NewspaperGirl – Online PR, Blogging, Social Media

Business Blogging Tips for a Boring Industry

When I wrote this post about how marketing experiments can hurt you, I got a thoughtful reply from Jim, who had an alternative view. He shared his business blogging tips that helped his unsexy business. His response was so thoughtful that I asked him to share it. 

Jim owns OptiFuse, a company  that manufacturers, markets, and sells fuses – from the little glass ones in all of your electronic equipment to the kinds you find in your car.

I got to meet Jim this weekend when he was in Ogden. It’s really fun to meet other bloggers and learn from each other! Jim showed me the file on his phone full of ideas for his posts. He agreed to write me a guest blog post and I agreed to write one for him. Here’s his: 

Business blogging tips

Most, if not all, marketing experts will tell you that the key to building a great social media presence is to create great content.

Now this might be easy if your company is a trendy retail store, a theme restaurant, or a high-tech company with cutting edge products.  Every day something changes: new style trends, the menu, or the new features on your latest smartphone app release.

Now imagine you’re not in a world that changes every day. You sell industrial fasteners, lumber products, or in our case, automotive and electronic fuses.  How do you make those types of products sexy?

Well in a short word…you don’t.

Marketing today is not about just about selling products or services. It’s about selling trust, awareness, integrity, hope and dreams to a select community of people. 

More and more, potential customers want to know who you are and what you stand for rather than what you sell.

A little more than five years ago, I attended a local workshop class entitled, “How to use social media to promote your business on the Internet”.  The 4-hour workshop gave the students a brief glimpse into the world of social media and the different platforms one could use to reach a potential audience.

Read more…

@Newspapergrl PR and Marketing Tweets of the Week 2014-11-11

Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers: How to Get Started

Affiliate marketing for bloggers

I’ve recently teamed up with blogger Melea Johnson to start a series of conferences (more like workshops) to teach affiliate marketing for bloggers at the ABC Conference. We usually have a group of about 50 bloggers, mostly women in the lifestyle/mom blogger niche. At the last conference time we had a blogger who came from a small Utah town and blogs about looking for gold. How appropriate because I think bloggers are affiliate marketing gold.

abc affiliate marketing conference for bloggers

ABC affiliate marketing conference for bloggers.

We usually have just two speakers, including a blogger who makes six figures from affiliate marketing. She has advanced tips and everyone just loves what they learn from her. We focus on learning first and then DOING and my goal is to have everyone insert affiliate links into their blog before they leave. Right now bloggers are getting the most traffic of the year, so it’s a great time to start adding affiliate links.

At the conference, bloggers get to meet with affiliate managers in person with our sponsors. We look for sponsors who are a good fit. These relationships are so important. Having someone to talk to that you’ve met in person is so valuable when you are new and can work with you to do special promotions.

Utah bloggers learn affiliate marketing

Utah bloggers at the first ABC Conference

I do everything I can to make these conferences fun and informative. We do giveaways (Blendtec is a sponsor) and have great swag. Here’s just a sampling of the feedback:


Bloggers have content and audiences which are often a natural fit for affiliate marketing. They are usually already linking to products they love and have trust built. Many bloggers look for sponsored posts but they have to apply to get paid and compete against other bloggers. They may have to reach minimum standards for traffic or followers. Even ad networks usually require a certain amount of traffic to be accepted. However, any blogger (that is not spammy) can join an affiliate program and instead of getting paid for a post, can earn a percent from every sale they refer.

Utah Bloggers learning affiliate marketing

Utah Bloggers learning affiliate marketing at the 2nd ABC Conference

I recommend starting with your most popular posts and looking to see if there are affiliate links you could add. For example, one of our speakers added Zulily links to a post about what she wish she knew before she had her kids. Zulily is where she got most of her maternity clothes so she linked to it with her affiliate link. That post alone has brought her over $20k!!!

As you can see, bloggers were enthusiastic about what they learned:

ABC conference testimonial

ABC conference testimonial

Getting Started as an Affiliate Marketer (for Bloggers)

To get started, you need to sign up for an affiliate program or network. Once approved, you log onto the network to get special links and banners so they can track sales that come from your blog and you can start earning money. They also have graphics and other tools you can use. You can link directly to specific products or to a store. You can earn a commission off free things (like coupons printed), digital products like ebooks, and even when someone fills out a form (leads). The best part is, you can earn a commission for things you didn’t even link to. You make money from anything that’s sold within a certain time frame (the length of the cookie).

Just remember that in most cases a blogger is referred to as a publisher. Sign up as a publisher. Submit your application and when you’re approved, look for programs to join. You have to apply to each program individually.

Here are my top picks for affiliate networks every blogger should sign up for and work with. Each network works with hundreds to thousands of programs/stores/websites. So no matter your blogging niche, there will be programs you will want to work with in each of these networks. I made some suggestions below.

Once you sign up, go back and add affiliate links to your older posts that are doing well, like this blogger did:

I went back to my old food blog and added affiliate links up the wazoo. It’s an inactive blog bit I still get about 100 views a day I checked into one of my affiliate and I had $50 waiting!

Here are Some of the Top Affiliate Networks we Recommend to Bloggers:

 I link to the signup pages directly because many are tough to find! Each one has thousands of programs.

Note: If you can’t find a brand on one of these networks, try typing the brand name + “affiliate program” into Google.

Impact Radius affiliate programImpact Radius They have Target and Oriental Trading Company. Bloggers are referred to as “media partners”.

ShareASale affiliate signup ShareaSale – Craftsy, Our World Boutique, Zulily, Gymboree, Crazy 8, Modcloth, and ChecksUnlimited (many check programs actually). Their blog is very helpful and they have great new tools for bloggers.
Amazon.com affiliate program Amazon has just about everything and since you’ll make a commission on all sales, this is a favorite with many bloggers. Amazon calls affiliates, associates.
Commission_Junction_logo CJ.com CJ has programs like JoAnn Fabric and Craft which is ideal for craft bloggers, Fabric.com, Old Navy/Gap, Zappos, Home Depot, Sears, and the Disney Store.
ebay enterprise affiliate network eBay Enerprise Affiliate Network (formerly Pepperjam) has ABC Mouse which a lot of moms love! Melissa & Doug is there (love their toys and you’ll earn more than linking to Amazon unless your readers add a lot to their cart on Amazon), Sheet Music.com, JibJab, Forever 21, and eShakati (custom dresses).
Linkshare affiliate network application  Linkshare has Nordstrom,  J.Crew, Forever21, Sephora, Clinique, 1800Flowers, Starbucks, Sam’s Club, Hanna Andersson, Shutterfly, Petsmart, etc.
Avant Link affiliate network signup AvantLink has Blendtec, Baby Steals, Backcountry.com, Cabela’s, Patagonia, REI and Sierra Trading Post. They have many other outdoor niche sites. All the programs I mentioned are top performers. AvantLink has incredible tools to help you such as linking products in an image using your affiliate link. I also like them because they are local (Park City, Utah) and I know the founder and marketing manager. If you are into datafeeds, they are amazing.

Here are Programs I think are a Great Fit for Most Bloggers I Work with:

I may have linked to them above, but for individual programs, here are some good ones:

One King’s Lane – I LOVE their deals and their higher end products are wonderful. I’ve purchased jewelry and am really happy with their shipping. Would make excellent gifts.

Craftsy – they have online tutorials and you can even get paid on some free tutorials.

Our World Boutique – trendy fashion and deals. Also, PS I Adore You (managed by my friend Greg).

Get Away Today – affordable Disney trips. While payouts are low and the progam is managed privately, you can earn a free trip when you sell a certain number. Contact Kimf@getawaytoday.com

If you’re more advanced affiliate marketing techniques, check out what Leslie Samuel teaches about creating a resource center. Even though his is B2B marketing, the concept applies to any blogger and what I love about it is that it’s based on content marketing – which bloggers do naturally well at.

If you have any affiliate programs that you recommend, please leave them in the comments!

Next up: a review of a DIY media kit ebook from a blogger.

@Newspapergrl PR and Marketing Tweets of the Week 2014-11-04

Hootsuite - Social Relationship Platform

@Newspapergrl PR and Marketing Tweets of the Week 2014-10-28

Hootsuite - Social Relationship Platform

Holiday Marketing Ideas: Instagram + Selfie Marketing

Selfie Christmas Marketing Ideas
Offerpop recently featured some holiday marketing ideas that almost any small business could do with a focus on Instagram. I love how Instagram is getting so much engagement and how you can use several hashtags without being spammy like it would be on Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook.

The first idea is to have your fans take photos of themselves (a selfie) with or using your product for a chance to win your product. To enter they post pictures on Instagram using contest hashtags that you specify. You should absolutely requie they use #selfie to capitalize on its popularity.

The great news is you can reuse the entries you get. You can feature the pictures on your other social media platforms, like tweet one a day, have an entry of the week on Facebook page and put the best ones or all of them on a Pinterest board.

This could work any time of the year but throw in some holiday touches and it’s a great way to engage with your community during the holidays.

If I were Nivea I’d include mistletoe and kissing. This zoo marketing campaign I wrote about could have visitors take Christmas photos with animals wearing or adding a Santa hat or with their own elf on a shelf.

The other idea are exclusive deals or offer codes that you promote on your social media accounts come from this list from OfferPop.

  • Aerosoles held a photo contest, inviting fans and customers to share photos of themselves in Aerosoles shoes for the chance to win a $500 shopping spree.
  • Keurig posted exclusive Cyber Monday deals to Facebook, specifying one-day offers.
  • Banana Republic asked fans and customers to take photos of themselves wearing Banana Republic clothing, hashtagging the photos #ThisIsGlam and #Selfie across Facebook and Instagram. Any photos using both hashtags were entered into a contest for a $500 shopping spree.

With these campaigns you are essentially crowdsourcing your advertising. It’s in your customer’s language and could even give you an idea for a future marketing campaign. KFC did this in the 70s in Japan. Thanks to the successful “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” (Kentucky for Christmas!) marketing campaign in 1974, Japan is now obsessed and people will wait hours to get their KFC dinner.

It started with customers who decided to buy KFC chicken for their Christmas dinner. Bang the idea was born. Whoever saw this opportunity and ran with it is my marketing hero.

When a group of foreigners couldn’t find turkey on Christmas day and opted for fried chicken instead, the company saw this as a prime commercial opportunity and launched its first Christmas meal…

KFC turned this into a full blown marketing campaign that’s still going and expanding today. There are waiting lists for KFC every Christmas. They have Christmas countdowns and promotions. My only frustration is I don’t speak Japanese and can’t follow the campaign every year. Last year they added KFC dinners on certain flights around the holidays.

I really love the idea of a tradition – when you find a Christmas marketing campaign that works, do it again next year. Pretty soon people will start to look forward to it and expect it, which means more participation with less promotion.

What are you doing for the holidays this year? I love case studies and am looking for data or guest posts about Christmas social media marketing campaigns

@Newspapergrl PR and Marketing Tweets of the Week 2014-10-21

How Marketing Experiments Can Hurt You

This morning I read a case study from Neil Patel on Quick Sprout: What Spending $57,000 on Instagram Taught Me. In a nutshell Neil bought an Instagram account with over 100,000 followers and then switched the brand to promote his brand. He lost a lot of followers but he kept a lot too.

We bought an existing lifestyle account that had roughly 131,000 followers and changed its name to @whoisneilpatel.

A social media consultant came up with the idea and Neil went for it. The paid sexy women with large followings on Instagram to give away big ticket item prizes in exchange for following Neil on Instagram. Classic marketing to men (GoDaddy is/was king of and Carl’s Jr. is giving it a shot). It didn’t go over well with everyone though.

Right away on the top of the post you can see the apology of sorts:


When I checked, all the images except one have been removed and I’m not going to post it. The comments are telling. Men and women who know Neil’s brand and follow him saw the campaign and couldn’t believe it came from him. It didn’t fit what they expect from him and many were very turned off by it.



First, I get it. As a PR person I recommend that people ride a wave rather than create one (especially since my followers are mostly small businesses). In other words, when something is being talked about or successful, see how you can leverage the attention or take part of the conversation if it fits your brand. In this case, Neil noted the success of Dan Bilzerian – a man who built a following of over 5 million Instagram followers by showing off his wealth (he reminds me of the Rich Jerk). The problem is that Dan’s style doesn’t work for Neil’s audience. While Neil might get some followers from this, it cost him more than money. It broke trust.

I used to blog a lot about the porn industry because they are pioneers in online marketing.  I stopped when I realized it attracted people who cared about the porn industry to my blog. It’s not an industry I want to be associated with or like, so I stopped. It doesn’t matter how interesting the tactics, it’s just not what I want to be part of my brand. So I talk about ideas or think about them but don’t reference the industry. Lesson learned.

On Facebook I’m part of a social media masterminds group. I usually want to ask how someone is doing something that is working well. Sometimes what they are doing is spammy or won’t work for my brand, but I’m so curious. I want to know if there’s a way to learn from what they are doing. Sometimes the effect is that instead of people deconstructing with me, as I hope, they call me out on the ethics of what I’m asking. Both sides are frustrated and I wonder if it’s bad for my brand to ask questions like that, even in a private forum.

When I first started in online marketing, I was a single mom with $217 a month child support. Having been a stay-at-home mom I needed to find a way to make money and spend time with my son. I was looking for answers and direction. I met a friend who was making a huge amount of money who offered to teach me what he was doing. First, I quickly realized what he was doing was way above my tech skills. Second, I realized what he was doing was working well but wasn’t sustainable or ethical. This was confirmed when I read an article in Wired Magazine that called him out by name as one of the top sploggers in the nation. Since then he’s gone on to do things that are more sustainable.

My point is: I love to experiment and learn. However, if I experiment with my own brand I have to be really careful not to risk my brand. That post I made on Facebook about an essential oil deal, didn’t work and it diluted my brand. It didn’t serve them. I never talk about health or essential oils so it was not congruent. I listened to a friend who really wanted me to do it. I’ve seen so many friends do so well on doTerra that I felt like I had to try. Mistake.

Nothing I’ve ever tried that was tricky in the slightest has ever paid off long term. It’s sad how many times I have had to learn this lesson. I’ve steered clear of partners who use methods that are unethical or who don’t fit my brand. I even try to avoid clients who don’t. I need to avoid anything that doesn’t fit my brand and the trust I’ve worked so many years to build.

Experimenting is powerful because you learn what works. It was brave of Neil to share what he did and how it went and to include numbers. I love it when bloggers share their income and lessons from their journey. I respect and love when someone is willing to be vulnerable and open up about what they’re doing. I learn so much from it.

The problem is, spammers and sleezy marketers are prevalent in our industry. You’ve got to stay far away from them or you risk being seen as one of them. Trust takes so long to build but can be gone so quickly. In this case Neil risked being hated by his loyal followers. If you’re not careful you can be perceived as one of the spammers. As marketers we know perception is everything. So here’s my advice to myself, Neil, and other marketers. Keep the curiosity — just don’t let it kill your brand.

@Newspapergrl PR and Marketing Tweets of the Week 2014-10-14

Fun Christmas Digital Marketing Campaign From a Zoo


Last Christmas, Turtle Back Zoo in New Jersey ran a highly successful Christmas digital marketing campaign on Facebook, called “Elf at the Zoo”. It played off the popular Elf on the Shelf phenomenon.

Here’s how it worked:

  • Each day Dec 1 – 24, the Elf on the Shelf appeared in different behind-the-scenes locations (usually with animals) in photos on the Facebook page.
  • They posts appeared each morning at 6am — early enough so that moms and dads who were just getting up might have a reminder to move their own elves before little ones awoke.
  • Parents enjoyed showing the posts to their children. Each photo had a fun, Christmasy headline that went with it. They were made into memes that were highly shareable.
  • They sent a press release to the media.Here’s an example of the playful nature of this campaign:
Christmas Facebook marketing campaign example

Example of one of the Facebook posts – incredible engagement! Click the photo to see it on Facebook

In the above photo, the Elf (Clarence – whom the Facebook audience named as another way the zoo engaged with their Facebook audience) is on the head of our Draft Horse, Dante, grabbing his ear. The headline “Oh what fun it is to ride!” is instantly recognizable, but now with a new meaning for the zoo. It’s also an instant smile-maker.

Want to see more? Here is photo 1, photo 2 and photo 3.

Since it was Winter there weren’t as many people visiting the zoo in person, but they could still visit online on the zoo’s Facebook page.

“The main goal of this was to connect with our fans at a time when they are not usually visiting the zoo. Many of our fans already have an “Elf on the Shelf” in their homes, so this added that recognition point. Plus, having the zookeepers all take photos of the elf was energizing from an internal morale-building perspective.”

This Christmas campaign sprinkled magic on the staff and on their Facebook fans. It also really engaged the fans: 38,040 users were engaged over 24 days! It also got attention from local bloggers, which was one of their goals.

In addition to being an award-winning campaign, and more importantly, Elf at the Zoo captured people’s hearts. The elf was photographed with so many different animals, that everyone was really able to see a glimpse of their favorites. Fans were tuning in every day, commenting, liking, and sharing our posts.

What more can you ask for from a Facebook campaign? Hope this inspires yours this year!

Thank you Denise Blasevick @AdvertGirl, and CEO of The S3 Agency for sharing this great campaign!

What I liked besides the heart behind this campaign, is that it was a series. People came back day after day, and it built suspense that increased engagement over the entire campaign.

If you have a Christmas marketing campaigns to share with me, I’d love to feature it. Please contact me or leave a comment!