each of those days, I come to find that there isn’t actually “five keys to financial success!” or “fourteen keys to happiness.” I suppose financial success comes through hard work and discipline (two steps by last count) and there are probably far more than fourteen ways to become happier. But, we’re served convenient lists of ways to change our life, I suspect because…

  4. They’re easy. It’s easier to write in list format but it feels a little like suffocating the real writer. My favorite writers are ones who take sudden lefts when the reader wants to go straight. They hike the longer trail for the beauty of it. Or, simply, they give you two paragraphs of wisdom and move on. List blogs assume a dedicated format (listing, generally chronologically) and there’s little room for creativity – though it’s taxing, it’s necessary for real art. Conversely, sometimes it feels like writers really have two points to make, but because a two-point list is strange, they unnecessarily drag it out into five-points, sometimes essentially restating an original tip. See next point for proof of this phenomenon.

  5. They’re everywhere. They’re here, and here, and here. Writers covet readers, but readers covet newness and fresh ideas. Why don’t we treat readers with the respect they deserve? A person or company who asks us to read what they’ve written is an imposition on their time (read this, instead of that.) And it’s one of the most honoring and humbling and special feelings I can think of. We’re given so many minutes each day, to have someone to spend several of them learning with you is actually kind of profound.

I confess, originally the title was “Reasons I hate list blogs” but through writing a list blog, I kind of realized that I don’t hate them, I just hate what they sometimes represent. Sometimes, they’re absolutely necessary. They draw our focus to the point, and when constructed simply, it simply works.

It looks like another element consistent throughout this week’s blog aggregation is ending your blog with a question. So, as I’ve ironically (perhaps bitterly) written a list blog decrying list blogs, I will end with a deep and poignant question germane to the formula, typically used to inspire comments and conversation. Also, a generic stock-photo related to your blog topic doesn’t hurt (see above.)

What kind of blog do you prefer to read? Do list blogs hold your attention?

 


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Why Bloggers Can’t Share Everything They Have Learned

Posted on March 25, 2010 by josh

This blog post is one that won't explain, instruct, or enhance any measure of your working life; but there's a good reason for it. Managing two critical departments for an eCommerce company, IT and Development, can be extremely challenging and fun. Often, we come up with incredible solutions for complex problems that I know others are going to traverse. As much as I want to share all of our experiences on how we've navigated some tough roads or saved/made the company thousands, or even tens of thousands, of dollars, I can't. It's not that I want to hoard all of our awesome developments or ground-breaking discoveries or money-saving ideas. It's that I have two very ominous risks ahead of me in sharing: Secret Sauce and Security.  And it's something that other bloggers have to take into consideration when they post as well.

Secret Sauce

How many of your blog readers are your competitors? I know for a fact that the employees of some of our biggest competitors follow our company's, and my personal, Twitter. How much can I say without saying too much and giving away our secret sauce? Well, in some departments, giving a general idea of how to execute high level processes might be ok. But in the world of Development, if we talk too much about how we figured out how to leverage more with less, at very little cost, we potentially give our competitors whatever competitive advantage we've garnered from such an effort. It stinks, because I empathize with other development managers that are out there facing an issue that I know is or will be familiar to them. I want to help them out.

Security

In both IT and Development, the more I speak publicly about the systems we've implemented, the more we put ourselves at risk. If potential hackers, thieves, bandits, jerks, pirates, etc. don't know what we're running, the attack surface is much bigger for them and it makes their nefarious activities much more difficult. If, however, we reduce the security footprint by revealing implemented systems, any Googler can query common vulnerabilities or techniques to leverage our property. Though I realize that it's our job to ensure that such vulnerabilities are covered, it still doesn't make sense to improve their chances for things like zero day exploits.

You likely read this blog because you want to hear about the secret sauce and the awesome systems and I appreciate your ear. The members of my departments and I will do our best to share as much as we can, without letting it create any liabilities.