Author Archives: TheHyperteller

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5 simple business blog post ideas when you’re stuck for content

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Image credit: Wikimedia Commons User Gabriel VanHelsing

It’s your scheduled blog post day. But you can’t think of a single thing to write. It seems like you’ve used up all your creativity. Perhaps it’s the pressure, perhaps your mind is on other things. No matter how hard you try, no post is forthcoming.

What are you meant to do in that situation? The regular content needs to keep coming, and your following might be waiting patiently. Fear not. Here are five types of post that can be created quickly while still providing something of value to your readers.

Article Share

You probably already refer to other sources in your blog posts. An article share is where you simply point your readers in the direction of something they will find useful. Find an article that says something important about your industry and post the link on your blog along with an introductory paragraph. A five minute job that helps your readers find something new.

Share a laugh

Seen some funny tweets or cartoons that are relevant to your followers? Create a post sharing a few. Write a sentence or two about why you find each one particularly striking and why you shared it. Before you know it, you’ve got a whole blog post. Your followers will like it, because who doesn’t like a little humour about their industry (apart from undertakers)?

Start a debate

People love giving their opinions online. It’s why comment sections on blogs, articles, images and videos exist. Your followers have a lot to say if you give them the chance. Write a short post on a pertinent issue, and state that you want to get a debate going. Ask your readers to comment, or tweet you their thoughts. It can generate a lot of engagement. Not bad for a few minutes’ work.

Revisit an old post

A lot of the time things evolve and new information becomes available. This can make something written just six months ago seem out dated. Or even if it is still relevant, you might have thought of something more to say. In this case, you can use that post as the basis of a new one on the same topic. This is especially effective if you can pick a post that was very popular to begin with, as you can emulate its success.

Ask your followers

There’s nothing wrong with asking your followers what they want to hear about. In fact, there is a lot right with it. Asking them what your next blog should be about creates interest and engagement before it is even written. It gives them a stake in the content, and helps strengthen your relationship with your followers.

This isn’t a cheat sheet of ways to make it look like you’re trying. These are genuine ways of providing useful content that can be used to give value to your readers even when you don’t have the time or inspiration to write an extensive blog post.

You may find some of these are so well received that they become regular features on your blog.


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Is blogging networking or selling?

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HandshakeThere’s a lot of confusion surrounding the humble blog. What is it for? Where does it come from? Why haven’t I got a million followers?

The biggest confusion is often regarding the actual role of a blog. Getting this wrong can result in you developing, writing, and promoting a blog that won’t get you anywhere.

Some treat it like a sales engine, others like a social network. Which is it? The rather frustrating answer, for those looking for a quick fix, is ‘a subtle blend of both’.

Blogging to network

Posting interesting content about your industry, products, or the lifestyle of your customers will attract the kind of people you want to do business with. Advice on where to catch the best waves will draw in an audience of surfers – perfect for retailers of wetsuits.

Over time, more and more people will come to your blog. If you get your content right, you’ll build up a following of the kind of people you want to be doing business with. These people will spill over onto your Twitter and Facebook pages. So in this sense a blog is all about networking.

Blogging as a sales tool

Blogging is about generating leads and building your business. But to think of it as a sales tool is to approach it from the wrong angle. People who approach blogging (and Twitter, Facebook, etc) from the point of view of making sales are usually the ones doing it wrong.

Think about it this way – if lots of people are looking for information related to what you do, why shouldn’t they get it from you? If you have a big readership of surfers following your blog, some of them are bound to check out your products. Why would they think of going somewhere else?

Remember Sainsbury’s 4p curry sauce? How could they sell a product that lost them money? Answer: because for a curry you need meat, rice, and vegetables to go in that sauce. Before you know it, you’ve spent a lot more than 4p.

Blogging is that 4p curry sauce. You are investing time and effort in order to give something of value to your customers at little or no cost to them. In return, they will have a look around your store. After all, those surfers are going to have to get a wetsuit and board before they can ride the great waves you’ve told them about.

The take away message

Blogging makes your target market aware of who you are and what you do. Think of it as product placement. Tweet this.

Approach blogging like a networking event – aim to let people know about you rather than shouting about your products. Tweet this.

Blogging is no different from giving a presentation at a trade event: show people you know your stuff and they’ll buy from you. Tweet this.

 

Let’s do a bit of networking. Follow me on Twitter and we’ll have a chat.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons user Ltrig


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Is Clickbait Dead?

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Blogs and articles need snappy titles. That’s how you draw in readers. But there’s a difference between an interesting and attention-grabbing headline and a title that cheats you into clicking on a link under false pretences. The latter is called clickbait.

Don’t stare at this image for too long, it does something to your eyes. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons user Nevit.

Don’t stare at this image for too long, it does something to your eyes. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons user Nevit.

The idea is to present the most pedestrian of stories in a way that makes them sound far more shocking, controversial, or unbelievable than they really are. By the time people realise how uninteresting the story actually is it’s too late – they’ve already clicked. Examples could include:

You won’t believe what I found when I woke up on New Year’s Day (Article: It’s now 2015).

Or

This man proposed to his girlfriend. What happened a year later will leave you speechless. (Article: The couple got married).

It’s an annoying practice that irks readers and can lose you subscribers. In the great school of writing snappy titles, clickbait is akin to using the science labs to cook meth.

This article’s title is clickbait. Why? To illustrate a point. One of the most common formats for titles I see on LinkedIn and Twitter is ‘Is [insert popular successful marketing practice here] is dead‘.

It counts as clickbait because, just like with this article, the answer is never ‘Yes’. A title like that is more enticing than ‘New marketing practice is somewhat successful‘, that’s all.

What’s the take home message here? Have you ever heard the phrase ‘Don’t write a cheque your mouth can’t cash’? You have to deliver on your promises.

Don’t claim something will amaze people unless it’s genuinely incredible; don’t claim something is dying out just because it is a little bit less popular; don’t promise champagne and truffles if all you have is KitKats and a can of Sprite.

Great titles: take the most tantalising aspect of the story and present it in an intriguing way.

Clickbait: exaggerate the conclusion of the story to promise something the article can’t deliver.

For great clickbait article examples, follow Saved You A Click on Twitter. And while you’re at it, follow me.


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Blog now while it is still easy

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UnderwoodKeyboardWondering what to write about can stop a lot of would-be bloggers in their tracks. The harder you try to think of something, the more difficult it seems to be. This is especially true if you view blogging as merely something that really needs to be done. The other tasks queue up behind you, willing you to write something, and quick. It’s no wonder a lot of business owners don’t bother.

The good thing about a blog is that it can be patient when needed. It won’t dissolve if you leave it alone. It’s not going to disappear. You can come back to it when you like. You can come back to it when it is easy.

Now is one of those easy times

Tying into big events is one of the simplest ways of creating useful content that people want to read. It helps you think of ideas, too. And now, at the beginning of the year, everyone has something in common. So why not write a Happy New Year blog post? Wish your customers well, thank them for their support in 2014. Tell them about the exciting things you have planned for this year, and give them a sneak peek of the things they’ll get in return for following you.

Your New Year post doesn’t have to be based around resolutions, but it can be a good place to start. Give your readers a challenge, or set yourself one, and remind them to check back regularly to follow your progress.

The New Year is a time for hoping, for making promises, and generally feeling positive about the future. Surely your business has some plans, targets, or dreams for 2015? Translate those into a blog post, and beat that barren posting patch.


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What’s the difference between a proof read and a copyedit?

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When it comes to design, we all know there are terms we don’t understand. Kerning, litho-printing, iFrames, payment. Just what are these designers on about? Well copywriting is not without its terminology either.

With us at least it’s a lot easier to understand. Kerning is presumably how much something…kerns? Copyediting, on the other hand, is nice and straight forward. It’s where you edit copy. But what does that actually entail? And isn’t proof reading editing, too?

Understanding the role of a copyedit

Copyediting is the middle ground between proof reading and copywriting. It involves looking closely at the text and making structural changes – sometimes small, sometimes big – in order to improve the general readability of the piece. It could be as simple as changing the wording of a few sentences, or as complex as cutting out entire paragraphs, jiggling the order, switching prose to bullet points, or changing the language to Japanese (although probably not).

Where a proofread just takes out the obvious errors – spelling and grammar and so on – a copyedit is concerned with making the text as easy to read as possible. It ensures that your key messages aren’t being buried under poor sentence structure or useless information. It can transform 2,000 words of boring text into 500 words of killer copy.

A copy edit is a good way to strike a compromise between having a professional writer create your content whilst still having a strong input yourself. If you really can’t step back and let them do what they do best, this allows you to put your words on the page for the writer to transform into something that wins business, without losing your personality or voice.

Copyediting services also include proofreading, whilst copywriting services include a copyedit and a proof read.

There’s a contact form in the footer of this page. Why not scroll down and get in touch with me to have a chat about supercharging your marketing copy for maximum results?


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About to publish your new blog post? Stop!

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DSCI0198A blog is supposed to make your company look fun, sexy, and interesting. A lot of company blogs do the opposite, however. Grammar errors, indecipherable sentence structure, and bland text are all common. They drive customers away.

It happens because people don’t take a few minutes after finishing their blog post to run through some simple checks to make sure that it actually works.

Bookmark this page, and the next time you go to post your latest blog, make sure you’ve done all the things below first. Trust me, you’ll get better results because it.

Read it aloud

You’ll be amazed at the difference between reading aloud and reading in your head. Not only will you pick up errors you didn’t previously notice, you’ll also get a better understanding of your writing style. If you find yourself struggling, then maybe your sentence structure needs a bit more work. Common errors include overly long sentences, punctuation in the wrong places, and starting a sentence intending to make one point, but ending by making another. The problem with this is that your customers and then the aeroplane will crash. That’s an example.

Does your title titillate?

The title will be the first thing that most people will see of your blog post. Whether they are subscribed to receive updates, or they follow you on social media, they will see your title and decide whether to read your post based upon it. So does it do a good job of representing the post? Does it raise an issue, ask a question, suggest a solution, promise knowledge or new skills? In short is anyone actually going to want to read the post?

Have you started as you mean to go on?

Your first paragraph has to draw people through the rest of the post. Think of it as building momentum. At the beginning your audience is likely mildly interested (thanks to that title) but is largely unresponsive. They are a large heavy boulder and it’s your job to give them a push to start them rolling. Some social media previews of your blog post will also include the first few lines, making it even more important that your first paragraph is as enticing as a sign outside a shop which reads ‘free chocolate bar with every half price cake purchased’.

Will your audience be able to finish it before they die?

A common error is overly long blog posts. Gargantuan essays that run to thousands of words that are not only physically difficult to read, they’re all so mind numbingly dull. If you have a lot to say on a single topic, create a series of blog posts in which you break the issue down into easily explainable or debatable chunks. Or create an eBook. You can give it away for free as an incentive to collect email signups. Click here and download my content strategy guide as an example. The better you are as a writer, the longer a post you can get away with, because you will be able to keep the audience hooked throughout. However, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. At least if the problem is that it’s too short your audience is left wanting more.

Have you included a call to action?

And just as importantly is it varied? Personally, I think one of the things that can often put readers off is ending your blog post with the same call to action each time. You need to tell your readers to do something though, otherwise they won’t. Tell them to share your post, invite them to comment, or get them to email you their feedback. A potential customer who gets all the way to the end of one of your blog posts is someone you want to hold onto. Excluding the use of nets, tranquilliser darts, and electronic tagging, don’t let them get away.

What’s your pre-posting blog routine? Do you even have one? Let me know your process in the comment section or tweet me @TheHyperteller.


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Is social media the death of the website?

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Photo Credit: Kencf0618, Wikimedia Commons

There’s an emerging belief amongst certain social media gurus that websites are fast becoming obsolete. The opportunities offered by social media platforms – they claim – eclipse the need for a dedicated company domain.

But is this new belief a passing eccentricity to give self-proclaimed gurus something to say, or the beginning of a new development in internet marketing?

Social pros

With the vast range of platforms available to you – mostly for free – there are certainly plenty of opportunities to reach your target market and distribute your brand content to a range of different audiences. Different platforms give you different ways of isolating and engaging your target market: from LinkedIn’s groups to Twitter’s hashtags.

It’s true that social media has eclipsed the website in one way – in that the former has now become the default ‘must have’ for businesses. Ten years ago, your business had to have a website; now, you have to have social media, or so it seems.

Websites are now as obsolete as radio

Proclaiming the death of the website at the hands of social media has a certain ring of déjà vu to it. It happens with every new technology. Cinema was meant to kill radio, television was to be the end of cinema, CDs would make vinyl redundant…

It’s very easy to get overexcited by new technology and go around proclaiming it the best thing since sliced bread (which, incidentally, was surely invented at the same time as bread itself. Isn’t bread the more impressive invention of the two?). It is, after all, the role of every innovator and early adopter to sing the praise of their latest discovery.

Don’t delete your domain just yet

As with all marketing tactics, there are no absolutes. What you should do depends on what works best for your business. But there are a lot of questions that need to be answered regarding the loss of a website. You have to be confident you can communicate the benefits of your company and product in a few characters or sentences. You need to be sure your customers will find you before your competitors. You have to ensure you aren’t alienating significant portions of your target market who might not use social media, or who don’t want to use it for interacting with brands and companies.

It’ll take a few people to try it first before we know for sure. The rest of us will just have to sit in our comfy chairs and let time decide whether they were being savvy or rash.

Have you ever considered a social only policy? If not, why?

Photo Credit: Kencf0618, Wikimedia Commons


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Do you look for instant gratification from your marketing?

At a recent Hall For Cornwall networking event, John Harvey from 3B International gave a talk on networking and how it can grow your business. John has a very genuine approach to networking, and believes that spending time building relationships today will lead to more business tomorrow.

His ideas of attending a networking event solely with the aim of getting to know people might sit strangely with some business owners. The thought of going to an event that is all about getting new business, and not actively trying to get new business can seem rather uncomfortable.

In fact it’s an attitude that applies to pretty much all kinds of marketing. Some business owners believe that only channels which offer a direct return are effective. The number of Twitter accounts and Facebook pages, as well as blogs, which have been operated enthusiastically for a week or two before being left to contribute to the internet marketing graveyard is testimony to how many people see marketing is an instantaneous process.

Is your short-term focus losing you business?

Considering how fast paced today’s world it is, perhaps it’s not surprising that business owners occasionally believe in instant return from their marketing. Twitter is instantaneous, so why shouldn’t getting business on Twitter the instantaneous too? If the benefits of blogging include more customers, increased number of e-mail signups, more social media shares, and a higher number of website views, why don’t all those things appear the second the first blog is posted?

It’s a well-known business fact that people buy from people. Relationship, as John rightly said in his talk, is vital to entice people to buy. When you have a potential new client, you spend all the time you can building that relationship. You might travel to meet them several times, supply them with all the marketing literature they could want, and have detailed and in-depth phone and e-mail conversations, all to put their mind at ease and convince them that you are the person to do business with.

It’s exactly the same online. Blogging, as well as social media, allows you to do this on a large scale. Every one of your readers is a potential customer; a potential customer with whom you have a chance to develop a relationship through social media accounts and your writing.

Selling online is no different to selling in the real world. Your customers and clients have the same concerns and requirements. Where the difference comes in is the quantities. There are a huge number of potential clients out there, and blogging is your chance to attract them to your site, educate them about your business, and build a relationship. Yes, it takes time to get going. But so does a business. Blogging is an investment, just like any other aspect of your business. The businesses who are patient and committed to blogging are the ones who are enjoying the benefits. It is not a short-term solution, and the businesses to give up on it too soon are missing out on a world of potential.

Have you tried blogging? What are your experiences? Leave a comment and let me know.


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Tips for speed networking

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I went to an event organised by The Hub the other night. Apart from trying to catch a non-existent bus and nearly getting lost in the wilderness outside St Agnes, it was a great night. I met lots of friendly people, connected with some useful businesses, and took the opportunity to hand out some marketing materials for my upcoming novel while I had an audience who couldn’t run away.

And I must just take this moment to say a big thank you to Danielle, the lovely lady who stopped and offered me a lift. I never got your card in the end, so I can’t get in touch personally, so I hope you read this.

This wasn’t my first experience of speed networking, but it was the first time I have attended an event solely focused on this activity. During the course of the night, several things became clear to me. I’ve presented them below as tips.

1. Bring your business cards

It might seem obvious, but sometimes people forget. Plan far ahead if you know you’re going to be pressed for time getting to the event. This is especially unfortunate at speed networking, where you don’t have time for a full conversation. The whole idea is to get people interested so that they want to have a longer conversation at a later date. They can’t do this if they don’t have your contact details.

2. Practice your elevator pitch

As the name suggests, at speed networking you have a very short amount of time to converse. Therefore it is vital that you can pitch your business quickly. Make sure you know how to sum up your business in a couple of sentences; whilst still getting people interested. It’s useful at any networking event, but ten times more so when speed is key.

3. Expect to meet a competitor or two

It happens. Sometimes you’ll turn up and there will be someone else there doing what you do. Don’t panic – they might have a different specialisation or target market. The businesses in that room might be too small-fry for them, or too large, where they are just right for you. If anything, knowing you have a competitor in the room makes you work even harder to sell yourself more effectively, and that can’t be a bad thing.

4. Bring a pen

If someone is interested in you, they might invite you to call, email them portfolio samples, or catch up at another event. It’s worth making a note of this straight away on their business card before tucking it in your pocket. That way, you’ll see it when you go back through the night’s haul of cards looking for potential leads, collaborators and services. And to make notes, you need a pen. It’s still quicker (and less rude) than pulling out your phone and making a note on that.

5. Let people know you’re planning to follow them up

If you’ve had an interesting conversation with someone, let them know you’ll be emailing. They might even respond by inviting you to meet for coffee instead. At the very least, it’s a good way of letting them know to expect to hear from you. And if their email address is a generic ‘hello@’ or ‘info@’, letting them know you’re going to try and get in touch could mean they pass on instructions to whoever manages the generic account to forward on your email. And we all know how hard it is to get past the gatekeepers without help…

6. Keep going after the event is over before you lose your confidence

When the arranged speed networking part of the event is over, find someone you haven’t spoken to and talk to them. After half an hour to an hour of talking to 20 or so new people, you’ll probably have grown so used to it that it won’t seem intimidating anymore. Keep it up before your confidence deserts you and get round those people you didn’t have a chance to speak to.

Stay sharp, relax, and enjoy yourself. Networking allows you to meet plenty of fantastic people. Sometimes you might just find yourself having a good old chat, but that’s OK. It’s good to have friends in the business world, and you never know what they might end up passing your way.

Networking is always beneficial, so let’s do some now. Send me an email for a chat about your marketing content.


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Do you market your business like it’s a charity?

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Have you heard of Chuggers? It’s short for Charity Muggers, and refers to those people in town centres who try and bully or guilt you into donating money. While their dedication to a good cause is admirable, no one likes being unable to walk down the street without being pounced upon by a person with a clipboard.

(Once, five of them spread themselves out across the bottom of a street in Penzance so that it was impossible to get past without talking to one of them.)

What has this got to do with business, you might ask?

Are you trying to mug your customers with marketing?

A quick trip around Twitter or the internet in general reveals many companies marketing as though they are charities; Twitter accounts with nothing on them but ‘Read our latest blog post’, or ‘Check out our latest deals’; blogs that only talk about the service they provide; Facebook posts consisting entirely of links to their website.

People don’t respond to this type of marketing very well. The reason is that internet users are thinking about what they get out of the deal. It’s not selfish, it’s only logical. Why should they invest their time in visiting your website, or following you on Facebook? People want value, and following a Twitter account that constantly badgers them to check out your website doesn’t give them anything of value.

Can you spare five minutes, ma’am?

The reason this kind of marketing fails is because you are a business, not a charity. People expect charities to ask for favours – that’s the point. But very few people who don’t know you personally are going to ‘Like’ your Facebook page just to help you out. They need to get something back out of the arrangement.

Just as a good example; my author page on Facebook has 85 ‘Likes’, 50 of which are from friends, yet I have around 150 friends. I’m not bothered for a second that those 100 other friends haven’t ‘Liked’ my page. Clearly they don’t feel there’s anything in it for them, and if I can’t provide them with value, then I don’t want them to be following me. But it perfectly illustrates the fact that even friends won’t always ‘Like’ your Facebook page, or follow you on Twitter or WordPress. So why would complete strangers be more selfless?

Marketing is Christmas, not Birthdays

Think of marketing as Christmas – people give you presents, but you have to give them something back. You are both adding value to each other’s lives. However, many business approach marketing as though it is a birthday, in that they expect people to give them things, for nothing in return.

Learn to give your customers and followers value, and they will be far more likely to engage with you. Share great content that they will love, offer prizes or tips and insights, ask for their opinions and feedback. In other words, give them a reason to follow.

Because ‘We want you to buy stuff from us‘ isn’t a reason to follow.

Stuck for ideas? I can help with the creation of great blog articles, web content, and print marketing copy that excites and engages your target market. Send me an email now.


Provide top quality & value for your business or your clients at just £40 per hour.