The Problem With Hero Action Beginnings for Business Blog Posts

Too organized for in medias res type business blog writing (that’s where you intrigue readers by going right to the conflict, then jump back to an earlier, quieter part of the story to deliver the information they need to understand the concepts)? Novelist Cheri Laser has at least three other suggestions for ways to begin a novel.  You might like to use what Laser calls a “hero action beginning” for your blog posts.

“In a hero action beginning, the hero is onstage, doing something active and interesting related to launching the core story,” explains Laser. For us Indianapolis freelance blog content writers, the equivalent would be a bold statement of what our business owner or professional client has to offer.

My friend and fellow blogger Thaddeus Rex lists “Four Ways STUFF has of Differentiating Itself”. A hero action beginning for a blog post might include one of those:

1. Features – your product or service can do something your competitors can’t (or yours does it better).
2. Location – your product/service is available someplace your competitors’ is not (or it’s more easily available)
3. Service – the buying experience you provide sets you apart
4. Cost – you’re the cheapest or the most expensive (exclusivity).

Of course, the secret, as Rex so rightly points out, is to really know your audience, so you know which of those things will be most likely to appeal.

When it comes to blogging (as compared to say, ads, billboards, or even brochures), the potential problem is that this sort of hero action beginning has a way of bordering on being a “boast session”. Fine to let online readers know about what you have and about the things you do, but keep this in mind:  It has to be about them!

In one recent issue of Speaker Magazine, authors offer tips to professional speakers who want to launch books they’ve written. “Don’t tell your prospects how great you are; tell them how great they will feel when the ideas in your book relieve the pain they’re experiencing.”

Hero action beginnings can be great as “grabbers” in business blog posts, with one proviso – remember that the real hero of any blog post had better be – the reader!

 

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Bad Business Bloggers of the World, Untie!

By his own description, Richard Lederer is a verbivore.  Fans refer to him as the “poster godfather of good grammar”.  Lederer is able to laugh about common grammar mistakes writers make. Myself, I have a harder time suppressing my anger, particularly when it comes to bad grammar and incorrect spelling sins committed by blog content writers.

True (as I’m fond of mentioning in corporate blogging training sessions) the language used in blogging can be - in fact should be - more conversational than the stuff you might find in a company’s brochures or on their website’s “About” page, so that, depending on the target audience, blog writers are OK bending grammar rules by a bit.

But, as Richard Lederer reminds us (albeit with a smile), some of the crimes committed against our precious English language are definitely not on the OK list. “Every time you make a typo,” Lederer writes, “the errorists win.”

Copyblogger’s Brian Clark explains that while bloggers try to write the way people speak, there are certain mistakes that detract from your credibility, including four mix-ups:

  • Your vs. You’re
  • It’s vs. Its
  • There vs. Their
  • Affect vs. Effect


Gini Dietrich on American Express’ Open Forum worries that creators of customer-target content’s worry about the grammar police (I proudly sport my badge) can create writer’s block. The most important thing, she says it to “get the writing out of you. It can always be fixed to perfection later.” Still, Dietrich says, if you can learn to avoid basic errors (she mentions Brian Clark’s items of your/you’re, they’re/there, then adds the total no-no “irregardless), you’re off to a good start.

HubSpots’s Ginny Soskey adds a few errors to the watch list, breaking the news that
 “alot” is simply not a word, and cautioning writers to use “who”, not “that” when referring to a person: “Ginny is a blogger who likes ice cream.”

Judging from the search results when I Google “grammar and spelling mistakes in blogging”, everybody seems to be conscious of the problem. Still, the more I keep reminding blog content writers in Indianapolis how important it is to be fastidious using our language, the more examples of sloppiness seem to stare me in the face whenever I surf.

“Bad spellers of the world, untie!” quips Richard Lederer.  Professional ghost bloggers of the world, unite!” is all I have to say! Are you going to stand there and let those errorists win?

 

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Taking Sides Against Yourself in Your Business Blog

“Your real life conflicts are full of riches to be mined for your fiction, observes Chitra Benerjee Divkaruni in Writer’s Digest.  You may find, though, Divdaruni points out, that you’re too close to the subject matter of your life’s battles to achieve the objectivity you need.

Objectivity is an issue in writing blogs as well. Sometimes, the “outside eye” of a professional blog writer can tell the story even better than the business owner herself. As fellow blogger Phil Steele suggests, business blog writing should be aimed at taking a bird’s-eye view of one’s industry, and only then relating back to one’s own business and its challenges and accomplishments.

Business coach Jack Klemeyer agrees.  Offering an explanation for the fact that top-notch sports pros hire coaches, he says “Coaches offer a bird’s eye view on whatever it is that is going on…A good coach can see things objectively without emotional connection to the situation.”

In an ideal corporate blogging situation, the very process of collaborating with a blog content writer will be one of self discovery for the business owner or practitioner.
 
“Try stepping into your adversary’s shoes with honest empathy, and you just might find the fresh perspective your story needs,” Sivkaruni advises novelists. I advise freelance blog writers in Indianapolis to include stories of their clients’ past mistakes and failures. Such stories have a humanizing effect, engaging readers and creating feelings of empathy and admiration for the business owners or professional practitioners who overcame not only adversity, but the effects of their own mistakes!

A good “ghost blogger” can do much more than “say it for you”, helping you “take sides against yourself” in your business blog! 

 

 

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Fireworks for Business Blogs

Hard to imagine Fourth of July celebrations without fireworks, but, until two weeks ago, I hadn’t known about the “biggest and best fireworks blog in the world”, Epic Fireworks.

The Epic Fireworks blog is big, all right, with literally hundreds of categories and thousands of blog posts. Since today is July 4th, I spent some time analyzing the Epic post titled “4th July or Independence Day”.

As a corporate blogging trainer, I give kudos to Epic blog author Paul Singh for incorporating:

Interesting facts:

  • “The oldest established July 4th celebrations which have continued without interruption have been held in Bristol, Rhode Island since 1777.”
  • “Macy’s Fireworks have been held since 1976.  In 2009, in recognition of the route taken by Henry Hudson in 1609, the fireworks were moved from their usual site over the East River to the Hudson.”

Online readers have a natural curiosity, particularly when you offer information related to a query they’ve already typed into a search bar.  That’s why little-known facts and statistics make for good business blog fodder. Important for bloggers to remember, though: use each tidbit as a jumping-off point to explain some unique aspect of your own products or service!

Illustrations and images:
Each fact on the Epic blog is attached to an image.
The main message of a blog is delivered in words, of course. Where visuals come in, whether they’re in the form of “clip art”, photos, graphs, charts, or even videos, is to add interest and evoke emotion.  People absorb information better when it is served up in more than one form.

Frequency:
I’d come upon the Epic blog just two weeks ago, June 23, to be exact. The latest post had been June 22; the ones before that were posted on June 20, June 17,and June 16.
Momentum in the online rankings race comes from frequency of posting blogs and from building up longevity by consistently posting content on the Web over long periods of time.
 
Navigation ease:
At the bottom of each blog page were two arrows, one leading to “older entries,” one to “newer entries”. The page had a search bar and a Calls to Action section allowing readers to buy Epic Fireworks online, subscribe the blog via RSS feed, or follow Epic on Twitter.
The point I want to stress to content writers in Indianapolis is simply this: The easier it is for searchers to navigate your site, the easier it will be for them to engage and transact.

Hard to imagine Fourth of July celebrations without fireworks.  Hard to imagine  a better model for newbie blog content writers to follow than Paul Singh’s fireworks blog!

 

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What Distinguishes Blogging From Other Social Media?

Came across a very useful blog post the other day, written by Jeremiah Owyang of Social Media and titled “Understanding the difference between Forums, Blogs, and Social Networks”.

As a freelance blog content writer and corporate blogging trainer, I agree with Owyang that there’s a lot of confusion out there about what distinguishes blogs from other social networking tools.

Backtrack a bit: Social media, as defined by ESCP Europe Business School marketing professor Andreas Marcus, consists of “a group of Internet-based applications that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.”

But, with so many platforms out there, it’s easy to get the tools mixed up, says Owyang. Forums, he explains, are like social mixers, where everyone mills about and discusses things with others. Social networks, in contrast, are like topic tables at a conference luncheon. People connect through common interests and share information.

Owyang compares blogs, on the other hand, to keynote speeches. (As a longtime member of the National Speakers Association, I can relate to that comparison.) The blogger is in control of the discussion, but allows questions and comments from the audience. Blogs, he adds, are journals often authored by one individual or by a team, used to talk with the marketplace.

Why do I find the Owyang blog post particularly informative for business owners and professional practitioners (and of course for us content writers telling their stories)?

 “It’s important to know the many different tools in your tool chest as every type of accessory fulfills a different need. Before you jump to tools, you should first understand who your community is, where they are, how they use social technologies, and most importantly, what they’re talking about.”

Yasmin Bendror of Marketing Matters sums up the topic in this potent paragraph:

 “It’s obvious that social media will continue to have a significant impact in 2014 on marketers and business owners: They now have the ability to reach out and communicate on a personal level with their target audience on a daily basis. This is a game changer for businesses engaging in marketing, sales, customer service and other business activities.

At Say It For You in Indianapolis, we couldn’t agree more!

 

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The Number One Ingredient for Successful Business Blogging

It’s not easy to be considered an expert - otherwise, we’d all be experts, observes Renee Quinn on IPWatchdog.com. Yet, for us Indianapolis blog content writers, one big goal of the writing we do for our business owner and professional practitioner clients is just that – positioning them as experts in the eyes of their clients and of online searchers.

To be positioned as an expert, Quinn says, you can either be excellent at a few things or OK at a long list of things, but generally not both. Once you’ve decided on one of those two paths, never stop educating yourself in your area. Be confident in your knowledge, she advises, and stay active to show those who follow you what you’re passionate about. Needless to say, as a long-time business blogger and corporate blogging trainer, I was delighted at Quinn’s next piece of advice: Get writing! That’s a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your field.  “When you answer unasked questions, you are gaining credibility and building trust,” she adds.

“Discuss specific topics of interest and newsworthy topics in your industry that are current and carry a lot of interest with your field,” Quinn continues. “By doing so, you are giving people a sneak peak at your level of knowledge on each topic while also remaining relevant and current”.

Having decided to devote this week’s Say It For You blog posts to the topic of expertise, I was absolutely intrigued by this statement by Stan Smith of Pushing Social:  “…dozens of compelling tactics compete for your attention.  With all these options, it’s easy to forget that expertise is the #1 ingredient for a successful content marketing and blogging strategy. Without expertise, all of these topics are reduced to fancy magic tricks…”

Smith quotes one of my own favorite marketing gurus, Seth Godin: “Writing’s power of clarification is the main reason why he posts daily. Writing long-form content on popular topics in your niche will put your thinking on display and give your readers an opportunity to evaluate your expertise.”

No, it’s hardly easy to be considered an expert, hardly easy to be a blogger for business.  In fact, in the early years of my company Say It For You, I talked about the “drill sergeant discipline” needed by blog content writers and about the fact that the main key to business blogging success was going to be simply keeping on task.

 

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Running Money or Running the Business? Bloggers Run the Message!

This week’s Say It For You blog posts are inspired by concepts discussed at the most recent Financial Planning Association meeting. The PIMCO representative made a compelling statement: “At PIMCO, we have people dedicated to ‘running money’, and others dedicated to ‘running the business.’”  He went on to explain what he meant: One secret of PIMCO’s long-term success as a company lies in the fact that the people who manage the investment portfolios for clients are not expected to also “run the business” in terms of marketing, hiring, finance, advertising, etc.
 

Since I’m a trainer of freelance blog content writers, that statement resonated with me. Generally, I’ve found, entrepreneurs and professional practitioners don’t have a great deal of experience when it comes to writing blog posts. But, even more important is what Honkiat.com points out:”Unless you’re a writer by profession, having to write every day is unrealistic. You have a business to run.” That’s why John Jantsch of ducttapemarketing asserts that “Outsourcing content creation is an essential tactic, especially for small businesses.”

PIMCO, of course, is no small business, but a global investment giant. Unlike most of the small to midsize businesses and professional practices that make up our client list at Say It For You, PIMCO has the resources to have its own in-house marketing and content-writing departments.

The point the PIMCO rep was making is important, though. Taking care of the core functions of any business (in PIMCO’s case, “running the money”) needs to be separated from the function of customer acquisition, marketing, and client communication.
 
Hearing that PIMCO presentation at the FPA meeting, I recalled the time when I was just beginning my work as a professional blog writer in Indianapolis..Debates on the ethics of blogging for others often raged at networking meetings and seminars.  Meanwhile, of course, more and more companies were venturing into online marketing campaigns, viewing blog content writing as just another advertising and marketing function to be outsourced.

PIMCO has people dedicated to “running money” and others to “running the business”.  I like to think of our work as blog content creators as “running the message”!

 

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Things-You-Didn't-Know-About Blog Content: Don't Forget the WHY!

I like tidbits as well as the next gal.  In fact, I find, online readers have a natural curiosity, particularly when you offer information related to a query they’ve already typed into a search bar.  That’s why little-known facts and statistics make for good business blog fodder. Generous sharing of tidbits can help a business owner or professionals come across as keeping up with the latest trends and discoveries in her field.

It’s all good, this tidbit thing, but with a caveat.  It’s not good enough to keep serving up facts, even interesting ones. I thought about that as a worked my way through the latest issue of one of my favorite publications, Discover Magazine, coming across the article “20 Things You Didn’t Know About Animal Senses”. Molly Loomis has all sorts of interesting things to tell.  I learned, for example, that:

  • Alligator skin is extraordinarily sensitive to minute changes in vibration, which helps the creature locate prey
  • Elephants use seismic activity generated by their trunks and feet to communicate dangers and mating preferences
  • “Four-eyed fish” really have just two partitioned eyes, with the top half of each keeping watch for above-surface predators, and the bottom half watching for underwater enemies.
  • Up to 40% of a shark’s brain is devoted to the sense of smell.

Mind you, every one of the twenty tidbits covering that 8 ½ x 11” magazine page was interesting, and, no, I hadn’t known any of those facts about animal senses before. Yet, after I’d finished working my way through the material, I was still left with a “So what?” feeling.

In business blog content writing, tidbits can be valuable tools, but the big “IF” is whether the blog writer puts those tidbits into perspective and relates them to the central topic of the blog. A "triggering tidbit" is tied to explanations of the blogger’s own company's products, services, and culture.

Indianapolis blog content writers - in fact any freelance blog writers -  need never run out of ideas if they keep a collection of interesting tidbits of general information on hand. But then, I advise, use each tidbit as a jumping-off point to explain some unique aspect of your own products or service!

 

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Tying Blog Content to Top Topics

“To have a fair idea of what people are searching for online can make or break an online business,” says Ashish Paliwal. Even though today’s most searched topic won’t be what’s talked about tomorrow, he adds, knowing what’s popular definitely gives you an edge.

Sex (no surprise) has always topped the search popularity charts, with health, celebrities, and sports following close behind. Job searches, software and music have always been popular, Paliwal points out.  Of course “how-tos” (everything from becoming fit to killing oneself) have maintained top spots.

Getting personal is a huge element in the success of any SEO marketing blog. Sure, Indianapolis blog content writers must focus on personal anecdotes and on the personal values of the business owners and of the people delivering professional services. But, to give the blog that needed extra boost, the content should actually reflect and even allude to current happenings and concerns.

When we bloggers enter conversations that are trending at the time and tie our blog content to those current events, that serves the dual purpose of “playing off” already existing popular interest while possibly earning search engine “Brownie points” as well.

The tactic of using your business blog as a sort of “update center” on what’s happening is especially appropriate for businesses in industries undergoing changes - new legislation, new discoveries, new technological advances.  Real estate, mortgages, jobs, and life sciences are three areas that spring to mind, but no matter what the industry, keeping blog material relevant depends on staying current.

Keeping up may be the secret to moving up (in search engine rankings, that is), while offering real value to your existing clients and all those soon-to-be customers!

 

 

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Blogging the Specialness

“What makes No. 2 pencils so darn special?” ask the editors of Mental Floss: the Book, noting that “The No.2 is definitely No. 1 in the pencil market."

Answering the question of what makes ANY one product or service, ANY one business or professional practice special – well, that’s the job description for any freelance content writer of business blogs! In the case of the No. 2 pencil, the Mental Floss editors patiently explain, the medium weight graphite makes No. 2’s ideal for general writing.  (Harder pencils are used for drafting, softer for bowling scores).

As writers and researchers, we business bloggers are using own strengths to play to – and play up – the unique strengths of the business owner and professional clients who’ve hired us to give voice to their story. Make no mistake – it’s a challenge to stress “specialness” without engaging in two practices Indianapolis Business Journal’s Tim Altom calls PowerPoint “sins’: Too much, and Too Self Conscious.

As fizzle.co so aptly puts it, nothing is a bigger turn-off than a blatant sales pitch. Yet, if you have a business, as Corbett Barr points out, you have to sell products or services to earn revenue. But the best sales pitch, he says, is no pitch at all.  In fact, Barr explains, that’s what permission marketing (and blog content writing is a big component of permission marketing, along with search marketing and social media) is all about.

When you’re blogging, you’re talking to a friendly and interested audience about things that might help them (as opposed to forcing your message in front of people who are trying to avoid it), Barr continues. Let the useful and interesting information you offer to readers of your blog bring out the specialness of the product or service.

Did you know, Nicolas-Jacques Conte created the number system for pencils back in the eighteenth century?

 

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Blogging the Right Stuff to the Right Audience

“If your marketing is not getting enough people into the pool, you’ll find the problem is in one of three places.  You’ve either got the wrong STORY, the wrong STUFF, or the wrong AUDIENCE,” says my Rockstar friend and fellow blogger Thaddeus Rex.

Since blogging for business is all about telling and selling stuff, I found Rex’ list of “Four Ways STUFF has of Differentiating Itself” worth sharing with Indianapolis blog content writers:

  1. Features – your product or service can do something your competitors can’t (or yours does it better).
  2. Location – your product/service is available someplace your competitors’ is not (or it’s more easily available)
  3. Service – the buying experience you provide sets you apart
  4. Cost – you’re the cheapest or the most expensive (exclusivity).

(As a corporate blogging trainer, I need to repeat here that what you don’t want to do in any business blog post is “litanize”, meaning offer an extensive "boast session" of all the ways your stuff is better than their stuff.  In fact, this stuff-characteristic list is for your own use, your tool kit from which you’ll select just one item to emphasize out of all the things your have, do, and know how to do.)

The real secret, as Thaddeus Rex so rightly points out, is to know, really know, your audience. That way, you’ll know which “tools” out of your STUFF list will be most likely to appeal to that audience.
To achieve that outcome, advises blog consultant Mark White, “your knowledge (of your target audience) needs to influence every aspect of your blog, including:

  • What your blog looks like
  • The content of the blog
  • The style of writing
  • The length and frequency of posts
  • How you elicit comments and feedback

Your “water slide” (which is how Thaddeus Rex refers to the sales process) must take people where they want to go. “Otherwise you just generate work vetting leads that will never convert,” he cautions.

When you blog the right stuff to the right audience in the right way – magic happens!

 

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The "Really" Factor in Business Blog Content Writing

There must’ve been eighty of them – which magazine did I want to buy? Even after I’d ruled out knitting, motorsports, men’s health, motorsports and bridal fashion as topics, the choices were overwhelming.  And then I saw it - the one I had to have: TIME, its cover sporting the following absolutely irresistible question:    Who REALLY decides which flights get cancelled?

In training blog content writers, I like to compare searchers browsing the internet to people visiting a trade show.  People are walking around the exhibit hall on the lookout for a product or service that meets their needs. When they pass your "blog booth", you want them to find something that draws their interest.  That "something" is the title, promising fresh, engaging content in your post. Once you’ve caught their interest, you hope, you’ll have the opportunity to invite those customer to “come inside” to your website or to follow one of your Calls to Action.

Speaking of Calls to Action, it was essentially the word “really” on the TIME cover that “called” me to buy that very magazine as opposed to any of its 79+ neighbors on the display. Made me think about how we marketing blog writers could accomplish the same sort of results using the Really Factor.

The implied promise in the word “really” is that readers can expect to be given some “inside scoop”, stuff not everybody else is privy to. And if that information can be related to a recent news story, all the better. As a professional ghost blogger for business, I know that one way to ensure blog content is fresh is tying that content to current events. I also know that Indianapolis residents are not the only blog readers who've been enduring flight and travel delays due to "weather events" - the topic of flight delays is timely.

Like garlic or hot pepper in food, the Really Factor should be added to SEO marketing blogs  with a really light hand.  After all, we wouldn’t want to be accused of “crying ‘wolf’” in our every post. On the other hand, entering conversations that are “trending” at the time , tying our blog content to current events, now that’s a good habit to develop.  Really! 

 

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Leveraging Your Community in Blogging for Business

With this week’s Say It For You blog posts centered around marketing advice, I found a lot of value in Constant Contact’s Susan Solovic’s post “10 Ways to Market Your Small Business on a Shoestring Budget”.

Even though advertising can be expensive, Solovic cautions, it’s even more important, when times are tough, to keep your business brand front and center.  Customers have less money to spend, so when they do get ready to buy, you want to be at the top of their list.

Solovic goes on to offer a laundry list of ways to make that happen, including such tried-and-trues as networking, giving a speech, asking for referrals, and offering coupons. For me as a business blog marketer, though, the one piece of advice that stood out was “Leverage your community”.

“You don’t have to think big when it comes to your marketing efforts.  Think locally,” says Solovic. “What’s going on in your community?” Whether it’s sponsoring a local team or charitable event, she advises, “search for opportunities to get in front of local customers.

Getting personal is a huge element in the success of any SEO marketing blog. Indianapolis blog content writers must focus on personal anecdotes and on the personal values of the business owners and of the people delivering professional services. But, taking it further than that, the content should actually reflect and even allude to current community happenings and concerns.

When we bloggers enter conversations that are trending at the time and tie our blog content to current events, that serves the dual purpose of “playing off” already existing popular interest while possibly earning search engine “Brownie points” as well. Did we attend a performance or rally? How does what we heard and saw tie in with our own work in the community?

Marketing is all about leveraging your community, and blog marketing is really nothing more than “meeting” strangers and helping to turn those strangers into friends.  Blogging really is all about community!
 

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To Be An Olympian Business Blog Writer, You Gotta Have Sole

“Your chances of joining the Winter Games are about 1 in 35 million,” Mental Floss Magazine wants you to know.  What’s more, “training, genetics, and technique will only get you so far. To win a medal, you need the right kicks.”

Since “reading around” is one of the commandments I teach newbie Indianapolis blog content writers, and since Mental Floss is such an absolute embarrassment of riches in the trivia department, I can’t resist sharing two tips from the article “So You Want to Be an Olympian”:

1.  While you’ve but a smidgen of a chance of joining the Olympics, “you can swing the odds by picking a slightly more obscure sport.”

“In the strictest sense of the word, your competitors are striving towards the same goal as you. However, that doesn’t mean they’re targeting the exact same buyer persona as you are,” explains Tatiana Liubarets of writtent.com. Knowing our target market and focusing on our readers' specific needs helps us content writers swing the odds.

2.   You need the right “kicks, meaning the right tools. “The blades on speed skating boots are hinged at the toe and swing freely at the heel, generating the extra push skaters need. For short-track speed skating, the blades curve in the direction of the turn, making it easier to corner at high speeds, Luge competitors wear aerodynamic booties to keep their legs up and feet straight, while bobsledders were shoes studded with metal spikes for grip on the starting sprint.”

 ”Those that post blogs more frequently rank higher on Google or other search engines than those businesses that post only occasionally. Recent blogs rank higher than old content. But what's so important to understand is that the system values cumulative content. A business that has blogged for a year will rank higher than a competitor who's just begun to blog.”

When I posted those words a couple of years ago, it was two Google algorithm changes ago. “Today Google’s algorithms rely on more than 200 unique signals or clues that make it possible to guess what you might really be looking for. These signals include things like the terms on websites, the freshness of content, your region and PageRank,” explains copyblogger.com.

To be an Olympian business blogger, you’ve gotta have skill AND “sole”!
 

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Putting the Pow Into Your 2014 Business Blog Writing

For most business owners with blogs, “putting the pow back” into their writing isn’t their biggest problem.  It’s “putting the pow back” into the blogs themselves.  Their used-to-be blogs, that is. In fact, according to passle.net, only one in eight businesses can maintain an updated blog. In a survey of 525 small and medium sized businesses, most admitted to not having at least three new posts in the entire year 2013!

OK, so you’ve lapsed – no “pow” left, and you’re trying to stage a comeback. The worst thing you can do, says Karen Skidmore of candocanbe.com is apologize.  “Never highlight the fact,” she says, that you, quite frankly, haven’t been able to prioritize this all important, value added part of your business.”

Where’s the value-add? “In today’s internet-based society, your business has to have a powerful online presence in order to stand out among your competitors,” asserts Nicole Beachum in social mediatoday. Business blog content writing is the centerpiece for that online marketing initiative.

So what’s the problem in finding “pow”? In the Passle survey, 32% said they didn’t see the point, 27% said they didn’t have enough time, 24% said they couldn’t write very well, and 20% said they ran out of topics to write about.

Believe me, as a corporate blogging trainer, I’ve heard all those alibis. One obvious answer (one that, on the surface, might appear self-serving) is for businesses and professional practitioners to hire freelance blog content writers. But how in the world, you might reasonably ask, can we contract writers who are obviously not as knowledgeable in that particular field as the owner or practitioner, possibly do an effective job in conveying their message?

One client put it this way:  “My blogger helped me, a numbers guy, put into words what I know in my heart but couldn’t verbalize.”

A big part of successful blog content writing involves getting the “pow opening line” right. In SEO-conscious marketing blogs, of course, it may be the keyword phrases in the title that start the job of getting the blog found. To sustain the “pow” effect, present a question, a problem, a startling statistic, or a gutsy, challenging statement. “Pow” endings tie back to the openers, bringing the post full-circle.

Whether you as a business owner are doing the writing or collaborating with an Indianapolis blog content writer like me, make sure to put the “pow” back into your 2014 business blog writing!
 

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Business BlogHeadlines to Turn Heads

Possibly, there is one area in which your content is letting you down, suggests fellow blogger Chris Garrett of socialmediaexaminer.com, referring to the need to make business blog headlines more compelling.

The standard headline, Garrett explains, tends to fall into one of five categories:

  • News
  • Goals
  • Problems
  • How-to’s
  • Pure entertainment


But, to really get readers to stick around and read the blog post itself, he says, we need to hit readers’ emotional hot buttons.

That’s good advice, I believe, for both business owners and for us Indianapolis blog content writers. It’s passion, I’ve found, that cements the connection between our Say It For You clients and their potential clients and customers.

What techniques can be used for tugging at heartstrings?  Truth be told, some of copyblogger.com’s Brian Clark’s headline templates are a tad too “sales-ey” for my taste:

  • The “Give Me (short time period) and I’ll Give You (blank)” promises a strong benefit to be had by readers within a very short period.

  • The “If You Don’t (blank) Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later” plays on the fact that readers don’t like feeling excluded..:


Two others on Clark’s list of headline suggestions are more to my liking:   

  • Do You Recognize the (number) Early Warning Signs of (blank)?

  • Do You Make These Mistakes?


Putting things readers care about in jeopardy in an SEO marketing blog gives you the chance to demonstrate that you have the solution. By assuring searchers they’re not the only ones to find themselves in this predicament, you can show them you've solved these precise problems for customers and clients many times before.


Are headlines one area in which your content is letting you down?

 

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For Blog Content Writers, Pernickitiness Pays

“If you think proper punctuation is persnicketiness personified,” business humorist Todd Hunt is here to tell you why it’s not.

And, whether we Indianapolis blog content writers look back on our junior high English classes fondly or with horror, Hunt’s example of the power of punctuation packs a powerful punch. Hunt presents two versions of a “Dear John” letter. Both versions contain precisely the same word and in the same order. Only the punctuation has been changed to protect bloggers from making the mistake of becoming careless about our P’s and Q’s.

Letter version #1:

Dear John,

I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior.  You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart.  I can be forever happy – will you let me be yours?

Gloria



Letter version #2:

Dear John,

I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior.  You have ruined me. For other men I yearn. For you I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart I can be forever happy. Will you let me be? Yours.

Gloria



In today’s competitive business world, corporate blogging for business represents an ideal tool for “getting personal” and earning trust. As writers, we need to help our business owners express who and what they are, so that they come across as “real”. Being real, though, doesn’t mean being sloppy.  Most important, readers need to understand our message.

Hunt’s Dear John letters are a great reminder that, when it comes to punctuation, it’s worth being persnickety!

 

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The Ultimate Business Blogger's Crime is Often Committed by Accident

Speakers and blog content writers have an awful lot in common, I‘m constantly reminded as I read through my monthly copy of Speaker magazine. And talk about a grabber title! “How to Stay Out of Speaker Theft Jail”, this one read.

After a 30-year business career in sales and marketing, Kordell Norton, Certified Speaking Professional, was shocked when another veteran speaker implied that Kordell had stolen some of that other speaker’s material. (To his relief, Norton discovered he had not, but the scare inspired him to compile a list of practices to avoid in creating content.) As a corporate blogging trainer, I realized that list might very well apply to us blog writers.

Off limits:

  • Other people’s stories.
  • Other people’s taglines and phrases (Norton gives Zig Ziglar’s famous “See you at the top” as an example.)


“Build speaking around your own life experiences,” advises Norton. That’s perfect advice when writing blogs for a business or a professional practice. One very positive “side effect” is that the very process of formulating stories to tell your “public” helps you clarify the meaning of those stories for yourself and your employees.   

True stories about mistakes, ironically, are very humanizing. I teach freelance blog writers in Indianapolis to include stories of their clients’ past mistakes and failures. Such stories actually have the potential to create feelings of empathy and admiration for the business owners or who overcame not only adversity, but the effects of their own mistakes!

In what appears at first to be a stunning about-face, Kordell Norton goes on to recommend CASE, standing for “copy and steal everything.” You can, and should, he reminds us, steal great ideas from your environment." That’s on the line of the advice I always give about “reading around for your blog” and “curating” material. 

But the sort of “stealing” Norton’s talking about includes attribution, meaning giving credit where credit is due.  Check origins of work on the Internet, he cautions, and when in doubt, leave it out.

Quoting others in your blog adds value in and of itself – you’re aggregating resources for the benefit of your readers. Still, that’s hardly enough; as business blogging service providers, we need to add our own “spin” to the material based on our own business wisdom and expertise.

 

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Secrets Reality TV Show Producers Won't Tell You and Business Bloggers Will

“Reality TV is actually not, well…real,” observes Michelle Crouch in Reader’s Digest. While reality shows have no script in the traditional sense of the word, Crouch reveals, "We have writers who craft plot lines.” Interesting, I thought, reading Crouch’s “revelation” - while we professional blog content writers certainly think of our work as a craft, our goal is to convey reality, to communicate what a business or professional practice actually has to offer, not to wax inventive or inflate the facts.  

Inflating is a definite no-no when it comes to content creation for blogs, in terms of both quantity and quality:

  • Don’t overload any one blog post with words.  300-400 is a good portion-control rule of thumb, I teach newbie Indianapolis blog writers.
     
  • Don’t overload any one blog post with information. Select a central idea, one aspect of the business or practice, one product or service and focus on that, leaving other ideas for other posts.
     
  • Above all (and here’s where the article about unreality in “reality TV” comes into play), don’t use a business blog to inflate the description of what you (or your blogging client) have to offer.  Under-promise, then let client testimonials tell the story of how you (or the clients) over-deliver.


“We often take different clips and edit them together to sound like one conversation, sometimes drastically changing the meaning. It’s so common, we have a name for it: frankenbiting,” says Michelle Crouch.  As a corporate blogging trainer, all I have to say about that is “Don’t!

If we can’t win trust through blogging, well…that would be “unreal” (meant in the worst way)!
 

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Drop-Dead Blogging for Business

"Use 'hopefully' the way you use a gun.  If you don’t know how to handle it, leave it alone,” advises James W. Smith, Jr. of Writer’s Digest.  You wouldn’t say “Hopefully, you will die,”, he adds, even when you mean “It is hoped you will die”.  

Better to say “I hope you die,” says Smith. As I teach new blog content writers, using first person and second person pronouns adds power and personality to your blog. I teach Indianapolis blog writers they’ll be at their most effective when they are at their most personal. Even professional ghost bloggers, I explain, can write in “I” format when sharing a personal experience that brings out some important aspect of the client company’s products, services, or corporate culture.

But even “I hope you die” pales next to “Drop dead”, adds Smith. One rule that is of particular business blogging help is keeping sentences short. Short sentences have what I call “pow!” Not only can short sentences, particularly in titles, be more easily shared on social media sites, but focused content keeps readers’ attention on the message.

Brandon Royal, author of the Little Red Writing Book, calls really short sentences “naked”.  It’s not that he recommends making every sentence short (which would create a choppy style, he admits), but that short sentences add a dynamic touch to your writing.

Another way to achieve greater “pow”, according to James Smith, is to cut down on the adverbs. “Use stronger verbs,” he explains, “and you’ll find you don’t need the help of adverbs. That’s a great tip for bloggers. While it may be the keyword phrases in the title that start the job of getting your blog found, once the online visitor has actually landed, it takes a great opener to fan the flicker of interest into a flame. The shorter, more direct, and more personal that opener is, the more “flaming” is likely to happen.

Drop-dead sentences stand out in blog content writing!
 

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