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Chicago Freelance Copywriter

Archive for July, 2010

The Blogger Standout: Personality

Hopefully by now I have convinced you to blog.  Have I?  If not, go re-read this post on business blogs.  But let’s assume you’ve decided you’re going to blog since it’s a great way to build a client base, get your word out, and generally have a good time expressing yourself.  Now it’s time to give you a piece of advice on how to blog: Personality.

You may be used to writing in the business style.  It gets information across, doesn’t really let any personality though, and it’s a great way to keep from offending anyone, except those who find boring writing boring.  But it’s not the way to run a blog.

If you are a small business owner I’m assuming you are passionate about what you sell.  Bring that passion onto your website and blog.  Nobody wants to buy a service or product from somebody who doesn’t seem to really care.  Use your blog to convey your excitement over your product.

Let’s do a quick example.  I’m going to pretend I own a coffee shop.  I am wired beyond belief after drinking 6 iced lattes and a shot of espresso and thanks to that extreme caffeine high, I decided I’m going to write a blog post about the perfect bran muffin I just developed.  It is moist and flavorful and I just know I’m going to sell them in droves as long as I can get people to my store.  What’s my first step?

1.)   Tweet!  @bestbakeryever (made up name) Just perfected the most delicious and moist bran muffin ever!  Stop by the shop to sample next week


2.)   Post on your website: New product available next week: Bran muffin


3.)   Your blog: And this is where you tell the story and use your personality.  You start out, back when I was a kid my grandpa loved bran muffins but complained my grandma made them too dry and he had to drink a gallon of milk with them.  So I made it my life’s goal to make the perfect bran muffin and yesterday at approximately 3:04am I perfected them!  I know you’re going to love them as much as I do, and my grandpa would have.  Please stop by the store for a free sample.

So basically that is as bare bones as it gets when discussing personality as a way of creating business.  Questions?  Sound off below.  I answer every single comment so please leave one.

What do you think of letting your personality shine through?  Do you feel uncomfortable in a business setting or do you think it could actually help your company?

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What Belongs On Your Company Website

Do you have a website?  If you are a small business owner, the answer should be YES.  In fact, I would argue that you should put more time and money into your website than any printed materials besides for packaging.  Your website is your home base.  It’s where most of your customers will look before deciding to buy your product, whether it is your time or an actual physical object.  It will be well worth your while to have a beautiful website.

So what should be on this website you ask?  I will tell you.

The first page is a welcome.  Hello, how are you?  Please come into my website, love what I do, stay awhile.  It should have that type of feel.  You want people to open the page and feel as though you’re standing at the door with a hot cup of tea and a smile.

Then perhaps there is a page with images, a sort of online portfolio.  This is where you’re going to put your product up that you’re selling.  If it’s ceramics, make sure the pictures are beautiful and well-lit.  If it’s your time, make sure to have pictures of clients up there.

Then we go to a page about what’s going on with your business.  Any interesting news to report?  Just got a new client?  Just had success with an old one?  Post it.  Put it up.  Gloat.

Next: Press.  Do you have any press?  No worries if you don’t, but if you do, give it it’s own page.  Gloat. Sell yourself.

Blog!  Do you have a blog to go with your business?  As discussed, you should.  If you do, give it it’s own page.  Make it important.

Lastly: Contact.  There is no point of having a website if you don’t let people know how to reach you.  Agreed?  Yes.  I personally prefer when I see an email address I can pick up directly rather than filling out a form for someone to get back to me, but whatever you’re comfortable with is fine.

Some other things to include on the website, most likely on the first page, are links to your social media accounts.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, you know the drill.  And also, a button your followers can press to subscribe to a newsletter if you have one, or blog postings.

Just remember your website is there to sell you and your product.  Put the time and effort that deserves into it.  A good example of a website that incorporates all this and more is Bryn Alexandra Interiors.

For more reading on the overview of PR in a small business, including websites, check out this awesome Design*Sponge post.

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6 rules for your blogYesterday I told you that as a small business owner you need a blog.  Today I’ll tell you how to write it.  Writing a blog is about delivering engaging and gripping content day after day after day.  Writing content can seem a daunting task at first, but if you follow these six rules, you’ll find that what you churn out will better than you expected.

Rule 1: Make sure every post you write has a purpose.

You just need to ask yourself, why would someone want to read this post?  What message am I trying to get across?  What will my reader take away from this post?  When you ask yourself this question, have an ideal customer in mind.  Think of the person you most want to buy from you.  Hold that person in your head as you write the post.  Write it directly to them, and in this way, you are already hitting your ideal customer.

Rule 2: As Much as Possible, Make Your Posts Unique and Useful

This may seem more daunting than just making sure your post has a purpose, but it’s really not.  Just write what about what you offer, what you sell, and that will make it unique right off the bat.  Don’t forget, just by writing a post you’re putting a personal spin on it: your voice and your product.  And that automatically makes it unique.

Rule 3: Brevity. It’s not just the soul of wit, it’s the soul of a good blog post.

See above.

Don’t write more than you need to in order to get your point across.  Some say to shoot for 250 words, some for 500.  I say shoot for how ever many words you think you need in order to make an impression.

Rule 4: Work hard on your headlines.

As they say, you gotta get ‘em early.  Headlines will help do that.  In fact, assume that the headline is the only thing people will read.  Make sure your headlines are 3 things: concise, interesting, and clearly state what your post is about.  Don’t put Justin Beiber in your headline if you’re going to be talking about coffee beans.  You see?  Need more help?  Read this.

Rule 5: Use language that is Easy to Read.

Three rules within Rule 5:

Make sure your posts are easily scannable.

Remember: big words don’t impress, they scare.

If your ten year old can’t read it, don’t write it.

Rule 6: Use Searchable Words.

You want to use the phrase that savvy Internet uses will type into Google as much as possible.  For example, if your business is monogrammed underpants, use that phrase often.  Don’t use it once and retire it.  (Social media blog, social media blog, social media blog.)  (See what I did there?)  This is the extreme basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which will get it’s own post later.  But it’s something to keep in mind, even if you don’t quite understand it.

Do you think you are capable of writing content for your blog?  What would help you get started?  Sound off below.

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This blog is intended to show how as a small business owner you can utilize social media tools to grow your clientele, get your word out, and thrive.  An important part of the social media equation is blogging.  You may believe everyone and their mother is out to start a blog in order to keep you posted on which cereal they ate for breakfast, if their cat got over that nasty stomach flu, and if they can balance cherries on their dog’s head.  But there is so much more to it than that.  Business blogging is a completely different beast, and is one of the most effective ways to add content to your website, build brand awareness, and turn readers of your blog into real-life customers.

Why Does Blogging Work?

The number one way to increase traffic to your company website is to start a blog.  Basically, and in the most layman terms possible, the more content you have connected to your company website, the higher up you’ll appear on the Google page when someone searches for your keywords.

How Can This Be Bad?

Truthfully, it can’t be.  Being found faster and easier by Google should be every business’s goal.  There are many ways to market yourself, but social media and specifically business blogging is basically free and is documented to work.

The first time you sent out a mailing back in the good old days of the Pony Express, it was probably scary and you bit your nails for days waiting until your newsletter got to your customers.  You’re going to have the same feeling with blogging, but eventually you’ll get used to it and see the benefits.  In the end, wasn’t the mailing worth it?

So Now What?

Now you blog.  Attach the blog to your company website.  Once you’ve built up a few posts, put it on your website prominently.

How Do I Know What to Blog About?

You don’t need to be Hemmingway or Faulkner or Updike to blog.  You just need to know your business and expose your passion.  To get in the groove of things, start writing one blog a day for a week.  You’ll see that it starts to get easier and you’ll find a groove.  Shoot for around 250 words in the beginning and see how comfortable you feel with that.  If you have no idea where to begin and you have to breath into a paper bag when you think about it, shoot me an email.  What do you have to lose?

More importantly, what do you have to gain?

If you’re truly scared, take a look at this excellent post from Chris Brogan on how to overcome your fear of blogging.

So, what do you think about starting a blog for your business?  Do you think it will help?  Sound off below.

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Today’s Afternoon Delight: Passion

I’m here to offer you some afternoon delight, a feature I will occasionally include in this blog.

There are many, many, many blogs out there writing on social media and how to survive it.  Sometimes they make me feel like I’m trying to navigate an earthquake or tsunami instead of a marketing niche.  Occasionally I notice a trend that is overtaking the Blogsphere which I find interesting and noteworthy.  I used to make a note of it in my head.  Now I will share with you.  Today’s trend?  PASSION.

Please take note:

FamousBloggers has a post up about passion.

As does Outspoken Media, a personal favorite of mine (the part about passion is at the end of the post).

Their point (in case you don’t care to click on the links above) is that in order to succeed in the world of social media, you need to be passionate about what you write about.  It’s the way to get noticed and get followers.

How to apply this to your small business?  My guess is, you already do by being excited about what you sell, and by being good at what you do.  The next step is to take that passion you already have and put it on the Internet.  Whether it’s through a post to your Facebook page, or starting a blog, transitioning from excited business owner to excited business owner who utilizes social media is a jump you should be taking.

You need an example of passionate Internet usage?  This post is one.  Start taking time to notice the passion and my guess is, it’ll be everywhere.  I even noticed it today while reading about throw pillows.  No joke, find it here.  And then think about how to translate your passion into a web presence.

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