Friday, April 26, 2013

Writing Evergreen Blog Posts

Creating and maintaining a blog can be a major time investment, particularly if you want to attract and retain readers who want to buy services and products you offer on your blog or linked website. You want your posts to continue generating traffic even if you are on vacation or simply decide to take a few days off. A blog that generates a constant flow of traffic can be well worth the long hours you spend at your keyboard.

One of the simplest ways to create a reliable flow of traffic is to write "evergreen" posts. These posts contain content that has staying power in search engine listings and continues to bring in visitors for months or years after publication. A solid bank of evergreen posts is essential for generating predictable traffic month after month.

Writing evergreen posts involves several considerations:

1) Choose topics that will be as relevant

Conversely, some topics naturally have limited lifespans. If you own an automotive blog, writing a post titled "The Best New Cars for 2013" might bring in short-term traffic; however, it will not be relevant a year from now.

2) Avoid referencing current events that people will not likely remember in the future. People might care about a pop star's latest gaffe today, but they probably won't care a month from now. Likewise, you should avoid referencing current movies, news, television shows, and local events that only appeal to Internet users for a limited time.

3) Limit your use of external links to relatively new websites and blogs. Linking to a site that might not be active a few months from now reduces the evergreen potential of your content. If you need to provide a link so that visitors can obtain additional information, stick with external sites that have been active for at least a few years. Dead links confuse visitors and reduce the perceived authority of your site. They also won't win you any favor from search engine spiders.

Of course, not every post you write has to be evergreen. You can include some posts that provide information about fluid topics to sustain reader interest and keep your content fresh. Focusing some of your posts on evergreen topics, though, can reward you with traffic for years to come.
to Internet users five years from now as they are today. Some information changes little from year to year. For example, if you own a blog about creative writing, a post about grammar, style, or punctuation will have staying power. This is because English grammar and punctuation rules do not noticeably change from year to year. Similarly, if you own a gardening blog, a post that lists plants that grow well in shady areas will continue bringing in traffic years from now.

Creating Effective Product Images

If you plan to sell physical products on your website or blog, you need to provide images of your products so that customers can see what they are buying. Few customers will be willing to complete purchases if they cannot see what their products look like. In order to increase buyer confidence and improve conversions, your images should have a professional look and feel.

Fortunately, creating effective product images does not have to be a difficult task. These tips will help you create product images that make visitors want to buy:

1) Invest in a quality digital camera. Cell phone and point-and-shoot cameras are fine for social media posts, but they cannot produce the quality you need for professional product images. Quality cameras are available for under $1,000. Ideally, your camera should have an optical zoom lens for close-ups of important product features. You should also choose a camera that offers both manual and automatic exposure control.

2) Take the time to properly set up lighting. You should have a light 45 degrees to the left of the product and another light 45 degrees to the right. To reduce harsh shadows, place a third light behind the camera at a 45-degree angle. If possible, use diffusers in front of each lamp to eliminate harsh glares.

3) Set up a staging area for your products. Ideally, the image background should be white. Having objects in the background can distract visitors from the details of your products. You can create a simple staging area by placing a piece of white poster board, matte side up, under the product. Attach a second piece of poster board to a rigid frame and stand it behind the product with the matte side facing out.

4) Mount your camera on a tripod when taking product images. This helps ensure that your images will be clear and crisp. Taking pictures while holding the camera can result in slightly blurry images that can distract viewers and diminish image quality. Most camera shops and retail electronics stores sell durable tripods for less than $30.

5) Adjust your tripod so that the camera lens is even with the vertical and horizontal center of the product. This prevents "keystoning," which is an undesirable photographic effect that can make your object appear warped. Keystoning makes images look like they were taken by an amateur and can dissuade potential customers from buying your products.

6) Crop images using a digital photo editing program. Typically, you should remove as much white space as possible to make your product images look tight and professional. If you are familiar with basic digital photo editing, you can crop an image in less than two minutes.

Once you have your staging area, lighting, and tripod set up, you can easily create professional product images. This allows you to quickly upload images to your site so that you can begin generating sales.