Archives For Guest Blogger

One of the most common questions that I get, is–“How do I get more traffic and followers of my blog and content?”

One of the first suggestions is: go guest-blog for others, like crazy! –AND make sure it is your best content.

That response is usually, immediately followed by puzzled looks and defensive arguments, with the inquisitors trying to guide my recommendations for things to do on THEIR sites, rather than on others’. …But they’ve got it all wrong.

I’ve always looked for other voices, to share on one of my blogs. It’s boring, if you keep hearing from the same voice, day-in and day-out. Variety is the spice of life! And you can really learn things from a diversity of perspectives.

But when the idea of guest-blog posting–for my blog, or another’s–comes up, sometimes people don’t “get it.” They think that there’s no “WIIFM (What’s In It For Me),” for them. Once you try to explain the benefits, 50% of them will “get it” (as you see the light bulb go on, above their heads).

For the other 50%–don’t take it just from me! Here’s a sample of posts that make the case for why you should be guest-blogging. And I’d invite you to do it here on this site, as the “first, next step!” 😉

More Reasons Why You Should Consider Guest Blogging For Me:

  1. Guest Posts Can Help Grow Your Blog
  2. 5 Benefits of Having Guest Writers on Your Blog
  3. Build Your Social Network
  4. Discover Business Opportunities
  5. The Indirect SEO Benefits of Guest Posting
  6. Get Quality Traffic
  7. Identifying Quality Content
  8. Develop Rapport and Credibility

 

Social Media PlatformToday’s post is from Jason Caston who helps to equip churches as they connect their ministry with the online community. There are many resources are available on his blog ichurchmethod.com. I recently asked Jason to share with us some of the up and coming social media platforms that have gained popularity.

An interesting transition is happening in the world of social media, Facebook is undoubtedly the king of the hill and Twitter is up there as well but the popular new kid on the block is Instagram and it’s here to stay.  Instagram now has 200 Million users, over 20 billion photos shared, 1.6 billion likes daily and 60 million photos posted daily (instagram.com/press).  With this type of impact it’s no wonder that Instagram is one of the best social media platforms we use for our ministry (our main ministry account is instagram.com/bishopjakes).

In order to be effective on Social Media you must have a strategy, and Instagram is no exception.  Before we post a single graphic or video, we make sure we have an overall strategy for Instagram and an idea of what we consider success.  Overall, our strategy for Instagram includes consistently posting photos/graphics and videos that are inspirational, informational and conversational.  Now let’s break that down, first thing we make sure is that we have a consistent flow of content and posting between 2 – 5 times daily.  Next, we want to post inspirational content that uplifts and inspires our audience, we also want to post informational content that keeps our audience updated on things going on with the ministry.  Lastly, we want to make sure we keep our posts conversational by responding to comments and questions as often as possible.

Now that we have our strategy laid out, we have to actually create and post the content.  Devotional memes are created using our graphic artists or apps like Tweegram, we basically take the daily devotional we post on Facebook or Twitter and add it to a meme and post on Instagram.  When we have events we make sure we create flyers or posters that we post on social media, including Instagram.  Normally, our flyers are 900×1500 and we make sure we have a 600×600 version created for Instagram.  One of our most engaging posts are based on our Sunday services where we take an action shot of our pastor and add a quote from his sermon to the photo and post it.  Also, we take 15 second clips from his sermons and post those as well, which for some people is the only ministry they receive and we understand how powerful this platform can be.  Lastly, one of the things that our audience loves most is the personal and family moments that are posted by our pastor, Bishop T.D. Jakes.  Whether it’s a banana pudding he baked for his family or a hug he is sharing with his children, people love to see his transparent moments as a father, husband, family man and regular individual.

Overall, Instagram is yet another platform that our ministry uses to visually tell our story as a ministry.  We have so many individual stories from our members, leaders, staff and volunteers that showcase how impactful this ministry is and how great the gospel can be.  And the best part of it all is through all of the photos, videos, devotionals, quotes and everything we post, God gets the glory.  Amen.

Jjasoncastonason Caston (@jasoncaston) is the author of The iChurch Method (ichurchmethod.com). Additionally, he is also the Digital Platform and Innovation specialist at T.D. Jakes Ministries.


megaphone Today’s post is from Gangai Victor who leads an interesting blog and community over at www.votivepraise.com. I recently asked Gangai to share with us some of the learnings he’s gained from the “publishing” side of things regarding his platform and social media presence. Please engage with questions by dropping them in a comment below the post!

 

Self-publishing original content online is pretty easy these days—there are loads of free platforms out there to help us. If it’s a blog, there’s blogger.com. If it’s a book, say hello to Kindle. If it’s music, Noisetrade is ready to show us some love.

The challenge is more to do with promoting our work or ourselves without coming off as spammy marketers!

Here are some tips that I’ve learned from experience and from others that could help you in this regard:

How to balance creation and promotion in the Kingdom

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Business man with pen
 

They, your church attenders, don’t want another verse from John in their News Feed.
What if you social media presence was used strategically? What if you didn’t only promote your church, but was a positive influence in your community. You can help others and grow your church through social media, but it will require more strategy and less random verses.

Most likely the youngest or the techie (or trekkie) got the job of social media point person. They might be the best person, but they need vision on how to use your church’s social media presence. You need to speak vision into your online strategy. You need to move beyond just a Facebook page to having an online community. The first step is integrating your social media and other online ventures into your overall strategy.

Here are my four social media tips summarized:

1. Align your social presence with your church’s vision (Think: strategry)

2. Write down your daily post topics and times of posting (Think: calendar)

3. Use photo templates to promote series and extend the reach of each post (Think: brand)

4. Positively lift others up through engaging your online connections (Think: pastoral care)

The secret to social media is to treat others on your social media channels, as you want to be treated.

I write more about this topic in my new eBook “Social Media Made Easy for Small Businesses” available at www.socialmediamadeeasysb.com

Jay-KrandaJay Kranda is the Online Campus Pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. Jay oversees: Saddleback’s 167 online services that attract over 23,000 people weekly,  1,200 small groups gathering non-locally, and 63 extensions. To learn more about the ever changing and evolving world of church online visit www.JayKranda.com

 

 

Digital Mission FieldAt every talk on social media these days, I point out that the big 4 search engines you need to pay attention to are: (1) Google (2) YouTube (3) Amazon (4) iTunes. Most people got the first, but underestimate YouTube and the others. While tweeting with Sean Cannell recently, I asked him to share some of his YouTube for Churches awesomeness with my readers. Sean is the Campus Pastor of The Church OC, co-founder of THiNK International, a Church Leadership Blog and well known YouTube channel, and Author of YouTube for Churches. Well, here it is — enjoy!

youtubeforchurches.com
YouTube is the most underrated and underutilized social network by church leaders and churches. Facebook is usually the priority, followed by Twitter or Instagram, with video hosting and sharing usually on Vimeo. If a church does have  a YouTube channel, it usually is an afterthought, not receiving the best energy of the creative staff or volunteer team.

I think our social media priorities are out of order.

What most church leaders don’t realize is that YouTube has almost as many unique monthly users as Facebook (over 1 billion), and is the 2nd largest search engine in the world, while being the  3rd most visited website in the world.

When it comes to reaching people with social media, YouTube is one of the most important platforms for churches and church leaders. This is true now, but will be even more true in the future with the accelerated growth of online video.

How is YouTube a mission field?
YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world! That means 2nd only to Google, people are searching for answers to questions on YouTube. That is a huge opportunity for for churches and church leaders who have biblical answers to those questions.

Your church, your team, and you and your iPhone, have the opportunity to be on the other side of that search query!

YouTube can help you  practically reach people by helping your website rank higher and your church get discovered locally, BUT, beyond that, YouTube gives you access to a global audience to share the Gospel and answers to questions people are asking!

Using the YouTube Keyword Tool you easily can discover some of these questions. “Is God Real?” is searched 25,200 times a month. “Is Jesus God?” 50,000. The solo term “God” is searched over 5.3 million times a month! People are looking for answers to life’s biggest questions on the same website they watch viral cat videos on.

Don’t Wait, Start Using YouTube to Reach People!
Tapping into YouTube’s search power is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how it can be used by churches and church leaders.

So take YouTube seriously, make a plan and take action!

And if you are interested in a YouTube Crash Course, just go to YouTubeforChurches.com and you can access a free 4 video training series and a free ebook to help you save time, energy and get legit results with YouTube.

Keep crushing it,

Sean Cannell

p.s. Access a free 4 Video YouTube Training Course and eBook at youtubeforchurches.com

 

Today, I asked Steven Records, a fellow church communications practioner, and founder of ChurchGrowth.info about email messaging.  He says you don’t need to pay for any snazzy services.  You can get started with good ‘ol Microsoft Office if you want.  Let’s take a look.


Why Marketers love email lists

A recent survey by Econsultancy showed that 72% of marketing companies rate email as a good or excellent form of advertising. The reason for this is because it has such a great Return On Investment. In other words, the amount of time, infrastructure and resource it takes to do email marketing is well worth the return received through emailing.

When I was overseeing the communications for one of Hillsong’s national events, I had a conversion on my email marketing of 7-10%. That is a great return,especially for something that took only a few hours to write, format, and pull data from an existing email list.

Churches can leverage bulk emailing to promote events, blog content, changes in normal church schedules, gather surveys, request public reviews, perform follow ups, announce major news, and stay connected with a wide audience of people. Building an email list can be time consuming on the front end, but it is a lasting point of contact that requires little to no financial investment. In fact, when I first started doing email marketing, I only used Microsoft Office.

Here is how:

Building An Email List Using Microsoft Outlook

You will also hear people call email lists a “database,” but I think for people starting off, saying “email list” sounds less threatening. Open Microsoft Excel and fill out whatever fields you want to log across row one like this.

Image 1

Normally I do First Name, Last Name, Email, List, Gender, Age, Engagement, Country, State, and City. The “List” field is what channel you received their details from. “Engagement” is what information they would like to receive. You can add other demographics or remove irrelevant ones; it really depends on what events and content you have as an organization. Consider adding a column for area of interest and church involvement.

Adding Data and Getting Emails Addresses

Start adding any contacts you may have and manually filling out the demographics you know about the person within the correct columns. It is okay to have blank fields. Really all you need is an email address to send and email,
everything else personalizes your emails to a relevant audience, that, and consent, is what separates you from spammers.

You can gather contact information by simply asking people you know for it, creating a subscription form on your website, pulling contacts from Facebook using Yahoo’s export Facebook contacts function, mass texts asking for email addresses, and having a printed forum at church for people to fill out. The truth is data entry takes time, but it is worth the small investment.

Turn your data into a table You can organize your email list by turning it into a table. Select all of your entered data at once and then click on “Insert/Table”. This will turn your raw information into a table that you can organize and filter by clicking on the down pointing arrows at the top of each column. Now you have a workable email list that is ready for sending.

Image 2

Set Default Email In Outlook

Now open Microsoft Outlook. You need to set the email account you want to send your emails through as the default account. Microsoft Word automatically sends through your default email address on Outlook, so don’t forget to do this. Just go to “Preferences/Accounts” and then set the account you want as your
default.

Writing and Formatting

Write your email in Microsoft Word then format with a web safe font type. Your styling will be applied to your email. To add links, highlight your text to become a link and go to “Insert/Hyperlink” to add the URL.

Sending the Email

The next thing to do is what we call a Mail Merge. This is the process of sending out mass emails. Go to “Tools/Mail Merge Manager.” You will want to set “Document Type” to “Form Letters” by clicking “Create New”.

For “Recipients List,” under “Get List” click “Open Data Source” and select the Excel email list you created.

For “Insert Placeholders” you can drag a field name into your document to personalize your emails. For example, addressing the recipients by the “First

Name” in the email. Here is what an email could look like:

Image 3

For “Preview Results,” you can just make sure everything is displaying properly before you send the emails.

Finally send your email by clicking on the envelope icon under “Complete Merge”. Then set “To:” as “Email,” fill out the subject line, then set “Send As” to HTML and send it.
Image 4

Test Before Mass Sending

I recommend testing each email campaign before sending by using a list with only your personal email accounts before sending to everyone. This allows you to see exactly how the email will look on different accounts.

Hopefully this has been a helpful walk through. This method has personally helped me better manage relationships and grow events for churches. If you would like to follow more of my thoughts on church communications check
out Steven’s Church Marketing Website.

 

About Steven Records: Founder of ChurchGrowth.Info. Over the years Steven Records has had the privilege to do communications for some of the largest and most influential Christian events and organizations in the world. To connect with Steven follow him on Twitter and Google Plus.

Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer and beginning of the Back to School Rush. For young women pursuing educational degrees in seminary or other graduate programs, they’ll probably find that they might be in the minority on campus. What they might also find is that many organizations are out there to help support the process of education and leadership development. I recently ask Jennifer Lewis to share some options to pursue for christian women in particular.

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Today’s guest blog post covers some of the large buckets of activity a webmaster or owner of any given non-profit website needs to consider.  If you’re interested in submitting a guest post, check out www.Godvertiser.com/guestblogger

If you are working for a non-profit organization you need something that will help bring new visitors to your front door on the web. The “traffic generating wheel” is one way to help get new traffic to your website.
So are you ready? Let’s spin the wheel for your non-profit site. . .
church-marketing-wheel

Goals

To have a goal for your website might be the most import step on the wheel: Why do you have this website — very specficially?
For a non-profit website it is even more important. You don’t have a website because you think your group is cute or funny or interesting. What is your real goal? What is the most important goal?
Maybe to get more members for your organization? Sign up for a newsletter? Sign up for an event?  Volunteer recruiting? Donor development? Define which is your top priority and the rest will start to fall into place.

Analytics

A lot of organizations forget about this step. But you shouldn’t start to do anything before you have your analytics on your website.
You need to know where your viewers are coming from. What are they reading on your pages?
If 80 percent of all the readers consistently visit a specific page on your site – you might have to make that a first priority on your site.
If your goal is signups for a newsletter – you will need to know which traffic source brought the people to your site – so you can start speeding up this process.  Are they all coming from Facebook? Or Google+? Or Twitter? Why spend 10 hours a week doing marketing on Facebook if all your sign ups comes from Twitter, right?
You will also need analytics to find your keywords for your pages. Which keywords did your viewers type in Google to find your site?
Which keywords are relevant for your site? Sit down and brainstorm this – and then go and check if the competition comes up for these keywords. If the competition is high you might have difficulties to get into top 10 for these particular keyword phrases.
So instead of “donation” you should maybe optimize for the keyword phrase “good donation” or “cat donation”. Normally its easier to get into top 10 for a keyword phrase than just one word keyword — called a long tail search.
Well you get my point – never work on a website that has no analytics.

Content

Some people start to write before the analysis is done – but that is not a great idea. You will need to write your content to match your keywords being targeted.
So before writing a page on your website – you should write down what the main keyword phrase for each page should be.
You might ask me – “Henrik – how can my content drive traffic to my site today?” Well it will not bring you traffic today or tomorrow – but if you write focused content that the search engines can tell represents the right keywords phrases, you will usually get traffic within 3 or 6 months.
You also need content for your article marketing and for input to the social networks.  So start writing strategically and you are on your way.

Design

Ready for design?
The design can actually be very important for your traffic generating too. It might not bring traffic to your site, but it will lower your bounce rate (we SEO guys love this — the rate at which visitors arrive and then “bounce” away to someone else’s site) and if your site is awesome they will return to your
site.
So don’t confuse the viewer. Make sure your navigation is clear and clean. If people have to wonder where to find your content – they will just leave and find another page.  User testing is a great way to ensure you are getting it right.
And if you don’t believe me check out the duration – the time – people spend on your site. I will guess that between 25 – 40 percent of the people will leave your site again before 10 seconds.
Design is important for both non-profit and profit organizations.

Social

Now here most non-profit organizations have the potential to really rock.
Typically the organizations that do social media well have a lot of members. So now you will have to really use this marketing channel. A typical Facebook user has around 190 friends – so if one of your members starts to write about a subject, 190 people read about it.
This is the modern day form of word of mouth method.
Last time I checked Facebook they had 845 million accounts. In the world there are around 7,000 million people – so 12 percent of all people in the world have a Facebook account. Impressive I will say.
Social media is the step on the wheel where non-profit organizations really can make a difference.  Compelling content about your audience, staff, etc can really help leverage the word of mouth power available.

Links

Just some few years ago backlinks counted for around 50 percent of the ranking algorithm. But the algorithm is constantly changing and the social media are also more important these days. So maybe the backlinks now only count for around 40 percent, or 30 percent, or 25 percent.
But even 25 percent is a lot.
So you will have to make a plan for getting backlinks. Let me just give you some ideas here. But start writing down a plan.  Here are some tactics to consider including in your plan:
  • Blogs – start a blog
  • Free linking – use Google Groups, Yahoo Answers, Squidoo page, Wikipedia (write a page about your organization with a link back), social bookmarking
  • Freebies and giveaways – make a contest, make something interactive on your page or a whitepaper.
  • List lovers – we are all list lovers so write a “Top 10 …” or a “How to ….”, Build a 99 list, a list with 10 myths for your category, do an interview with a specialist or a guru in your line of business/organization
  • Local links – get a link from your local chamber of commerce (if its really want), relevant city and state governmental site, local library website…
  • Signature in emails – If you have many volunteers make sure you have the link in all the mails.
But remember to start writing down an action plan.  Plan the work and work the plan.

Conclusion

The traffic generating wheel is a helpful framework for all organizations. The idea is that if you just start trying to get backlinks to your site – but your design/navigation is so bad – people will just leave your site quickly again. And if you haven’t got a goal for your site – why do you really need backlinks at all? — Get the point?
So good luck with the traffic generation wheel. Ready? Now it’s your turn to take a spin.
All the best to you
Henrick Sandberg headshotHenrik Sandberg runs the website www.Seocustomer.com where you can find more content about SEO, PPC, Social Media Traffic
and Link Buidling.

Today, we have a guest post about using the iPhone to access The Bible.  There are tons of great Bible apps out there.  I have a bunch in a folder on my iPhone.  Here’s 4 iPhone apps you might want to download and try out.  If you’re interested in submitting a guest blog post, check out the guidelines I’ve written up to help you get started.


Getting to know about religion or Bible is a top interest for many around the world and now, accessibility is not an issue for anyone anymore. For example, with Apple’s iPhone, looking up verses of the Bible is just a few touches away. Now, the Bible can be carried with ease and can be referred to anywhere and at anytime of the day. There are numerous applications which are available for the iPhone, but then a few stand out to be one of the most preferred apps amongst many:

YouVersion1. The Bible – The Bible app has been developed by LifeChurch.tv and is one of the simplest and popular apps available at the app store. One special feature in this phone is the ability to access hundreds of different versions of the Bible.  A wide array of passages can be selected for future reference and reading plans are easy to follow with this app. Many versions of the bible are present which include the NIV, ESV, NLT, NKJV, NASB and the CEV bible translations. A keyword search facility makes it easy for users to search a particular verse and go through with ease. This app also has few versions of the Bible in Spanish and the German Language.

BibleVerseofTheDay2. Bible Verse of the Day – This splendid app allows a user to take a break from the busy and demanding lifestyle to go through a verse from the Holy Bible. This app is a self-functioning one and does not need any updates or a live connection to the internet after being downloaded. Features of the app include reading random verses from the Bible and e-mailing them to friends on the list. This app costs under a dollar and is available at the ITunes App Store.

HolyBible3. Holy Bible – The Holly Bible app mainly features almost 23 Bible translations. The ability to read the original and the translated text keeping it side by side is truly commendable. Specific passages can be selected and bookmarked for further reference. This app is a free one in the App Store.

The church iphone app4. The Church – This app is known for its features and functionality which can help Christians around the world to start their own prayer journals, receive inspirational quotes, and memorize verses. This app also comes with a tithe calculator and has an offline Bible too.

Sapna is an online manager at Taaza.com, an portal / horizontal site. Significant verticals include Jobs, Classifieds, News, Education, Photos, Movies, Travel, Shopping and Finance.

Pinterest is an image sharing social media platform that helps companies connect with their target audience. Non profit organizations can use it to promote their campaign and collect money from donors. I’ve blogged about churches starting to use Pinterest before.  In this guest post, I have asked Hema Gupta to discuss some of the techniques for driving online traffic towards a non profit website. If you are interested in submitting a guest post, please review the guidelines

Pinterest used by non-profits
We have social media networks like Facebook and Twitter for business promotion, then why Pinterest? Facebook fan page and Twitter connections bring clients, yet Pinterest is creating a buzz among social media lovers and corporates alike. The image sharing, intuitive and bright UI of this latest social media network gives it an edge over its contenders.
While Pinterest is growing rapidly and people love this image sharing platform, business houses have not explored its full potential yet. It’s quite surprising that non-profit organizations are not using this platform for promotion and fund raising, and missing a huge opportunity to reach millions of donors.
If you are wondering how an image sharing (rather pinning!) website can help the serious cause of a non-profit organization, here is how:
Creating Brand Identity and Spreading the Issue- This site is used by millions of users all over the world. Therefore, when you post something, it captures global attention. If you run a NGO, pin relevant images, documentaries and reports. Pinterest users may click on the glossy and happy photographs more often than dark and gloomy ones, but when an image is soul touching, users are bound to notice it.
  • We all know a picture can spell a thousand words and break the boundaries of social-cultural differences. When you post an image of a nuclear disaster or a child refugee, it grabs immediate attention. It creates curiosity among viewers and they will probably visit your site to know more about your organization. However, it is important not to present your organization as needy. Tell the story behind each photograph and highlight the solution so that people can help you in your mission.
  • Showing What You Do- People love a brand that has a human face. When you show the logo and ask people to donate money, it may not appeal to them. Instead of displaying a corporate image, upload some pictures of your organization’s work. Show what the volunteers are doing on the field, how you are fighting against pollution/poverty or anything else. Make people believe in your work so they understand that their contributions won’t go intro wrong hands.
  • Fundraising Prospects- Pinterest can be used to drive the “social” traffic to your website for better income. If you want to sell goods for charity, create an e-shop page and collect money for your campaign.
You can also use this site as a monitoring tool and shape future strategies. Take a look at the items people are pining from your site, where they are sharing it and the discussions about those pins. Following this strategy, you can get an idea of your brand perception and plan the future campaign promotions accordingly.
Pinterest has really opened a new door of possibilities for all types of businesses. All you need to do is set your own path and make the voice of your non profit’s mission heard.
Hema Gupta is an accredited social media marketing expert at Webguru India. She often likes to write contents on several subjects regarding website design, search engine optimization and social media updates during her free time. For more information she suggests to visiting here.