Recently I fell in love with an Irish folk band called The Gloaming. I later found their Twitter profile, and quietly cringed when I saw their handle: @TheGloaming1…
@thegloaming is already taken by a Taiwanese lady who tweeted three times in 2011, never to tweet again (as I type this). Claiming inactive Twitter accounts is a whole other kettle of fish that I won’t be covering today – that’s not the purpose of this post. What I wanted to talk about instead is what The Gloaming could’ve done instead of simply sticking a “1” at the end of their username, which looks really, really outdated and technologically naïve…
If you have a business/startup name that’s already been taken on Twitter (or perhaps the .com TLD as well/instead) and you don’t fit the criteria of Twitter’s inactive account policy to claim it, hopefully some of these suggestions will help you out.
Alternatives to “TheGloaming1”
“TheGloaming” is 11 characters long (without quotes), and Twitter’s username character limit is 15 characters. So they have an extra 4 characters to play around with. They could consider dropping the “The” and/or chopping part of it (e.g. “TheGloaminMusic” is 15 characters, but removing the “g” at the end of “Gloaming” looks naff IMO), but I think it’d look best if they keep the “TheGloaming” element pretty much untouched and simply add words/initials around it. Such as:
Nearly 4 years later, it’s still the most common mistake I see on Twitter. I call it the @mention placement fail.
What is it?
If you put an @mention right at the start of your tweet, it’s treated as a reply rather than a standalone tweet. This means that it won’t show in your followers’ timelines, unless a) it’s RTed by someone else that they follow, or b) they also follow the other account being @mentioned.
It might not seem like a big deal, and it might feel like I’m picking on people who aren’t doing Twitter properly (I’m not, by the way – or at least I don’t mean to be). But it can be a big deal: it might mean that some of your tweets aren’t even being seen by your followers. And they could be important tweets, such as big announcement tweets.
An example of how it looks (and why it’s bad)
I was following the #recruitershortlist hashtag the other day as the Recruiter Awards 2016 was being revealed, and noticed that the mistake had been made by @RecruiterAwards. In all honesty, most of the time that I see this mistake being made is during an event or activity where time is of the essence – if you’re sending out a lot of tweets out-and-about or on-the-go then it can be easy to tweet it without noticing it or realising. Heck, I’ve probably done it myself at least once during my tweeting history. So it’s just something to watch out for and to try to avoid if you can help it.
Here’s a screenshot of @RecruiterAwards’ timeline with replies:
Notice how the tweets starting “@Empiric_UK, …” and “@Coreatlanticltd, …” appear in the first screenshot but not the second. This is because the @mention is right at the start of the tweet and therefore they’re being treated as replies, not standalone tweets. If you were following the #recruitershortlist hashtag (as I was on the day) then you would’ve seen those tweets (like in the first screenshot above), but if you weren’t and you were following @RecruiterAwards normally and only browsing your main timeline, then those two tweets wouldn’t have appeared (like in the second screenshot above).
I’m excited to be a finalist in the UK Blog Awards for the second year running, this time in the Digital & Technology category. The first phase was a public vote, and although I put a fair bit of effort into it, I’m certainly no expert – proof of that is the fact that I only made it to the finals in one of the two categories that I entered, suggesting that the competition this year is a lot more fierce than previous years…
I wanted to share my tactics on how I put the word out asking people to vote for me. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and some of them may be really obvious, but who knows… you might try different things next year and it might make all the difference.
You can take this further by added a site-wide ‘vote now’ button. I put mine in my blog’s site-wide left-hand column. This is handy in case someone doesn’t see the dedicated blog post on the subject and instead visits another section (such as the homepage, the About page, the Contact page or a random post).
Twitter is a no-brainer, and I reckon the biggest ‘pull’ of votes in my case.
I wouldn’t hesitate to tweet multiple times. I tweeted every 2-3 days during the voting period, varying the times and days. Use something like TweetDeck or Buffer to schedule your tweets (so you can get them all ready in bulk, instead of having to worry about remembering to manually do them yourself), and something like Followerwonk to find out the best time(s) of day to tweet based on your followers’ activity.
Another way to vary your tweets on the subject: RT other people’s tweets about it. So if someone else tweets saying that you’ve entered (@mentioning you in the process) then you could consider retweeting that instead of doing a standalone tweet from your own account.
I also tended to vary whether or not it contained an image (either no image, or the screenshot from the entry page, or the one provided by UKBA themselves), and also varied the landing page (mostly the entry page itself, but sometimes I drove people to the blog post instead).
Oh and lastly… Consider pinning one of the tweets on your profile – ideally one with an image (such as the ‘vote now’ image that UKBA provided, in my case). For people who randomly stumble across your Twitter profile, they’ll see it – and even if they don’t end up voting, it still looks good to show off.
In late May I was approached by the team at SEMrush about hosting a webinar, going into more detail about the CR 25 campaign that I ran in January. I’d already given a talk about it at BrightonSEO, but with only 20 minutes available, I left out a lot of useful information surrounding the ‘content blitz’ campaign, where we published 25 blog posts in one month (pretty much one each day during the month). I had toyed with the idea of creating a YouMoz post (and had in fact started to draft one), but when SEMrush approached me about the webinar, I thought that it would be a better way to get across all the info.
The video of the webinar is below, with a transcript below that.
Video Transcript (including slide stills)
Hi, thank you very much for the introduction. I’m Steve Morgan, @steviephil on Twitter, and today I’ll be talking you through a big campaign I ran back in January earlier this year. I actually talked about this campaign at BrightonSEO in April, but I was only given about 20 minutes to talk on-stage and I was only able to talk about a couple of examples of content we did – we had 25 blog posts in one month – and just talk about how much it all cost, so it’s great to have the opportunity… a big thank you to SEMrush for having me. And it’s great to be able to talk about the campaign in more detail and run through more examples than I did when I presented at the conference.
The webinar is split into three sections. I’m going to jump out of the slides a third of the way through and show you real examples of content, because I thought: “why bother showing you slides of examples when I can actually show you the examples on Firefox?” But before that, I’ll talk you through a bit of an introduction to the campaign and how we prepared for it. And then after I’ve shown you examples, I’ll give you some insights into what performed well, what didn’t, what worked well on certain social media networks, and talk you through how much everything cost, which – even though we had 25 posts created and we tried to avoid just having bog-standard, 400-word advice articles – we did lots of varying types of content and we tried to have interactive content as well. We managed to keep the budget very low by sourcing guest blog posts, by using free or cheap WordPress plugins – things like that really. I’ll tell you more as we go along.
Whether you call yourself a freelancer, a solo/independent consultant, a solopreneur or maybe even something else entirely, one of the biggest challenges that we face as one-person bands is the ability to balance our workloads effectively – in particular by keeping the sales pipeline filling up while we’re busy working on other projects.
And I can speak about this from recent personal experience…
I have a confession to make…
I dropped the ball on the sales front earlier this year. After a busy Q4 in 2014 (resulting in December being my most successful month income-wise to date at the time) and a very busy January running CR 25 single-handedly, followed by two large one-off projects in Feb-Mar (which both overran), I was simply too busy to fit sales into the mix.
Then in April: quiet. Well… I had enough to keep me going, but things were a lot quieter than I was used to. It was my quietest period since my first three months in business (way back in the summer of 2013) and therefore in over 18 months. Yikes.
Things have picked up rather nicely since then, but I wanted to take the time to blog about some of the ways that I went about drumming up new business during that quiet spell. And while working on this list of sales tactics for freelancers, I just kept adding more and more ideas to it and ended up with 20 different ways…! For the record though, you might not see some tactics that you’re expecting to see… For example, I don’t condone cold-calling, door-to-door sales or any other type of ‘interruptive’ marketing like that, so that won’t be in the list below. I’m also not keen on freelancer marketplace websites (e.g. PeoplePerHour) – I’m not saying that they don’t work, they’re just not for me, and I’m sure that there are other freelancers who feel the same way.
…So what else can you do?
A slight disclaimer: some of these are probably really obvious, but if fellow freelancers (SEO or otherwise) browse the list, see 2 or 3 points and think to themselves: “damn, why didn’t I think of that?” then that’ll do for me…! 🙂
First things first…
1) Remove any “I’m not available” type messages from your blog/website
If you’re in a position to network and drive leads and enquiries your way, the last thing that you’ll want to do is to put people off with a message on your site that says “I’m unavailable at the moment” or “I’m unavailable until [future date]”… It’s all well and good to have this on the site when you are full-up capacity-wise, but be sure to remove it when you aren’t and when you’re actively seeking work. While this might seem really obvious, it’s crucial that you make sure to remember to remove the message everywhere and anywhere it’s featured: is it on your Contact page / your Hire Me page / site-wide? For me, it was on this very blog’s Hire Me page and my freelance site‘s Contact page, but it could be disasterous if I only remembered to remove it off one of the pages and not the other – so be sure to remember to do it…!
As an aside… Some people swear off using these type of messages entirely, which is fair enough (after all, what if a dream enquirer sees it and it puts them off from enquiring?), but @ChrisLDyson of Triple SEO raised a good point that it usually still brings in the more serious enquiries while putting off the “can I just get a quote?” types. Besides, they might not read it anyway and just get in touch regardless.
Right, got that sorted? Good. Onto the next one…
Leveraging existing business relationships
2) Touch base with old clients
If you work with clients directly and you’ve already done work for somebody – maybe on a one-off basis – and you left things on good terms, then it makes sense to touch base and catch up on their current situation. Maybe they’re in need of more of your assistance?
I did some one-off consulting for two companies in the past year and decided to email them asking how things were going. Both of them said that my timing was perfect, that they’d be keen to reconvene things – and I’ve already been to see one of them (the other one is still keen but they’re going to leave it another month or two). Nice and easy.
Obviously this only really works in certain circumstances – for example, if you stopped working with a client because their budget ran out/got cut, or they’ve gone ahead with another supplier, or they’ve brought the service in-house instead, then you may want to give those ones a miss. But think back to all your old clients and get in touch with those who loved what you did for them and might need more of the same.
3) Touch base with your main referral partners (e.g. agencies)
Who usually passes you work? In my case, as an SEO, I get a fair bit of work from web design agencies and PR agencies. Similar to the point above, get in touch with those that you’ve worked with before and find out if any of their clients currently need help with anything.