Category Archives: business blogging

How to raise your online profile and become an authority in your field

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Use your online profile to become known as an expert in your field

The other day at a networking meeting in Buckinghamshire I met a financial adviser who told me he didn’t need an online presence because he gets all his customers through word-of-mouth referrals.

A decent website with basic SEO

After a bit of probing, I discovered that he did have a website – no-one can have their heads that deep in the sand – but that he only got it because “everyone else had one” and some slick website designer made him a good deal.

With a bit of luck the designer may have thrown in basic search engine optimisation tactics into the bargain, which means his company name will not be completely buried if potential customers search for a financial adviser in Buckinghamshire.

No, he insisted, that doesn’t matter, because most of his referrals come from networking breakfasts and nights out in the pub.  He doesn’t need any of that.

I nodded and tucked into my bacon and eggs, because I know a lost cause when I see one.

Why your online profile is crucial for business

But, for the record, he is seriously mistaken.

Even if not a single customer ever arrives at his door via his website, a well-managed online profile is crucial for his business.

Testimonials, biography, services 

When was the last time you used anyone’s services –  without checking out their website first?

It’s the first thing you do. And when you’re clicking through, are you just satisfied to see a list of services or do you actually take time to read the biographies of the partners and testimonials to see what other clients say about them? Do you compare their services with competitor websites in terms of value for money and professionalism?

Informative, engaging blog posts

If you’re looking for a financial adviser and there was a blog post on the site with tips for first-time investors or how to save money on your household bills – would you stop to read it to see if the author knows his or her stuff?

Linked in, Facebook and Twitter

I suspect my breakfast neighbour probably has a thin and stale profile on Linked In, which doesn’t do him any favours, but I’d be very surprised if he’s gone anywhere near Twitter or Facebook.

Not only is he missing out on valuable opportunities to reach out to potential clients in his area, but if he should ever have an unhappy customer who happens to be more social media savvy than him and started dissing his business online, he’d be blissfully unaware of this reputational damage.

Journalists could be looking at this very moment for someone to quote on financial issues and he would be none the wiser. An opportunity for great exposure missed.

Guest-blogging – a real opportunity to build your reputation

Trying to explain to him how guest blogging has turned two of my clients into experts with near celebrity status in their respective fields through posting of informative articles on sites read by potential customers, would go way over my friend’s head.

E-mails, vlogs, e-books, podcasts, webinars – show off your knowledge

Neither would he be open to discussing the power of email newsletters and vlogs – or video blogs, e-books, webinars or podcasts – as a means to attracting visitors to his site and becoming known as a real authority in his field.

At the end of the day – this is a man who’s decided to turn his back on the future and will refuse to see the writing on the wall until it’s too late.

Stand out above the competition

Yes, his company may be able to survive without a decent website, blog, social media and email newsletters for a while longer, but if he really wants to reach his potential and stand out above the competition – a strong and strategic online presence is at least as important as buying rounds in the pub.

Contact me for more information if you need some advice on how to build an effective online profile for your company and yourself.

I create online communications and social media strategies for companies in Buckinghamshire, London and internationally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get your name in the news: media relations tips

Mike Bailey-Gates / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

 

In my former life as a journalist, I’ve deleted and binned more press releases than I care to remember. The number of times I ended up interviewing a so-called ‘expert’ offered by a PR company can be counted on one hand.

Now that I’m on the other end of the table, my insight into the media and nose for news enable me to help entrepreneurs and small business owners to get noticed by the media – in a positive way of course.

These days everyone can write their own news on the internet, but writing an opinion piece or feature or getting quoted in a well-respected paper or website, is still one of the best ways of building your profile as a credible authority in your field.

Here are my tips for getting your name in the news

Think news first

Find something in your company, product, story that is newsworthy – not from your point of view, but from a journalist’s point of view.
If you can add a fresh angle to something that’s already in the news, you’re likely to find a willing ear.

For example, the day after a national survey about working mums’ guilt appeared in the media, I approached a parenting website on behalf of Inspired Mums, a career coach – offering a guest blog post with tips for working mums on how to banish the guilt – it got accepted straight away.

Find out what journalists are writing about on Twitter and engage in the conversation using topic hash tags. If they think you’ve got something worthwhile to add to the story, they’ll get in touch.
Offer stories about new trends in your industry, new ways of looking at things, different approaches, a look behind the scenes, but steer clear of promotional articles only designed to make you look good.

Lose the fluff and hype

Editors are no fools. If you’ve called your product or company “unique”, “world-renowned” or “leading”, your release is already in the trash folder.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve tried to explain to CEOs and PR people that journalists couldn’t care less about your core messages. They care about the news value of the story first and foremost. A story with a perfectly crafted core message but without news value – is a complete waste of time. Of course, once you’ve hooked them with a topical news angle, you need to get your message in there, but in a subtle, organic way.
If you understand this, you’re half way there.

Don’t expect them to do your job

Do NOT send information and photographs in the hope that the editor ‘will know what to do with it’.
They WILL know what to do with it, yes – they will delete it, because they have no more than two seconds to decide whether the email you sent is a story or not. If you haven’t told them what the story is, you’ve lost your chance.

A clear, well-written and persuasive two-line pitch explaining exactly what the story is about, why it is relevant and how it can be illustrated, has a much better chance of getting a look in.

Quality, well-written content

Once you have a bite, you can follow up with a crisp, concise article – answering all the obvious questions: Why, what, where, when and how and then include meaningful, non-salesy quotes from no more than three people. Offer up to three captioned photographs, good quality jpegs to choose from and links to your website and contact details for the people mentioned in the article.
Don’t expect the journalist to do research for you. Include relevant quotes and statistics and make sure they’re accurate!

Don’t send an attachment – include the press release in the body of your email.
Newsrooms are shrinking and if you can deliver a complete, ready-to-publish package on time – you’ll get the exposure you want – most of the time.

Respect deadlines

If an editor shows an interest in your story – be prepared to be interviewed or provide more information. Don’t switch off your mobile and go the gym or say you’re too busy when a journalist calls. Bad move. You won’t get asked again.
Similarly, if you pitch a guest blog post and you’re given a deadline, make sure you deliver on time, whatever happens. No one cares that your computer crashed or your babysitter was late. Make it happen.

Build a relationship

If your article or post is used in whatever way, send a quick thank you email or tweet. Don’t bombard the journalist with daily story suggestions, but do follow them on Twitter, read their stories or blogs and comment from time to time. They’ll be more open to your next, targeted and relevant pitch.

If all of this sounds too much like hard work, why not let me handle the media for you while you get on with the day job.
Contact me if you want help getting exposure in the media.

I can help boost your website traffic and build you profile through effective blogging and guest blogging too. Targeted, engaging website copy to help you meet your goals – I’m your girl.

Is your website content letting you down?

photograph of pair of glasses lying on an open page

Is your website easy on the eye?

You’ve forked out a small fortune for a shiny new website with bells and whistles and if you’re really switched on, you may even have a blog.

Now sit back and wait for the cash to roll in.
You may wait a long time. Much more likely is that not a single soul – apart from the odd porn spammer – will stumble across your site for months to come.

Before you reach deeper in your pocket for an expensive site upgrade, consider this:

Does your website answer the question foremost on your customer’s mind when sitting down in front of her computer? Does your website miraculously appear on Google results in answer to their question – in other words is your website content engaging and search-engine optimised? Do conversations on social media reel clients in to your site?

Even if you answer “yes” to all of the above, that’s just the start.

Is your content stopping your potential client in her tracks?

Is the content clear and explained in a way that does not insult the client’s intelligence, put him to sleep or annoy him with creepy sales talk?

If by the time your reader has reached as far as you’re reading now you’re doing well. If you lose him, he’ll bounce away into the virtual ether never to return.

5 ways to write SEO website content to get your business noticed

Know your customer and keywords

Who are you writing for – picture your ideal customer. What are they looking for? Use a free tool such as free Google AdWords keyword planner tool to find out what your ideal customer is likely to type into Google search. Now use those keywords in headings, subheadings and text on your site, but be subtle: Think flirting – you want to make your intentions clear in a playful way, not throw yourself at some unsuspecting suitor making them run for the hills.

Spread the word

No one will notice your business online, unless you tell them about it. Use social media to spread the word. A blog will help to give you fresh topics to talk about on social media. Join industry forums and take part in discussions, link back to your site. Guest blog (more on that later) on sites bigger than yours and link back to build your online profile.

Less is more

Keep your message simple and clear. The average time people spend reading a page online is said to be less than a minute – this varies of course, but the bottom line is: Not Very Long. Reward them for stopping by – with meaningful, concise, targeted content that makes them want to come back for more.

Be personal

Let your personality shine through. People like doing business with people. Don’t shy away from showing who you are on your website and social media – it will make your business seem more human. Obviously this is not the place to over-share your leather fetish or recreational drug habit, but don’t be afraid to let people know a bit about you.

Get a conversation going

The days of thrusting products in people’s faces and ramming advertising messages down their throats are over – especially online.
People in the digital age – respond to communication that is two-way and conversational.
Use your blog to talk to them about questions they have and offer solutions. Link to other pages on your site in the answer. Be open, generous and honest – and you’ll soon be seen as an expert in your field who’s worth listening to and buying from.

Of course good content can’t be the band-aid for bad design or poor business research, but if you’ve done your homework and have a good basic website (which doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg), the above content guidelines will get you off to a good start.

Your website is likely to be one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, communication tool in your tool kit. Get it right.

Subscribe to my newsletter below for more tips on getting your business noticed online or contact me if you need a seo copywriter to make your website work for your business.

Do you have other useful tips to add? I’d like to hear from you too.


Does my business really need a blog?

Whether you run cookery courses for children, fix computers for a living or transform gardens – a blog could give your business a real boost. Here is what a business blog can do for you:

Attract new customers
Google loves websites to be fresh and have a bit of a buzz about them and a blog will do just that. It will give your website a pulse.

This will boost your Google ranking making it easier for customers to find you.  Using the right keywords and tags in your blog, linking to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, will turn your business into a customer magnet.

Make you shine
Your blog is your chance to blow the socks off potential customers – and I don’t mean flogging your products with creepy sales speak – but through informative posts showing that you are an expert in your field, someone they should consider buying from.

Say you’re a chiropractor and customers often ask you questions such as:
“Should I put ice on my strained muscle? “Is it OK to feel pain when I play tennis?” “How long does it take to cure runner’s knee?”
Bingo! Answer these questions on your blog and you have a series of posts to show new customers why you’re good at what you do!
Update your blog regularly with valuable, useful information and you’ll become the go-to person in your field.

When writing blogs or guest blogs (more on this later) for my clients I look at questions their clients typically ask, for example:

  • “How do I start my own business?” – a career coach
  • “How long will a spray tan last?”  – a beautician
  • “How do I keep my children’s lunchboxes cool during a heat wave?” – a company selling lunch boxes
  • “How do I go about getting a divorce?” – family lawyers

Answer these questions in your blog and then subtly offer to solve the problem for the client with a call to action at the end.

Show the real you
A website can be quite static and sterile. It doesn’t give you a voice in the way a blog does where you can have a real conversation. This is good because it shows you’re human and you’re not just there to make customers part with their bucks.
They ask questions, you reply – if they’re not happy they can tell you and you can respond. You share ideas, experiences, products and new developments with them and they share it with their friends on Facebook – more potential customers! This way you build ongoing relationships with clients and manage your reputation.

Of course, you may not have the time to write your own blog and manage social media sites to help promote it. That’s why I’m here. Here’s the subtle call to action in case you haven’t noticed 😉

I write targeted blogs with a clear call to action that will do all the things I talked about for your business. I’m an experienced writer who will not put your customer to sleep.

Contact me for more information about business blogging or to hire me as a freelance blogger for your business – or for an introductory session on how to start your own blog.

This is what people say about me.

If you want to know more about how to write a blog – look out for my next post or sign up to my free newsletter.