I’ve talked to several business owners lately who want to start their own blog. Some have even written a few entries, but they never seem to make it on their website.
Any relevant business blog should be updated at least once a week. If you can update it more often, even better. However, for most business owners, (including myself) once a week is about all you can manage.
Blogging is work
Just like any other part of your business. If you truly want to see the benefits of business blogging (better SEO, brand loyalty, informing customers) you have to approach it like another task to complete each week. Hopefully, one you enjoy.
Set aside blogging, editing and posting time
First, pick one day a week to post your blog. Put it on your calendar right now. And set it as a recurring task. Schedule this task like you would any meeting. This is a meeting with yourself. An investment in your marketing. Usually posting early in the week is best, Monday through Wednesday, before the week gets away from most people, including your readers.
Next, block out one or two hours to actually write the blog. Once again, put it on your calendar for the same day every week. It doesn’t have to be a book, 300 to 500 words is fine for a typical post. You can always go longer or shorter, depending on the topic.
In between writing and posting is editing. You can either edit the same day, after you’ve been away from the piece for a few hours. Or you can edit before posting. If you can, have someone else look at the blog before posting it.
Editing is really important. You will make mistakes when you write. You won’t see them unless you let the piece sit for a few hours, or unless another person looks at it. I have never written a perfect piece. Sometimes I look at a blog a few days after it’s posted, and still catch a typo!
Add a visual element
Pair a relevant visual with your blog, which helps quickly explain the post. This is especially true for social media posting. Most people will overlook a blog post on social media that contains text and no picture or video. And there is no rule against sharing your blog post more than once on a social media channel.
Use quality photos as well, you can find free or paid websites that have images you can use. Personally, I pay for my blog images. I use Stencil, and find it’s a great value.
Just do it!
Don’t be shy. Once you have created your blog, post it! Many blog sites, like WordPress, which I use, allow you to save a draft of a blog and schedule it for post later. So, if you have time to write more than one blog in a week, schedule it ahead. Your blog will be ready to go.
Do you have any questions about blogging? Comment below and I’ll try to answer.
- Be consistent: Shoot for broadcasting at the same time, on the same day EVERY WEEK. If listeners have to hunt for your new episodes, they’ll give up quickly and move on.
- Sound Professional: Check your sound. Invest in a good mic. Bad sound is distracting. Listen to your own podcast before you share it.
- Don’t Ramble: Very rarely will people listen to a podcast over an hour long. It has to be very compelling. Most good podcasts are between 30 to 45 minutes. Some great ones are 5 to 7 minutes.
- Short updates are cool: If you can’t work on a longer podcast one week, give a 5 minute update. Or preview your upcoming podcast earlier in the week with a short segment.
- Think keywords in your topic title: Write a clean, simple title that people can understand (and search for) without having to listen first. There are a lot of competitors in this space. A simple title that helps your target listener find you is best.
Let’s get right to it.
1. It looks “low rent.” You know what I mean by this. Bad, or outdated, design cheap looking (or blurry) images, misspelled words, funky fonts and colors or broken links all contribute to this. Eight-five percent of your potential customers view your website before deciding to spend money with you. Make sure your website reflects a professional business at which a customer wants to spend time or money. If you don’t invest in your website, why should a customer invest in you?
2. It’s Slow. This is basic, but something you may not know. Nearly half of your viewers will leave your website if it takes longer than 3 SECONDS to load. They just leave and move on, maybe to a competitor. Lots of graphics and moving parts can take a site longer to load. Forget java. Keep it as simple as possible. Do you want to know how long it takes for your site to load? Test it for free here https://tools.pingdom.com/. You can also get some tips on making it load faster. (Full Disclosure: I have some work to do. Mine took 4.7 seconds!)
3. It’s not mobile friendly. This one is huge now. Nearly 80 percent of Americans own a smart phone. That number climbs to 92 percent of those aged 18-29. Seniors are the fastest growing smart phone owners, so no age group is immune from this handy technology. That means more people are accessing your website via a smart phone or tablet. Have you looked at your website on a mobile device? Do it today and see how easy it is to use. If it’s impossible, time for an update. I just revamped my site and the difficulty of accessing it on a mobile phone was a big reason I redesigned it.
4. It doesn’t answer a question. Unless you are a very well established brand, most people are going to hit your website while searching for answer to a question. If your website doesn’t answer a question, then you’re missing out on an opportunity to reach customers with a product or service that can help them. Hint: talking about how great your business is does not answer a question.
5. It’s NEVER updated. The days of a website that never changes are far, far over. Why would you go back to a website that doesn’t have anything new to read or see? Blogs, videos, white papers, news, events, products, photos or testimonials are all things that you can update on a regular basis. Give your customers a reason to come back.
6. It’s confusing to navigate. Do you lead your customers down a path once they reach your site? Do they know how to get where they want? If not, you’re losing them. Maybe forever. Ask a friend or customer you trust to complete an action on your site. Ask for feedback.
7. There is nothing to do. This one is pretty simple. What are you giving your customer once they reach your site? Information? Entertainment? A shopping experience? A way to contact you? Think from a customer perspective, and give them options.
I hope this blog made you think about your site in a new way. The more you invest in your website in this digital age, the easier it will be to attract customers and keep them coming back!
Questions? Go to my website at www.cincinnatifreelancer.com.
After a bit of a hiatus, I’ve relaunched my business. This week I also decided to restart my blog, which you also can find published on my LinkedIn page. If you haven’t connected with me there yet, do it now!
I’ve updated my website, so take a look around. WriteUp is now more strategic, and focused on business marketing and sales content. For about two years, I worked as a Brand Manager for a local company. I’ve taken what I’ve learned and expanded on those lessons with a branding focused take on content creation and publication.
Stay tuned as I delve more deeply into branding for small businesses and how it can make you more competitive.
If you are looking for someone to help with any business marketing or sales content, send me a note.
Facebook success depends on engagement. The type of engagement matters too. Cute cat pictures might get lots of likes, but is that kitty going to help you sell?
Today, I want to talk about a very smart Facebook promotion that a real business used to promote a new product line. It hooked me, and I’ll tell you why.
Shop ‘Til Ya Drop
I love to shop for designer purses and shoes, but I don’t like to pay full price. That’s why I shop higher-end consignment stores. I buy used. It’s fun to explore and find a beautiful purse or pair of shoes for a great price. I purchase in brick-and-mortar shops and online.
So, recently I saw an ad in my Facebook feed for a shop called Twice , a designer resale shop in San Francisco. Last week, the shop began selling designer purses, a new product line. Previously, they sold only clothing. The company’s product launch has been so successful that their website tells shoppers shipping is on a two-to-three day delay.
If only we could all have that problem, right?
For me, Twice went from a shop that caught my eye, to one I “Liked” on Facebook, to a shop I engage with regularly on Facebook. I’ve browsed the Twice website and will soon purchase from them. Here’s how they did it:
1. The Advertisement
If you want to promote a new product line on Facebook, you have to advertise it. The days are long gone when most of the people who like your Facebook page see most of your status updates. And if you want to reach new people, (and you should), targeted Facebook advertising is a way to do that. Learn more about how you can target your Facebook ads. Twice’s ad was targeted to me, and it was repetitive. I didn’t click on the ad the first, second or third time I saw. But after a bit of repetition, (after a couple of weeks) I did.
2. Highly Relevant Facebook Engagement
Once I “Liked” the Twice Facebook page, the company kept me engaged with daily designer purse giveaways. The giveaways coincided with a countdown to the launch of their purse product line. The engagement, with the hashtag #HandbagADay, asked followers various questions for a chance to win a free, very nice designer purse. Questions ranged from how many purses do you have, to guess the price of this item, etc. Adding to the urgency, followers had just one hour to answer before the winner was announced. To make sure I saw the #HandbagADay update each day I used the company’s Facebook notification option. I didn’t win anything, but the anticipation was fun!
3. Launch Day
On the day of product launch, the Twice Facebook page featured a beautiful, visual announcement, a purse photo with simple text “Purses are Here.” They status update sent Facebook followers directly to the handbag section of TWICE. Shoppers could immediately search through pictures of thousands of handbags. In addition, TWICE offered an incentive to buy, with a 15 percent off deal for purchasing a handbag that week.
I loved the site and the selection. Did I buy? I have to admit not yet, but that’s only because I had just bought a couple of new purses from another favorite retailer. I have no doubt that I will purchase from Twice within the next couple of months.
And there you have it, this is how you use Facebook to launch a new product line. It no doubt took lots of planning, some investment in ads, daily execution, and followup. But if the high volume of orders is any indication, the strategy was a huge success!
If you’ve never worked with an independent freelance writer, designer or photographer, you might not know what kind of agreement documentation to expect. It’s best not to agree with a handshake and a smile. Expectations for work and payment should be written and agreed to by both sides. One simple way to accomplish this is through a Statement of Work, or SOW.
Wr!teUP frequently uses an SOW in addition to, or in place of, a more formal contract. It should outline what work is being delivered, at what price. It should also outline when and how invoicing and payment will be delivered, and applicable deadlines.
Below is a Sample Statement of Work that you can review, or use if you are a freelancer. Feel free to revise it for you own needs.
The Wr!teUp Team!
There’s no growth without change, and big changes are on the way for me and for my company!
I started Wr!teUp June 19, 2007, after nearly a decade working as a newspaper reporter. It was my dream to make a living from my computer, and my talent. Some years were not easy, and I had a lot to learn in transforming from a writer into a business person, but slowly I persevered and grew along with my clients.
Today, I have 2-3 trusted writers working with me, and I have a social media manager. At the core of Wr!TeUp is still great content production, but we help businesses, nonprofits and educational organizations use websites, storytelling and social media to attract and retain customers and supporters. It’s a great job!
It’s work that I’ll continue. But I’m taking on a different role, working more on a management and strategic level, with heavy content creation support from my team.
At the same time I’ve accepted a new position as Brand Manager with an innovative new Cincinnati startup ConnXus. The supplier diversity company helps grow small businesses by connecting them to large corporate buyers looking to diversify their supplier base. This is a new challenge, that will expand my skill set. ConnXus has encouraged me to keep my business and will support me in doing that. What more could I ask for in an employer!?
As I enter my 7th year in business, I look forward to this new period of growth. I have no greater satisfaction than seeing the businesses I work with grow and mature, and I’m proud to take the ride alongside them!
If you have any questions, comment below or send me a note!
Have a great summer!
The old saying is there’s a sucker born every minute. With social media sharing, there’s a sucker born every second. And no one wants to be a sucker, right? Read on for tips on spotting a fake news article.
Social media makes it so easy to share false news. Anyone can fall prey to sharing something that isn’t true, but just bit of quick research will keep you from perpetuating a false hood.
Why should you care?
No one wants to share untrue news, and if you are a business owner sharing falsehoods, ultimately it will reflect on you and your judgment if you do it too often. Plus no one wants to be part of putting more ignorance out in the world!
You’d Better Think
A little thoughtfulness will go a long way in catching a fake news article. Take a look at the headline, is it OUTRAGEOUS, UNBELIEVABLE, INFURIATING? Then there is a good chance it’s not true. Remember, false articles rely on hitting your emotional buttons, which makes you more likely to share it. How often have you read a fake headline, had an emotional reaction and hit the share button without even reading it?
Let’s start there.
1. Read the Article: This really a good general habit you should develop before sharing any article. Often times when reading an article you’ll find it’s bad satire or just doesn’t make sense. Go the referring website. If you see lots of ridiculous looking stories, then they are probably fake.
2. Look at the Source: As fashionable as it is to bad mouth the mainstream media today, most of the time articles from well-known sources like the New York Times, CBS, NPR, Fox etc. well-respected magazines, and even your local paper actually are true. (I’m not talking opinion pieces, but straight news articles.) If the article comes from a source you’ve never heard of, it should raise a red flag. If you find an alarming article, do a quick search and see if any legitimate, trustworthy news sources have also picked it up. I will note that even reporters fall for fake stories on occasion!
3. Ask Yourself if it’s Satire: This is a big one. Web publications like The Onion have been around for quite a while, and their articles are very obviously satire. Usually people understand those aren’t 100 percent factual, and even I share Onion articles time to time, tongue in cheek. However, tons of Onion wanna-be’s have popped up and they’re not very good at what they do. Many of the articles are poorly done, or outright attempts to mislead. Some sites make an effort to look very real. Here are few that you may not realize churn out fake news, especially if you get their stories via social media only: The Daily Current, NewsHound.org, World News Daily Report, The Daily Mash, Newslo, Empire Sports.co and The New Yorker’s Borowitz Report are just a few.
4. Fake Article Clues and Examples:Here are a few more clues you can find in an article itself that show it’s probably fake:
5. Read Article comments: Sometimes when I’m really not sure if something is fake, but have an inkling that it is, I’ll read a few of the comments. If it’s satire, usually someone will say that it is, while letting everyone else know how dumb they were for believing it. 🙂
6. Check Dead Celebs: Dead celebrity articles get a lot of traction nowadays, which I find weird, but it’s a part of social media. Many of those fake death articles come from this site Fake A Wish . It allows people to create fake death notices. (I don’t get it, but it’s there.) Here’s a fake Will Smith death article you’ve probably seen. Note the source: Global Associated News. Any death notice you see with that header is FAKE!
6. Google It: Type the Article headline and HOAX and see what comes up.
7. Snopes It: Snopes is the PREMIER site for spotting web and email hoaxes. A quick Snopes search will turn up almost any popular hoax article.
All of us get tricked every once and a while. So, if you do post something and find out it’s untrue, let people know, then delete the article from your social site. Now, go forth into the social media world armed with new knowledge!
Instagram doesn’t make it easy to find photographers to follow. But these 10 instagramers should be on every Cincinnati lovers list.
This is totally subjective list, based on my, admittedly limited, Instagram finds. More than anything I’d like this blog to spark interaction! Comment below with your favorite Cincinnati area instagramers. I’ll take Northern Kentucky, Dayton and Columbus too!
1. 5chw4r7z A downtown advocate with a fun take on the city, especially, food, cigars and booze 🙂
2. OTR Blog Sites, buildings and people in the historic, revitalized Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.
3. Daytongram Not in Cincinnati, but these photos are so lovely. Pictures of the architecture and landscape of the city.
4. Gordon 13ombay Of the Queen City Discovery blog, a youthful, gritty, unique view of the city and the suburbs
5. Yelp Cincy Tasty pictures of Cincinnati food and drinks!
6. Stuku An artsy farsty look at the city! Great lighting, great composure
7. Cincygram Picture perfect postcards from The Queen City.
8. Cincinnati Reds Shots and video of the Redlegs.
9. Cincinnati Enquirer A look at Cincinnati from a newsy point of view
10. Findlay Market Photos from the Ohio’s oldest continuously operated public market in the urban core of the city. Good people, great food and community