Don’t Ask Bloggers to Promote Your Posts on Personal Social Media Accounts

Posted by on Oct 21, 2014 in Business Blogging | 0 comments

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.

3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Require Bloggers to Use Their Personal Social Media Profiles for Promotion

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.

1. Your freelance blogger built their social media following around their own networking goals.

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?

2. Blogging is about building a community.

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.

3. You risk hurting both of your reputations.

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.

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The Big List of Business Writing Projects

Posted by on Aug 4, 2014 in Business Writing - General | 1 comment

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.

  1. Advertising copy
  2. Advertorials / “native advertising”
  3. Annual reports
  4. Articles (such as guest posts or features for trade publications)
  5. Biographies of key figures in your company
  6. Books
  7. Blog posts
  8. Brochures
  9. Business letters
  10. Business plans
  11. Case studies
  12. Course materials (for the public or for internal use)
  13. Direct response / direct marketing copy
  14. E-books
  15. Email marketing copy
  16. Event invitations
  17. Fact sheets
  18. Flyers / posters (such as for event promotion)
  19. Grant writing
  20. Infographics
  21. Letters to the editor
  22. Marketing plans
  23. Media advisories
  24. Media kits / press kits
  25. Memos
  26. Newsletters
  27. Online media room / press room content
  28. Op-eds
  29. Packaging copy
  30. Portfolio copy (especially for independent contractors)
  31. Postcards
  32. PR plans
  33. Presentations
  34. Press releases / news releases
  35. Product descriptions
  36. Product manuals
  37. Proposals
  38. Reports – general (such as industry analysis)
  39. RFPs
  40. Sales letters
  41. Sales reports
  42. Scripts (for audio and video, such as PSAs or online videos)
  43. Slogans / taglines
  44. Spec sheets
  45. Speech writing
  46. Social media profiles
  47. Social media updates / posts
  48. Training manuals
  49. Website copy
  50. White papers

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.

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What’s Your Marketing Pet Peeve?

Posted by on Jun 17, 2014 in News & Announcements | 0 comments

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.

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.

  1. Visit BadMarketingBlog.com today to sign up for the email newsletter. Subscribers will have access to content that won’t be published on the blog, and only subscribers will have access to the free downloads I’m planning to release.
  2. If you have marketing or PR questions (such as questions about copywriting or managing your company blog), email them to me at jenn@badmarketingblog.com. I might use your question on the blog so others can learn from any feedback I’m able to offer. Include your name, company name, and website address if you want to be featured (or let me know in the email if you prefer to remain anonymous).
  3. You can also email your marketing and PR “pet peeves” to be featured in an archived collection of bad marketing advice, marketing-gone-wrong, and pet peeves from marketing and PR pros. Again, include your name, company name, and website address. The first two are required, though the website address is optional. If you’d like me to consider publishing your marketing pet peeve, please try to keep it to fewer than 50 words.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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