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Chicago Freelance Copywriter

Archive for November, 2010

Guest Post at We Blog Better

Check out my regular Tuesday guest post at We Blog Better.  I promise it won’t disappoint.

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A Week of Opinions: Why Your Thoughts Matter

A-Week-of-Opinions-Why-Your-Thoughts-MatterI was talking with a friend the other day about how I come up with my blog posts. Any blogger knows that it’s not an easy feat to put out many posts a week. My friend is thinking of starting a blog and her biggest concern is whether or not she would be able to come up with enough topics to sustain a 3-5 posts a week schedule.

I understood her apprehension and didn’t sugar coat things. It’s difficult. At times it’s a task that seems impossible, but I gave her a piece of advice that I am sharing with you now.

Use Your Opinions

What is going to set your blog apart from other blogs? It’s most likely not your topics. Most blogs about blogging cover the same few main ideas over and over. Most blogs about graphic design say the same things over and over. What is going to set you apart is your voice and your opinions.

In the spirit of this advice, which seemed to strike a nerve with my friend, and therefore, I hope one with you as well, I am starting off a week of opinions! I am going to write all my posts this week on an opinion I have about my industry. Let’s get started.

I think blogging is the most important part of social media.

I’ve gotten so good at giving this lecture that I basically have it memorized. However, I still find a lot of resistance to it. Small businesses I talk to want to get on Facebook and Twitter and use the “popular” platforms. Everyone is doing it and they want to do it too!

That’s not a good enough reason. Unless you know how to use Facebook and Twitter to increase your reputation and build your business you could just come off looking like an ass.

Using FB and Twitter for business isn’t about posting any post, it’s about posting deliberate and targeted posts. And that can be very difficult if you’re not a restaurant announcing a special or a clothing store announcing a sale.

That’s why I always suggest that small businesses use blogging as a way to increase their social media effectiveness.

It works like this:

You write a blog post that shows you know your business, you’re an expert, and you deserve to be thought of as among the best of the best. Then you send that blog posts out to your customers using Facebook and Twitter.

It’s so much more successful at showing people why they should be following you.

You have accomplished the following:

– Proven yourself an expert

– Used Facebook and Twitter to disseminate real information and opinions rather than just little blurbs about how you’re feeling or what’s going on that particular day

– Increased your SEO

– Added value to your readers and customers

Blogging really is an important part of social media. There are obviously companies that use FB and Twitter without blogging to great success. And there is obviously a chance that you could do that too. But I also truly believe that adding a blog to your business will only help your social media efforts – not hurt them.

What do you think? Do opinions matter? Are blogs as important as I make them out to be?

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How to Keep Eyes on your Site for Longer

how-to-keep-visitors-on-your-blog-for-longerWhen watching TV, are there certain commercials or scenes that make you click away? For me, it’s uncomfortable situations, such as ones you’d find in Curb Your Enthusiasm. The same scenario happens on blogs as well. There are certain factors that cause people to click away, increasing your bounce rate.

When people leave your site without clicking on another page or reading further, it means you lose the opportunity to win them over.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when writing blog posts in order to keep eyes for longer.

Tell a story

People really like reading information in entertaining forms. Cater to that need.

Use photographs and videos

Blocks of text makes most human’s eyes glaze over. Even if you have a long blog post, make sure to break it up with graphics, pictures, or videos. Additionally, put a line or two in between paragraphs, it will give the allusion of white space.

Be human

Nobody wants to read a blog that sounds like it’s been written by a robot. Make sure to put a warm and welcoming voice, humor, anecdotes, and anything else that sets you apart from the machines.

Provide a clear message

This goes back to 10th grade English class. You need to have a thesis and build the rest of your post off of it. People aren’t going to stick around if they don’t know what you’re saying.

Of course there are probably hundreds of more pieces of advice out there on how to keep eyes on a blog for longer, but I hope you enjoy these ones.

In honor of turkey and stuffing, I will not be blogging on Friday. But I’ll see you Monday with new content and probably an added 5lbs.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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don't-bore-your-blog-readersToday I’m very excited to have my first guest post!  Kiesha from We Blog Better is here to tell us how, as blogger, we can stop boring our visitors.  I hope you enjoy, and without further ado….

Don’t Bore your Blog Visitors – Give them What they’re looking for!

Just because your blog supports your business doesn’t mean it has to be full of dry information, facts and product specs.

A lot of times business owners make the mistake of using their blog as an online advertising platform. After all, business owners want to reduce their ad expense account – why pay for what you can get for free?

So, they end up using their blogs as an extended brochure that no one really wants to look at.

That’s not what potential customers or clients are looking for.

They come to your blog to fulfill a need or solve a problem.

Here’s what they are looking for:

Insider information

They want to know how a particular product or service works. They want to see it in action. They want to play with it and try it out before they make a financial commitment. They want to see if it’s worth their money.

So why not create some engaging videos that do just that?

My husband is an RC Airplane hobbyist, and when he’s looking to buy a new expensive model plane, he goes to BananaHobby.com because they always have great videos that enable him to see the plane outside of the box. It gives him a real life view of the product and its components. It makes it easy for him to make a purchasing decision.

How to use a product or service more efficiently

People are looking for tutorials that will teach them how to do things on their own. Blogs that show people how to get more out of the product or service in question perform better because it shows customers that you really care about them. The purchase is not the end of the story – it shows that your company is really there to help people.

When I had to purchase a part for my dryer, I was happy to find a “how to” video for installation right there on the same page. It made the decision to purchase the part, instead of hiring a repairman, so much easier. It saved me money and generated a sale at the same time.

Again, videos or step-by-step tutorials are a great way to show your readers how to get even more value you out of what you’re offering.

A Personal Connection

People get tired of feeling like a number. They actually want to know the people they are giving their business to. Back in the day, local business owners knew all of their customers by name and they went out of their way to help. Once they established a personal connection, it made it easier to trade, barter, and develop mutually beneficial relationships that went beyond a single sale.

People are more likely to purchase from people they know and trust. Why not use your blog to show your potential customers that you are a real human being with a real life? They will grow to care about you and will value what you value. When you make a recommendation, they’ll listen.

Plain Old Entertainment

Sometimes, people are just looking for something to capture their attention for a few moments. That’s why Facebook’s games are so popular – while people are waiting for more friends to come online, rather than log out as a result of boredom, they can hang out and see how big they can grow a virtual cabbage. I don’t condone wasting time playing games, but the truth of the matter is that people are looking for entertainment.

So why not entertain them with funny stories or anedotes, or post niche related videos that they can watch on your blog? Why not make a picture gallery available for them to browse?

Organize some fun contests or giveaways to keep them enagaged and coming back to your blog. The longer you keep them there, the better chance you have of turning them into a stronger lead in the future.

So you see, there’s more to blogging for business than product or service announcements. People are tired of looking at brochures and are growing more and more immune to blatant advertising. So it’s time to create a more customer-centered blog – one that gives them what they want.

So what else could you do to reduce the boredom factor on your blog? What can you do to give your potential customers what they want?

Kiesha blogs at WeBlogBetter.com, offering blogging tips and tricks. Sheís a writer, writing instructor, and blog consultant for small business owners. Connect with her on Twitter @weblogbetter.

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The Follow Up

the-follow-upThe reason so many of us blog and are on social media is to make contacts for our business. Yet so many of us have trouble following up after an initial contact. A colleague may tell us to connect with a person, and so we friend them or connect on LinkedIn, but then forget about the important part — following up with this person.

There are many reasons people don’t follow up:

Don’t have time

Don’t recognize the opportunity

Simply forgot

Don’t think it’s worth the time

Here are some ways follow-up can really help:

It keeps you in the forefront of your customer and potential customers’ minds. Anytime anyone shows any interest in your product or service, make a mental note. Then a real note, and finally, follow-up. Not just by connecting via social networking, but by sending an email or making a phone call.

Listen to your customers and follow-up with their words fresh in your mind. If someone mentioned they need a certain service, and you follow up informing them you can provide that service, not only have you proven you should do business together, but you’ve proven you’re a great listener.

Unfortunately, there’s a flip side. You also need to know when to let potential leads go. It won’t do any good to seem desperate or keep trying to fan a fire that is already dead.

My favorite form is follow-up is email. It’s easy to keep track of, and also, email allows you to use templates.

What are your follow-up rituals?

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