Guest Blogging Opportunities

Updated: 28/07/17

We would like to hear from all those who would like an opportunity to guest blog for us.

Benefits of Guest Blogging?

  • It will help direct visitors to your own sites and profiles. If you’re a business person and write well, it may enlighten old customers about other services you provide and help you discover new ones.
  • It will hone your content and SEO-writing skills!

Requirements

  1. Pitch us first, to suggest your idea, before starting to write.
  2. You must be:
    • an experienced writer (including your own blog, novel or other writing outlet)
    • a business owner or someone who plays a significant role in the business you work in (you do not need to be in the same industry as us)
  3. There is no need to be a blogger already, as long as you have something to say.
  4. The topic is up to you, as long as it can be easily related to business. (Update 2017: We tend to blog on one key topic per month. Check Twitter for details.)
  5. You will be allocated a month to write for, unless you have any specific date in mind, perhaps to coincide with something you are trying to promote.
  6. Blogs must be submitted well in advance of the month in which they are to appear, to allow time for editing and uploading.

Other Stuff

  • We will edit your blog post.
  • We will not publish it elsewhere, without asking your permission, though it will appear on all the usual social networks.
  • We will attribute it to you via links to your website(s) or social profile(s).
  • We may decide not to publish it at all. There could be 101 operational reason for that.
  • There is currently no payment for guest bloggers.

OK, get to work. Email all questions to hello@sensei.ie.

Is Talking About Blogging Taking Over My Life?

With The Slugger Awards 2008 happening in Belfast in a few hours, I’ve been wondering… Why this interest in Blogging? Why is it so popular just now?

I had a call last week from an NI Libraries Information Librarian asking whether I’d get involved in the SELB Library events. She’d seen the Welcome to the Blogosphere workshop I’m delivering for QUB’s Open Learning Programme and wondered if I could deliver a few demos on Social Networking and Blogging. I was up for the challenge. We’re starting with two demos and who knows where that might lead? It’s nice to get asked. 🙂

So, why are people, increasingly professional people, interested in blogging? Continue reading “Is Talking About Blogging Taking Over My Life?”

Bungle and Zippy Were Right

This week, a friendly colleague sent me links to what he thought might be two new competitors for us. I admit it’s been some time since I did any market research on what the competitors are doing by way of training. So, in a few minutes of waiting for something else to happen online, I thought I’d quickly check them out and put them in the to-do list for perusing later.

Ditch the Dullness

I read the first page and was immediately appalled by the dull language used, the missing commas and the stock photography. It looked like the type of template style site that inhabitants of The Office office might appreciate. “Come on, competitors!” I thought. “Can’t we do better than black and white typical, corporate photography – showing a typical corporate training shot – from a typical, corporate (oooo, that word makes me shiver!) CD purchased online?” And, then, “Isn’t there something more gripping to write about than ‘business strategy’ or ‘people development paradigms’!?” Please.

Recently I’ve been dipping my toes into website design. (And, all the purists may laugh uproariously. :P) Continue reading “Bungle and Zippy Were Right”

Contract Technical Writers versus Employed Technical Writers

You’ve posted an advertisement for a full-time technical writer. The financial advantages seem to make sense. Why hire a contract technical writer at hundreds of pound per day when you can employ a technical writer for one fifth that amount, and get the same amount done?

This is the Crux

An employed technical writer, unless highly skilled and experienced in the field of technical writing, will simply not produce as much for you, at as high a standard, as a contracted technical writer, who had to become adept at learning new stuff quickly, improvising to make the best use of their time when clients delay getting information for them. Experience in technical writing beats financial benefits hands down.

An experienced technical writer will:

  • Have years of experience with clients
  • Have qualifications to illustrate writing skills, in English, languages or (the annoyingly elusive) technical writing courses
  • Be busy and therefore not able to start on Monday (this is a good sign, and one indicator that they’re worth waiting for)
  • Have shining testimonials to vouch for previous clients’ contentment with their work
  • Talk to you about:
    • audience
    • output
    • information architecture
    • single-sourcing
    • benefits
    • time required with developers, PMs and SMEs,
    • how you can contribute to making their output meet your needs
    • be concerned about reducing support and sales guys’ stress over calls about how the product works
    • be aware of current trends

And, remember, Cheap Writers Can be Expensive.

Northern Ireland Twitter Hours

There are a huge number of business-focused Twitter hours in Northern Ireland. Briefly, a Twitter hour is an online networking session organised at a specific time. Organisers post to get things going sometimes there is a set topic or questions and answers, to prompt discussion, sometimes not. Tweets are aggregated using a hashtag. People view and respond using tools such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite.

This is a list of (mostly) Northern Ireland Twitter hours, listed with GMT starting time. We’ll expand it as we discover more Twitter hours.

Monday

18:00 #NewBizHourNI

20:00 #AntrimHour, #DownHour, #DerryBizHour

21:00 #NorthernIrelandHour #FoodNIHour

Tuesday

20:00 #NBelfastHour

20:30 #Export_Hour

21:00 #NewryHour, #MagherafeltHour, #FermanaghHour, #DerryHour, #NIStartupsHour #CastlereaghHour

Wednesday

20:00 #BallymenaHour

21:00 #CookstownHour, #LisburnHour, #NIWeddingHour, #LegenDerryHour, #IrishBizParty #BeautyHour #CausewayHour

Thursday

20:00 #ArdsNthDownHour #WestBelfastHour #NewryBizChat

21:00 #BelfastHour

Friday

None

If we’re missing an essential Northern Ireland Twitter hour, get in touch.

If you run a Twitter hour or are thinking about it read our blog, How to Run a Twitter Hour.

Image credit: leppre.

WordCamp Belfast 2016 #WCBelfast

WordCamp is a conference for everyone from WordPress enthusiasts to professional developers. It is designed to promote learning, connect people from across the world and share ideas and success stories.

Even before we got in the door, we knew it was going to be a good day. The atrium’s glass walls revealed a sea of yellow t-shirted welcomers, who swiftly registered us, issued us with lanyard with an attached list of speakers and pointed us in the direction of the freebies. We were then directed upstairs to the main seminar rooms by a friendly and efficient bunch of volunteers. Every time I looked around during the day, there was someone to point me to the next seminar, cup of tea, tray of fruit, shortbread or healthy packed lunch! It really was one of the best-organised conferences I’ve attended, minus the usual suited stuffiness.

Sponsors and Exhibitors

Every good conference has freebies! The freebies ranged from the usual pens and super-useful, branded, cloth shoppers to a high quality moleskin. There were even customised mascot stickers for those keen to recreate the #WapuuOfTheNorth and enter an Amazon voucher competition.

In addition, we left the conference with a suitably geeky, black WordPress t-shirt.

Thanks to the sponsors who I’d guess enabled the organisers to offer the ticket price at much less than it was actually worth. View the list of sponsors.

Speakers

The thing that struck me from the beginning was the amount of both speakers and attendees from places outside Northern Ireland. It was excellent to see so many visitors and I know some stayed over to take advantage of Northern Ireland sights and hospitality.

My favourite talk of the Saturday speakers was @ahmed_khalifa, who spoke on How to Find Endless & Relevant Content Ideas Using Just Google ideas for creating content using little-known Google. Though I’d become aware of these tools years ago, and even taught them as part of a Windows workshop on many occasions, I’d not used them in years. He took what might be quite a dry topic and made it interesting by searching for ridiculous things. The audience was suitably impressed.

@fellyph also impressively spoke with limited notice to fill in for another speaker who was unable to attend, his first seminar in English, From Marketplace to WordPress! It was an excellent story of how he got Marketing and IT to work together on their website content to improve sales.

View the full list of speakers.

I love live-tweeting and following the back channel during conferences and other events. It helps me catch what I may have missed during a talk. And, I really benefit from seeing the perspective of others, who have alternative motivations for tweeting about different things.

View the #WCBelfast tweets, which contain not only attendees’ thoughts on the day and since, but speakers’ links to slides and other resources.


Unfortunately, due to a busy week, my batteries were running low and we were unable to attend the After Party, where attendees were able to sample a specially-brewed, WordCamp Belfast 2016 beer!

Organisers

WordCamp Belfast 2016 was expertly curated and executed by Mark Smallman of MacGraphic, and his efficient team of professionals. Thank-you for a wonderful conference.

If you’d like to learn more about how to use the WordPress application, including setting up pages and blogs, get in touch.

How to Run a Twitter Hour

I’ve participated in many Twitter hours. Some are local. Some are niche (and often international). All do things differently. Here are the key things to think about when planning, establishing and refining a Twitter hour.

Based locally, and want a list of Northern Ireland Twitter Hours?

Create a Profile

  • Think about why you’re doing the chat. Once you figure that out, write it into the Twitter account profile. It would make sense if you’re using it to raise your profile or promote a local area or develop an online network of professionals in a certain field.
  • If you’re going niche, it will harder to engage enough people to get going at the start, but the benefits for each participant will be greater.
  • Also, ensure you write in ‘tweets by @yourregulartwittername’, so people know who’s running it.
  • And, add in the time it runs.

Establish a Twitter account for that hour.

  • Use something short, obvious and simple.
  • Try to get the matching username. So, if your Twitter Hour is called #CakeHour, see if you can get @CakeHour as your username.

Schedule Tweets in Advance

Scheduling in obvious tweets you know you’ll have to send is a great idea! It leaves you much freer to respond, retweet, answer questions and otherwise enjoy your own Twitter hour.

  • Schedule reminders that it’s happening: the day before, an hour before and 5 minutes before.
  • Schedule a ‘hello and welcome’ tweet (or two) for the start.
  • Schedule a ‘cheerio and thanks’ tweet (or two) for the end.
  • Schedule any themes or questions (see Have a Structure).

Have a Schedule

  • The clue is in the name! A ‘Twitter hour’ that runs 24 hours a day is just a hashtag (and is much less useful the more general or international it is).
  • Announce the start and the finish. If people want to run on afterwards, let them ‘tear away’ as we say in Northern Ireland, but don’t feel the need to be there yourself. That way lies madness.

Have a Structure

Many Twitter hours are without structure. But, people like to know what the point is. And why they’re there.

  • The easiest way to add it is to ask a series of questions, 3-4 is sufficient to get a conversation going for one hour. Announce a question with ‘Q1’; answer with ‘A1’, etc.
  • You could also try making statements and asking if people agree or disagree, or have suggestions for solving a problem.

Reminders!

  • Remind people (by tagging interested, local, obvious or relevant people via Twitter) it’s happening.
  • Tweet to reminder everyone during the Twitter chat to use the hashtag. It’s so easy to click Reply, type a response and forget.

Retweet Useful Stuff

  • Retweet tweets that will appeal to many at the time of the chat if you have time.
  • Also, retweet them during the week.

Reply

  • Reply to people to thank them for joining in. Yes, do try to gradually get around every new person once as soon as you notice new people joining the chat.
  • After that, don’t feel the need to reply to every single tweeter. Reply only to those that are of interest to you personally. Someone will reply to the rest. It’s not your job.

Be Clever and Recruit Hosts

  • It’s not likely that you will be available every single week to run your Twitter hour. Recruit hosts to run it when you’re not there.
  • Hosts will be delighted, as it raises their profile.
  • And, they may also offer prizes (something any Twitter hour attendee can be encouraged to do to help profile their business).

I hope this observation and information has been useful. If you’ve anything to add or indeed (more fun!) something you’d like to debate add a comment.

And if you need Twitter training or coaching for your team, get in touch.

Image credit: rosauraochoa.

Be Kind

My brother and sister-in-law admonish their kids with be kind . They are the most gentle and loving children I know. I may be biased since I ‘m auntie Dawn . I recently bought them Be Kind snap bracelets, which they love.

It struck me at tonight ‘s Belfast Bloggers Meetup that these words would form an easy-to-follow strategy for any new blogger, and one that didn’t get an outing at this evening’s seminar. It’s another angle… (Thankfully, Toby Osbourn has blogged the event, so I don ‘t have to!)

Be Kind in Your Blogs

  1. Write complimentary reviews of products, places, people and ideas stuff you actually like. Share them with the universe. (This might mean turning down free stuff that promoters will send you. Unless you ‘re already a fan. Your readers will soon sniff out the fake reviews anyway.)
  2. Write stuff that shows people how to do things. People love this. They especially love lists (like it or loathe it). Maybe think about adding a few lists into your blog schedule now and then. See how it goes.

Be Kind in Your Comments

  1. Comment on others ‘ blog posts. The uncanny effect will be more eyeballs on your blogs. It ain ‘t rocket science.
  2. Comment positively. Comment enthusiastically. Ask the blogger a question. (You ‘ve no idea the positive vibes this sends out.) Answer a question they asked but left unanswered. Get involved in the discussion. Again, this attracts the blogger and other contributions to your blog.
  3. Might I suggest you have a definite strategy for this? Make a list of bloggers or organisations. Target them specifically. It works. It takes time. Patience. Bookmark the blogs and make a point of commenting at least once a week.

Be Kind in Your Shares

  1. Share others ‘ blog posts. New bloggers will love this. Help them out.
  2. Include hashtags (or other key words or labels) on the channels that use them. Bloggers will love you for noticing their key themes and helping their SEO a little.

Just a thought. Being kind goes a long way toward making new contacts, developing existing friendships and drawing people back to your blog. Once they ‘re there, you can use clever ways to get them to read further (further reading, similar posts, links to other parts of your site, embedded media).

Let us know how you get on.

How do you interpret Be Kind?

Image credit: marisavasquez

Vote Jedi!

About half a year ago I wrote a blog about why Northern Ireland needs another political party, indeed, another type of political party. We need the First Jedi Political Party. This week, as all our differeing tribes have raised their posters up, and taken others down, I feel compelled to write the blog we need but not the one we deserve.

We need more humour in NI politics. Humour is lightness, humour is a surprising conclusion and the end of a seemingly predictable story. Hence humour leads to lateral thinking and creativity, and to different avenues of thought. If the politics of NI so far is tragic, then maybe a solution can come from the comic. And if you laugh with someone at yourself, can you continue to hate them, can you refuse to empathise with them?

We need more distance in NI politics. Objectivity is too hard to achieve when we are so close to events. Our minds might want to travel in another direction but our hearts remain stubbornly anchored in the past. We need to be taken to a totally other place, for example, to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far way. Only there can we truly gain some perspective of here. We need metapolitics via mythopoeia; or, discussion about political concepts using fictional peoples.

We need more discrimination – more distinguishing and distinction-making – in NI politics. The North of Ireland versus Northern Ireland, aitch or haitch, Derry/Londonderry, all these divisions have one factor in common. They all assume a binary, dulaistic vision of politics in which there is only us or them. They neglect a mindful approach to politics in which one is able to create new categories and become aware of multiple perspectives. Mindfulness is a Jedi technique.

We need to create new tribes, new divisions, new conflicts, new ‘troubles’ to replace the old. But we need to do it in such a way that everyone knows it is frivilous, non-consequencial. We need a new face-lift for NI, oen that not only clears away the old oen but takes it a million light years beyond an anything here.

Setting Out Your eStall on Social Media

Libraries NI is holding an event for entrepreneurs or potential entrepreneurs across Newry, Ballymena, Belfast and Omagh from January to March this year. “Setting Out Your eStall on Social Media is a seminar designed to help you see if you’re suited to entrepreneurship. During this event, Dawn will tell her personal and business story. She will also consider the practicalities of getting started, using online tools to help you research potential buyers, how to brand yourself or your organisation on the web and where to find additional, start-up and growth funding.”

Admission to each event is free and everyone is welcome. Booking is advisable. Contact Newry City Library (79 Hill Street, BT34 1DG) on telephone 028 3026 4683 or email newrycity.library@librariesni.org.uk to book a place at the first event. For details bookings for other locations, go to the Libraries NI website www.librariesni.org.uk.”

Image credit: crabchick.

Pay Attention to the Elephant in the Room

I blogged a while ago about Twitter. Then I wasn’t so convinced about its potential as a business tool. However, I’ve seen the light and not only about Twitter.

I’ve been using Facebook for a while, as a way of connecting with friends now scattered to the four corners. Recently though, I discovered that you can use Facebook for creating a page for your business (for free). One of my customers is now a fan of Sensei on Facebook, no doubt others will follow. He will receive updates on all our events in a way that suits him. I’ve received (free) technical advice about how to fix computer problems from both former colleagues and tecchie friends via Facebook and Twitter. LinkedIn has now become a useful tool for keeping up to date with former colleagues – even my mum Continue reading “Pay Attention to the Elephant in the Room”