Caution Ahead: What NOT to do as a Spectator of a Cycling Race

What NOT to do as a Spectator: Lessons learned at Cairns World Cup

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the Cairns World Cup, it is an annual race where over 300 of the world’s top performing mountain bikers from over 28 nations get together in Queensland, Australia for an arduous race dubbed the “Rumble in the Rainforest.” This year a spectator from the 2014 UCI MTB World Cup reminded us why we are all not professional mountain bikers and should leave the racing to the experts – Or those willing to go through the following…

I could ride like that, if I just had that bike

We’ve all been there…

…spectating from the sidelines of a race, full of liquid courage or just pumped up with adrenaline from watching the pros in action. Thinking to yourself ”I could ride like that, if I just had that bike”. There is a reason why you are not Pro Level and it’s safe to say it’s not the bike.

One spectator learned the hard way at the recent Cairns UCI World Cup Downhill Races. Pro-rider, Adam Brayton, hit a tree on his run and he was laid out flat. As he was being tended to on the course, a spectator, at the time unknown, decided he was going to do Brayton a favor and ride the bike down the course.

Seriously?! This “spectator” is going to ride Bratyon’s race rig down a UCI race course?! Through the whoops section?!

No protective gear, No helmet, only hat & sunglasses. Well, anyone could have predicted what this guy would do next…huge Ugly Yard Sale right at the beginning of the whoop section. Over the bar crash, knocks himself out, and it’s all on video for the world to see. Talk about geeking out at the wrong place and time.

Caught from another angle too!

The Race was put on hold, for the second time, while the unconscious spectator was tended to. He was put on a spine board and placed in the same ambulance as Brayton. Both were rushed to Cairns Base Hospital.

It turns out the spectator is Ben “bunny” McGowan. He states he wasn’t drunk. He just wanted to do Brayton a favor and take his bike down the hill. For his good intended favor, he scored himself 2 broken vertebrae and a dislocated shoulder. “Bunny” won’t be hopping any time soon but he can call himself a lucky guy, all his injuries are fixable. The best part is that he will be forever immortalized in the “crash” videos that have been circulating all of the Cycling sites. He’s famous for his good deed gone awry. If he does have one regret, it’s has to be that he didn’t have a Go-Pro attached to him. One more angle to relive his glory. Sending well wishes to Brayton and “Bunny” for a quick recovery!

Oh and next time you may want to check out any special deals we have going on in our protective cycling gear section, a little protective gear goes a long way!

 

 

How to write a blog post: The formula to follow

According to Hubspot92% of companies who blogged multiple times a day acquired a customer through their blog and 46% of people read blogs more than once a day.

Blogging clearly has a large impact in business and everyday life. But, blogging effectively isn’t easy, takes a considerable amount of steps to produce high quality content, and with the ever-increasing amount of bloggers, the competition only gets harder.

Though there is not an exact science for what makes a successful blog post, there are certain steps you can follow to get you blogging like a pro and your articles in front of a large audience.

Step 1: Understand the audience you’re targeting

Typically, one of the first starting points for new content is to understand the audience you are writing the content for. What does the audience want to be informed on? What information will resonate with your audience?

For example, our readers might already be informed on their latest local road biking laws, but can we give them information on how those new laws may require them to adjust their commuting? More often than not, blogging is about tweaking your content to add the best value for the audience you’re trying to reach.

Step 2: Find a topic and create a title

An often daunting task, finding a topic to blog about, can be facilitated with modern tools that follow trends, execute social analysis, and make your work easier (finding topics, authorities on topics, sources, and more). Once you’ve found a topic you’re interested in writing about, we then need to think of a title for our next post.

Here is an example to help you get started:

Let’s take this blog post, “How to write a blog post: The formula to follow.”

Our topic we’re writing on is blogging, specifically writing blog posts. Our draft title could have been something like “Tips for writing an effective blog post.” And the final title ended up being  “How to write a blog post: The formula to follow.”

It’s a best-practice to narrow down your topic’s content from something very generic, like blogging, to something more specific and value-added, like the formula for writing an effective blog post.

Step 3: Captivate your audience with an intro

Our blog post cannot be successful if our readers are jumping from the page before reading our content.

First, we want to grab the reader’s attention with something interesting. For example, at the top of this blog post are a few interesting stats that immediately grab the attention of the reader. Next, we back up those interesting statistics with a statement solid statement about blogging’s impact and customer acquisition. Then, we explain to the reader what value they will be receiving from this post, a formula for an effective blog post.

This setup gives the reader a good reason to finish the blog post and easily connects the value of the information to the reader’s needs.

Step 4: Information needs to be organized

Many bloggers’ content cause a reader to fall into a state of ‘information overload’ and must be avoided at all costs. Organizing your information into easily digestible segments allows the reader to fully consume your content and adopt the practices and connection you’re seeking to communicate to them.

There is no one way to organize content, but these practices go a long way:

  • Divide up portions of content into major sections
  • Use lists to break up walls of text
  • Use photos to display information differently
  • Add blockquotes and source information

Outlining your post prior to writing will help you organize your content and avoid information overload.

Step 5: Writing the content

Halfway through the step-by-step formula for writing a blog post and now we’re finally at the writing portion!

Using your outline, begin to fill in the areas with your captivating content. Here is where you can pour everything out, expand on your topics, and research resources to backup any claims and facts.

Step 6: Format, format, format

Almost as important as the information is the visual presentation of your blog post. An outline helps us create a structure for our post and formatting the content creates the visual representation of that information.

  • Are the post styles consistent
  • Are Titles, headings, and sub-headings being used
  • Is there always an image at the top (for SEO and social media)
  • Are you using boldunderline, and italics to emphasize points in your post

Creating a consistent format for your content will go a long way for allowing readers to easily recognize your company, brand, and consume content more easily.

Step 7: Always include a CTA (call-to-action) at the end

If your content added value to the reader, than they are more likely to complete a call-to-action for you. Those that reach the end of your article, presumably, found value in that article; so let’s ask them or direct them to do something specific for us.

For example, if you’re writing a blog post about “The Perils of Mountain Biking in Los Angeles County” you may want to include a link to popular safety product on PricePoint.com at the end.

However, the CTA does not always need to be a benefit of the marketer (company). It can also benefit the reader, as long as it is value-added. For example, a recent blog post may be about a policy update at PricePoint.com and the call-to-action a link to read the full revised policy.

Step 8: Optimize your post’s SEO

You may think you’re finished once you’ve completed the post’s writing content, however, there’s a little more writing involved with our SEO (search engine optimization) efforts. Here are some quick tips to get your SEO in full gear;

  • Write a short (less than 160 characters) informative description
  • Anchor text – Anchor text is text that links to another page. Search engines consider the text of a link to be an important SEO factor. When creating links, be sure to use optimized keywords for that link and think about how it affects your SEO.
  • Provide an easy way to share content through social media
  • A blog post should be greater than 400 words

Step 9: Choose a catchy title

Here are a few steps to help you pick a catchy title:

  • Begin with a working title – something to get the creative ideas flowing
  • Edit the title alongside your content. Titles should be accurate, clear, and captivating
  • Add in something eye catching – could be through language, alliteration, or another literary tactic
  • Can the title use Keywords? (SEO!)
  • Titles need to be kept under 60 characters

Step 10: Adding a little extra

Once you’ve mastered the practice of writing an effective blog post, use these extra tips to really separate out your content from the masses:

  • Include captivating photos (always include a source where necessary)
  • Infographics are a fun and different way of digesting content
  • Use data, statistics, and sources to backup your claims
  • Use social proof when possible

Do you have some effective blogging strategies that I’ve missed? Be sure to leave them in the comments below for all to share.

How to find new content and ideas for blog posts

A company’s blog an important piece of organic growth and staying connected with our audience. Improving the quality and effectiveness of a blog will require adding consistent, high quality content, sweepstakes & giveaways, and updated information (sale notices, policy changes, ect).

 

How to find, curate, and create effective content for the blog

Finding content and new ideas can be one of the most difficult processes of content creation. I’d like to share some strategies to simplify the content idea generation process. Here are a few tips that I use to find new ideas and please feel free to share other ideas in the comments (or email) below.

 

Using Q&A communities to find topics with open questions

Quora, if you’re not familiar with the community already, is a social network that revolves around questions and answers. Community members posts questions and individuals (and experts) answer those questions to the best of their ability (providing information, resources, example, links, and other sources to back up their answers). A lot of questions can be expanded upon into larger topics and blog posts. For example, a recent question that I answered was;

Q: ‘What is the best mountain bike movie available?’

http://www.quora.com/Mountain-Biking/What-is-the-best-mountain-biking-movie

The question gained a lot of attention and answers, and could serve for a nice blog post that reviews a few of the popular MTB movies.

Some other popular Q&A website are:

 

Scan the social web for trending, related topics

The social web can provide an abundant amount of ideas for content generation. However, it’s sometimes difficult to find the useful information from the plethora of junk info out there. Fortunately, we have a few tools to help us search through the social web for those informative pieces of information.

Topsy – real-time topic search for Twitter

Topsy is a free tool that can be used to search Twitter for popular links, tweets, photos, videos, and influencers. A simple search can reveal numerous topics on current trends to write about.

A search for the word ‘bike’ revealed this: https://twitter.com/DDOTDC/status/461167462369607681 a fun, proactive content among elementary schools that awards the school with the highest percentage of kids that participate in Bike to School Day (May 7) a golden bicycle!

Socialmention news and topic search

Socialmention.com is a real-time social media search and analysis engine. Their free service allows you to easily pick up on the latest trends in blogs, microblogs, bookmarks, images, videos, and Q&A communities. It’s powerful analysis engine can uncover recently trending discussions for you to easily capitalize on.

This crazy and interesting fact was discovered when searching the term “bike”; In 1914, a boy chained his bike to a tree to fight in the war. He never returned (pic)

Whichever the tool you prefer…

…to help you get the job done.  There are many social search tools out there and each have their pros and cons. It’s best to find one that you can regularly use and know the others are there to supplement your search efforts when needed.

  • http://www.uvrx.com/ – A very flexible search tool to help research Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, LinkedIn, and more
  • http://www.social-searcher.com/ – Don’t let the social buzz pass you by, use Social Searcher to search through Facebook, Twitter, and G+ for those trending articles and topics
  • Google advanced search – Often forgotten, Google allows for many advanced search operators to help find relevant content across the web. Becoming familiar with the different search operators and functions will add a great amount of flexibility to your search toolset. Example: site:www.facebook.com inurl:<name you are looking for>

 

Review competitors and top blogs

Competitor blogs and top blogging communities are frequent sources of inspiration for new material. That may sound counter-intuitive (new material), since your drawing directly from a highly related source, however, the goal here would not be to simply mimic your competitors news and instead find a way to add value to what has been reported on.

An easy way to do this would be to review popular content and find how the article was deficient or could be expanded on in a new way.

  • Did the article open up new questions on the topic that haven’t been answered?
  • Are readers leaving comments with inquiries that you could write a new article about?
  • Was the author weak in an area that can be expanded upon? (i.e. a proposed argument has loopholes)
  • Is the article Infographic worthy?

These are just a few questions to get you started thinking about how to re-purpose existing content. Finding authority websites on topics is fairly easy;

 

Putting those new content ideas to paper

Now that you’ve reviewed some of the tools you can use to generate new content ideas, all that is left is putting those ideas to use and writing up stellar content. Be sure to review the additional training materials to assist with putting together the most effective, new content that you can.

 

Adding an Image Through Google DFP SB.

How to load a new image into a pre-defined ad zone through Google DFP (Ad Server)

Google Doubclick for Publishers Small Business is a free to use Ad Server available to any business looking to control zones, ads, and creatives on a website. An ad server makes managing the images and zones a much simpler task, especially when a website is comprised of hundreds or thousands of zones.

The steps to add or replace an image for a specific zone are as follows:

  • Log in to your Google DFP account here: http://www.google.com/dfp
  • Setup a new ‘Order’ for your sale or campaign
  • Add a new ‘Line Item’ for the ad zone you want to update
  • Specify the Line Item options
  • Add your creative (image, video, ect)
  • Approve your order
  • Wait for propagation to see your updated image in the ad zone.

Logging in to your Google DFP account

If you’ll be updating ad zones, you’ll need a login to the company’s DFP account. If you do not already have a login, please see the Web Manager to receive a login.

Login at http://www.google.com/dfp

How to setup a new ‘Order’

For our test run, we’ll be replacing an image on the Kestrel brand page; we want to update an image in the sidebar for a new promotion we’ll be running.

Once logged in, you’ll be directed to the DFP overview screen. The main navigation that you’ll want to familiarize yourself with is the Order menu and the Inventory menu.

Before setting up your new order, let’s make sure that we have the correct image and proper sizing to fill the ad zone we want.

  • Navigate to the ‘Inventory‘ page
  • Find the ad zone you want to replace. For this example, we’re finding Brand_Kestrel_Sidebar_A_210x323
  • View the ad unit’s available image sizes under the ‘Size‘ column.

The Kestrel sidebar images allow a 205×343 or a 210×323 image size. If we need to add a different image size, please contact the Web Manager for assistance.

Once we know we have the correct image size, we can confidently setup our new order.

  • Navigate to the ‘Orders‘ screen
  • Click the ‘New order‘ button, just below the main navigation
  • Name your order. A good name describes what the order is for. I.e. The Big Sale – April Promos
  • Advertiser: PricePoint
  • Name: Add your first line item. Each line item specifies creatives for specific ad zones. For our example I’ll use, “Kestrel – Sidebar – Big Sale Promo”
  • Inventory Size: Fill in your Inventory Size with the image’s width and height.
  • Comments: Add any comments applicable to the image
  • Type: Sponsorship (or other appropriate priority level)
  • Start Time: When you want the creative to begin appearing in the ad zone
  • End Time: Set an expiration date for the creative to stop displaying
  • Goal: Leave 100% unless you’d like to specify a portion of impressions for each creative.
  • Rate / Discount: Skip
  • Display Creatives: One or more
  • Rotate Creatives: Optimized
  • Day and Time: Can specify specific times to display each line item
  • Frequency: Set a user cap to limit ad frequency per viewer

Add Targeting

  • Inventory: Select ‘Ad units’ and find your application ad unit (these units can be found on the Inventory page)
  • Optional: set additional targeting criteria: Geography, Devices, Connection

Once set, click the ‘Save and upload creatives’ option at the bottom of the page.

If your new image WILL be linked to something

  • Select the image from your computer
  • Add a link / URL
  • Add the creative’s ALT text (SEO)
  • Save

If your new image WILL NOT be linked to something

  • Add a third party creative
  • Add your custom HTML code

Now you can choose to upload another creative or add a new line item to target other Ad zones you want to update.

Once you’ve completed adding your line items, click Approve to approve your Order and begin delivering your new creatives.

If an order is approved and has creatives ready for it, the line item’s status will read Ready.

When the order begins to deliver the new creative, its status will update to Delivering.

Updating an ad zone requires 5-10 for full propagation (you should not expect to see your new image until 5 – 10 minutes after approval).