I’m about to start blogging. What should I do?
Firstly, set goals. Your blog goals can be centred around number of views, posts, comments as well as growth in writing quality and experience. In addition to your goals it pays to be very clear why you are writing. The “why” will keep you motivated even when it seems like no one is reading your great work. Check out Simon Sinek’s Start with Why to discover your “why” factor.
Secondly, create a list of content/post ideas that you can tackle further down the track. Much like you might plan out writing a book, list the topics that you wish to cover. Write some content before you “go live” so you avoid the awkwardness of luring in readers with your first post but leaving them hanging with nowhere to go.
Here are eight blogging tips to get you started.
I’m not a great writer but can I blog anyway?
Technically, yes you can – anyone can and there are a plenty of horrendous writers with famous blogs. But if you’re intending to create a text heavy blog (as opposed to images or a vlog) I would cock an eyebrow and ask why you aren’t interested in being a great writer first and foremost? Your SEO will be disadvantaged with poor writing and your audience will give up on you if they don’t understand your message or you’re not doing the topic any justice.
Read: grammar for blogging.
I’ve been blogging for a few months, what should I do now?
Refer back to your goals. Are you on track? Do any of your goals need to be revised or shifted?
Conduct a thorough self review of the following areas:
Which is more important – writing or promoting your writing?
It’s certainly a delicate balance between the actual writing and promoting yourself. Unfortunately, (or fortunately) this is the double edged sword of being a writer these days. If you are interested in pursuing professional writing as a career, I would recommend that this is part of your learning experience. In short: do both if you can! But not at the sacrifice of your writing.
The best thing you can do is keep blogging – consistently and frequently. It’s something that will build over time, not an overnight thing.
How can I promote my blog on Twitter?
Although Twitter may not be the most effective tool for brands, it still hosts a lot of readers and writers. To really reel in the reader, you have to craft really short (less than 140 characters) lead lines that make people want to click on your link. This can be tricky but fun. Take a look at Why your business writing is probably crap.
If you want to tweet an annotated screenshot, read this article from the New York Times.
Make sure you know where your readership are. If you’re writing about building muscle and weight lifting, your audience are likely to be in topic specific Facebook groups or online forums. If you’re trying to connect to a more corporate audience, then Linkedin is your way forward. Find your target demographic here.
And importantly, don't forget to set up an email list and campaign to help promote your blog posts.
No one is reading my blog posts. Is blogging really worth it?
It depends on your goals and desired outcomes but almost invariably the answer is yes! Keep writing! Keep blogging and experimenting with promotion until you find the thing that work for you. Blogging, like any writing or micro business is a long term investment, so consistency and dedication are the key attributes that you can apply.
Here are some useful articles on building an audience:
Do I need to include pictures on my blog?
Yes! It helps with SEO and attracts eyes when promoting via your social media platforms.
Blog Tyrant sums it up really well below:
‘At a minimum, you want to be part of a quality stock photo site that allows you to use photos on your site with an attribution license. I use Dreamstime for any stock photos but an even better option is to take your own photos, make your own images, or have a professional do it – that really sets you apart from the rest.
Visual content has been growing for years and it appears to be speeding up, not slowing down. We now have retina display tablets and our smartphones are getting bigger. Social networking sites like Facebook and Google+ are favoring images and videos over text – never mind sites like Pinterest which are totally based around photos!’
Remember that using your own content and royalty free stock images prevent any copyright issues. Don’t pull a Marie Claire and share an image with proper attribution or permission!
Need more help? Check out How to start a blog here.
If you have a question not answered here, please feel free to pop it in the comments section below or leave a link to your blog so we can have a read!
The subject line is the first thing that people will see when it hits their inbox. According to Chadwick Martin Bailey, 64% of people say they open an email because of the subject line. Crafting the perfect subject line is an art form, a rewarding one, which can entice people to open the email and read the content. Your mission: to write an appealing subject line that will make people want to keep reading. The subject line is really worth investing time and energy into getting right. This is going to be the device that encourages people to open your email and read it (and then, hopefully, click on the call to action).
Most importantly, the subject line needs to indicate or foreshadow what is in the email and what the readers can expect to get out of it. Be sure not to misrepresent your email’s content. Much like a headline the subject line will need to have a great hook in it. Give specific reasons why someone should open the email (as that one hundred per cent the aim of a great subject line). Which sounds more specific?
The answer is 2. Number one is too vague and number three is too "salesy". Remember: it’s much more effective if you tell your readership what the email contains, rather than give them the “sell”.
Just like headlines, you might want to employ one of the psychological techniques in your subject line (as long as you adhere to the other success principles):
Although there has been some preliminary research into how many words affect the open rate of an email, there seems to be no consistent number of words that prove best practice when it comes to wheedling opens. An older study from Adestra suggests that subject lines fewer than ten characters long had an open rate of 58%.
This is more of a personal opinion than professional opinion but I detest the sight of an emoji in a subject line, no matter the industry or brand. It cheapens the look and detracts from the offer or information. This may not always be the case for your target demographic, however, so it is best to do some thorough research and understanding of your target demographic groups (my book has more details about those groups) to know how to directly speak to them. If you’re communicating B2B I would strongly recommend not using emojis in your subject lines or email body copy. World Emoji Day on 17 July might be the only exception to this rule.
Most email platforms have something called A/B split testing. This is the ability to send your email to your mailing list with two or three minor changes, so you can ascertain which gets more of a response. It’s worth your time to try A/B split testing for subject lines. Don’t just guess what people will respond to – test the waters! These test results will be useful for the next time you send out an email campaign and you’ll be able to see whether your email list responds better to questions or giveaways or rewards or whatever you decide to test!
Craft the language to be personal (not at the expense of professionalism though). You may also like to include the recipient’s name in the subject line. Mailchimp discovered that including your company name in the subject line increased open rates. For example, Jones the Writer really wants you to learn about this today…
So how many people should be opening your emails? How do you know if your subject lines are doing well? Although it is industry dependent, Mailchimp purports that between 15% and 29% of your entire mailing list opening your emails are standard. Check out where your industry lies here.
Here are a few industries that most of my audience fall within. These figures are up to date as at 1 February 2017.
Technically it is both correct if you capitalise the first letter of every word (known as title case) but my grammatical preference is to only capitalise the first letter of the first word (known as sentence case). I find it is easier read and promotes a flow that the eyes can follow easily. As with any great writing, avoid excessive capitalisation and overuse of syntax (keep the exclamation marks away). Read more about grammar for blog posts here.
In a nutshell
Keep the subject line copy very clear, medium to short in length, professional and as a precursor to what the email contains. As with most copywriting, it’s better to aim for brevity and clarity over and above being to creatively “clever”. Although it may seem a little on the conservative side, it’s better to opt for something that works.
'64% of people say they open an email because of the subject line.'
You may also like... How to get a heap more enews subscribers.
A copywriter is a professional writer that will write your marketing material (whether that be for your website, blog posts, brochures, social media marketing, enewsletters, media releases, adverts and a whole range of things). A copywriter is an expert in writing and will pen persuasive words in a way that is potent for your marketing plan.
Why hire a copywriter?
I’m going to be straight up here: almost everybody thinks they can write. This isn’t the truth. Let’s get real about this so you don’t do your business a disservice. An exceptional copywriter can position your business, services and products as memorable and leading the way, outshining your competitors and as something that people just MUST HAVE. With the art of the persuasive word, professionally written copy can increase sales.
The beauty of a copywriter is that they are able to step back from you and see the best in what you offer and know how to tell the world about it. Often, you can be too close to your own offerings to effectively describe what you do.
Copywriters are more than just writers. I come from a marketing background, so I know how to effectively promote something – whether it’s yoga classes, property or balsa wood – directly to your potential or existing customers, influence their decisions. I also have a genuine understanding of SEO, making you more easily discoverable online.
An awesome copywriter can make anything – and everything – sound thrilling.
Perhaps best of all, in my view, a copywriter will write with great grammar and spelling, giving you more credibility and readability. If the first contact new customers have with you is a poorly written website or Facebook page, how can they expect you to be professional when delivering your services? Go on – choose three websites at random and you will easily be able to tell which has been professionally written and which has been written in haste by the business owner.
Although this may not be the case for all copywriters (and is certainly not a requirement), I am also an award winning creative writer (having written many short stories, poems and a novel), so the art of storytelling is in my veins. And as customers become more and more saturated by content these days, they are craving authenticity and genuine storytelling. See also: how to keep your content crispy.
Most of what we are commissioned to write is written to sell. We believe in and live the “art of the sell” using only so much as our words.
When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it “creative”. I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product,’ David Ogilvy.
This may vary mildly depending on what you want written but the most likely process will go like this:
Then you can relax as I squirrel away for a time and work on the copy to the deadline we’ve agreed upon. This is the “go time” for me and where I spend hours researching, taking notes, writing and rewriting, proofreading and editing and maybe, just maybe, watching Netflix (some of my best ideas have come from television shows!)
You’ll be emailed the work (usually in a Word document) to review. I offer a revision with all quotes but I rarely, if ever, have to do it but I want you to know that the option is there because there’s no point with you being unhappy with the copy.
Then you can do whatever you need to do with the writing – upload it to your website, email merger, letterhead, social media platforms. It's then time to enjoy the benefits of meticulously crafted copy.
Now be honest, that was a lot less painful than you thought, right? Certainly a lot less painful than agonising for weeks or months over writing your homepage or blog posts. There we have it – the mysteries of working with a copywriter solved! If you have any more questions, drop a comment below or send me an email.
‘Let us prove to the world that good taste, good art, and good writing can be good selling,’ William Bernbach.
If you want to enhance the power of your written message, it's better to have great grammar and make it an easier read for your audience, whether you're writing web copy, content articles, emails or blog posts. Here’s a quick grammar guide for your content:
Grammar tip: bullet points
Bullet points are saved for when you want to list things. The trick with bullet points, when it comes to grammar, are that they should comprise a complete continuous sentence, so only the last point should end with a full stop and each point should begin with a lower case letter.
The start of the sentence (preceding your bullet points) should end with a colon. I've supplied you with an example for your reading pleasure.
I love writing blog posts on:
Do you need a proofreader?
Don't capitalise your title entirely and make sure you bold your sub headings. Read up on how to write great headlines here.
Italics are reserved for titles of things such as books, movies, art etc and NOT for emphasising words as commonly mistaken. Cities, towns, companies and people’s names don’t require italics as it’s more reserved for artworks, such as my favourite movie Great Expectations.
Grammar: quotation marks
I use single quotation marks for quoting someone or referencing speech. I use double quotation marks for words that require emphasis or a word that is a colloquialism or made up.
Doing the opposite of this is still technically correct grammar in Australia but a lot more people are erring towards the way above. As long as you are pedantically consistent, then you will be okay.
When it comes to grammar, numbers under ten should be written in full and numbers from ten above can be written as numerals. However, if you have a number below ten and one from ten upwards in the same sentence, they both need to be written in full. Because I prefer consistency, I tend to write all my numbers in full unless they are specific to a title or name of something. For example, 911.
Grammar: cleaning up formatting
If you are like me (and probably most of the world) and you create your blog content initially in some kind of word processor (such as Word), there is an important step you must commit to memory! When you cut and paste your text from Word into your blog, you need to remember to strip all the formatting that Word automatically creates because it messes with the magic of the internets. I’ll be honest here and say that I have no idea why and being a web coder is for people who are far more intelligent and patient than I am. All I know is that it is quite important. So make sure you press the button that usually has a T on it in your toolbar. Don’t forget that you’ll have to manually add the formatting (bold, italics etc) once you’ve pasted the content into the blog post. Or you can use this to clean up your formatting.