How to Write a Blog Post

If you’re new to online marketing, or you’re setting up your own startup, or even if you’ve started to use social media a bit more lately, it’s likely that you’ve searched the term ‘how to write a blog post.’

So many online marketing gurus assume that everyone has a working knowledge of blog posts and their power. But what if you’ve never had to write one before?

 As a marketing copywriter with over a decade of experience behind me, I can tell you that blog post writing is an art that can be learned via three things: practice, and trial and error. What works for your competitor might not work for you – and equally, what your readers might be interested in might be totally unexpected and out of the industry norm. The best thing you can do right now is get started, because the sooner you start writing blog posts, the sooner you’ll start creating engaging posts that grip your readers and keep them coming back for more.

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To help you get going, here are some of my best tips for writing blog posts your customers, clients and followers really want to read:

Research Your Readers

Ideally, you’ve already got a really good idea of who your customers are, and who you’d like your customers to be. The thing is, every group of customers has individual reasons for heading to your website’s blog. You can find out what they want by looking at your site’s analytics.

 Using analytics you can see:

●     Your most popular web pages

●     What people are searching for

●     The pages that cause visitors to leave your site

●     Where your visitors are based.

 …and much, much more. Use this data to come up with related topics to write about and you’ll be laughing!

 Write Your Conclusion First

 It sounds counter-intuitive, but if you’re struggling to write a 500 word post about your chosen topic, start with your conclusion.

Once you’ve defined what your post is about and how it’s going to end, filling in the gaps can be a lot easier. Writer’s block is real, but you don’t have to listen to it!

 Find A Topic

In my recent post about creating a blog post editorial calendar, I talked about a blog post topic generator. There are lots of tools like this all over the internet, and I find them really useful.

Remember: you don’t need to use the topics these tools generate for you, but they can help inspire you on days when you’re really struggling.

 Use a Template

 When you’re starting out on your first few posts, it can be difficult to know where to begin. That’s why Hubspot have created a blog template resource with several different styles to choose from. It takes the guesswork out of getting started and gives you space to think about the really important stuff, like the content!

 Sharpen Your Writing

 Finishing typing doesn’t mean you’ve finished your blog post. The next task on your agenda is proofreading. Proofreading is checking your work through thoroughly for errors and typos, and also to see that is ‘scans’ well – that is, it reads naturally and engagingly.

Over time, your skills will sharpen and this process will take less time. Do make sure you proofread every time, though. You never know when spellcheck will let you down. In fact, NEVER rely on smellcheck. See what I did there?!

 There are other tools out there to help you, too. Feeling like your post lacks a bit of pizazz? Head to Thesaurus.com to give your descriptive words a little boost. Worried your work feels a little cheesy? You might have a minor cliché problem. Zap those overworked phrases with this handy little tool that seeks them out for you.

 Keep At It

 Nobody becomes a great blog post copywriter overnight. It takes time, practice, experience and patience. What I can promise you, however, is that blogging is really important for your website and you’ll see definite benefits if you stick at it.

 Still struggling? That’s what I’m here for. Ping me an email today and let’s talk about how I can help your business or website with some fresh, engaging copy and blog posts.

How to Set Up and Run Business Instagram Account

According to Instagram’s own data, 200 million people engage with at least one business on their platform every single day. In addition, 60% of Instagram’s users say they have found new products through the app – and more and more businesses are using the platform as their main advertising and customer generation outlet.

It’s easy to see why. Instagram became far more revenue-driven after it was bought by Facebook, and by using its customer algorithms, Instagram has enabled business accounts to thrive using bright, engaging adverts and instant purchasing options. It has become one of the first places millennials and generation x consumers head to for inspiration and to beat boredom. And bored thumbs mean quick purchases.

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Setting Up Your Instagram Business Account

If you’ve used Instagram before, you’ll already understand the basics of uploading images. What you might not be familiar with is the separate ‘business’ accounts available, which you can sign up for to give you extra control over your account.

Things business accounts include that regular accounts can’t offer you:

●     Insights and metrics

●     Business details such as your phone number and address

●     Instant links to your website or online shop.

The most powerful part of your business Instagram account is the insights and metrics it can offer you. This will show you what your followers are looking at and engaging with in real time, and you’ll be able to learn which posts they react to, so you can start posting stuff they really want to see.

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Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

On your profile page, there is space for a short bio about your business, with a link you can send anywhere.

My tips would be:

●     Be clear and grab attention – if you can be memorable, do it!

●     Use a couple of emojis to help describe your business - well, why not?! It is Instagram

●     Send the link to your newest products or latest blog post

●     Add your location

●     If you have more than one account, you can link them in your bio using the @ handle.

Practise Taking Engaging Shots

You don’t have to be a pro photographer on Instagram, but you do need to post photos that tell a story, or are genuinely good to look at.

There are plenty of YouTube videos out there, but this one is a personal favourite. It’s really simple to understand and doesn’t assume that you have an expensive camera, and it’ll really help you to make the most out of the products or people you’re taking photographs of.

Think About Scheduling Your Posts

If you’re low on time – and who isn’t? – scheduling your posts using a tool like Buffer or Tailwind is a great way to make sure you never miss a day of posting.

You can also use your insights and metrics on Instagram or on your chosen scheduling tool to see when the best times to post on Instagram are. This can be based on the number of engagements, or even the times when most of your followers are online. Never waste a great post during a Tuesday afternoon dead-zone ever again!

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Of course you might not have the time or resources to run your Instagram account yourself. If you’d like some more advice on setting your business Instagram account up, or you’d like to talk to me about how I can help you boost your Instagram account’s profile, get in touch today.

 

How to Improve Your Customers' Experience with Great Web Content

When you’re creating web content, the golden rules you read from experts all over the Internet can become overwhelming. Add to that the ever-evolving trends and changing SEO practices you need to keep up with - and before long it can all seem a little out of your control.

I always say that the most important point to remember when you’re writing anything for the web is that you’re creating it for a customer. So, when you’re writing your content, think about how it can genuinely improve your customers’ experience of your website.

Not sure where to start? Here are my tips on improving your website’s customer experience.

Write for Humans

Your customers and website visitors are humans. It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to begin to distance yourself from your audience, especially if you’re elbow deep in SEO keywords and product descriptions. Take a good look at the content you’ve created and ask yourself one thing: ‘does this sound natural?’

Of course you’ll need to take your own company’s branding into account, and what’s natural for one business might seem unusual or awkward for another.

Make it easy for yourself and put your metaphorical feet inside your customers’ shoes. Take a little browse around your site. Are there any pages that seem off to you? Could your writing use a little less jargon? Make a list and use this to inform how you amend your content.

Be Positive

You might not have noticed at first glance but you may be talking your business down. You need active calls to action in your web content in order for it to be truly functional, but increasingly savvy consumers are getting wise to this, and they don’t like it.

The best reaction to this is not to force it. Don’t try sneaking your ‘Buy it now’ links into text - and instead be upfront. Offer help, support and a friendly team member’s undivided attention to your customers  in return for a quick chat about their needs. It sounds much more positive than a fake offer or a ‘time’s running out’ deal.

Aim to make your customers happy and you’ll be glad you did.

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Offer Something Unique

Your customers are looking for value - and this is called ‘value propositioning’. They’ll understand what your company does quickly, and they’ll even grasp the basics of your products within a few minutes.

What you need to show them is why your business can offer something nobody else can.

  • How can you pique their interest?

  • How can you delight them?

  • How can you fix a problem they didn’t even realise they had?

  • What can you do that goes above and beyond?

  • Why should they subscribe to your blog?

Don’t just list your team members. Talk about who they are, why they’re great, what they can do for your customers. Use your web content to create a connection, and you’ll stand out far above the crowd.

Use More Straightforward Language

Just because you use acronyms within your office all the time doesn’t mean your customers will understand what they mean. Even if your industry-specific products come with long-winded, technical descriptions as standard, break them down so that anyone could understand their benefits and appreciate their usefulness. Think of it this way:

  • A parent could be buying this for their tech-savvy child

  • A newcomer to the industry could be looking for equipment they need

  • Acronyms could vary between countries and within industries.

Jargon can easily be misunderstood and can present a barrier through which your customers are unlikely to try and break. As long as you use the wording expected of your business and industry, speaking simply and in straightforward language will only make you seem more professional, not less.

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If you’d like to find out more about how to create great web content, or you’d like to chat about how I could support you with yours, contact me today. I’d love to help.

Until next time…

Why You Should Hire a Copywriter in 2019

If you’ve been hesitant to hire a copywriter, I can sympathise. Making the decision to outsource your web content, social media posts or ads can seem like a daunting process. After all, your company is your pride and joy - and handing over the creative reins to an outsider involves a lot of trust.

You needn’t worry. Professional copywriters are experts, and we exist to help you. If you need a simple press release writing, that’s what we can do. If you need a full website’s worth of content creating, you can count on us to deliver exactly what your brief describes.

A relationship between a copywriter and our individual clients is all about communication. We trust you to give us all the information and support we need to create exceptional content – and in return, you can trust us to work hard to deliver content you need that goes above and beyond your expectations.

Here are some more compelling reasons why you should hire a copywriter in 2019, and why I think the job I do can help out businesses of all kinds all over the world.

A copywriter knows exactly what you need - even if you don’t.

You might be unhappy with your web content and need an overhaul. You might be working on a brand new website for a startup. You might have heard about Instagram ads and want to get involved.

You might know this, but you don’t know what next steps to take.

This is what we copywriters do. We can talk through your options, and together we can work out the best possible plan of action. Then we get to work. Simple as that!

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Copywriters only do what you ask us to do.

If you’re afraid that hiring a freelance copywriter will somehow start a chain of events that leads to you paying for content and fees you didn’t want to pay, don’t be.

Good copywriters can send a clear contract to you for every job you ask us to complete. If we think more work needs to be done – for example, keyword research or a spot of competitor analysis – we’ll flag this, but ultimately it’s your call.

If a copywriter is charging you more than you can afford, it only takes a conversation to rectify the situation. After all, we work for you, not the other way around.

Freelance copywriters have experience - and lots of it

Believe it or not, most freelancers don’t have one, specific niche. This is a good thing. It enables us to flex our mental muscles, turning copy into well-rounded, well-informed information.

We might know everything there is to know about your particular industry, but in the background we might also be experts in retail management, extreme sports and professional cleaning services. They don’t feel connected, but a wide spectrum of reference points helps our writing feel less robotic - and that’s what you want.

A copywriter understands how important your content is

If your team doesn’t have time to give your content the precision and care it needs, your business could suffer for it.

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A copywriter understands how vital your content is, and will work hard to ensure it is perfect before sending it back to you for your comments. We are also great at making amends, sometimes several times, so that the content you want is the content you get. We understand. It’s important to you, so it’s important to us.

A copywriter gives you space to achieve

 Whenever I speak to potential clients, I want to make sure that they are making the right choice for their business. I also want to convey that by handing over this work to a professional copywriter, they will be freeing up headspace, time and resources. It makes a huge difference to be able to pass work over.

The most common comment I receive from my clients is that I’ve given them time to think, and to work on important projects that in turn have helped their business to grow.

In that sense, copywriters offer two things in one: a chance to turn your mind to more important matters, and the truly essential resource of a professional who can write content that takes your business higher.

If you’d like to chat about how we could work together this year, please get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.

 

Creating a Blog Schedule That Works

How do you create a blog schedule that works for you? Well, it’s a completely personal thing. I don’t mean to sound vague, but every business has a different way of doing things; a way which other companies might find impossible to replicate or a challenge to maintain.

Your blog is your website’s main source of fresh content - and as you’re probably aware, it’s vital to keep it up to date. But whose job is it to take care of it? who should be coming up with post ideas? Most importantly - how can you be sure that the rich resources you’re ploughing into it are going to yield results?

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Once you’ve understood the importance and potential power of your website’s blog, it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed at the prospect of keeping up with it all.

So, here are my tips to help you harness the power of your blog, while keeping that content-hungry beast under control.

Include it in Your Inbound Marketing Plans

Like a bouncy little puppy, your blog wants to get involved in everything your company does. It’ll stick its nose into meetings, snoop around in your sales metrics and roll around in your website analytics. You’ll even find it eagerly wagging its tail during team training events.

Whatever you’re doing, it’s relevant for a blog post. You need to stop thinking of your blog as a time-consuming afterthought and start incorporating it into everything your business is working on.

Your inbound marketing strategy will be unique to your company’s aims and targets, but one thing’s for sure - your blog can only help you to achieve those inbound goals if you let it in.

Get Everyone Involved

Blog posts aren’t just one person’s job and they most definitely shouldn’t be created in isolation.

To work your company’s blog to peak efficiency, you need everybody to understand how important it is - or you at least need to build a team of keen content creators who can manage the blog between them. This team will ideally be made up of people from all areas of the business, who can write from different points of view and who can create different types of content to keep it fresh and attention-grabbing.

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 For example:

●     Get a designer onboard to create infographics and illustrations

●     Seek the help of marketing pro to get the right messaging across

●     Find an industry expert for unique insights

●    Embrace the experience that long-serving team members have

●     Get a new member of the team to bring fresh ideas to the table.

Plan Quality Content

Now you’ve collected loads of ideas for great blog posts that’ll enhance your sales funnel and be useful to your customers, it’s time to plan out when you’re going to write them, and most importantly, when you’re going to post them.

Think about the times of the month when certain products are purchased, or when your sales team could use a helping hand. Think also about times when people are more likely to be interested in what you’ve got to say - for example, at peak holiday times, or during the morning commute. Keep in mind that quieter times are also good times to put out great blog posts because they can inform customers for later on down the line.

A lot of marketing is about gut feeling, but sometimes you can use a bit of social psychology and popular culture to your advantage. Try to get inside your customers’ heads and really think about what they might be interested in at that particular moment.

 Rework and Remix

Don’t throw all your blog posts out at the same time just because you’ve got loads of great ideas. Spread them out, rework ideas to get three posts out of one and generally make sure you’re getting as much out of them as you can.

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Each blog post you create takes time and resources to create, so you want to stretch them out and rinse out every possible nutrient you can. For example: Imagine you’re the content executive for a garden centre and you’ve written a blog post about getting new season bulbs in stock. This gives you scope for a whole host of posts to tide you over the next few months, all linking back to your new stock sales page, such as:

●     When is the best time to plant spring bulbs?

●     How can I get the most out of my garden in early spring?

●     Jobs for your garden in late autumn

●     Our favourite spring bulbs for spring 2019

Schedule It

Don’t sit there manually posting every time it’s blog post day. Take some time each week, or each month (whichever works best for you) to get them uploaded to your website and schedule the times in using your site’s built-in scheduling tool.

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Then, use a social media scheduling tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to do the legwork for you, and plan some buzz to promote your posts in the future.

The best thing about using scheduling tools is that they have great in-build analytics. Unlike trying to keep track of everything in your head and updating your accounts manually, they give you a solid focus and show you in real time what your followers are engaging and interacting with.

Nothing’s set in stone, either. If you change your mind about what you plan to do with your content, you can easily go into your accounts and change everything around.

Buffer even sends emails to the account holder every week to keep you informed on your progress, and it gives you a little nudge when it runs out of content to post. In short, Buffer is your friendly little social media content house elf, who only wants what’s best for your company’s online strategy.

Does creating a blog schedule sound like work you’re not in a position to add to incorporate into your workload at the moment? Don’t worry. This is exactly the type of thing I excel at. Give me a call or drop me an email today to find out how I can help you create a blog schedule and keep it packed with juicy posts your customers and clients will love to read.