Thinking about becoming a copywriter? Read this first

Copywriting has taken off as a way for writers to use their knowledge and skills in a way that lets them work from home, as their own boss, while still doing something creative and fun. The idea of writing as a profession brings with it a sense of freedom; sure, you need to work with your clients to achieve their goals, but you can choose which clients you want to work with, and create a schedule that works for you.

So, what exactly does a copywriter do?
A copywriter creates copy (text) for businesses, publications, organizations, and brands, with the purpose of informing, entertaining, and enticing a reader. Some pieces are strictly for selling, like online sales pages, ad copy, and product descriptions; others aim to educate and entertain, like blog posts, email newsletters, website copy, and others.

Before you get started, let’s take a look at some useful tools to set you up for success as a copywriter:

  • A website. Start with a Services page, About page, Contact page, and blog. This is the bare minimum; as you gain clients you can add a Testimonials page and Portfolio page.
  • A branded, public social media account. Even if you just have an Instagram page to share copywriting tips and advice, that’s a great start.
  • A business plan. Put some thought into your ideal clients, your ideal rates, how many clients you can take on at a time, what you’re not willing to accept, how you intend to market yourself, and other business goals.

A little background on how I got started…
I unintentionally started my freelance copywriting business a few years ago when a friend asked if I could write a press release. I was working on building my freelance journalism portfolio, but had some PR experience, so I wrote the piece and undercharged him.

A few weeks later, he referred a musician friend who needed a press release; I reacted the same way—took the gig and undercharged. She knew someone who needed help with a blog, and by then I realized there was a need for this type of work.

I built a quick WordPress site (this one; which has evolved over time) and included a list of services I offered, then set up a separate Instagram (@plan.engage.grow) to share free writing and marketing tips. A portion of my clients have come in through that account. Surprisingly, another portion came through my journalism account @writingtherails, or because they read an article I wrote then emailed me asking if I happen to do copywriting. (Freelance journalists making the switch: Keep sharing your published pieces on social media, but also mention that you now offer copywriting for businesses, too!)

At this point, it’s been about a year and a half, and I’ve learned PLENTY along the way.

Here are some tips on how to get started as a copywriter.

Clearly define what you want to offer.
I wanted to do copywriting and create press releases. But when a friend asked if I could do their social media, I thought, “I can do it; and I could use the extra money…” so I told them yes. They were happy with my work and referred a friend; I took them on, as well. A snowball-effect ensued. Soon, I was more of a marketing agency than a copywriter. So I had to rein it in and eventually even dismiss a few clients (painful) because I found myself working my tail off, but not doing what I aimed to do.
My services now are aligned with my actual goals.

Don’t undervalue yourself and stick to your rates.
That first press release? I charged my friend $100. I thought, that’s like $30/hr, that’ll be nice. Then, I realized that junior-level writers were charging $50/hr and a local PR agency was charging upwards of $800 per release. Plus, I was known for putting my empathy before my financial needs every time a local business asked, “Is there any wiggle room with your rates?” Eventually, I ended up working with a coach to reevaluate my rates (and increase my sense of self-worth; they were related!) and slimming down my offerings. Within a week of relaunching my site with the new rates, a new client—who needed a complete copywriting overhaul—signed up for two $3,000 packages. I was stunned.

Clearly define the type of business you want to write for.
At first, my goal was to help local mom-and-pop shops… It felt fulfilling to help my community. Unfortunately, some of these businesses were either startups or struggling financially, which often left me chasing down payments that were months overdue or offering lower-than-deserved rates. Now, I’ve expanded my client base to both local and national businesses who are established enough to afford my rates, but also whose values align with mine (arts, sustainability, helping others).
Some copywriters swear you need to choose a single niche and go hard obtaining clients, but I think working with a variety of industries keeps it interesting. I’ve started looking up businesses I want to work with, evaluating how I can help them, and emailing them directly to see if they’d be interested.

Keep learning from those who are a bit ahead of you.
I follow a few copywriters and bloggers for inspiration.
Lindy Alexander gives very honest insight into the ups and downs of freelance writing.
Jess Jordana is a great example of brand authenticity and sticking to a type of client.
Smart Passive Income is a great podcast that occasionally talks about writing, though the other episodes are super insightful.
Ryan Robinson is a blog expert who makes BANK on affiliates.

Hopefully that’s enough of an intro to inspire you or help you get a jump start on becoming a copywriter.

PS, writing about yourself is hard. If you need a copywriter to help with your own website, you know who to ask!

Five Reasons to Start A Blog for Your Business

As the number of podcasts and video subscribers grows, you might ask yourself—is blogging still even necessary?

Well, let’s take a look at some recent stats.

  • 86% of content marketers use blogging as a way to promote their own marketing strategy (according to SEM Rush)
  • Six out of ten customers say that reading blog posts have led them toward making a purchase (according to Demand Gen Report).
  • Here are some more stats, for you numbers-folks!

In a nutshell: Yes. People are still searching, still reading, and still converting to customers thanks to blogs.

While starting a blog for your business is easy, maintaining a blog with consistent posts can be daunting for most business owners, even if you have a great grasp of grammar and plenty of ideas to write about.

Here are a few more stats:

  • The average blog post is more than 1,000 words; twice as long as they used to be.
  • The average time spent on writing a blog post is almost 4 hours per post (according to Orbitmedia).

That’s a lot of time and energy (which is why I’m here to help! Contact me about starting a  blog for your business), but a blog is WORTH IT. Here’s why.

FIVE WAYS A BLOG CAN HELP YOUR BUSINESS GROW:

Bring New Leads to Your Website

Every new lead is a potential customer, and a well-thought-out blog post can attract internet searchers right to your website organically (meaning, without you having to pay for ads). A well-structured, interesting, value-driven blog boosts your ranking in search engines thanks to content that is informative and engaging, but also published with the appropriate behind-the-scenes information—that includes tagging and categorizing, the relevance and timeliness of your post, and other evolving factors that affect your SEO.

Get Those Leads Excited For Your Offerings

Whether you’re promoting a product, service, event, or some combination of the three, your post should give enough information to entertain and inform your reader, all in an authentic voice that doesn’t come off sales-y or pushy. Your blog is a great way to share your business’s authentic tone of post to announce new products, sales and discounts, holiday promotions, and events because you’re genuinely enthusiastic and knowledgeable about them, which your readers will find attractive.

Turn Leads Into Customers

Three words: Call to action. you’ve got someone to your blog. Cool. But it’s not just about visitor count. Blogs also provide you with the opportunity to market your products or services, even if it’s not used as a sales page. Are you talking about the Top Five Reasons Why Solar Panels Save You Money? Be sure to add links to appropriate sales pages within the rest of your site, or encourage customers to call for a free quote on solar panels at the end of your post. Writing about your Favorite Rustic Lighting Fixtures? Include links to products you sell, or if you’re a designer, include a contact form at the end of your post and encourage readers to get in touch for a consultation. Bonus points if you can get an email address to build your email list.

A Blog is Like A Salesperson Who Works 24/7

Let technology work in your favor. You can’t be at your phone or computer all the time. It’s not possible—and it’s not healthy to try. Your blog, on the other hand, can answer questions, promote events and offerings, provide a sense of what your company values are, and encourage leads to sign up for your email list, all while you’re spending uninterrupted time with family, or snoozing, or simply taking a day off.

You’ll Always Have Something to Share on Social Media

Whether you share a specific blog post on social media, or create a social post about the fact that you have this awesome blog that provides exclusive content to readers, you’ll always have something to share that drives people right to your website. Sure, sharing articles and images from other sites can build awareness and trust with your brand, but having your own content allows you to do the same while bringing in new leads. Cool, right? I’m excited thinking of the possibilities for you! (But then again, I’m a total nerd for this stuff!)

The best time to start a blog was yesterday. The next best time is today.
Contact me if you have questions, need help getting started, or want to work together on developing a blog strategy!

Creative Risks for Small Businesses

Taking small, strategic risks can reinvigorate your brand and bring in new clients and customers.

We often associate the word “risk” with fear-based emotions: Fear of the unknown can be scary and intimidating, especially when it comes to taking risks with our businesses.

A small business isn’t just an investment. It’s a lifestyle.

It’s your job, but it’s also your contribution to a community (or communities) as a whole.

But here’s the thing: not all risks are bad, and not all risks have dire consequences.

Sometimes, small changes can provide big benefits to your business, or even for your own peace of mind, breaking up monotony and adding a little innovation.

Here are 3 simple yet impactful risks for small businesses to take when you want to shake things up without rocking the boat.

Take advantage of relevant trends

Trends come and go. It’s not necessary to jump on every hot new idea, but staying aware of new and relevant products or services for your customer base can benefit your biz. For example: Many regions are now incorporating bans on plastic shopping bags. Have you developed a branded tote line to sell? Another example: CBD oil has become a popular form of holistic wellness; this is a trend that massage therapists, yoga centers, spas, and other businesses in the wellness industry can begin to offer.

Find an ignored niche

Is there a smaller demographic that often gets overlooked in your industry? Try fitting their needs and then promote, promote, promote. I recently found the Instagram page for a green cleaning company who focuses solely on Airbnbs. And have you heard about this niche brewery marketing company?

Reinvent your brand

Complacency can make your business and its promotions stale. Refreshing your logo, website copy, photos, or entire branding can attract a new audience or expand your current one. (Looking for a copy/text update? Contact me!) It might feel like there’s never a good time to invest in these changes, since other priorities come up during your busy season, and cash flow worries abound during slow season. I typically recommend this type of project during a slower time, since you don’t want to worry about website updates or downtime when customers are visiting your site the most.

 

Blog and Social Media Ideas for February

Blog  and social media content strategy ideas for February

When it comes to February holidays, Valentine’s Day sort of takes the crown (sorry, President’s Day). You can’t walk into a department store without being inundated with pink and red marketing, boxed chocolate sales, and rows of romantic greeting cards.

But after the day is over and the chocolate goes on sale (one of my favorite parts…), what else is there to look forward to? The department stores have already moved on to St. Patrick’s and Easter, or summer, but there are so many ways you can stay in the present and entertain your blog readers, social media followers, and customers. 

Whether you’re developing your social media content strategy for February, are looking for some fun new blog topics to write about, or need a reminder about what people are celebrating in the shortest month of the year…

Here are 28 blog and social media topics to write about in February:

Seasonal and Monthly Celebration Themes

  • Heart Health (It’s American Heart month)
  • Black History Month
  • Children’s Dental Health Month
  • Children’s Mental Health Week
  • Winter Olympics
  • Eating Disorder Awareness (check out NEDA for resources)
  • Mardi Gras
  • International Friendship Week

Traditional and New National Holidays and Celebrations

BONUS: In 2020, Don’t forget there’s a leap year day (Feb. 29) and Super Bowl Sunday on Feb. 2!

  • Feb. 1: National Dark Chocolate Day
  • Feb. 2: Groundhog Day
  • Feb. 2: Candlemas (Christian-specific)
  • Feb. 4: World Cancer Day
  • Feb. 5: World Nutella Day
  • Feb. 6: Bob Marley’s Birthday
  • Feb. 7: National Wear Red Day (women’s heart disease awareness)
  • Feb. 9: National Pizza Day
  • Feb. 11: National Guitar Day
  • Feb. 12: Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday
  • Feb. 13: Galentine’s Day (started from the show “Parks and Rec” but it’s actually caught on)
  • Feb. 14: Valentine’s Day
  • Feb. 17: President’s Day (2020)
  • Feb. 17: Random Acts of Kindness Day
  • Feb. 20: National Love Your Pet Day
  • Feb. 22: National Margarita Day
  • Feb. 25: Mardi Gras (2020)
  • Feb. 27: International Polar Bear Day
  • Feb. 27: National Chili Day

Have more ideas? Share them in the comments below!

Need blogging advice? Contact me.

50 Press Release Ideas to Pitch for Spring

Spring is just around the corner, which means now is the time to pitch story ideas to promote your business to the press.

Some magazines work six months (or more) in advance, while others tend to 3-4 months in advance. But even for blogs, newspapers, and other media who work day to day, week to week, or 1-2 months in advance, there’s no harm in getting your story out sooner, then following up in a few weeks with a reminder.

Bonus: These story ideas are great blog writing prompts, too!

Spring brings a variety of holidays, the return of warmer weather, and the start of wedding and festival season.

I’ve come up with 5 relevant press release categories, each with sample pitch ideas for varying industries, from brewers to jewelers, interior designers to outdoors stores.

The idea is to provide you with some outside-of-the-box inspiration. Feel free to take any of the ideas below and add your own business’s angle on it! 

Here are 5 press release categories and 50 story ideas to pitch to the media for spring 

woman in pink dress sitting on bed while reading
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Weddings and Anniversaries

This is a great topic for those connected to the bridal industry—photographers, florists, catering companies, boutiques, food trucks, jewelers—but there are additional angles for those just outside of it, too, like cleaning companies and outdoor recreation stores. Here are a few examples:

  • Top floral trends
  • Make sure your wedding photographer captures these memories
  • What’s hot in wedding catering now
  • How hiring a cleaning company reduces wedding stress—one less thing to worry about
  • 5 Reasons to hire a graphic designer for better invitations
  • Wedding hairstyles of 2020
  • Add these products to a “welcome to our neighborhood” favor bag for out of town wedding guests
  • Traditional 5th anniversary ideas
  • How to celebrate your first anniversary
  • Anniversary jewelry that says “I love you more today than yesterday.”
  • Groomsman gifts for outdoorsy guys
  • Sustainable wedding ideas
  • Green wedding favors

Spring cleaning

Yes, spring cleaning is still a thing, especially in four-season climates where it finally warms up enough that you can leave the windows open to air out the dust that’s gathered since fall. Try your own twists on these unique story ideas:

  • Top green cleaning products of 2020
  • 4 reasons why you should let someone else do your spring cleaning
  • How to make spring cleaning a zen experience
  • How to reiki charge your home this spring
  • Feng shui to Marie Kondo: Our designers choose top home cleaning methods
  • Spring cleaning your pantry? Fill it with these five foods.
  • Spring cleaning motivation: 5 parties to throw this spring
  • Five ways to spring clean your yard, from our landscaping experts

Sustainability

Sustainable living is growing in popularity (and necessity), and is a big trending topic around Earth Day in April. Sustainability affects nearly every industry. Here are some ideas:

  • 6 tips for throwing a sustainable party from our experts
  • 5 things you can do today for a greener tomorrow
  • How to tell if you’re supporting a sustainable jeweler
  • Exciting news: We’re going green
  • Our chef shares how to enjoy a more sustainable dining experience
  • Eco-friendly spa products and where to find them
  • A greener you with these natural health treatments
  • Sustainable childhood: 5 ways to support a greener youth

Festival Season

Festivals have gotten huge, and technically occur year-round. But April through September is the heart of festival season.

  • Festival fashion: 6 must-haves this year
  • How to get the most out of your festival yoga experience
  • Best tents for festival camping
  • Top ideas for festival glamping
  • Here’s where to buy the top headlining festival performers this year
  • Skip festival season and throw your own backyard party
  • 5 Travel must-haves for out-of-state festivals
  • Festival travel tips from a trusted travel agent
  • 4 famous guitars you’ll see on the festival circuit and where to buy them
  • Try our top dishes before or after the [festival] for homestyle cookin’

Outdoor Recreation

From hiking to biking to rock climbing, the outdoors are in. Use this to your business’s advantage:

  • Our best beers to try after a long hike
  • Are you wearing the right hiking boots?
  • 5 ways to tell if your running shoes are right for you by our experts
  • Our take-away granola is the best travel buddy
  • You’ll want these four pet accessories for the next doggie hike
  • Top outdoor gear products 
  • Outdoorsy tips for indoorsy types — how to get started hiking from our experts
  • Create a meditation path with these tips from our landscape experts
  • Protect your skin with our top sun protection products

Rather have your press releases written? Contact me here to discuss story ideas and rates.
PS — Ask me about discounts for nonprofits, veteran-owned businesses, and HVWIB members!

10 Easy Ways to Boost SEO

SEO ranking factors continue to evolve. Just when you think you’ve solved the puzzle, Google goes and shakes things up again, adding new algorithms and ditching ranking factors that have been manipulated.

It’s great fun for us marketers (no, really!), but it’s a real headache for business owners who have a thousand other things on their to-do list.

Yes, you can contact a professional to help with many of the basics, like hiring a copyeditor to review your site, a copywriter to rewrite your site, or a blogger to produce fresh, site-boosting content.

But there are a few quick fixes you can do in your spare time, no matter how short that window. 

Here’s a list of 10 actionable ways to ensure your SEO is up to date.

Quick SEO Tips

Use keywords in context.

“Keyword stuffing” is out; using keywords and phrases in context is in. User experience is as important as relevant contents. Write for humans, not for algorithms.

Increase site speed.

Every second counts in our fast world. If your website or pages take more than just a few seconds to load, try this: Decrease photo size, remove unnecessary plug-ins, declutter widgets, and reduce pop-ups.

Keep it light.

Depending on your audience, using plain language and shorter sentences can often boost SEO. Don’t think of this as “dumbing down” your site; see it as being more accessible for varying levels of understanding.

Write relevant meta descriptions

The meta info is the text below the URL in search results that describes what the site is about. It tells people (and search engines) what to expect about the page. Think of it as a sales pitch for why someone should click your link.

Link to other posts or pages.

When blogging, link to other posts and pages within your site when relevant. Linking out to other websites helps, too; be sure to click “open link in a new tab” so that your page remains open.

Watch for typos and grammar.

Too many typos can affect your ranking. But even just a few here or there can negatively impact your user experience—which leads to less customer trust and lost potential leads or sales.

Choose your H1 wisely.

H1 tags should be used once per page. This is your main header, your blog post title, the title of your page. The next big subhead should be H2. Smaller sections, H3. For instance: On this post, the title is the H1 tag. The line “Quick SEO Tips” above this list is H2. Each tip title is H3.

Younger crowd? Try adding emojis.

Younger millennials and Gen Z love their emojis—yes, even in their Google searches. If this is your demographic, consider adding emojis to your tags, or even headers, when relevant. For instance, “🍕 near me” or “🌮 recipe”.

Track your exit pages.

Analyze your popular exit pages; what is causing readers to leave? There might be a broken link, typo, or perhaps outdated content. Revise and republish.

Repurpose content.

If you have older blog posts that are still bringing in traffic, but might have outdated info, create a new post on the same topic but with refreshed content.

Have questions or want to work together to grow your biz? Contact me.

Black Friday and Small Business Saturday Deals – PR and Blogging

Ready to uplevel your business for 2020? Grab one of these limited-time offers today!

Black Friday Special – Available Friday, November 29, 2019

Press Release Power Package

girl reading a newspaper
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

Purchase a package of 5 press releases and get the sixth one free.  Buy Now

Do your 2020 goals include getting your business more press coverage, or at least making the media more aware of who you are? There are many reasons why businesses send press releases, from sharing news about a move to a new location, to updates about events and fundraisers, to story suggestions that promote your products or services, such as gift guides or date ideas. I can work with you to find newsworthy stories to tell about your business and help you develop a bio to use.

Your six press releases can be used consecutive months or spread out through the year, but must be used during 2020; this offer does not rollover to the next year. If you own multiple businesses, you can spread your press release package throughout (for instance, if you own two restaurants, you can use split your package between them). Payment is required up front.

Small Business Saturday Sale – Available Saturday, November 30, 2019

Blogging Package Deal

woman using macbook
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Take 50% off a three-month blog strategy, content, and analytics retainer package. Buy Now

If you’ve wanted to start a blog for your business, now is the time to do it! I’m offering a one-off deal that won’t happen again. First we’ll work together on a strategy for your blog, and I’ll develop a plan for how it can reach your target audience, boost SEO, and increase site traffic. Then, I’ll create your blog posts, layout, and suggestions on how to refine your blog strategy based on analytics. Payment details: 50% due by the date of the first post, the remainder is due three months later. By going with a retainer option for your blog, normally you’d save around 15%… with this deal, you’ll take an extra 50% off on top of that.

PLEASE NOTE: Space is limited for the Blogging Package sale, so that I can ensure that I give proper attention to each blog.

Ready to purchase one of these limited-time deals for your business?
Fill out the form below and let’s get started!

7 Simple Small Business Saturday Hacks for Last-Minute Planners

7 Simple Small Business Saturday Hacks for Last-Minute Planners

Each summer it feels as though the holiday season is so far away that you’ll have plenty of time to plan for Small Business Saturday. Then suddenly, Labor Day promotions come and go, and you’re looking down the road at fall. There’s still time, right?

Then… Blink. It’s October.

Blink. Happy Halloween!

Blink. You’re in the middle of the first week of November.

If you still haven’t planned your Small Business Saturday campaigns, you might feel like it’s not even worth trying.

But just because you don’t have a full-scale marketing campaign that incorporates social media, email, press outreach, online advertising, and blog strategy (although you might have if you contacted me sooner! ::wink::), it doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel.

Here are seven last-minute Small Business Saturday tips:

charles-79h5kxs6mw-unsplash.jpg

Develop an uncomplicated promotion. 

Now is not the time to create an overly complicated deal, like: “Save $10 when you purchase two haircuts, but one must be used within 30 days and the other must be gifted to a friend, but the friend must use theirs within 60 days, and mention your name…” Ack. Instead, stick to something simple: Buy one, get one free. Discounts for bundled service packages. Free gift with purchase. Earn a 20% off coupon when signing up for a newsletterSomething along those lines.

Edit and spruce up your website copy

Take a good look at your website; I’d bet that unless you’ve had it updated recently, you’ll either find a typo somewhere in your copy, an out-of-date promotion, or even a paragraph or page you just no longer like. Have an experienced copy editor review for errors, photos that don’t load, or broken links, and make sure your site offers its best first impression to new visitors.

Update your social media 

Sure, a full-blown social media campaign is ideal, but at the very least you can make sure your information is correct. Now is a great time to make sure your business’s hours and location are correct, to update your profile photo if necessary, and hey, while you’re at it, post a quick mention that you’ll have a Small Business Saturday sale.

Create free eye-catching graphics to share

This one will take about 10 minutes of your time. I’ve written before about creating free, attractive images to promote your business, and if you haven’t already, now is the time to put that task into action.

Partner up with another business

Let’s say you sell baked goods next door to a housewares boutique. Work together to cross promote products: Offer some tasty treats for them to sell (or give away as samples) with your business’s name on them, and in return, you can showcase serving ware and hostess pieces that they sell, in your shop. Win-win.

Research hashtags

Planning on using Instagram or Twitter? (I hope you’re nodding!) See what hashtags are popular around small business promotions and SBS itself.

Brick and mortar: Offer a freebie to drum up foot traffic

Whether you’re giving away an item to the first 50 visitors, or offering free hot cocoa all day long, you’d be surprised at how much People. Love. Free. Stuff. Send the message out there that you’re giving something away, and you might bring in curious new visitors who become new customers. 

 

8 Ways to Crush Business Goals This Autumn

woman sitting on sofa while looking at phone with laptop on lap
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

8 Ways to Crush Business Goals This Autumn

Autumn, the season of change, has arrived! Although it’s a great time to review your 2019 goals and see what else you can accomplish before the year’s end, you can also take advantage of this season by getting a running start on your 2020 goals.

I’m talkin’ habits: They take time to create.

If you’re planning on heading into January 1 with a fistful of goals that you’ve already gotten started on… there’s a good chance you’ll be ahead of the competition.

By developing your goals now, not only will that give you time to create better habits… you’ll also have strategies for success already in place by the time 2020 arrives.

Here are 8 ways to get a jumpstart on next year’s goals

Get SMART

Have you heard about SMART goals? SMART stands for “specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely”. We all have big dreams.

Is it possible you can achieve yours in a short time? Sure.
Is it likely? That depends on how much time you’re able to put in.
Are there better starting points, like short-term goals with immediate results? Yes.

Start with SMART and shape your strategy from there.

Reflect and Strategize

six woman standing and siting inside the room

When considering next year’s targets, look back at what you’ve been able to achieve so far this year, and what you plan to realistically achieve before 2019 ends. Use that as a starting point.

Then make a list of all of your big dreams, far-reaching goals, and long-term ideals. For each one, decide what you can do in the short term that will contribute toward reaching this long-term goal.

You know that saying, “You have to walk before you can run”? Well, even before you walk you need to determine which path to take. There are so many ways to build your business. Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.

Utilize Your Mornings

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The days are getting shorter until late December, and you know what that means… The snooze button is about to get a serious workout.

But it doesn’t have to!

Start training yourself now to have more productive mornings. Give yourself extra time to work out, meditate, enjoy a cup of coffee in peace, or beat that commute traffic.

Start small; set your alarm five minutes earlier than usual. After a week, go a few minutes earlier than that. Maybe stay there for two weeks, then go a few minutes earlier than that. Keep going until you find a comfortable wake up routine, whether it’s 30 minutes earlier, or two hours earlier. (Just make sure you’re getting enough sleep!)

Uplevel Your Website

man wearing white crew neck shirt sitting on black chair while using laptop

Have you been meaning to update your website, but just never get the chance?
Do you think your website conveys your messaging in the best way possible?
Do you have an SEO strategy in place?

There are many ways you can update your website to be more beneficial to your business. If you’d like help, contact me for a free website analysis and I’ll be happy to offer insight and solutions.

Make Lists

photo of man holding a book

If you’re having trouble focusing on daily tasks, or if you find yourself falling behind on your to-dos, try this. Before your start your day, make three quick lists:

Things you must get done
Things you should get done
Things you want to get done.

Take the latter two lists and put them in a drawer. Focus on that must-do list and when you check things off, break out the other two and choose how to divide your time.

Commit to Learning Something New

person opened book

As a business owner, you are an expert. You know your products and offerings and can provide your customers with the answers and excellent service they’re seeking.

But even the most successful people have more to learn. Skilled NBA players have coaches, famous authors still need editors, and legendary musicians still take lessons; there is always more to learn.

Make a point of educating yourself on a new skill, trend, recipe, history lesson, language, or other endeavor to expand your personal development.

Create A Holiday Season Campaign

Sales, promotions, gift guides, fundraisers, community events; there are tons of ways to promote your business through a holiday campaign on social media, email, or your blog.

A holiday campaign can help to increase foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar or site traffic to your online presence. Contact me to learn more!

Make A Self Care Plan

person holding white ceramic mug on gray textile

Everybody’s talking about self care these days, and with good reason! Business owners are busier than ever.

Time management is key, but it’s also been proven that making time to unwind, laugh with family and friends, indulge in a few chapters of a good book, meditate, play music, go for a run, get a massage, or however else you treat yo’self can prevent burnout and help keep your passion alive for your business. You’re worth it!

Let me know if I can help you create a strategic plan to grow your business. Contact me for free advice or to work together.

The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Your Business

 

The ultimate guide to blogging for your business

One suggestion I always give new clients is to have a consistent and engaging blog that provides value by addressing their customers’ needs, entertains them, and uses smart SEO tactics to rank higher in search engines.

Yes, a blog can do each of these things for your business, and this post will show you how.

Why am I offering all of this free information on how to create a blog for your business if it’s a service I sell?

Well, for one, I want to see you succeed. For real. I strongly believe in the power of small businesses to contribute to local and larger economies, providing goods and services on a level where “customer service” is still a value.

But also, I get it. Not every business owner is at the place where she or he is looking to hire an experienced content strategist and copywriter, and would prefer to give DIY a try. So, if I have the knowledge that could help you out, why hold back?

I’d rather be transparent and share what I know, in hopes that you’ll see your business grow. And hey, maybe one day we’ll even work together.

But enough about you and me; let’s talk about blogging, and how a good blog can optimize your business.

In The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Business, I’ll talk about the following topics and provide links to more information:

  1. Why a blog is important for your business
  2. How to start blogging for your business
  3. Tips for a successful blog
  4. How blogging can produce a side income or passive income
  5. Get writing with 10 creative blog post ideas

Ultimate guide laptop

1. Why Your Business Needs A Blog

A blog is a useful tool to driving organic traffic to your website, but did you know a blog can boost your SEO ranking and expose your business to a new audience? Here are just a few ways a blog can help grow your business (view the full list here).

Increase your website traffic

There are multiple ways a blog can bring in new traffic and keep prior visitors coming back, including having more content to share on social media and potentially showing up higher in search engines.

Generate more leads

While you don’t want to use your blog as simply a sales tool, you can find ways to promote the goods and services you offer, or build your email list, which provides future opportunities for new lead-generation.

Be seen as a thought leader

Prove to potential customers that you know your services and products better than anyone else.

A blog sells 24/7

When your business is closed, the internet is always open, and your blog keeps working even while you sleep.

Share important announcements and sales

Announce featured products, anticipated sales and promotions, or even sell right from your post.

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2. How to start blogging for your business

Ready to start blogging for your business? That means it’s time to plan your blog content, choose the best blogging platform for your needs, create a promotion schedule, and of course, write! Here are a few tips; view the full list here.

Set goals for your blog

Why are you doing this blog anyway? Decide your reasons, think about what you want to come out of doing a blog, and always keep your goals as the driving force behind each post you plan.

Create a blog plan

Create a blog content calendar to help organize your content, titles, tags, and metrics. Learn how to create a blog planning calendar here.

Create a promotion strategy for your blog

A social media content calendar, ad promotion schedule, press releases, and guest posting are just a few ways to share your blog content and grow your reputation as an expert in your industry.

Automate

Keep your site traffic growing and increase your audience’s trust by proving your blog can be consistent: Create and schedule your posts in advance.

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3. Tips for a successful blog

What makes a blog stand out? There are certain key factors that might determine the success of your blog, from SEO to consistency to engagement. Use these tips to increase your blog’s success rate and return on investment. Read the full post on how to make your blog more successful.

Write for people, but consider SEO

Be authentic, but also be sure to use keywords and phrases that provide value to your reader as a way to boost your blog’s search engine ranking.

Create a publishing calendar

A tip mentioned earlier in this post, but worth repeating! Schedule and organize your posts with a blog content calendar. Here’s how to make a simple one.

Determine how long your posts should be

Are your readers looking for long-form content, or a bit of text with photo? A short video with a caption, or some combination of storytelling text and media? Once you determine your popular posts, you can use that information to shape future content.

Be consistent in your blog posts

Build trust with your audience by giving them an expectation of how often you’ll publish your blog and what sort of content they can look forward to.

Engage your audience

Encourage comments with a call-to-action and respond (in a positive and timely manner) when readers do react to your posts.

Measure your results

Determine the course of your blog by reviewing what works, what doesn’t, what generates leads, which calls-to-action are popular, and how high your posts rank in search engines, among other metrics.

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4. How to create a side income or passive income with your blog

The goal of your business’s blog is not to directly make money, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of money-making opportunities

Sell your products or services

Your blog shouldn’t be overly sales or pushy, but it’s okay to occasionally sell your products, highlight sales and discounts, or include links to allow readers to directly purchase an item or service.

Learn about affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing allows you to gain an income by promoting a business through links in your blog. Unless you have a lot of time to devote to this, affiliate marketing can be a slow drip of income, but for some blogs, it’s a very lucrative endeavor.

Sell ads on your blog

If your web design allows, you can create space for advertisements. Or, ask a blogger in a related industry if they’d like to purchase a sponsored post space.

Read more in-depth income tips here.

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5. Get writing with 10 creative blog post ideas

Gift Guides

Holidays, birthdays, housewarming, retirement, graduation — there are tons of guides you can put together.

Customer testimonial

Share a customer’s happy experience, and be sure to publicly thank them.

Behind the scenes

Give a peek behind the blog by writing about yourself, your staff, or your business.

Community favorites

Promote your local community and fellow businesses by sharing your favorite cafe, spa, bistro, hardware store, or other small business.

Q&A your FAQs

Answer frequently asked questions; do a few per post or one in-depth post per question.

Share news about your industry

Is your industry trending for the right reasons? Riff on that!

Share positive press about your business

Did you get written about in local or national press? Your customers would love to know.

Highlight current trends

Show your reader that you’re on top of your game by highlighting current trends that are pertinent to your industry.

Get seasonal

Each business changes for the seasons. Share a seasonal or holiday specific post. Or talk about your favorite season for your business.

Year end thank you

A blog post is a great way to recap the year and show gratitude to your customers and readers.

Conclusion: It’s time to grow your business with a blog

I hope I’ve made it easy and exciting to start blogging for your business! Do you have any questions about creating a blog strategy or blog posts? Contact me  — I’m happy to chat more!

If all this overwhelms you, fret not; I’m also available to work for you to create a strategic plan for your business, as well as write your blog posts. Reach out to me to learn more.

 

The Easy Way to Create A Simple Blog Planning Calendar

If you’re considering a blog for your business, you’re already on the right track; there are ample benefits you can take advantage of (read about them here).

Once you decide on your blog’s purpose and your hosting site, your next step is planning a strategy. Investing in a content strategist and copywriter is a wise choice, but if you have the time and energy to create and maintain your own blog, it’s worth a try.

If you go the DIY route, you’ll want to create your own blog planning spreadsheet, also known as a blog content calendar. This will give you an easy way to organize your ideas, plan ahead, and track engagement, so that you’re not stuck one day wondering what to write and when to post.

Content calendars run the spectrum of simple to complex; you can add as many details as you deem necessary. But in this post I’m going to share with you an easy way to plan and organize your content in a Google Sheets spreadsheet.

How to create a blog content calendar in Google Sheets

Create a folder in your Google Drive that’s strictly for your blog. In that folder, create two sub-folders, one for Content and the other for Images. Then create and name a new spreadsheet, and fill in the following columns:

Day

What day of the week are you planning to post? If you are unsure, you can experiment with testing different days; try posting Wednesday one week and Thursday the next, alternating for a month, to see if either one garners more traffic. Or, review your website’s analytics to see which days have higher traffic and work from there.

Date

It’s important to give yourself deadlines, and for more than one reason. First, it’ll help you with completing your posts ahead of time, since you’ll always be aware of your publish date. Second, it’ll help streamline your planning for content. For instance, if you typically publish posts on Thursdays, you’ll want to be aware of what day Thanksgiving falls on, since depending on your business, this can be either a very low or very high day for site traffic. (And you can plan a holiday-themed post in advance, if that’s your thang.)

Title

This is where you’ll put your finalized headline for your post. Don’t fill this in until you’ve got a succinct, compelling, SEO-friendly title; put any “working titles” in a different color if you must, otherwise leave it in the Description column (explained below). To come up with a great title, do a brainstorm for relevant keywords (contact me if you need a hand with this).

Description

Here’s where you can outline the gist of your post. You don’t need to go into extreme detail, since this is just for your planning purposes, but you can add as much or little as you need in order to remember the messaging and content of your intended post.

Link

If you choose to use Google Docs for drafting your blog posts, you can save the link to your write up right in your planning calendar, for easy access if you need to reference it in the future.

Categories

Decide in advance which categories would allow people to find this specific post the easiest on your blog.

Tags

Choose keywords and key phrases that people are using to find content just like yours. Hit me up if you need a hand!

Notes

This is just a handy space to have, in case you need to add a reminder to yourself, such as “Today is flag day” or “remember to add a note about the special promotion” and so on.

Metrics

In the following column headers, include relevant metrics and analysis details. You might want a few columns to include: Day 1 Views, Week 1 Views, Month 1 Views, Comments, Engagements, Clicks, Social Shares, Leads Generated, Sales Made, etc., etc. Determine your needs based on your blog goals.

Start with planning the first two months, and see how well you do! From there, measure your results to find the best topics that people are most interested in, what days they are reading the most, and other pertinent factors for planning out the next two months.

As always, let me know if I can lend a helping hand!

How Blogging Can Produce A Side Income for Your Business

The internet is filled with bloggers, and many of them are making money off of their blogs. Not every blog needs to make money directly, but for those that do, even a small side income can be beneficial for during those slow sales months.

But you’re a business owner, and not necessarily a full-time blogger. Your spare time is precious and can’t be entirely devoted to building and maintaining a profitable blog.

Still, there are a few easy ways you can make a little extra somethin’-somethin’ on the side.

Here are 4 ways to bring in passive income with a blog

Sell a product or service

There are so many things your blog can do for your business, but it shouldn’t be simply considered a place to sell or strictly talk about the products and services you offer. However, there’s no problem with promoting items, highlighting sales and discounts, or including links to purchase every now and then.

Affiliates

Affiliate marketing is when you promote a business through links and in return they provide payments when they gain new customers from you. There are sites like CJ Affiliate that help you find businesses to work with, or you can reach out to individual businesses and ask if they offer affiliate opportunities. Pro: You can promote businesses and services you believe in and receive payment in return. Con: This can be time consuming to find and interact with businesses, and some will pull your agreement if your content doesn’t bring new customers within a certain amount of time.

Word Ads

If you decide to blog through WordPress, they make it easy to earn a little extra money. When you have a Premium or Business plan, you can flip a switch to turn on WordAds, which are ads placed by WordPress. Depending on the number of visitors you have to your site, you can make anywhere from a few bucks to a nice little chunk of change. The downside: You don’t have say over the content they choose to advertise, and if you don’t have a large viewership, you won’t make much.

Sell ad space or sponsored posts

If you’re feeling really industrious, you can sell ad space or sponsored posts. You can go about doing this by reaching out to other businesses or service providers to see if they would like to write a post for your blog to promote themselves for a small fee, or to see if they’d like to hold graphic ad space on your site or within a blog post.

Need help figuring out what to post and when? Contact me to set up a blog strategy or for having your blogs written for you!

 

5 Easy Blogging Tips for Better Results

There’s so much more to blogging than the stories you share. Tagging, headings, linking, formatting, and other aspects of SEO should all be considered.

But as a business owner, this can be overwhelming. Time is short. Your expertise is needed elsewhere.

As an experienced copywriter, this is how I can help your business grow. I love doing this stuff. But if you choose to do it yourself I’m happy to help however I can. So…

Here are five quick tips to get better results while blogging:

Headings

Using the Headings feature does more than add to the aesthetic of your blog. It tells search engines what your main topic is about. For instance, I’m using WordPress for this blog, which allows me to change the title of this post to H1, the line “So here are five quick tips to get better results while blogging” to H2, and each subcategory to H3. The body is in Paragraph text. This is all an easy way to tell Google the relevance of each topic.

White space

Remember in school when you needed to put a certain amount of sentences in a paragraph to beef it up? Well, those rules go out the window in blogging. It’s actually better to write shorter paragraphs with plenty of white space in between, allowing your readers’ eyes to rest.

Bold

Use bold font with caution. It’s a great way to highlight important key notes for people who are just skimming. But overdo it and your text will just look sloppy and overbearing.

Links

Linking within your post helps in various ways. For one, it allows you to provide examples of a point you’re explaining without making your post too long. It also allows you to link to other relevant pieces you’ve written, keeping readers engaged with your other content. Last, it boosts SEO by telling search engines that you are crafting quality content that provides value to its reader.

Images

Another notion to use with caution; images can make or break a post. A couple of relevant images can make your post more enjoyable, but too many photos can get in the way. Things to keep in mind: Keep photos relevant and attractive, use a lower resolution for faster loading time, don’t use too many, and add alt text to describe your topic.

Need help creating a blog strategy or writing blog posts? Contact me to work together!

17 Creative Blog Post Ideas for Businesses

When it comes to blogging for your business, creating a strategy will help streamline your ideas, keep your content in line with your goals, and develop a steady flow of ideas.

But, as with all creative endeavors, sometimes the well runs dry and you need some inspiration for what to write about.

Working with a content strategist can help, but if you decide to do it yourself, here’s some inspiration to get you typing.

17 blog post ideas worth writing about

Products and Services

What is your  most popular offering? Let the world know about it with a short write-up explaining what it is, how it works, and why you think it’s your most popular.

Your business’s history

What inspired you to go into business? How long did you work toward that goal and what did it take to get there?

Gift guides

It doesn’t need to be the holiday season for gift guides to work. Besides Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and all of those miscellaneous holidays throughout the year, you can do generic birthday ideas, housewarming ideas, retirement or new job ideas, gifts for grads going out into the real world, and so on.

Special promos

A great way to advertise a promotion or sale is through a blog post; it offers you more space to write about it and add an eye-catching graphic and then you can share the link on social media.

Success story

How has your business benefited others? Write about a happy customer’s experience.

Testimonial

To tail off the last idea, you can also have that happy customer write about their experience so that you can share their story in their own words.

Behind the scenes

Introduce your staff, tell about your background, show a history of your brick-and-mortar building, show your process; people love a good peek behind the curtain.

Neighborhood Favorites

A great way to promote your community, whether you have a storefront or not, is to share about your favorite local spots. Where do you enjoy getting your morning coffee? Where should people go after they visit you? What co-working spaces can they find in your town?

Answer FAQs

Develop a short list of frequently asked questions and take the time to answer them. This will be a helpful post in the short and long term.

Record a video

You don’t need perfect hair, makeup, and lighting to make a good video; though, if you have access to those things, go for it! A short video let’s readers see the person behind the posts and can make you easier to relate to or more trustworthy.

Find news about your products or services

If there is no specific press about your business, perhaps you’ll find articles related to your products or services. Such as, “10 benefits of massage therapy” or “Macaroons are the new cupcake”.

Share press you receive

But if you do receive positive press about your business, share, share, share! Be loud and proud about your story.

Current trends

Is there a new trend that relates to what you offer? Writing about the trend is a great way to introduce new potential customers to the value of your products and services.

Host a Q&A

Share your space with interesting businesses, satisfied customers, thought leaders in your industry, or other people who can provide value to your audience.

Seasonal posts

Write about the amazing things to do in fall, or what people can look forward to in winter, or the new products coming in this summer.

Year-end roundup

Near the end of the year, talk about the incredible year you had and the massive amount of gratitude you have for your customers, readers, and general support.

Host a giveaway

Develop a fun and engaging contest and announce the terms and rules on your blog.

Do you have some more ideas to add? Let the community know what’s worked for you in the comments below!

9 Tips To Make Your Blog Successful

So you’ve determined your hosting site, developed a strategy, and might even be up and running. Now it’s time to take your business’s blog to the next level. Here’s everything you need to know about making your blog more efficient.

How to make a better blog for your business

Write for customers, but think about search engines

A blog should be relatable, meeting your target audience on their level. Use your authentic tone of voice and avoid “SEO tricks” that no longer work, like keyword stuffing. Instead, create content that is valuable, engaging, problem-solving, and entertaining.

Create value

A behind-the-scenes post can be interesting and engaging, but unless you’re in a very niche industry, people typically won’t gain any value from reading about what you ate for lunch every day. Find what your target audience is looking for, curious about, struggling with, excited about, or doesn’t even know about, and use that to create completing content.

Plan ahead

Most business owners don’t have the time to wake up and go, “Hmm, what will I write about today?” A blog strategy will help you organize your ideas and decide your blog posts in advance to give you a steady stream of content. (Contact me if you’d like to set up a blog strategy together!)

Determine the ideal length

Some posts gain better traction when they’re short and sweet, around 150-200 words. Other audiences prefer long-form reads of about 800 words. A safe place to start is about 400 words, and then determining whether people are satisfied and taking in the whole piece, looking for more, or just skipping to the end (or worse, exiting) because they want less.

Add a call-to-action

Whether you’re selling a product, offering a freebie, or trying to build your email list, always give readers an action to complete after reading your awesome content.

Be consistent

The idea is to keep readers engaged and looking forward to your next post. That won’t happen if you post once this week, and then maybe one in two weeks, then two that day, and not again for a month. Decide on a reasonable schedule for what you can do and stick to it with your strategic plan.

Share on social media

SEO can only get you so far. Share that wonderful, traffic-boosting content with your entire online community.

Engage with commenters

Don’t leave commenters hanging! They took the time to write a question or offer feedback, the least you can do is acknowledge them. Always respond (even to negative comments) in a positive manner.

Track results

Are your posts getting traction? What are your top referral sites (meaning, how are people finding your post)? What is your most popular topic? Use your site stats to measure results and build on your content strategy from there.

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