Do You Need a Blog? The Personal Branding Perspective

Why should I have a blog?  This is a question many of us in the marketing arena are often asked.  From the personal branding perspective the answer is absolutely.  A blog is where your personal brand is shaped.  Unlike a static website or social media profile, a blog is where an individual’s personal brand comes to life.  It’s where you can express your opinions and passions and demonstrate your experience.  It’s where people get to know you, what you are interested in and what you are about.  Your blog creates the narrative for your brand and allows you to express yourself how you want to in the way that you want to.

Image c/o kathybackus.files.wordpress.com/

From a business perspective, why should a person blog?  Besides creating a brand narrative, blogging helps to build relationships.  Writing timely, topical, fun and informative posts builds a following.  Have you seen Amy Adams and Meryl Streep in the movie Julie & Julia?  The film demonstrates the power of blogging, and how it can impact an individual’s life or business.  I won’t give away the plot, but the main character played by Amy Adams follows her cooking passion and writes about her struggles and successes.  Her creativity, writing ability, emotion and content slowly began to resonate and attract a following, media attention and much more.  Social media expert Seth Godin said, “It doesn’t matter who reads your blog.  What matters is the humility that comes from writing (a blog)….the meta-cognition of thinking about what you’re going to say.  How do you force yourself to describe in three paragraphs why you did something, how do you respond out loud?  [Blogging] forces you to make yourself part of the conversation.”

What Will You Blog About?

What should you blog about?  There are no rules here, but certainly something you’re interested in, an expert on or something you are passionate about.  If you have trouble coming up with blog post ideas then maybe you should look to another subject for inspiration.  A blog does not have to be all about business.  Watch Julie and Julia and you will see what I mean.  If you are looking to grow your personal brand and build relationships with people, post what you are passionate about and interested in.  Readers will connect and engage with you.  If you build your following and readership with content that you enjoy creating, then blogging will be a joy instead of a chore.

Be Consistent

Consistency matters when blogging.  Some may find that once a day or once a week works, while others determine twice a month works for them.  No matter the schedule, stick to it.  Consistency is vital to maintain reader interest.  According to Jane Sheeba, author of Pro Blogging Success, “choosing a blogging frequency depends on various parameters for different people.”  She emphasizes that blogging frequency is dependent on many factors including the blogger’s goals and preferences, the type of blog, and how new the blog is.

Time Limitations

We are all pressed for time in our fast-paced world.  Many of us have limited time to read and research topics we are interested in.  We want information in a short and concise format.  Susan Gunelius, author of About.com’s Blogging Guide says, “Most people who read blogs don’t have a lot of time or patience to read thousands of words of content. They’re looking for quick access to information or entertainment. Therefore, you should try to write succinctly and use headings to break up long blocks of text.”  Blog posts should be a reasonable length that allows information and messages to be conveyed.  For blogs that provide how-to or do-it-yourself advice, the length may be longer, but consider using bullet points. This will allow you to get the same message out but with fewer words.

A personal brand focused blog needs to be promoted in order to attract followers, subscribers and readers.  Besides including keywords, tags and categories in and with the blog specifically, the following are several simple strategies for getting the word out:

  • Post a link to your blog on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (use a shortened link)
  • Use Facebook applications such as Networked Blogs to allow your blog to also reside on Facebook
  • Send your blog link to your contact list and ask people to subscribe
  • Ask friends to share and recommend your blog on social media and directly
  • Put the link to your latest blog in your email signature – highlight the topic
  • Each time you blog, ask 20, 30 or 50 or more people what they think of it? Share their comments and ask them to follow.

There are literally millions of blogs.  According to Hat Trick Associates there may be as many as 450 million English language blogs as of 2011 and possibly close to a billion if you count all languages.  Many of these blogs have virtually no readers.  These brands aren’t growing they are stagnant.  Become a successful blogger and create a brand that reflects you and your passions in life and business.  Start by determining what you will write about, find the platform that works for you and start posting.  Remember to be consistent and proactively promote your blog.  To grow your brand and blog you need to tend to it, nurture it, create content for it and build relationships with it.

Author:

This article is provided by Bill Corbett, Jr., President of Corbett Public Relations, Inc., a leading media relations, social media and personal branding consulting firm.  For more information, go to corbettpr.com or to his blog corbettprblog.com.  He can be reached at wjcorbett@corbettpr.com or @wjcorbett.

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Copywriting Tips to Become an Effective Copywriter

Are you cutting costs by writing your own marketing materials? Many business owners are writing their own copy for direct marketing programs and online advertisements.  It’s challenging to be creative and come up with new taglines and copy.  If you are not a pro at copywriting you will be after following the tips below.  Anyone can become a good copywriter if they follow the most important rules and practice writing.  The more you do it the better you get at it…just like most things in life!

Writing good copy is a technique that can be taught to business professionals in any industry.  However, it takes time to produce copy and you need to be able to focus without interruptions.  Here are some tips to help you produce fabulous copy for your marketing materials:

  1.  Personalize your message – Try writing to a single person rather than a mass audience.  Visualize your prospect and speak to them in a way that they understand.  Make sure you know your target audience. Smart companies should write copy that makes the reader feel as if they are speaking directly to him/her.
  2. Don’t come on too strong – Less is more….most readers have a short attention span.  Don’t hit them with too much information or too many offers. Keep it simple. It should focus on the benefits and not all about your PITCH.
  3. Use a compelling offer – Make sure you have a compelling offer to get people to respond.  It should be relevant to your audience.
  4.  Create a sense of urgency – Make sure you give prospects a feeling of urgency.  They should want to contact you now to grab that special offer or time will run out.  Keep them on their toes.
  5. Use Clear Qualifying Language – Make sure you use language that is clear and easy to understand.  For example, Engineers would need technical copy and terms…but a normal business person may not be as technical.

Types of Campaigns

Depending on the type of campaign, you will need to fit your copy to the medium. For example, when writing brochure copy, people have the tendency to write a book.  You need to keep the text short and to the point.  Most people have a very short attention span and will only look at the bulleted or highlighted items.  Same holds true for an email campaign or direct mail postcard.  Keep it simple…..

If you can’t adhere to the tips above and don’t have the time to focus on writing, then you should outsource to a professional copywriter.  Professional copywriters are available on a freelance basis and can be hired for specific projects.  You always want to keep your copy fresh and new ideas flowing! Happy writing!

Author: 

Monique Merhige is the President of Infusion Direct Marketing & Advertising, Inc.  She has over 15 years of marketing communications experience with technology companies ranging from small service firms and equipment manufacturers to a 1.5 Billion dollar division of Motorola.  Infusion is a marketing consulting firm that specializes in the security industry and delivers marketing solutions that include Public Relations, Direct Marketing, Branding, Collateral Development, and Social Media Marketing.  Visit:  www.infusiondirect.com or call 631-846-1558

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Funding Your Freelance Writing Business

The greatest aspect of funding your freelance writing business is that you are only as limited as your ambitions, creative talents and the time it takes you to complete writing projects. As a freelance writer you likely have already gained some knowledge on what it takes to win larger projects as well as specific knowledge different clients seek.

It is imperative to create a business plan and set aside some of your income from freelance writing projects. Once you begin building it, funding a small online business will be as easy as paying writers as they complete projects.  When considering funding your freelance writing business, realize that it is a distinct possibility that others may not have the ethical practices you have. Clients have been known to run off without pay, so be prepared emotionally and financially for that possibility as well.

The Basic Requirements

Before you delve into creating a small online business of your own in the writing niche, you need a reliable internet connection, an up-to-date computer and the willingness to work longer hours than you would as a part-time or even a full-time freelance writer. You will likely need at least two to four hours per day to have enough success to ensure your failures are not ‘end-alls’ for your company.

Build on Your Good Name

Outsourcing clients who are happy with you and your team may need larger projects completed. They could also have other affiliates that do. As your own writing career becomes more lucrative, improve upon the portfolios and profiles of your writer-base. Once you have a steady amount of work on your own, strike out from the freelance employee niche and become a freelance employer. Make sure that prospective employers understand you may be a part of a writing group or small online business that caters to clients with larger content needs.

Outsourcing Ethically

Never mislead a client if you are outsourcing jobs they give you. This is not only unethical but can end up costing you your reputation. If a client has agreed that your work is up to their standards and you turn in work from another writer who did not meet those standards, the client will assume you lack consistency and may decide to terminate your contract. Fair assumption, you didn’t supply consistent content, regardless of who created it. On many freelance work sites, the client would win that disagreement in a moderation process.

However, once you have clients with whom you have made clear you will have a group of writers on their project, make sure that each writers work lives up to the standards that you originally provided. This may require that you spend less time writing and a bit more proofreading the work of others. Be financially prepared with a bit of overhead from your own completed assignments in case the proofing or approval process takes a bit longer with larger orders. It will. Expect to spend at least a couple hours per day doing not much else for even the smallest projects.

Don’t Multitask Too Much

The freelance writing world is full of competent writers and websites that clients can be fully satisfied with. For this reason it will become your personal responsibility to see that your freelance writing business stands out among others. Before you go from employee to employer, you may also want to consider building up some funds to invest in marketing. Without a bit of help, the time you spent hunting, managing, and completing projects, will go from around two hours per day to ten. You can not add the much needed element of marketing on top of your many other responsibilities and expect any of them to be highly-effective. You can also expect to find yourself failing at both ends if you do. Certainly be hands-on when it comes to learning how the marketing process works. You will eventually have the time to give that area of your business far more consideration.

Funding your freelance writing business will become much easier if you demand high standards from your employees and perhaps even set up a series of rewards for consistently meeting those high standards. This will return your own private working time back to you, which you can turn over to completing the projects that will be funding your freelance writing business.

Get Started Here @DBMEi

There may be no other place better to start than right here on DBMEi if you are searching for some free freelance writer education as well as practices that you should inject into your own Freelance Writing Business.  Currently we have Megan Campbell, Vanessa Canner,  Leigh Egan, & Megan Harriswho, along with me, all write on Freelance writing  topics here @DBMEi.
Sources:

Author:
Joy Lynskey is the owner of JRL Solutions, a copywriting and content management company based in Bedford, Virginia. JRL Solutions hosts a Freelance Writers Education Blog that is managed by direct and guest posting. Joy is the Content Manager and Editor for Puglisi Consulting Group at Digital Brand Marketing Education. Joy regularly works in SMM via freelance consulting  private clients with their social media campaigns. @JoyLynskey

What a Successful Company Blog Says about Your Business

We’ve all seen them – the company blog that is buried within the site map, with a single “Welcome” post that is three years old. Or the blog that is littered with bad grammar, typos or business jargon. A bad company blog can give off the impression that you’re lazy, technology-challenged, or you think you’re smarter than your readers. No blog at all is better than a bad blog.

Writing a successful company blog takes time and effort. It’s a way to start, continue and strengthen a meaningful conversation about your business and your brand.

So what does a great company blog say about your business?

You care about your customers.

The blog is your opportunity to reach out to your customers and provide them with in-depth, valuable information that they can’t find on your website. It allows you to connect and engage with them daily – answering questions, providing feedback and responding to comments. This interaction shows your commitment to building a community that benefits your business and your customers.

You know what you’re talking about.

When you write comprehensively about industry-related topics, you can establish your company as a leading authority in your field. Let readers know that they can rely on you for sound advice, useful information and knowledgeable opinions – and they can count on your products and services, as well.

You’re not a dinosaur.

You should be sharing your blog through Twitter and Facebook. Being active through social media channels can help you connect even further with your audience, and lets readers know you’re up-to-date with current trends and always thinking forward.

You’re well-known and respected in the industry.

Networking with other bloggers in your niche can increase blog traffic and in turn, increase leads. Engage other industry thought leaders in the conversation – contributing guest posts for other prominent blogs, for example, can help you expand your blog’s reach even further.

You have the resources to create quality content and designs.

Readers can tell if you’ve created a company blog with no knowledge of Web design or copywriting. A well-designed, well-written blog is crucial to drawing attention to your blog and keeping it there, and demonstrates the ability and talent behind the scenes – whether you have a staff of designers and writers maintaining the site, or you have taken the time to learn these skills yourself.

You’re friendly. 

Blogs allow for a more casual, personal tone than your company website. Your blog has a voice – your voice – to give readers a sense of the people behind the business. Don’t fill your posts with industry jargon or make your readers feel inferior; this will only repel readers from your blog and your business. A blog that reads like a friendly chat over coffee, containing stories with which readers can relate, makes your company seem more approachable.

Do you know what your company blog says about your business?

Author:

Jacqui MacKenzie is a writer for Straight North, one of the leading Internet marketing companies in Chicago. She writes for a wide range of clients, from merchant account providers for credit card processing restaurants to manufacturers of electrical gloves. Check out the Straight North blog, or follow @StraightNorth on Twitter.

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Are You Alive? Why Your Blog is the Heartbeat of Your Business

As part of my day to day activities at Find New Customers, I research the websites of lots and lots of companies. I find typically a Resource Page with eBooks, white papers, webinars, etc. Nice stuff. Sometimes (not very often) they have a decent sign-up form. But there’s a problem.

I’ve never heard of the firm. They’re invisible.

I’ve come to the inescapable conclusion is that the reason they are invisible is their business had no heartbeat. A heartbeat happens continually as long as you are alive. By the same token – marketing in business to business needs a heartbeat too. That’s your blog. Blogs are regularly updated, like a heartbeat.

Buyers are looking for companies with a heartbeat – regular publishers of content. They need to be constantly reminded that your business is alive.  Unfortunately, so does Google and Bing. When they ping a website, they look at how recently it was updated. So that heartbeat is important in search rankings too.

The Problem with Websites

They are static. They rarely, if ever change. I hear people say “Our website is outdated. We need a new one.”

I think that’s a wrong position. Instead, they need to think about publishing daily and weekly – good content that answers buyers questions.

A good, robust blog is updated several times a week – at least. It contains your keywords and links back to your website. It demonstrates to the world that your business is alive and alerts the search engines to your presence.

Seed Nurturing

Jon Miller, VP of Marketing at Marketo talks about the importance of seed nurturing – plant “seeds” all over the internet to make it easy for people to find and engage. Jon is right – a blog let’s you share content, such as eBooks, webinars, thought leadership and more. By continually publishing, your business has a regular heartbeat that prospective buyers see. Your business is alive.

The Importance of Syndication

Another way to show your heartbeat is to syndicate your blog. Our blog publishes to Evan Carmichael, CustomerThink, B2Community, LinkedIn, Facebook and many other sites. By syndicating your content, you are planting seeds for your business all over the internet – seed which, if they germinate, lead right back to your business. Where can you syndicate your blog?

Blog as a Sharing Vehicle

Let’s say you regularly publish content. Webinars, e-books, white papers, videos, etc. How do your share the word about your content? Let’s look at how a blog can help youImage representing Silverpop as depicted in Cr... promote a white paper.

Let’s say you have a brand new white paper, such as “The CMOs Guide to the Crazy New World of Marketing” (the actual title of my next white paper for Silverpop). Do you simply post and pray?

Let’s say instead you sit down with the author and record a video interview with him on the ideas behind the white paper. Then you post those video clips to YouTube and Vimeo.  Next, you can write a series of blog articles about that interview and attach the videos. Those blog posts will be shared with your syndication network too. Bingo! You and your content are all over the internet. Your business is alive and everyone sees you’re alive.

Our Personal Story

While we’d love to update our website, we spend quite a bit of money to update our blog, Fearless Competitor for the New Year. We felt that since our blog is updated frequently (almost 365 times a year), having a professional-looking blog would be the very best way to grow Find New Customers.

Are you ready to show the world that your business is alive?

P.S. In addition to being the President of Find New Customers, Jeff Ogden is a professional blogger who writes for companies such as Silverpop and Aprimo. He is also a professional writer and speaker.

Author:

Jeff Ogden, the Fearless Competitor, is the founder and president of Find New Customers. He also hosts a weekly marketing show, Mad Marketing TV, in which he interviews top marketing experts each week. He was recently named as one of the Top 50 experts in Sales Lead Management for 2011. He’s also a professional writer and keynote speaker. To contact Jeff, please visit him at http://www.findnewcustomers.com or call (516) 495-9350 (office/mobile)

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