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Chicago Freelance Copywriter

Tag: Business blog

How to Make Business Blogging Worth Your Time

how-to-make-busines-blogging-worth-your-timeI’m trying an experiment this week. I am going to try to keep both posts under 200 words and still get my point across. I want to see if shorter blog posts can still be effective. I think shorter posts will get read more because they can hold people’s attention span. Let me know what you think of short vs. long in the comments. And now here we go (these words don’t count toward the 200☺):

Blogging takes time, effort, and money (if you pay a freelancer). They’re fantastic on a website because they show visitors you’re current, you follow through on commitments, and blog posts help position you as an expert if you write about topics you know inside and out.

If you’re taking the time to write the posts, why not leverage them even further? Here are three places every blog post should be disseminated to.

1. Facebook

Create a Facebook fan page and put those blog posts on them. Even if you don’t have any followers, get in the habit of posting and then start working on building followers. Tip #1 on how to get followers? Put a link to your Facebook page on your website.

2. Twitter

Ditto on the followers. This is a great way to hit people who might not be potential customers but find your blog useful, which gives you more credibility.

3. LinkedIn

There is a WordPress plugin on LinkedIn. Add it to your profile and let everyone who views you see your blog. It will impress them.

My top three ways for making every blog post count. What do you have to add?

*196 words. What’d you think? Not in depth enough or refreshingly short?

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Harriet the dog

Harriet the Dog

Today I’m breaking one of my own blogging rules and getting personal. Not overly personal, but I am going to share that I got a puppy this weekend. Her name is Harriet (after Harry Potter) and she is a Tibetan Terrier. Over the last two days I have very much fallen in love with this adorable ball of fur, and don’t even mind when she whines at 3am (I hope my neighbors feel the same).

Now here’s the shocking part of my story. I don’t like dogs. I wanted one as a child, yet as I made my way to adulthood, the idea of all the work that went into a dog did not appeal to me. Additionally, I couldn’t stand to be licked or jumped on, plus the smell of some dogs was enough for me to declare I would never, ever, ever get a dog.  This led to many a person telling me I didn’t have a soul.  Apparently dogs are the keepers of souls, which I previously thought was baloney, but now know to be true.

But somehow one thing led to another (mostly a dog-loving husband and friends who brought home Harriet’s brother last week) and on Saturday, I ate my words and am now a proud dog owner.

It’s a total departure from how I thought life was going to look on January 18, 2011. If you had told me a year ago I would be typing a blog post with a puppy on my lap I would have slapped you across the face (not really) and declared you insane. Yet here I sit with Harriet on my lap, refusing to even put her down because she brings me such joy.

At first I figured this would be the one time in my life I truly went against my instincts and did something that I had declared I’d never do. But the more I think about, the more it seems stepping outside my comfort zone was one of the best things I’ve done in awhile.

I am going to try to go against my instincts at least a few more times in 2011. I’m aware it won’t always work out as wonderfully as Harriet is working out. But I’m excited to see how doing things differently will pan out for me in the end.

Have you ever stepped outside your comfort zone to wonderful results? How about negative? I’d love to hear your stories.

p.s. If you have any puppy training advice, please send it my way.

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What You Can Accomplish In 30 Minutes

what-you-can-accomplish-in-thirty-minutesI have been very busy lately with a big project. And like any good small business owner, my clients’ needs always come before my own. Which means the hours I used to spend on Facebook, Twitter, and other blogs have shrunk down. Way down. I now give myself thirty minutes to promote my own blog everyday. I honestly feel like I could spend 3 hours a day, and some days I have, but it’s no longer in the cards. So here is what I do to maximize my thirty minutes.

1-4 minutes — Post my newest blog post to Twitter and Facebook. On Twitter I try to take a few minutes to think of a catchy phrase that will get people to click.  There are services you can go to that post everything to one site, such as Postling, (I interviewed the VP of Customers at Postling, read it here) or Ping.fm, but I like doing it myself for some reason.  It’s just part of my routine, and I like my routine.

10 minutes — I have approximately 70 blogs on my Google Reader that relate to social media, and it’s always growing. Reading all these posts is where I could spend the majority of my time, if I had it. There really is no better way to improve social media skills than reading as many other bloggers’ thoughts, advice, and stories as possible. But I do not have that luxury, so I skim the headlines and pick out the top five that I think will really be worth my time to read. They are often from the same bloggers everyday, but I try to mix it up a bit.

10 minutes — I take the time to actually read these posts. Sometimes it frustrates me that I have to spend 1/3 of the time just narrowing them down, but I am very reluctant to remove any blogs from my Google Reader. I think I’m afraid one of the blogs will post the quintessential blogger post and I will miss it and die alone and cold and hungry as a result.

6-9 minutes — Once the blogs are read, I comment on them. I really believe it helps draw traffic to my own blog, and I like that I am being a part of the community.

And that’s it. If I had more time, what would I be doing? Reading more, that’s for sure. Commenting more as well. I’d also be promoting myself more, building an email list, starting a weekly newsletter, building up my Facebook page etc. My project comes to a close in two weeks, and after that I am going to put aside the time everyday to work on the goals I just mentioned.

So what could you accomplish at 30 minutes? Do you have a routine you engage in everyday in order to promote yourself? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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5-types-of-blog-posts-that-prove-you're-an-expertI have worked with many companies who are taking the time out of their busy schedules to blog. They all tell me they do it for different reasons. One is for marketing, another for SEO, another because they like to write, and so on. But when I sit down and read these blogs, I understand they all blog for the same reason: because they are an expert in their field.

When you are a small business owner, you know the ins and outs of your business. You are the one and only expert on what you do, and chances are you don’t even know it. Which means when you do write a blog post, and it’s about your industry, you are positioning yourself as an expert. But like I said, most people don’t realize this until I point it out to them. So, in order to spread the awareness among small business owners that you are an expert and you should flaunt it, I am listing several ways to position yourself as an expert:

1. The Instructional Blog

This comes into play when you can teach others a skill you have mastered. For example, a florist would write a post on how to make a perfect rose bouquet, or how to take the thorns off roses using only a spoon and some masking tape (I don’t think that’s possible). In this type of post you are not only positioning yourself as an expert, but teaching your readers as well.

2. The Review Blog

This is all about reviewing products that help out in your business. For example, a lot of professional bloggers review plugins for blogs, or a chef could review culinary tools, an accountant could review the newest edition of some accounting software. Again, you’re using your expertise to add value to your readers’ lives. Win win.

3. The Rant Blog

This is one that needs to be used as sparingly as possible. But if you discover something about your industry that you know is wrong, because you are an expert, feel free to let the world know as well. Would you like an example? Sure thing. If I was reading a well-known blog and they said that blogging is bad for SEO and a waste of time, it would be my prerogative to say this is wrong, and if I’m a ranting type of person, rant about it. I am letting readers know not to trust this person, while letting my own opinions and knowledge shine.

4. The Hunter and Gatherer Blog

I think of this type of blog as a service to your readers. This is a post where you gather and write about all kinds of information that will help your readers. If you are a blog aimed at graphic designers, you may take the time comb the web and find the best examples of flash graphics, or amazing headers, or anything of the like, and post it for others to see. If you are a cook, you may gather the best chocolate cake recipes and post them. Just remember you are giving whatever you are posting your seal of approval, so make sure you really stand behind it.

5. The Advice Blog

I would say the advice blog is what I’m writing right now. This is a blog where you know something about something that other people will (hopefully) find some value in. This is a bit of a combination of the other four types, but it also can have a very generic feel. If you are a healthcare company and you want to share information on how the new healthcare laws are going to hurt or help, then you would write a post on it. If you’re a dentist and you just saw five patients in a row who have never flossed a day in their life (gross), write something reminding every person who visits your blog why they need to be flossing. Use your knowledge to wow them.

There are many, many more types of blogs that position you as an expert. But I think these five are a great way to get small business owners started and to prove to anyone reading who didn’t think they are an expert that they really are.

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The Perfect Blog Sidebar


Partial Sidebar View — Get In The Hotsport

We’ve talked a lot about blogging the past two months. And I’m sure we will continue to talk a lot about blogging until the world ends or I stop blogging, whichever comes first (I hope it’s the world ending). So today, instead of talking about the content of the actual posts, I thought we should go over what should appear on the sidebar of your blog.

1.) A search bar — You want your readers to be able to search for their favorite posts. Additionally, a search bar is great for readers who happen onto your blog and want to see if you said anything about their favorite topic. I do this often if I stumble upon a blog I have never been to before but like the first couple posts I read. Did they have a life-changing post on company bios? If so, I want to read it.

2.) Subscription box — Make it easy for readers to subscribe so your post will appear in their email inbox every morning. If they’re willing to do that, they really like you, so don’t make them search for it.

3.) Recent posts — Have your last 5-8 posts lined up and ready for new visitors to read, or old visitors to return to. It also adds a bit of legitimacy to your blog as it reassures visitors that you’ve been busy blogging and they should trust you.


Partial Sidebar View — Outspoken Media

4.) Blog archives (by month)— This is another way to eventually add validity. By having your archives on your sidebar you are showing readers how long you’ve been blogging, and making it easy for them to see what you’ve written about.

5.) Categories — Each time you post, you should be adding your post to ONE category. Make sure those are on your sidebar. On my sidebar you’ll see I have 11 (although I should get rid of uncategorized as it’s pretty useless). That way if you ever want to read every blog post whose main attraction was Twitter, all you have to do is click and you’ll find it right away.

6.) Social media icons — If people are reading your blog, and like what they’re reading, they may want to connect on more levels. Make sure they can find your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc as easily as possible. Also make sure there is an RSS feed for anyone who uses Google Reader or the like.

Your sidebar should make it as easy as possible for readers to navigate your blog. It should invite readers to stay longer and read past posts and get to know you. What do you look for in a sidebar? Is your sidebar up to par? Is there anything I forgot in my list?

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