Tag Archives: lists

The Power of Making Lists

sticky notes on cork board and on one sticky note are the words "make things happen"

 

In her book, How Much Joy Can You Stand?: A Creative Guide to Facing Your Fears and Making Your Dreams Come True, Suzanne Falter-Barns, focuses on the power of making lists.  She suggest making the following lists:

 

  • 10 Things You are Passionate About
  • 10 Things You Love About Your Life
  • 10 Things That Are Uniquely You
  • 10 Things You Would Like to Share
  • 10 Things You Could Fix or Change About the World
  • 10 Things You’d Like To Do Before You Die

The power of making lists comes from reflecting and writing down the answers to these lists.  You will know more about yourself. You will recognize what you are passionate about and what you love about your life.  You will know what makes you, well–you!

You will think of specific things you can share (time, talents, or money).  You will think about what you could help fix or what you would like to change about the world.

Lastly, you will have the opportunity to think of things you would like to do before you die (your personal bucket list). Many people have testified to putting down the most unlikely events and they came true!

“Shark Tank” Investor and successful entrepreneur Barbara Cocoran, who uses lists to overcome her time constraints, organizes her lists into the following three sections:

  • Calls to make
  • Things to review
  • Projects to do

As you write the answers to these lists down, you will know more about yourself and your goals and dreams. I challenge you to experience the power of making lists! Lists also let you evaluate how you are spending your time. It is easy to be busy, but harder to be effective. The power of making lists may be that it changes your life!

How Bed and Breakfasts Can Win Like Amazon

Amazon Prime logo

Think about how your inn can win like Amazon and uniquely excel in hospitality, cuisine, and accommodations. Fast Company ranked Amazon the World’s Most Innovative Company in 2017.  Amazon is the largest American e-commerce company.

Founded on July 5 of 1994, Jeff Bezos selected the name Amazon as he looked through the dictionary.  He settled on “Amazon” because it was a place that was “exotic and different” just as he envisioned for his Internet enterprise.  Bed and breakfasts should each strive to be different and stand out in a unique and impressive way.

Bezos also noted that the Amazon river was by far the “largest” river in the world and he planned to make his store the largest in the world.  Amazon, as a company, has achieved enormous success. Back in 1996, Amazon was only a $16 million company while Barnes and Noble was at the time a gigantic $2 billion company.  However, Amazon was the fastest company to reach one billion in sales. In 2016, Amazon’s revenue was $136 billion United States dollars while Barnes and Noble increased to a significantly smaller $4.16 billion.

How did Amazon do it?  Amazon set goals to create something superior and completely new.  Jeff Bezos, who continues to record ideas as he thinks of them, made a list of 20 possible categories for his business and then decided that his best option was to start with books.  Years later Amazon would become one of the world’s best known companies and be referred to as “the everything store.”

While publishers complained when Amazon let its users publish book reviews (showing both the positive and negative comments), Jeff Bezos stated, “We make money when we help customers make purchase decisions.”  To him, it was so people could make informed choices.  The user-generated content did give Amazon viewers an extra reason to visit their website: actual buyers of books were giving their honest opinions.  Now consumers can leave written evaluations of any of Amazon’s products.  Bed and breakfasts would do well to encourage their happy guests to leave reviews as well.

Amazon strives for continuous improvement and efficiency.  While you may be satisfied with the size of your business, there are always things innkeepers can do to make more money with each guest who visits.  Whether through added packages, special retreats, retail merchandise, or other extras, make it a goal to win like Amazon by gaining more business from every customer (guest) who contacts your inn.

Names are so important for both people and places. Names help define people and brands. One of the most successful brands is Amazon.  Bed and breakfasts can look to Amazon for its success as a brand and its successful brand name.

Since June 19, 2000, Amazon’s logotype has featured a curved arrow leading from A to Z, representing that the company carries every product from A to Z, with the arrow shaped like a smile.  A good bed and breakfast logo can appear on merchandise you sell like coffee mugs, cookbooks, and aprons.

Amazon carefully selects who they hire to join the company.  According to Amazon, they hire only the best and the brightest.  Some interview questions have been known to catch people off guard like, “Do you know why manhole covers are round?”  This is to judge the reasoning skills of interviewees as much as it is assess their intelligence.  This sets a high bar for the talent they hire.

While they have had some personnel issues as far as people electing to leave the company, many employees have done very well for themselves by staying.  Bed and breakfasts can win like Amazon by being selective when hiring more staff members.

One of Amazon’s core values is innovation.  They remain on the cutting edge of technology with their products and services.  As a company they love inventing things.  They are not held back by conventional thinking. They will quickly abandon old notions and embrace new ones when better options present themselves.  Likewise, innkeepers should stay on the cutting edge with their online marketing, reservation software, and so forth.

Amazon is known for their excellent customer service. They offer a generous 30-day return policy. They are resolved to offer the lowest prices anywhere.  Amazon has expanded not only the types of merchandise it sells, but also the programs it offers.

With a focus on long-term customer loyalty, those who are Amazon Prime members get several perks including free shipping.  Bed and breakfasts can win like Amazon by rewarding returning guests and guests who make referrals.

Amazon is obsessed with customer satisfaction.  This online giant offers a personalized version of their website and gives recommendations to each shopper based on their previous searches and purchases. Amazon’s wide selection, low prices, and excellent customer service is remaking industries.

Through strategic marketing, including blogging, social media, and phone conversations, bed and breakfast guests can win like Amazon by persuading guests to spend more money during their visits on custom packages and other options.

Amazon arguably has the most authoritative online product catalog.  To make it easier for customers to learn more about the products on Amazon, they offer the following lists and tools:

  • Amazon Bestseller Lists
  • Amazon Sales Rank
  • Amazon Wishlists
  • Amazon Look Inside The Book
  • Amazon Search Inside The Book

Amazon’s overarching goal is to be the first place people look to buy anything. Amazon is also referred to as the “unstore.”  According to Bezos, Amazon is not bound by the traditional rules of retail. This is a list of some of Amazon’s products and services:

Perhaps having a company name beginning with “A” was preferential due to the probability it would occur at the top of any list that was alphabetized.  Does this mean that your bed and breakfast name must start with the letter A?  No, absolutely not.  You can think of a clever and profitable bed and breakfast business name by taking into account: your location, your inn, your decorating theme(s), and so on.

Maybe I should rename my company name from Bed and Breakfast Blogging to something else?  Any suggestions??  Feel free to comment below with positively creative suggestions!

The Tao of Twitter (Part 4)

the tao of twitter

This is the last part of a four-blog-post series highlighting useful information from the hot #1 bestselling book on Twitter: The Tao of Twitter by Mark W. Schaefer.  One of Mark’s essential keys to Twitter success involves providing meaningful content.

His suggestions include:

  • Tweet about what interests you
  • Share what you are reading online
  • Link to your blog or other blogs with rich and relevant content
  • Link to your comments on other social media platforms
  • Leverage your other online content
  • Share something human like what you are grateful for
  • Tweet something non-work related
  • Tweet news related to your business or industry
  • Tweet your opinion on something in the news or something funny
  • Tweet in the moment
  • Tweet at peak times
  • Thoughtfully schedule tweets (Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, or Buffer can help you fan them out throughout the day)
  • Tweet regularly only if you have something of value to share
  • Sharing someone else’s tweet is a form of complimenting them and it puts you on their radar screen: put their content then via @personyouareRTing
  • Keep your tweets as short as possible to make them more shareable
  • Tweet exclusive content before it is released anywhere else
  • Build up the buzz about something before it comes
  • Link to interesting content such as blogs, podcasts, and videos

Schaeffer also discusses the value of using and making Twitter Lists:

  • Click the Me icon, then click Lists and it will show lists subscribed to and lists you are a member of
  • To create a list its name cannot exceed 25 characters
  • Name the list something that makes sense but also grabs people’s attention
  • Click gear icon drop down menu and select Add or remove from lists
  • You do not need to be a follower to a user to add that person to the list
  • You can edit and delete any list you make
  • You cannot add or remove people from your list, you must go to their profile page in order to add or remove them
  • You can follow lists without following individual users in the list
  • Share your lists on Twitter and other platforms
  • Include yourself in the lists with the help of Hootsuite (open your profile in a tweet that mentions you and click to Add to List)
  • Create lists that are helpful to your target audience

Innkeepers, what would be useful information to your target audience: guests who want to stay at your bed and breakfast inn?

  • List of travel organizations and media
  • List of groups providing recipes
  • List of attractions and resources in your particular geographic location
  • etc.

If you are looking for someone to tweet on behalf of your bed and breakfast, we are experienced in helping B&Bs gain more clients.  We invite you to contact Bed and Breakfast Blogging with Kristi Dement for a free consultation.  We provide professional blogging and social media services.

 

What Makes A Blog Post Go Viral?

what makes blog post viral

 

 

Every blogger dreams of a bigger audience.  It is human nature to want to be recognized and to receive attention and praise.  So just what makes blog post viral?

 

 

1) Have you grabbed their attention with your title?  Opening lines should pique interest and curiosity, show a benefit, highlight a need, promise to entertain/inform/teach, or offer something of value.  Work hard early on at hooking your reader into your post.

2) Have you made it easy to read?  Readers scan pages online looking for keywords, phrases, and visual clues like numbers and bullet points. Use lists or other formatting techniques to emphasize points.  Your content must be appealing, entertaining, engaging, and interactive.

3) Does anybody really care about your topic? No one wants to know what you had for breakfast–unless maybe you had breakfast with a celebrity.  Giving people the “inside scoop” on a famous person’s thoughts and secrets will make your blog incredibly popular.

4) Have you had personal experience involving your blog topic?  Accomplishments speak volumes to your readers.  This does not mean you have to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or featured on the cover of People magazine.  What lessons have you learned along the way? People tend to respect you more if you share past obstacles or mistakes and how you overcame them.

5) Is this a brand new topic?  If you are in the fields of medicine, science, or technology you may very well have cutting edge information to share with the world.  We are listening!

6) Is your perspective different and maybe even controversial?  Sometimes blunt opinions can get people in trouble, but they can also get passed along.  Do you have a hot topic that will lure comments?  Be sure to respond to your comments.  This is what makes your blog interactive.

7) Is there something fascinating about your topic or are people sick of reading about it because everybody in the world has been covering it?  There is only so many times people can take hearing about the celebrities that tend to get all the media attention.  It can be annoying when they compare two celebrities who wore the same thing and then make comments on “who wore it better?”  Most people don’t care!

8) Is there something hilarious, quirky, or unbelievable about it?  There is a large dog in my neighborhood who, from behind his fence, will jump up and down like he is on a pogo stick all across his backyard when he sees my dog and I walking together.  I need to get that on video! Speaking of…

9) Do you have a good graphic, photo, or video available?  Humans are very visual creatures. That is part of the reason why Pinterest other image sharing social media sites like Instagram have done so well.  Did you know Pinterest has over 70 millions users?

10) Have you shared your blog post on every relevant social media channel?  You may want to describe the post differently depending upon the platform.  Since Linked In is for business and career-minded people, you may have a different way of promoting your blog post to your Linked In connections than to your Facebook fans and friends.

How will you know if your blog post was successful?

  • Number of unique visitors to your blog post
  • Re-tweets, shared links, social network mentions
  • Quality of the blogs and websites where your blog post is referenced
  • Frequency of approaches by people interested in working with you
  • Quantity of traffic where sales take place
  • Amount of paid opportunities that result from your blog
  • Blog subscriber numbers
  • E-mail sign ups
  • If people who have powerful influence refer to your blog
  • The number and quality of comments from your readers

Trust me, you will know!  Do you have any ideas about what makes a blog post go viral? Please share below.  I read all comments and respond when appropriate.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

25 Ways To Write Creative Blog Posts

If you are reading this, then I assume you are looking to be CREATIVE (and definitely not boring) when you write creative blog posts.  This way you will have plenty of admiring fans! 25 ways to write CREATIVE blog posts:

1. ADVICE You have unique advice that only you can offer to your readers.  Once you understand who your audience is, then you can write like you are writing to a friend.  They will feel like they know you and you will develop a huge following.

2. CA– USE– Why not rally your readers behind a cause you support?  Let them know what you are doing to make a difference and how they can help. Give a call to action. Seriously, don’t leave that out.

3. COMMUNITY Your community could be defined by your local area or it could be people who share a common interest or goal.  Reach out to “your peeps” and connect with them!

4. COMPARISON Take two things and compare them.  Whether you compare two breakfast foods or two fun activities, the fun is in comparing and contrasting them. This could be educational, entertaining, or funny as well. Speaking of…

5. EDUCATIONAL– People like learning about things.  That is one reason why search engines are so popular.  Tell them something that not everyone knows, but you know because you are an expert at it.  Everyone is an expert at something.  Blog about what you know best.

6. ENTERTAINING Everyone likes to laugh and have fun.  You could blog about entertainment that is coming to your community whether it is a music concert, sporting event, or theatrical production. Be sure to make it “entertaining” to read!  Since blogging is writing that is typically less formal than say a report, let your personality shine in the post.

7. EVENTS People like finding out about events–ones that will happen and ones that already happened.  If you have the “inside scoop” on the latest, you can “tell all” in your blog!

8. FAQ This common acronym is short for “frequently asked questions.”  Many websites have an FAQ page on them.  Blog about commonly asked questions.  Blog answers to familiar questions so you can refer your readers to when they ask them.  Saves you time in the process!

9. FAMILY Some of your best material can come from your family members and others with whom you are close. As long as you make it generic enough that you don’t single out any one person or you know they won’t mind your sharing it, go ahead.  You know you want to!

10. GUIDE A guide-type blog post could be a collection of tips about a specific topic. While similar to advice blog posts, they are different in that these tips can be applied by a variety of different people–not advice for one type of problem.  Example: Simple Tips to Get Clients To Pay on Time, Quick Ways to Find Just What You Want Online, etc.

11. HYPOTHETICAL Ask your readers what they would do in a hypothetical situation. Maybe answer that question as well. These types of blog posts tend to get a lot of comments because people like to imagine, “What if….?” Sometimes I imagine, “What if I win a ton of money in the lottery and get to quit my day job?!”  I kind of have to buy a lottery ticket first. Oh well.

12. INSPIRATIONAL Share something motivational with your readers.  Help them connect to you in a powerful way through your telling of someone overcoming a challenge and beating the odds.  Maybe that someone who overcame something big is you.  Don’t be afraid to share since it could encourage someone else!

13. INSTRUCTIONAL or “HOW TO” Give instructions on how to do something that others want to know how to do, and suddenly you have a captive large audience.  You can be creative with your titles of these posts as well. Two examples: How To Teach Your Dog Fun New Tricks, How To Make Delicious Homemade Ice Cream, How To Make a Memorable Family Scrapbook, etc.

14. INTERVIEW If you don’t have any famous celebrities you happen to know (most of us are in this boat), then you could always interview a person notable for what they do. A person who is accomplished in a career or sport or another area of life.  If you interview a person who has an inspiring story and then you have an “inspirational interview“! Wow, two different ways to write a blog post combined! You are an overachiever!

15. LISTS People love lists.  Examples: 10 Ways You Can Change Your Spouse, 20 Best Party Appetizers, Top 40 Bestselling Books About Fitness, etc.  You get the idea and they will too!

16. MEMORIES Often, we like to recall fond memories or retell funny situations.  We may even want to remember how we overcame a trauma for the sake of helping another person who finds themselves in the same emergency. When you blog about a memory, be sure to create a vivid picture in their minds of all the important details of your experience.

17. NEWS Did you know that sometimes bloggers are the first to break a news story? There have been cases where a blogger has gotten in trouble for sharing some kinds of sensitive information.  Keep your day job and don’t blog about company trade secrets. Another word of advice is to keep your love life private so no one tries to sue you for disclosing personal details.  However, if you are in attendance at an exclusive event that you have permission to be blogging about, then by all means SHARE!

18. OPINIONS If you loving sharing your opinions, then blogging is right up your alley!  As long as you are tactful and the topic is appropriate, it is alright to share what you think. You don’t have to have all positive comments from your readers.  In fact, it makes it more interesting when some of your readers do not agree with you.  Usually readers who do agree with you, will come to your defense when you are criticized by others.

19. PHOTOS If you took a great picture or want to share several incredible pictures, then you may want to have a photo blog post.  When your text is all about what is in your photo(s), then you have a photo blog post.  Whether your pictures are of smiling people, grand buildings, gorgeous nature, or something entirely different, there are others who would love to learn about how you managed to capture the photos and the techniques you used in getting it to look the way it does.

20. PREDICTIONS It is common at the end of the year (or the beginning of the new year) for people to come up with their predictions about some topic.  Examples: The Future of Technology, 10 Social Media Predictions, What is To Come in American Education, etc. Similar to the hypothetical “what if” posts, these are your thoughts as to what will come about in the next year (or whatever time frame you select) concerning a particular topic. Inquiring minds want to know!

21. PROBLEMS Life would not be nearly as exciting if there were no glitches.  Inevitably, snags come along.  You spill chocolate ice cream on your brand new white dress shirt.  You get a ticket for speeding on your way to work early one morning.  Your problem post could be written to be a funny look at everyday life or it could be a solution post in which you address how to solve a particular problem with a specific idea, product, or service. People are always looking for solutions!

22. QUIZZES Some people love taking quizzes for fun.  Why not write a blog post that is a quiz about something interesting?  Examples: 15 Questions to Discover the Vacation of Your Dreams, How Well Do You Know Yourself?, etc.  The point is to make your quiz blog post appealing enough to your audience, so that they want to take it.

23. REVIEW Everybody loves reading reviews.  You could blog a book review, a restaurant critique, or a movie screening.  Reviews help other people who, for example, were thinking about reading the same book, dining at the same restaurant, or watching the same movie; decide if they want to based on your review.  When you write a review blog post, you have the power to influence your readers to take action or avoid it.  Don’t let the power go to your head!

24. SECRETS This could mean quick shortcuts, little known facts, or juicy details.  Like news posts, people like finding out things they would not normally know had they not read your blog.  Same cautions apply!

25. STORIES People love reading fascinating stories.  A story blog post captures the attention of your audience yet is brief enough to be the length of a blog post. Stories with important lessons for your readers earn you loyal readers.

Try one (or a combination of several) of these types of blog posts the next time you write! Don’t be afraid to write CREATIVE blog posts. Most importantly, enjoy the process that blogging requires.  It always helps me to visualize my readers reading this.  Will they think this is funny?  Does that tell them everything they need to know?  etc.  Feel free to share your CREATIVE blog post ideas or to ask me a question related to this post.

Ten Things to Blog About

We need a hook to “reel” our audiences in.  If we provide enough useful content on a regular basis, visitors will continue coming back. Here is a list of ten things to blog about:

  • Instructional–tell people how to do something, include tips
  • Insider information–Share some of our trade secrets
  • People love lists–top 10, reasons why, favorite, mistakes, etc.
  • Review a produce or service relevant for our readers
  • Interview a relevant expert and focus on their career
  • Write a how-to blog post
  • Hypothetical–answer a “what if…”
  • Content curating–tie together the ideas of others, adding value by sharing our input
  • Inspirational–motivational posts of good-news stories, examples of success, and writing about “what could be”
  • Informational–give information on a particular topic of interest to our readers
  • and the list goes on………..

This was just ten things to blog about. There are so many other creative ways to blog. The point is to be ever present in the minds of our blog readers through our words on the screen!

The Love of Learning

If you have the love of learning, you might say yes to any of the following:

  • You read books titled “Useless Information” or other trivia or fact type books
  • You still take classes (even though you may already have one college degree or more)
  • You read the books from recommended reading lists
  • You know your library card number by heart
  • You watch Jeopardy on TV and play board games that make you think
  • You solve word puzzles and logic puzzles
  • You listen to audio books or lectures while you ride in the car or exercise
  • You like to ask people in-depth questions about anything and everything
  • You watch all the educational type programs on Net Flix versus mindless entertainment
  • You have taken an online class (or earned a degree online)
  • You love to ask questions and tend to be philosophical
  • You know the difference between a hold and an inter-library loan at your public library
  • You have continued reading this far
  • You love to make lists, set goals, tackle projects
  • People ask you for advice because they consider you to be “a smart person”

I confess that I will never stop learning!  There is absolutely too much exciting information to know!!  I wish you happy reading, listening, and watching if you have the love of learning!