5 Business Blog Post Ideas

Posted by on Feb 17, 2014 in Business Blogging | 0 comments

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.

1. Share Industry Insights

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.

2. Inform or Educate Your Customers

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.

3. Post Status or Support Updates

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.

4. Offer Stories and Case Studies

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.

5. Publish Customer-Centric Posts

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

How to Write “Scannable” Content for Your Company Blog

Posted by on Jan 27, 2014 in Business Blogging | 0 comments

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.

1. Write short paragraphs.

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.

2. Use subheadings.

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.

3. Include lists.

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:

  • Attract more visitors;
  • Serve as link bait, helping you build backlinks to your website;
  • Make your posts easier to read;
  • Help you organize your content;
  • Help readers get right to the points they’re most interested in.

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

A Major Content Marketing Mistake Companies Still Make

Posted by on Jan 8, 2014 in Business Web Content Writing | 0 comments

It appears that “content marketing” will be just as hot of a topic this year as it was in business circles last year. Unfortunately many businesses still don’t understand the most basic principle of content marketing, and it’s causing them to make a serious mistake when bringing on business writers to help them.

Here’s the thing. Content marketing is all about creating and sharing high quality content — things people actually want to consume and interact with.

Are You Making This Content Marketing Mistake?

Now here’s the mistake I still see businesses make quite frequently:

They still prioritize quantity over quality.

It happens time and time again. A company — including fairly large ones — will advertise on some freelance board about a content writing gig. They want someone well-versed in Web content writing, blogging, social media, and content marketing. They expect that someone to have years of experience. They expect flawless writing. In fact, they usually expect several of these writers. And they almost always want these articles for $20 or less per piece.

Playing Content Marketing Catch-Up

The ads usually mention that they’re trying to build a collection of articles. It’s about quantity. They haven’t been producing much content on their own. Now they hear “content marketing” is all the rage. And they want in. So they focus on a massive surge of content up front, sometimes with little more than a plan to toss it on a company blog.

What’s the problem with this? Usually the client’s expectations far exceed what they’re actually buying. It’s easy to assume you can pay $20 or so per article and get decent material, if your experience only extends as far as bottom-of-the-barrel marketplaces like Elance. Most of those experienced, top notch content writers don’t find their gigs in those kinds of places, and you can’t compare rates there to hiring an experienced pro.

Lessons from the Past

By all means, for $50 or so you could get decent content from a newer writer or one living in a lower cost of living area (assuming they write so fluently in the language you’re looking for that they would pass as a native speaker). But the obscenely low rates do nothing but send pros running. You end up sacrificing quality — what content marketing is all about — to save money and put it towards quantity. That’s exactly what did in content mills and what changed the focus on Web content for both search engines and readers in the first place.

Quality. You can put in the effort yourself to make that happen. Or you can hire a professional to assist you with your content marketing. Don’t make the same mistake companies have been making for years by outsourcing your content writing to the cheapest providers you can find. You won’t save a cent if that cheaper content costs you readers, customers, and rankings — all of the things a strong content marketing strategy should help you build.

Read More

What Should You Include in a Business Case Study?

Posted by on Feb 19, 2013 in Case Study Writing | 2 comments

Previously we looked at what case studies can do for your business. But how do you actually write a business case study?

Today let’s take a quick look at what you should include in any business case study you write. The structure of your case study is up to you. They can be anything from a few paragraphs on your website to a multi-page report. But no matter how long your case study is, these elements should be included.

  • Problem or Opportunity – This is the unique problem you or your client faced (or a unique opportunity that became available to one of you). It helps if your prospects can relate to this problem. This way when they see how your product or service helped to resolve the issue, they’ll be more likely to give it a try themselves.
  • Your Approach – Here you’ll detail your solution to the client’s or customer’s problem. Or you’ll discuss your approach to helping them take advantage of an opportunity. You’ll talk about the exact services you provided or the product that was used (and preferably how it was used in this case).
  • The Results – Then you’ll talk about the most important element — the results. You obviously only want to publish a business case study when results are positive. Get specific with these. For example, if you helped a customer save $25,000 in overhead costs, you’ll note that. If you helped them grow their profits by 30% in a year, you’ll mention that. This is where you show that your approach, product, or service really works.
  • Testimonials – It’s also helpful to include client or customer quotes (or a single longer testimonial) with your case study. Clients can say things about you and your business approach that would sound questionable coming directly from you. For example, you should keep the case study objective rather than raving about your own work. But in this section, your customers have the opportunity to do that for you.

Remember, business case studies are about taking subjective sales copy and business claims and turning them into real-life results. They’re the ultimate proof of the value you offer to your customers.

Those are the most basic elements of any business case study. But they can certainly include more. Do you tend to include anything else in your business case studies? Tell me about it in the comments.

Read More

What Can Case Studies do for Your Business?

Posted by on Feb 6, 2013 in Case Study Writing | 4 comments

When it comes to marketing your business, there are a wide variety of business writing and content marketing strategies out there. Coming up with the right strategy will involve choosing the best business writing tools for your company. For example, you might use white papers, blog posts, and email marketing campaigns.

Another option you might not have considered is the business case study. Let’s take a quick look at some of the benefits of case studies so you can decide if they’re a good fit.

Here are three things business case studies can do to help your business.

Case Studies as Illustrations

Case studies help you and your business show what you can do rather than simply tell people what you claim you can do. They turn your successes into stories and illustrate your abilities to other prospects.

Case Studies as Testimonials

You probably know it’s a good idea to get quotes and testimonials from happy customers. Other customers may be more likely to trust their peers than to trust sales copy coming from a company trying to make money.

Case studies take testimonials a step farther. Rather than simply gathering praise, you share customer feedback alongside detailed descriptions of the work you’ve done.

Case Studies for Customer Relationships

When you write a business case study, you’ll likely interview customers and get not only their feedback, but also their permission to use them and their project in your case study. On top of appealing to new customers, that makes case studies a great networking tool with existing customers.

You keep yourself connected to them, and you highlight them through a case study profile that can bring them added attention. In other words, there are promotional benefits for the customer. And that’s not likely something other contractors have approached them about. It makes your company stand out and can potentially lead to repeat business.

Have you ever used business case studies? How did they help your business? If you haven’t written a case study yet, why might you consider it (or what’s holding you back)? Tell me in the comments.

Read More

Why Your Company Can’t Afford Shoddy Web Content

Posted by on Oct 25, 2012 in Business Writing - General | 2 comments

The Web is flooded with low-priced content writers these days. Paying $5 – $15 per page or per article can sound appealing to budget-conscious business owners. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right option for your business.

You’ve heard the old saying “you get what you pay for,” and that couldn’t be more true in the world of Web content writing. Shoddy content, no matter how cheap, can come with real costs.

How Cheap Web Content Can Hurt Your Business

Here are some of the potential problems you’ll come across when you hire the least expensive content writers or bloggers you can find.

  • Many writers in this price range aren’t native English speakers. Some writers who speak English as a second language are truly fluent and they’re excellent contributors to your site. But most are not. If readers constantly have to stop and say “huh?”, the writer isn’t the only one who looks bad to your customers. So do you. Show them you don’t believe in your product or service enough to invest in a professional Web presence and they’ll show you they don’t believe in your product or service enough to buy it.
  • Plagiarism is common among extremely low-end content writers. If you’re caught, your business or website could take a major hit to its reputation. Is cheap plagiarized content worth the PR nightmare? Not really.
  • If you receive this kind of “rewritten” content, it likely violates the copyright of the original author. No one but that copyright holder has the right to authorize a derivative work to be created. That’s what rewriting or “spinning” is. You might not pay much for a “writer” to slap that content together for you, but you certainly could end up paying if you’re sued for copyright infringement. And remember. Plagiarism checker tools like Copyscape can’t usually identify derivative works. So don’t assume those tools will protect you from this kind of common infringement. Plenty of these folks pride themselves on being able to “beat” Copyscape and similar tools without getting caught.
  • You might assume that most people wouldn’t sue you for infringement anyway. First, that’s not true. Plenty of us protect our copyrights actively. And lawsuits aren’t all you have to worry about. When I find my content is stolen, for example, I usually go after the infringing party in a few ways — getting their content de-indexed from search engines to hit their traffic source, getting their ad accounts or advertiser relationships suspended for TOS violations using infringing content, and sometimes having entire sites shut down by hosts depending on the extent of the infringement. Those things are easy, and free, and they’re very real risks you face if you hire cheap content writers who can’t deliver unique work.

The next time you think about taking someone up on a bottom-of-the-barrel content writing offer, think about the shoddy content you’re likely to receive. And consider the risks to your business. Your best bet is to a hire a professional writer with experience in the type of writing you need or experience directly in your industry.

getting personal loan with co-signer

If you’re on a tight budget and you can’t afford a professional writer yet, consider writing your own content. You can always hire an editor to help you clean things up at a lower rate than hiring someone to craft custom professional content. Just make sure you look at all of your options before you settle on something that might hurt the business you’ve worked so hard to build.

Read More