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crafting brand experiences
for the modern audience.
We are Fame Foundry.

See our work. Read the Fame Foundry magazine.

We love our clients.

Fame Foundry seeks out bold brands that wish to engage their public in sincere, evocative ways.


WorkWeb DesignSportsEvents

Platforms for racing in the 21st century.

Fame Foundry puts the racing experience in front of millions of fans, steering motorsports to the modern age.

“Fame Foundry created something never seen before, allowing members to interact in new ways and providing them a central location to call their own. It also provides more value to our sponsors than we have ever had before.”

—Ryan Newman

Technology on the track.

Providing more than just web software, our management systems enhance and reinforce a variety of services by different racing organizations which work to evolve the speed, efficiency, and safety measures, aiding their process from lab to checkered flag.

WorkWeb DesignRetail

Setting the pace across 44 states.

With over 1100 locations, thousands of products, and millions of transactions, Shoe Show creates a substantial retail footprint in shoe sales.

The sole of superior choice.

With over 1100 locations, thousands of products, and millions of transactions, Shoe Show creates a substantial retail footprint in shoe sales.

WorkWeb DesignRetail

The contemporary online pharmacy.

Medichest sets a new standard, bringing the boutique experience to the drug store.

Integrated & Automated Marketing System

All the extensive opportunities for public engagement are made easily definable and effortlessly automated.

Scheduled promotions, sales, and campaigns, all precisely targeted for specific demographics within the whole of the Medichest audience.

WorkWeb DesignSocial

Home Design & Decor Magazine offers readers superior content on designer home trends on any device.


  • By selectively curating the very best from their individual markets, each localized catalog comes to exhibit the trending, pertinent visual flavors specific to each region.


  • Beside the swaths of inspirational home photography spreads, Home Design & Decor provides exhaustive articles and advice by proven professionals in home design.


  • The art of home ingenuity always dances between the timeless and the experimental. The very best in these intersecting principles offer consistent sources of modern innovation.

WorkWeb DesignSocial

  • Post a need on behalf of yourself, a family member or your community group, whether you need volunteers or funds to support your cause.


  • Search by location, expertise and date, and connect with people in your very own community who need your time and talents.


  • Start your own Neighborhood or Group Page and create a virtual hub where you can connect and converse about the things that matter most to you.

December 2016
By Kimberly Barnes

Going the Distance: Four Ways to Build a Better Customer Loyalty Program for Your Brand

Loyalty programs are no longer a novelty. That means that yesterday’s strategies won’t work moving forward, so look for ways to rise above the noise, setting yourself apart from the cloying drone of countless other cookie-cutter programs.
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Going the Distance: Four Ways to Build a Better Customer Loyalty Program for Your Brand

article-thedistance-lg It’s easy enough for a customer to join your loyalty program, especially when you’re offering an incentive such as discounts. All your customer has to do is give out some basic information, and voila! They’re in the fold, a brand new loyalty member with your company. From there, it’s happily ever after. You offer the perks; they stand solidly by you, bringing you their continued business. Simple. Or is it? In reality, just how many of those customers are act ively participating in your loyalty program? Do you know? Sure, loyalty program memberships are on the rise according to market research company eMarketer, having jumped 25 percent in the space of just two years. However, that figure may be a bit misleading. The truth is that, while loyalty program sign-ups may be more numerous, active participation in such programs is actually in decline. At the time of the study, the average US household had memberships in 29 loyalty programs; yet consumers were only active in 12 of those. That’s just 41 percent. And even that meager figure represents a drop of 2 percentage points per year over each of the preceding four years, according to a study by loyalty-marketing research company COLLOQUY.

When discounts just aren’t enough

So what’s a brand to do? How can you make your loyalty program worth your customer’s while—as well as your own? After all, gaining a new loyalty member doesn’t mean much if your customer isn’t actively participating in your program. Consider this: Does your customer loyalty program offer members anything different from what your competitors are offering? Chances are your program includes discounts. That’s a given. And what customer doesn’t appreciate a good discount? But when every other company out there is providing this staple benefit in comparable amounts, it becomes less and less likely that customers will remain loyal to any one particular brand. Frankly, it’s all too easy for customers to get lost in a sea of loyalty member discounts. They’re everywhere. In fact, just under half of internet users perceive that all rewards programs are alike, according to a 2015 eMarketer survey. The key to success, then, is to differentiate your business from the crowd. If you can offer your customers something unique and valuable beyond the usual discount, chances are they’ll be more likely to stick with your brand. Here’s some inspiration from companies who get it.

Virgin: Reward more purchases with more benefits.

That’s not to say you need to get rid of discounts entirely. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Customers still love a good discount. The goal is to be creative in terms of the loyalty perks you offer. Take the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, for example. As part of its loyalty program, the airline allows members to earn miles and tier points. Members are inducted at the Club Red tier, from which they can move up to Club Silver and then Club Gold. Here, it’s not just a discount. It’s status. And people respond to feeling important, elite. Still, even where the rewards themselves are concerned, Virgin is motivating loyalty customers with some pretty attractive offers. At the Club Red tier, members earn flight miles and receive discounts on rental cars, airport parking, hotels and holiday flights. But as members rise in tiers, they get even more. At the Club Silver tier, members earn 50 percent more points on flights, access to expedited check-in, and priority standby seating. And once they reach the top, Club Gold members receive double miles, priority boarding and access to exclusive clubhouses where they can get a drink or a massage before their flight. Now that’s some serious incentive to keep coming back for more. Discounts are still part of the equation – but they are designed with innovation and personal value in mind, elevating them to more than just savings.

Amazon Prime: Pay upfront and become a VIP.

What if your customers only had to pay a one-time upfront fee to get a year’s worth of substantial benefits? It may not sound like the smartest business idea at first glance. But take a closer look. Amazon Prime users pay a nominal $99 a year to gain free, two-day shipping on millions of products with no minimum purchase. And that’s just one benefit of going Prime. It’s true that Amazon loses $1-2 billion a year on Prime. This comes as no surprise given the incredible value the program offers. But get this: Amazon makes up for its losses in markedly higher transaction frequency. Specifically, Prime members spend an average of $1,500 a year on Amazon.com, compared with $625 spent by non-Prime users, a ccording to a 2015 report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.

Patagonia: Cater to customer values.

Sometimes, the draw for consumers isn’t saving money or getting a great deal. The eco-friendly outdoor clothing company Patagonia figured this out back in 2011, when it partnered with eBay to launch its Common Threads Initiative: a program that allows customers to resell their used Patagonia clothing via the company’s website. Why is this program important to customers? And how does it benefit Patagonia? The company’s brand embraces environmental and social responsibility, so it was only fitting that they create a platform for essentially recycling old clothing rather than merely throwing it away. The Common Threads Initiative helps Patagonia build a memorable brand and fierce loyalty by offering its customers a cause that aligns with deep personal values. OK, so their customers get to make a little money, too. Everybody wins.

American Airlines: Gamify your loyalty program.

If you’re going to offer your customers a loyalty program, why not make it f un? After all, engagement is key to building a strong relationship with your customer. And what better way to achieve that goal than making a game of it. American Airlines had this very thing in mind when it created its AAdvantage Passport Challenge following its merger with USAirways. The goal: find a new way to engage customers as big changes were underway. Using a custom Facebook application, American Airlines created a virtual passport to increase brand awareness while offering members a chance to earn bonus points. Customers earned these rewards through a variety of game-like activities, from answering trivia questions to tracking travel through a personalized dashboard. In the end, participants earned more than 70 percent more stamps than expected – and the airline saw a ROI of more than 500 percent. The takeaway: people like games.

Stand out from the crowd.

Your approach to your customer loyalty program should align with your overall marketing approach. Effective branding is about standing out, not blending it. Being memorable is key. To this end, keep in mind that loyalty programs are no longer a novelty. That means that yesterday’s strategies won’t work moving forward, so look for ways to rise above the noise, setting yourself apart from the cloying drone of countless other cookie-cutter programs.


735 Content unplugged: Reuse, recycle – and relax!

Need some inspiration for your blog post in a hurry? Sometimes the best ideas are the ones you’ve already had.

January 2018
Noted By Carey Arvin

Laws of UX

'Laws of UX' is a collection of the maxims and principles that designers can consider when building user interfaces. It was created by Jon Yablonski, Design Lead at Vectorform, creator of the Web Field Manual, and contributor to Storytelling.design.
Read more

June 2016
By Jeremy Girard

Small Changes, Big Impact: 5 Things You Can (and Should!) Do Today to Boost Your Website’s Performance

There’s no time like the present to implement these quick fixes and reap the rewards for months to come.
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Small Changes, Big Impact: 5 Things You Can (and Should!) Do Today to Boost Your Website’s Performance

artice-smallchanges-lg Every spring it happens like clockwork: the temperatures get warmer, the days get longer and everything in nature becomes more vibrant and colorful. Along with these changes in the great outdoors comes the irresistible urge to clean house and embrace a fresh start. Why not keep that motivational momentum going and apply it to your business – and, more specifically, to your website – as well? After all, there’s no time like the present to sweep away the old and outdated and bring in fresh new ideas and technologies. But you don’t necessarily need to dive head-first into a full redesign and all of the time and expense that entails to reap measurable results. Instead, here are five small steps you can – and should! – take today to ensure that your site is up-to-date, relevant and doing all it can to bring you new customers and grow the community around your brand:

1. Reposition your contact form.

For most website owners – especially those in service-based businesses such as law, accounting, consulting, real estate, etc. – the key “win” for their site is when it motivates a visitor to request more information or schedule a meeting. Contact forms are a ubiquitous website staple intended to provide a convenient – and highly measurable – avenue to initiate communication between an interested prospect and a company. However, perhaps because they are so commonplace, all too often these forms are given little strategic thought, resulting in a cookie-cutter name/email address/phone number format that yields more bogus spam submissions than legitimate new business opportunities. However, there is one simple change you can make that has been shown to get better results: reposition your standard “Contact us” form as an “Ask our experts” feature. By doing so, you shift the focus of the form to providing your visitors with an opportunity to submit a question that is specific to their needs and concerns. Rather than feeling like they are opening themselves up to an endless barrage of solicitation calls and emails, your visitors will sense that they are initiating a dialogue with an expert who will help them solve their particular problem. Make sure to respond to all inquiries within 24 hours, provide helpful advice that is free of charge and tailored to your prospect’s situation, and leave the door open to continue the conversation in a future meeting or phone call. By doing so, you will establish an important foundation of trust and confidence with your potential new client that will make them more inclined to engage your professional services. expert I have personally seen the submission rates on these types of forms increase dramatically. On one site where this small change was implemented, form submissions jumped from one or two per week to one or two per day – all legitimate business opportunities that were sparked simply by repositioning the focus of the form.

2. Productize your offering.

Another challenge that professional services organizations face in creating a website that works as an effective customer conversion engine is that they do not sell a specific product but rather a suite of services that can be customized to each client’s specific needs. This makes it terribly hard to market to visitors who come to their site and simply want to know “What exactly does this company sell, and how much does it cost?”. Because there are so many variables to the company’s offerings, there is not a quick and easy answer to these questions. If this challenge sounds familiar to you, one approach you can try is to “productize” what you have to offer. Create a bundle of services with a fixed price, and market that package on your site in a simple, straightforward manner that makes your offering easy to understand and helps visitors feel like doing business with your company is as simple as buying a product off the shelf at a store. package This is exactly what my company did with some of the technology consulting services that we offer. Instead of only listing the array of services we provide, we also created a product that representing a very specific offering. This made it so much easier to answer the “What do you sell?” question, and it gave us something tangible to promote in our marketing campaigns. In reality, this approach in no way limited the range of services we are able to offer our clients; rather, it merely served as a vehicle to open doors to new opportunities and made it easier to start conversations with new customers for whom we could ultimately provide a custom-tailored solution. Examine the services that you offer, and work with your marketing team to create an appealing package that you can market – understanding all the while that this “product” is really just a means for you to connect with customers and begin the sales process with something tangible that they can easily understand.

3. Lose your home page carousel.

One simple change that I have seen many websites make in the past year or so is to remove animated image carousels from their home pages. These carousels have long been a popular fixture of website design, but the reality is that they can sometimes do more harm than good. Home page carousels typically feature giant, screen-spanning images which carry with them heavy download requirements both for the images and for the scripts that power the animation sequences, thereby creating a potential stumbling block in performance for users on mobile devices or with slower connections. Additionally, studies have shown that click-through rates on animated carousels are extremely low, and they drop significantly from the first slide to the subsequent ones. This is why many companies are replacing rotating carousels with a singular static message instead. This one change can greatly reduce a page’s download size (when my company did this on our home page, its file size decreased by 75 percent) while having little to no effect on actual user engagement or click-through. In fact, because the page now loads more quickly, many sites actually see an uptick in user engagement because fewer people are abandoning a site due to poor performance. image Do you have a carousel on your website? If so, do you know whether or not it is working well for you? Your marketing team may be able to do some A/B testing between a version of your site with this animation feature and one without it to see which performs better. Since carousels do work well for some sites (like news organizations or sites with lots of frequently updated content), having this data can help you determine whether or not it’s time to ditch the carousel.

4. Update your image(s).

Stock photography is something of a necessary evil of website design, as more often than not, companies don’t have the budget to execute a full-fledged custom professional photo shoot. However, not all stock images are created equal. Stock photos that are overused or that look so obviously staged that they scream of their “stockiness” can cheapen a site’s design and leave visitors with a negative overall impression of the site. Replacing those images can make a big difference in a site’s visual appeal. If your site’s imagery is stale, you can make some simple image swaps to freshen it up. If you are going to change out old stock images for new stock images, make sure to seek out photos that feel fresh and that are not terribly overused (most stock photo sites will tell you how many times an image has been downloaded). An even better option is to try to add some unique imagery to your site. This could be photographs that you hire a professional to take or – in keeping with one of this year’s hottest trends – custom illustrations that you commission from an artist. illustration If your budget is tight, incorporating even just one or two such one-of-a-kind images in key spots on your site can really boost its visual impact. For instance, if you lose that aforementioned carousel on the home page and replace it with one truly compelling static image and message, it can make a really powerful first impression on your visitors.

5. Publish less.

Most experts agree that publishing original, value-add content on your site on a regular basis is key to optimizing its success – both from a sales and marketing standpoint and as an advantage in the never-ending battle of SEO. While I agree with this approach in principal, for many companies, the drive to publish regularly has resulted in putting out mediocre content simply to meet an inflexible standard of frequency. This is often an entirely counterproductive effort, as content that lacks in quality, original thought or value for the reader reflects poorly on the organization and its perceived level of expertise. Publishing original content to your site on a regular basis is still a best practice, but that content must offer value for it to succeed. Let’s say a visitor comes to your site and is impressed to find that you publish new articles weekly or monthly; however, once they click through the headline to see what they can glean from your writing, if what they find is mediocre at best, what motivation do they have to return to your site again in the future, let alone entrust you with their hard-earned dollars? If, on the other hand, you publish new content less frequently, but everything you produce is of the highest quality, then that same visitor will know that the time they spend on your site will always be worth their while, and they will look forward to the next time you post something new. Re-examine your current content marketing strategy, and ask yourself whether you are focused on quality or frequency. If it’s the latter, commit instead to writing less but to improving the quality of what you offer on your site. While this change may not have an immediate impact, it will absolutely yield long-term results that your visitors will appreciate and respond positively to.

In closing

Eventually, your website will need a redesign, but in the meantime you can make small, strategic, surgical changes that will pay immediate dividends in your site’s success. This approach of implementing gradual but regular modifications will also benefit you when it does come time for that full redesign. By making intelligent improvements over time, you will ultimately be closer to your end goal, leaving less to accomplish with the redesign and thereby paving the way for a smoother and less costly project.
May 2013
By Jason Ferster

8 Keys to a Lead-Catching LinkedIn Company Page

The professional networking platform has finally given brands a seat at the table, so it’s time to bring your A-game.
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8 Keys to a Lead-Catching LinkedIn Company Page

Given the mind-boggling speed of all things social media, it's easy to lose perspective on the passage of time. So try not to choke on your chai latte when you read these words: LinkedIn is now officially a decade old.

Yep. It launched in May of 2003 – when Mark Zuckerberg was still an unknown Harvard freshman. Facebook's predecessor MySpace, now having its midlife crisis and hanging out with rock stars, hadn't even been born. And Twitter was three or four years from hatching.

While logic would suggest that businesses would be the earliest adopters of any platform that’s founded on the concept of virtual networking, LinkedIn has been sluggish in giving brands a seat at the community table.

In the latter half of the 2000s, Facebook and Twitter quickly adapted for business users as marketers chased customers into those exploding communities. LinkedIn, however, didn't even allow companies the ability to post status updates until late 2011.

But in the last year and a half, LinkedIn's evolution has picked up the pace, and newly redesigned Company Pages were rolled out in September 2012, giving brands the ability to market products, recruit new talent and engage more directly with the greater community than ever before.

So if you've passed on LinkedIn to focus on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, now is the time to grow your presence on the network built for business. Here's what you need to know to build a killer LinkedIn Company Page that will capture new eyes and convert new leads:

1. Getting started

If you have employees on LinkedIn, you likely have a Company Page already. LinkedIn creates them automatically via data from a third-party service – probably Dun & Bradstreet, though it's difficult to tell. But be warned. If you have one of these robo-profiles, it's little more than a short description, some contact details and a link to your website, so you'd better take control.

The first step is to establish an admin (or several) with editing privileges. These individuals need to meet LinkedIn's basic requirements, which in summary are:

  • They must be a current employee.
  • They need a company email listed on their LinkedIn profile.
  • The company's email domain must be unique (e.g., jdoe@example.com), Sorry, Gmail won't work.
  • They must have filled out their personal profile to a reasonable extent.
  • They must have some connections.

If for some reason, you don't have a Company Page, the setup process is pretty straightforward after meeting the above admin requirements. Here's how according to LinkedIn.

Click Companies near the top of your home page.

Click the Add a Company link in the upper right area of the page.

Enter your company's official name and your work email address.

Click Continue and enter your company information.

If the work email address you provide is an unconfirmed email address on your LinkedIn account, a message will be sent to that address. Follow the instructions in the message to confirm your email address and then use the instructions above to add the Company Page.

A red error message may appear if you have problems adding a Company Page.

A preview of your completed Company Page is not available. When you publish the page, it is live on our website.

2. Look like you mean business

Once you've moved in, it's time to hang your open-for-business shingle on the door.

First, upload a company logo. For now, logo size is severely limited and the display quality is poor. It seems that LinkedIn is downsampling logos – removing pixels, and therefore sharpness – to save file space and speed page loads. So focus on keeping logos simple and legible at small scale. For example, compare the readability of the first two automotive logos below with the latter two.

auto-logos 1

Next to your logo, the banner image on your home page is your primary way to distinguish your brand visually. It's an at-a-glance way to say something about your company, and that expression can take any form you like.

Apple's banner conveys in both layout and message the brand's commitment to minimalist, functional design.

apple-header

Nike, with its global corporate footprint, had a lot of ground to cover to represent its extensive brand portfolio in such a small space.

nike-header

MAQS Law Firm is described as "a modern law firm combining professionalism and tradition with creativity and efficiency." Their logo/banner combination definitely says "creativity and efficiency" with a look that's more design firm that law firm.

MAQS-header

3. Give 'em something to talk about

Like Facebook, Twitter and most other social sites, the front-and-center feature of your Company Page is an update feed.

It's worth noting, however, that its functionality is little more than broadcast medium, like the news page of your website. As a company, you won't be able to reply to comments or "like" another LinkedIn user's updates. That kind of give-and-take engagement is reserved for real people, like your employees.

So with this limitation in mind, focus your updates on topics that seed conversations and get shared across the LinkedIn community. Post news about your organization or links, with commentary, to interesting content around the Web.

Utilize colleagues to engage further with followers and commenters. Employees are also a great way to syndicate your updates as they share content with personal networks.

Unfortunately, creating engagement this way is like attending a networking event with your hands tied behind your back – it's kinda tricky and what you say had better be really good.

accenture-linkedin

4. Promote your products and services

Nowhere do Company Pages offer more flexibility or marketing power as in the Products & Services tab.

A dozen parameters are available for describing and promoting each product or service in your portfolio. There are basics like description, title and links as well as the ability to identify key contacts, a sidebar area for special promotions and one for YouTube video embeds.

In addition, a header image slider drives visitor traffic to specific services listed below or to external-pointing links, back to your website for example. (This is a great way to build inbound links for you SEO-ers out there.)

aac-linkedin

To get started, provide a short description of each product or service along with a thumbnail image and link to your website. Believe it or not, this will put you ahead of many of the organizations using LinkedIn Company Pages today.

Once you've got the basics in place, slider images, videos and promotions can turn your Products & Services page into a compelling sales lead tool.

5. Audience segmentation

LinkedIn has built into the Products & Services tab powerful audience segmentation filters that allow you tailor your Products tab to different types of visitors. These filtering options are mapped to data from member profiles, such as company size, job function, industry, seniority level and geography.

audience-segmentation

6. Promote your groups

If your organization manages one or more LinkedIn groups, be sure to promote them on your Company Page.

If not, groups are a great way to build out your corporate LinkedIn presence and drive engagement with customers or those in your industry. When creating a group, try to focus on a topic or industry niche that lets you position your brand as an authority or that serves users in a way that’s unique to your brand.

For example, a private user group exclusive to your customers would let you gather insights for product development, provide another customer service channel and directly address criticism within a relatively closed environment and in front of your other customers.

Whatever group you run or may eventually run, be sure to let people know about it on your Company Page.

7. Analytics

Built into Company Pages are some pretty handy analytics tools, which LinkedIn refers to as "Insights."

Accessed via the blue "Tools" button in the header of your Company Page, Insights provide a straightforward view into how users are engaging with your brand, including:

  • Page views broken down by Company Page tabs
  • Update engagement by impressions, clicks, likes and shares
  • Visitor demographics by seniority level, industry, job function, geographic region and company size
  • Follower identification and demographics, broken down by seniority level, industry, job function, geographic region and company size

follower-demographics

If you're familiar with professional analytics tools, LinkedIn's Insights will seem pretty light. But because they are built on user data behind LinkedIn's membership wall, Insights provide detail about your company's LinkedIn engagement that other analytics suites cannot. Ignore Insights at your own peril.

8. A word on Career Pages

If you see a Careers tab on an organization's Company Page, it's because that business is using LinkedIn's paid Talent Solutions services.

Talent Solutions offer powerful recruiting tools that, like audience segmentation, utilize LinkedIn's vast user data to drive more qualified candidates into HR departments. More than half of LinkedIn's revenues come from Talent Solutions, so it makes sense that the social giant would invest heavily in this tool.

If your organization is paying for Talent Solutions, make sure your careers tab keeps those recruiting leads excited about the possibility of working for you. The features are too extensive to cover here, but that's okay. For the price tag of Talent Solutions, you should have access to someone at LinkedIn who can help get you started.

For some Careers Page inspiration, look to companies that are widely known as great places to work. Here are a few to get you started:

Starbucks Careers Page

Zappos Careers Page

Google Careers Page

Inspiration to go

Now that you know what goes into a killer Company Page on LinkedIn, all that's left is to go build your own.

We've avoided specific step-by-step instructions in this article because they are subject to change as features are added or updated. But don't worry. LinkedIn provides guidance notes within the editing areas of Company Pages as well as an extensive help center with setup guides, FAQs, user forums and more.

Still, sometimes there's nothing like seeing it all in action, so I'll leave you with this 90-second snapshot of LinkedIn Company Pages. And don't forget to follow Fame Foundry on LinkedIn for additional digital marketing insights and news.


September 2010
By The Author

Shut Up and Blog Already

We debunk the seven excuses that are keeping you from starting your own blog.
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Shut Up and Blog Already

blog_article You know you should do it. You know other people who do, and they make it look so easy. And yet you can’t think of anything more intimidating than staring at a blank page and a blinking cursor. You can find reasons all day long to rationalize why you haven’t yet started your own blog, but none of those justifications are going to help your business grow. It’s time to stop being your own worst enemy and start understanding why the excuses that are holding you back are all in your head.

1. I’m not a writer.

not_writer So you’re not a writer – at least not by trade. Big deal! Neither are many very successful bloggers. They’re entrepreneurs, artists, community activists, foodies, moms and even CEOs. Instead, what they have in common is passion. Always keep in mind that what you have to say is far more important than the mechanics of how you say it. A blogger’s purpose first and foremost is to entertain and engage. If your punctuation is less than perfect or your sentence structure leaves something to be desired, no one is going to report you to the grammar police. But if there is no conviction behind your words, no one is going to invest their time in reading your blog week after week. Your writing style should be easy and informal. Don’t approach the task of creating a post like you’re writing a research paper. Instead, imagine you’re sitting down to dash off a quick e-mail in response to someone who has asked you a question about your chosen topic. Keep your entry brief and conversational. When you’ve finished writing, read your post aloud to yourself. If you trip over words or phrases because they feel unnatural or clunky, go back and simplify them. Always keep in mind that what you have to say is far more important than the mechanics of how you say it. No one is grading your blog with red pen in hand. Authenticity and personality count far more than perfection any day of the week. Just loosen up and let your own voice come through. Not only will this make your writing more approachable, it’s the very foundation of building credibility and trust. After reading one post, your readers should feel as if they’ve met you; if they continue to follow your blog over time, they should feel as though you’re a familiar friend.

2. I’m not a designer or a programmer.

not_designer Stop right there. Nope – not another word. Can you use a word processor? Can you open a web browser window? Can you attach a file or a picture to an e-mail? If you answered “yes” to all three of these questions, then congratulations, my friend, you have all the technical and artistic know-how you need to be a blogger! There’s no reason to let technophobia hold you back from reaping the benefits of blogging – not when you can take advantage of user-friendly, do-it-yourself tools like Google’s Blogger. blogger_screenshot Blogger is designed to give anyone the power to publish. The interface is so intuitive and easy to navigate that you can have your blog up and running in just minutes, and best of all, it won’t cost you a dime. Simply choose from an assortment of templates, select your preferred combination of colors and fonts and away you go. Creating posts is easy, too, and you can even enhance them with links, photos and video. You also can assign each article to a subject category of your choosing to help your readers find related content according to their specific interests. Of course, you’ll get an even greater return on your time and effort if your blog is hosted on your own website, since your visitors can read your latest entries and peruse your archives without ever leaving your primary site. Still, there’s no cause for concern. Simply partner with a good web development firm like Fame Foundry that can help you integrate your blog into your existing website in a way that’s consistent with your brand and provide a content management system that’s just as easy to use as any of the free do-it-yourself tools. No matter which approach you choose, you’ll be surprised to find how simple it is to get your blog up and running and how little time it takes to publish new content.

3. I wouldn’t know where to begin.

begin One of the best things about blogging is the fluidity and flexibility of the medium. As a blogger, you are your own writer, editor and publisher. That means that there are no hard-and-fast rules to which you must adhere. Think of your blog as a blank canvas that’s waiting for you to add color, shape and texture. As a blogger, you are your own writer, editor and publisher. There are many different ways you can approach blogging – each one of them just as valid as the next. You might choose to use your blog as a platform for reporting industry news and forecasting trends, for providing useful advice and how-tos or for journaling your personal experiences in order to help others who are trying to achieve similar goals. Some very popular blogs like Catalog Living are nothing more than an ongoing series of images with funny captions. catalog-living One of the best ways to get started is not by writing at all. Instead, it’s by reading. If you’re seriously considering starting your own blog, you should make a point of reading other blogs every day – blogs that talk about subjects that relate to your business and industry, blogs written by your competitors and even blogs that have nothing to do with your particular field but that you find enjoyable and entertaining regardless of the subject matter. Subscribe to the RSS feeds for these blogs and set aside a few minutes each day to scan through the latest posts. You don’t need to read every entry, just the ones that strike you as most interesting. Look for commonalities among the blogs you read daily for pleasure. What do you enjoy about them most? When you find an article that you can’t stop reading, take a moment to analyze why it is so compelling. Is it the writer’s voice, their unique approach to their chosen topic or the way they’ve organized their argument? Pay attention as well to the headlines that catch your eye and think about what makes them captivating. Over time, as you assimilate these observations, you will achieve clarity about what you want your blog to be and how to craft posts that will keep your readers hooked.

4. I don’t have time.

no_time Blogging is a medium created by and for the culture of the Web, which is one in which attention is always at a premium. As a result, it is the ideal information exchange platform for the time-starved – both writer and reader. Blogging is not an exercise in filling up a page. Your job is to take one very narrowly defined topic and put your unique stamp on it. Blogging is not an exercise in filling up a page. More than newspapers, more than magazines and more than trade journals, blogging is about specificity. Your job is to take one very narrowly defined topic and put your unique stamp on it. Some of the best, most powerful blog posts are also the shortest. At Fame Foundry, one of our favorite bloggers is Seth Godin. seth-godin His entries are rarely more than five or six brief paragraphs in length (some are as brief as five sentences), but every last one of them hits home. We are devoted followers of his blog because we know that in exchange for just a few minutes of our time each day, we’ll walk away with profound insights that inspire us or reinforce our belief in the way we do business. Blogging is not your full-time job, nor should it be, so follow Seth’s example. Use the time you do have to string together a few sentences, but make each one of them count. Keep your topics focused and your points sharp. Short, compelling posts will make your work as a blogger manageable while keeping your readers coming back for more. Also, remember that writing is like running. The first time you strap on a pair of shoes and hit the pavement, every step is painful and every breath is labored. But the more you do it, the more effortless it becomes. Whereas once you might have thought you’d never complete a full lap around the block, soon you’re taking on a 5k as though you’ve been a runner all your life. The same principle holds true for writing. With practice, you’ll get better and faster. It might take you two or three hours to write your first entry, but once you get a few under your belt, you’ll find you can crank out a post in just an hour, half an hour or even 20 minutes. The creative process that at first feels arduous and awkward will soon become routine and, believe it or not, even enjoyable.

5. I don’t have anything interesting to say.

not_interesting Don’t think of your blog as a podium; think of it as the microphone at the center of a town hall meeting. You aren’t there to deliver a monologue; you’re there to start the conversation. Your job is not to sell; it’s to educate, inform, entertain, excite and provoke thought while leaving room for others to join the discussion. Here’s a piece of age-old writing advice: Write about what you know. When you write about what you know, you’ll write with passion and authority. Your writing style will be more natural and conversational, not like you’re writing a term paper. You’ll have the confidence to make big, bold statements, and you’ll never run out of things to say. Here’s a piece of new-age blogging advice: Write about what you know, but do it in a way that’s different from anyone else. With hundreds of millions of blogs in the world, it’s likely there are many others that cover the same general subject matter as yours will. What will set you apart is the way you apply your unique cache of experience, expertise and perspective to that subject to create original content that is useful and interesting to your readers. Let’s say you run a bakery. Baking is a science, and you are an expert in that science. As a result, you have a limitless source of material. How many people understand the fundamentals of baking a basic pie crust? How many would love to know how to make use of that bread machine that’s been collecting dust in the cabinet since their wedding shower? Are there other blogs in the world about baking? Of course. But none of them have your distinct voice, your particular experience and your individual point of view. Maybe you own the neighborhood coffee shop. Nowhere is it written in stone that you must write about coffee. Your blog could be about the neighborhood you serve – what’s going on, the issues people are concerned about and the events that are happening around you. For you, a post could be nothing more than a collection of photos from the neighborhood chili cook-off. Does that have anything to do with what you sell? Nope! Are people interested in it? You bet! The loyal local following you could build with this type of blog is something that even Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts would envy.

6. I can’t come up with enough good ideas to keep it going.

no_ideas If you sit down in front of a blank page and wait for great ideas to come, chances are, they won’t. You’ll just find yourself staring at the cursor, anxiety building as the minutes tick away. Instead, to be a successful blogger, you should be constantly mining the world around you for inspiration. Just as reading other blogs can help you develop your voice and sharpen your point of view, it is also a bottomless wellspring of creative fuel. To be a successful blogger, you should be constantly mining the world around you for inspiration. As you browse through your RSS feeds, you might come across an article that you disagree with completely. Why not share your take on the subject? Or perhaps you stumble upon an interesting observation and find a way to tailor it to be relevant and relatable for your particular audience. You might even find ideas spread across four or five different articles that you can weave together into a comprehensive how-to guide for your readers. No matter the source, you’ll likely find that inspiration rarely strikes at your convenience, when you have time to sit down and write a post. To make sure you never let a good idea go to waste, keep a running idea log. This doesn’t have to be anything formal – just a simple text file or even a handwritten journal will do. The most important requirement is that it can be kept within easy reach at all times. Jot down any and every idea as it comes to you, even if it’s not fully developed. Include the link to the article that inspired you and make a few basic notes about what you want to say on the subject to help jog your memory later. When it comes time to write your next post, simply choose a topic from the list and pick up where your notes left off. You’ll never find yourself wasting your precious blogging time just hoping and praying to land on a great idea.

7. No one will read it anyway.

no_readers For a while, it might feel like you are talking to an empty room. You’ll be tempted to throw your hands up and quit, but don’t. Persistence is your friend. Successful bloggers stick it out. You must begin with reasonable expectations and realize that it might take a year or more to build a following. However, even while your readership is low, your efforts are not in vain. Persistence is your friend. Successful bloggers stick it out. Think of your initial weeks and months of writing as laying the foundation for your blog. Your first entries will be fundamental in establishing who you are and what you stand for. You’ll likely find yourself referencing these foundational posts again and again, and by linking back to older articles, you’ll encourage new visitors to delve into your archives and see what else they might have missed. It’s also important to understand that your job is not done when you hit the publish button. Traffic building is just as much a part of blogging as research and writing. Post links to your latest content on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Also be sure to include social media badges on your posts to make it easy for your readers to share content that they like with their friends and followers. Another way to bring more eyes to your blog is by becoming an active participant in the community that exists around your topic. As you are scanning through your RSS feeds each day, look for opportunities to post insightful comments with links back to your blog when relevant. You should also approach the owners of more well-established blogs and volunteer to write a guest post, which will give you exposure to their regular readers. Likewise, invite other bloggers to write for you. They’ll promote their gig, and you’ll benefit from their connections. Finally, remember that blogging isn’t just a numbers game. If the purpose of your blog is to help your business grow, it’s not about the volume of readers but the quality of your readership. Are you reaching people who might have a need for your product or service? Are those readers actively engaged? Do they make a point of reading each and every new post? Are they sharing your content with their circles of friends? A small community of dedicated followers who fit within your target audience and evangelize for you is much more valuable than thousands of disengaged subscribers who might only occasionally read your articles and will never buy from you.

Sit down. Start typing.

You’ll never blog if you don’t try. Start reading. Start writing. Before you publish anything, ask friends, colleagues and mentors to review your drafts and give you their input. Your initial attempts may never even see the light of day, but that’s okay. These practice runs will help you dust off your writing skills, define your content niche and get the ideas flowing. If you need a push in the right direction, let Fame Foundry help. We can work with you to launch your blog and help you develop relevant, original content that will establish you as the voice of authority for the tribe of people who share a passion for what you do.