You’ve decided that your company should have a blog. But do you know what kind of blog you want to launch? Will it be a “business blog,” or will it be a “niche blog?”
What’s the difference? And does it really matter?
Business-owned blogs offer many benefits including:
To get the kinds of benefits you’re looking for, you need to launch the right kind of blog. So let’s explore your two basic options.
What is a “business blog?”
This is a blog that’s meant to serve as a direct link between you and your customers. It’s where you share company news, announce product launches, offer special discounts for subscribers, post support updates, or focus on thought leadership pieces in your industry.
Now, what is a “niche blog?”
This is a blog about a specific topic, rather than being related to your company directly. It’s designed to educate, inform, or entertain its readers.
Let’s look at how these kinds of blogs can differ. We’ll use a web hosting company as an example.
If a web hosting company was to launch a traditional business blog, its posts might include:
On the other hand, if the same web hosting company published a niche blog, its posts might include things more along the lines of:
An easy way to think about the differences is this: “niche blogs” are about reaching readers interested in a particular topic, and “business blogs” are about connecting with customers (or potential customers) in a meaningful way.
Which type of blog is right for your company? Leave a comment to tell me what type of blog your business runs and why. And check back soon. My next post here will cover yet another option you have — the hybrid business / niche blog that can offer you the best of both worlds.Read More
Writing impacts your business on a daily basis whether you realize it or not. Strong writing is what makes your ads successful. It’s what convinces members of the media to pick up your news story from your press release. It convinces website visitors to become customers.
Think about it for a minute. Business writing is involved in many aspects of your business, such as:
Check out my previous post, 105 Ways Freelance Writers Can Help Your Business, for even more examples.
There’s no question about it. Business writing is vital to your company’s success. So today I’d like to share five tips for better business writing, whether you choose to hire a pro or do it yourself.
When it comes to business writing, consistency is important. For example, your writing style and formatting shouldn’t change drastically on different pages of your website. And if you tend to publish serious B2B white papers and reports targeting high-level executives, a lighter piece might not cut it with that same audience.
If you know you’ll create the same type of documents repeatedly — white papers, press releases, newsletters, etc. — consider creating templates to help you keep things consistent from one project to the next.
Using industry jargon and buzzwords doesn’t make you look smart. It doesn’t make you look “in the know.” If anything, it can frustrate your readers. Write in a way that your readers can understand. And don’t try to use fancy terms that speak down to them.
After you’ve written any kind of business document, read it. Then read it again. Then read it aloud. Then take some time away from it, come back later, and read it with fresh eyes. Then have someone else read it.
Unless you’re working with a dedicated business writer or proofreader, finding errors falls on you. And errors in your copy can be costly, whether it results in a financial hit because you advertised the wrong price for something or in a hit to your reputation due to sloppy work.
Not everything you write is meant for the same audience. Sometimes your business writing will communicate with customers. At other times it might focus on prospects, colleagues, board members, employees, or members of the community.
Always know who your writing is meant to reach and what they expect from it. Formal language might be fine with members of your board for example. But it might be completely inappropriate for your customers.
It’s not enough to know who your audience is when you jump into a business writing project. You have to remember to keep the focus on them. It’s not about you. It’s about what you can do for them.
For example, take a look at my homepage on this site. You’ll notice that I don’t use words like “me” or “I” or “my” until the fourth paragraph. And that’s only because it’s a call to action, asking visitors to contact me for more information about how I can help with their projects. The bulk of the marketing copy on that page is about them — or in this case you.
Do you have business writing questions that go beyond these tips? Leave a comment below and I might answer it for you in a future blog post. Not sure you want to take on all of your company’s business writing on your own? Contact me with your project details and let’s see how I can help.Read More
Are you interested in content marketing to promote your small business? Do you need a better communication plan internally? Could you use some help with your media relations? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, it might be time to talk to a professional writer.
Freelance writers can bring a lot to the table. It’s a topic I recently talked about on my blog for other writing professionals, where I shared 105 writing projects they could pursue to make a living. But that list is important for you too. Why? Because a freelance writer can probably help you with much more than you realize.
Here are some examples from the post:
While there are a few ideas in the original post that might not apply to you (such as songwriting and novel writing), check out the broader list of 105 types of writing projects. You’re bound to find something new.Read More
Have you ever visited a competitor’s website and noticed that they have an online media room (also known as an online newsroom)? Have you wondered why they bothered or what benefits an online media room actually offered? While there’s no need to rush to create one of your own, it might be a good idea to start planning for one in the future. Let’s explore why.
Here are a few reasons you might want to consider adding an online media room to your company’s website.
If you plan to seek any kind of media coverage for your business, or your business is likely to attract it, a media room makes things easier on reporters, bloggers, and others who might want to report on your company.
For example, a media room provides media-specific contact information to journalists so they don’t get bounced around between different employees. You can also include an archive of your company’s press releases, giving journalists instant insight into the company’s history of newsworthy developments.
Your online media room can also help journalists better cover your company when they want to. For example, you can make sure they have access to high resolution images of your logo, key staff, and products relevant to any news you release.
You might also secure more coverage by giving journalists and bloggers the opportunity to subscribe to your press releases or news alerts, making sure those interested in your business always know what’s going on (perhaps even before you release the news over the wires).
An online media room can even help you build more credibility for your business. That’s because a media room is a great place to share examples of past media coverage, quotes, and social proof .
When journalists and bloggers can see how many people follow your brand, how well your staff handles audio or video interviews, or that even larger media outlets thought your company was worth covering, your company can become more appealing to them.
An online media room isn’t necessary for every business, especially all small businesses. But if you’re already security coverage and you’d like to show it off, or you regularly have news to share and you want to make your business more accessible to the media, it’s an excellent place to start.Read More
Customer relationships shouldn’t end as soon as you land a sale. The key to good relationship marketing is to keep customers coming back. And you do that by staying in touch well after the initial sale. Fortunately, you have plenty of options for keeping in touch, and your business writer can help you with any of them.
Here are five ways your or your business writer can keep your company in regular contact with customers.
Use your company’s blog to share news and special offers with customers. Allow them to leave comments. And make sure you respond to those comments when it’s appropriate.
Send surveys, special offers, coupons, and announcements to existing customers on your email marketing list. Just don’t forget to give them the opportunity to opt out of future emails. You don’t want to violate the CAN-SPAM Act.
You can use your company’s social media accounts much like you would use your company blog to stay in touch with customers. Link to your blog posts. Share news, discounts, and coupon codes directly. Pay attention to what your customers say about you, your company, and your products and services.
Respond when it makes sense to do so (such as answering basic questions or inviting unhappy customers to contact you offline with further details about their problems so you can work things out — you do not have to respond to trolls who do nothing but try to bash your company).
While it won’t make sense for all companies, if you have your customers’ phone numbers, you might want to follow up with them with a call. Calling customers just to try to up-sell them is a sure way to annoy, though it can work in moderation. But sometimes it can be helpful to call with an offer to help — such as noticing a new customer hasn’t fully set up an online account or used their service yet. As an example, one of the domain name registrars I’ve used calls customers shortly before domain names are up for renewal to make sure they don’t forget to renew.
Snail mail is still a great way for some companies to stay in touch with customers. You can send postcards announcing big sales or offering coupons. You can send circulars if that’s normal for your industry. Or you can even send surveys after a big purchase.
No matter how you choose to stay in touch with your customers, solid business writing is at the heart of effective relationship marketing, whether that means writing copy for a brochure, writing business blog posts, or writing phone scripts for your customer service representatives.Read More
While I almost never look at job boards and freelance marketplaces for new freelance writing and blogging jobs, I do review them to curate the best leads on my own site for writers. I frequently come across one client request in those ads that makes very little sense, and which is downright disrespectful to the freelance professionals clients are looking to hire.
Some clients not only ask, but demand, that any freelance blogger they hire should use their own personal social network accounts to promote all blog posts they write for the client.
That’s a problem, and not just for the freelancer.
Here are three specific reasons you shouldn’t even want to require your freelance bloggers to promote your posts via their personal social media accounts.
Their target network is almost guaranteed not to be your target network. For example, they might network with prospects for their freelance business, or they might build a community of their colleagues. Neither is likely to be your own target market. And poorly-targeted updates do nothing but piss people off for wasting their time. Is that the impression you want your blog posts to leave?
It is the job of a freelance blogger to help you build a targeted community around your company blog. If they don’t respect their own communities or networks, why would you want them to build and represent yours? Respectable freelancers don’t sell out their networks.
If your bloggers are required to promote your posts via their social media accounts, and they’re being paid by you to do so, good ethics (and FTC guidelines if you or your blogger is located in the U.S.) would require that their referrals include a disclosure. That means they should note that their tweet, share, post, etc. is directly paid for. Not doing so opens both of you up to criticism as soon as someone realizes what’s going on. Many social network users don’t like seeing paid promotions, but especially ones where someone they follow sells out and then isn’t honest about it.
At the same time including a disclosure could also be problematic. When their followers see that the promotion is paid for in some way (and probably not well-targeted to them), it can lead to skepticism. Did this person promote your content because it was truly deserving, or simply because they’re being paid?
Instead of requiring your freelance bloggers to use their own social media profiles to promote your posts, focus on building your own social media presence. Then hire them to help you craft tweets, posts, and other updates related to your blog posts so you can reach a better-targeted audience on social networks.
If your post does happen to be relevant to your blogger’s followers or friends, they’ll likely share it on their own. And those genuine referrals mean much more than forced promotion, while their followers are likely to pick up on the latter.
Do you not have a social media presence at all yet? Consider hiring a social media specialist or a blogger who also specializes in social media writing to help you build one alongside your company’s blog.Read More
Business writing is important to companies large and small, and even to independent professionals. It helps you sell products and services. It helps you develop and earn exposure for your brand. It keeps you in touch with important groups (from customers to employees). And the quality of your business writing can have a direct impact on your perceived professionalism.
Yet many business owners don’t optimize their use of business writing. They ignore important types of business writing projects that could benefit their companies, often because they simply don’t think about them.
Are you missing out on important opportunities because you’ve neglected to try different types of business writing? Here’s a list of 50 types of business writing projects to hopefully inspire you to try something new.
What types of business writing have been the most valuable to your business so far? Are there any project types you haven’t tried yet but would like to? Share your thoughts in the comments, or review my services and rates and contact me if you’d like to discuss working on a particular project.Read More
You might not know this, but I’m not simply a business writer. I used to own a PR firm where I specialized in online PR and social media consulting. And I’ve spent years helping independent creative professionals and business owners manage their marketing and PR efforts. I even ran a popular PR blog for a while before turning to a full-time career as a writer.
Now I’m turning my attention back to marketing and PR with the upcoming launch of The Bad Marketing Blog.
This blog will be similar in nature to my former blog, NakedPR, in that its primary purpose is to cut through bullshit advice that risks hurting your business more than it helps. But it will also focus on tips and tools you can use to improve your marketing from Day One.
The Bad Marketing Blog is gearing up for launch. And there are a few opportunities for you to get involved.
I hope to see you as an active member of The Bad Marketing Blog community when it launches. Don’t miss a thing. Sign up for the email newsletter today and you’ll be notified as soon as the blog launches.Read More
Recently we talked about business blogging and some important formatting tips for making your business blog content “scannable.” But formatting your blog posts only matters if you can think of something to write about.
How are you supposed to keep fresh ideas coming so your company blog can be regularly updated? If you’re short on ideas, try these five angles on for size. You might even want to alternate these types of posts on a regular basis.
Keep an eye on industry news and post commentary about any important stories. You can do this by monitoring social media updates, industry news sites, or setting up Google Alerts for industry-related keyword phrases.
A perk of sharing industry updates is that the ideas come from other sources. You just share your thoughts and expert insight.
Will you be presenting at a major industry conference soon? Is your company about to unroll something big? Have you been getting a lot of similar questions about a product you sell?
Good blog posts are often designed to inform or educate readers. You can do that by posting company news, answering customer questions, or even posting tutorials on how to use your products and services.
Is your company experiencing shipping delays because of inclement weather? Will your website be down for planned maintenance, especially if it affects a Web-based service or your e-commerce operations?
Keep your customers in the loop with updates or advance notice of potential problems on your blog. An informed customer is a happy customer.
Why not use your blog to showcase some of your successes? Bring on key customers or clients to share their stories of working with you, or post case studies explaining how your past work led to successful resolutions for your clients.
While case studies can work well for service-oriented businesses, what if you run a retail operation? Well, why not get your customers in on the action too?
Consider highlighting your best customers or stories about how customers are using your products. Your company’s fans will love that you care enough to put the emphasis on them once in a while instead of just selling to them.
Do you have other business blog post ideas to share? Leave them in the comments and give your fellow business owners and business bloggers some new ideas to write about.Read More
People read on the Web differently than they might read something like a book. Readers often visually scan an article, your marketing copy, or a blog post before (or in lieu of) reading your material in full.
As a result, it’s important that your business copy and content is “scannable,” especially on your company blog.
Your readers — in many cases your potential customers — want specific information. And they want it quickly.
Here are three simple things you can do to write more scannable content for your business blog.
Keep paragraphs to no more than a few sentences. And keep those sentences short. Large blocks of text can be difficult to read on a computer screen. You don’t want to lose your readers before you get your message across.
Break your copy or content up using subheadings. These are usually bold and in a larger font size than your body text. Subheadings are used to break up your main points or major sections of your blog posts.
Bulleted and numbered lists are also good ways to highlight important information. Lists can benefit your company blog in several ways. For example, they tend to:
Do your company blog posts already use these Web writing tips? Or do they feature long blocks of rambling text that can be difficult for readers online to digest? Do you have other tips for formatting better blog posts? Share your thoughts in the comments.Read More