How to Keep an Eye on your Competition Online

Ask Mandy Q&A – How to Keep an Eye on your Competition Online

Ask Mandy is a weekly Q&A blog series. To ask your question about social media, please click here.
Don’t miss out on our weekly Q&A! You can subscribe to receive these via email here.

Competition. It’s what makes the world go ‘round. Without competition, you wouldn’t have many of the large companies we see today. Or a space program. Or the internet.

Healthy competition makes a better business owner, even if they fail.

The question posed to me this week was –

How do I keep a watch on my competition’s online activities?

Aside from sending a spy to work for them, there are several ways you can keep up with what your competition is doing online and in the process, learn more about your business.

1. Follow them everywhere.

I’m not talking about stalking, but like their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter or even circle them on Google Plus. If you follow their posts, you’ll likely see what they are planning and if you’re smart enough, figure out their strategy.

2. Add them to your Facebook “Pages to Watch.”

This is a neat little feature Facebook brought out a year or so ago. You can have your page list your competition’s page as a “Page to Watch.” The page will get a notification, but luckily, they will never know it’s you. Once you add them, you can see how their like are increasing (or decreasing), how their engagement levels are and even see their top posts.

3. Social Mentions

You can sign up for a really cool site, mention.com and have an alert anytime your competition is mentioned on the social web. They have free and paid plans. You can actually create an alert for more than just your competition – create you one yourself while you’re there.

4. Google Alerts

Love them or hate them, Google Alerts are a great way to keep up with how you and/or your competition is being mentioned online. You can receive daily notifications or weekly ones and it will tell you everywhere your (or your competition’s) name popped up online.

 

Once you are keeping an eye on your competition, start taking a look at your business.

Here’s what you can learn –

  • Are you effectively using CTAs (Calls-to-Action)? Is your competition using them and if so, what results do you see?
  • Are you posting content that resonates with your community or are you being too sales-y?
  • Is there something you are having more success with than your competition?
  • Do you see a continual increase in engagement and community?

I could go on and on, but you get the point. See what your competition is or isn’t doing will show you a lot about your business by how you are conducting your own.

So, share with me – what ways do you keep watch on your competition?

 

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3 Reasons You Need Social Advertising for Your Business

3 Reasons You Need Social Advertising for Your Business

Social advertising is becoming the new go-to for businesses of all sizes.  As more and more people use and rely on their smartphones and web browsers for information and ideas, businesses are having to adjust their online advertising plans and budgets.

Businesses have to be where their customers are and right now that’s online. Businesses cannot expect to put an ad out via traditional methods (TV, cable, print) and garner the results of old. While those types of ads do still work on occasion, the ways we advertise and share our messages have changed.

Times have changed and consumer’s shopping methods have evolved. They seek peer recommendations via social media. They search Google for whatever they happen to be seeking. They watch TV shows online (some homes do not have TVs anymore!). These consumers are continually seeking out answers. It is your responsibility to find these consumers and provide them the answers and opportunities.

Consider this –

  • According to Forbes, Internet advertising revenues have passed those of broadcast TV, $42.8 billion to $40.1 billion for the very first time.
  • The same Forbes article showed that Internet advertising dominated the overall advertising market share of all forms of a media.
  • The Newspaper Association of America (NAA) stated in Media Daily News, that total newspaper advertising revenues fell 6.5% to $23.57 billion, whereas digital advertising was up 1.5% to $3.42 billion.
  • TechCrunch reports that total Internet advertising spent will reach $121 billion in 2014.
  • Companies like Google have dominated the Internet ad space with search ads, but the rise of ad tech and social media (read: Facebook and Twitter) appears to be changing that tide. ZenithOptimedia predicts that by 2015 Internet display will overtake paid search at $74.4 billion versus $71.1 billion. (Source: TechCrunch)
  • According to a recent poll by Andoit Digital, 36 percent of millennials claimed digital ads are more effective at getting their attention while 28 percent claimed traditional and digital ads are equally effective.  (Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch)

The takeaway? Online/social/digital advertising (Internet ads) is growing – fast. It’s now larger than broadcast television advertising and it’s beating traditional print newspaper advertising. More money is being spent on this form of advertising and it’s more effective at getting and keeping the attention of a younger demographic.

Reason 1 You Need Social Advertising – You only reach a tiny percentage of your target audience organically.

Facebook organic reach is sitting at a whopping 2-3%. Some lucky ones (and they are rare) see anywhere from 10-30%.  That’s organically (meaning they see it naturally in their newsfeed without any promotion). If you have 2,000 fans, that means only 250-600 people are seeing it or 1,750-1,400 fans AREN’T seeing it.

Advertising via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn provides greater reach based on your budget. That means your promoted post will be seen by a larger percentage of your audience. Your contest will get more entries or you’ll see an increase in opt-ins.

Reason 2 – Without keeping yourself out there, people will forget about you.

My background is in advertising and one thing that is permanently branded in my brain is top of mind awareness. If you do not put yourself out there and stay out there, people will forget about you.

With social media, you can stay out there by being active, but that’s only within your community. Yes, compelling, interesting and quality content will keep them coming back, but every business owner hopes to grow, not stay stagnant. According to a stat from Social Media Today, 79% of marketers saw more quality leads from social media. That’s why you need to branch out and advertise, reach that new segment. You want to continually add new people to your community and advertising is the perfect avenue.

Reason 3 – More businesses are advertising online and will do so on a bigger scale – including your competitors.

Social advertising is almost required in social marketing now. If you want to keep up with your competitors, you have to devote some of your budget to advertising online. Take in these stats:

  • In 2013, Internet advertising expenditures surpassed newspaper ad spending for the first time. Internet ads now account for 21% of all advertising dollars, second only to television at 40%. (Ad Age)
  • There are over 1.5 million active Facebook advertisers. (DMR)
  • Over 1 million small-to-medium sized businesses are advertising on Facebook. (DMR)

These facts and figures make online advertising hard to ignore. It’s a sector that is only going to grow and if you are not already advertising online, you need to start – NOW. If you don’t, your competitor is going to beat you to the punch and you’ll spend your time playing catch up.

Are you already advertising online? If so, what platforms/areas are you using? Have you decreased your traditional advertising budget(s)?

Ask Mandy Q&A - Should I Advertise on Facebook?

Ask Mandy Q&A – Should I Advertise on Facebook?

Ask Mandy is a weekly Q&A blog series. To ask your question about social media, please click here.
Don’t miss out on our weekly Q&A! You can subscribe to receive these via email here.

Lately there has been a lot of chatter online about Facebook advertising:

  • Chatter about it not being worth it.
  • All you get are fake likes.
  • It’s just a scam by Facebook to make money.

So it only makes sense that the next question I received was –

Should I spend money to advertise on Facebook?

A video was posted earlier this year, called “Facebook Fraud.” The video creator talked about how his Facebook ads gained likes, but the likes were from foreign countries and it was essentially a waste of money because the engagement was zero. However, he failed to share his targeting options and the examples he used were over a year old. If you have kept up with anything pertaining to social advertising either here or elsewhere on the web, you will know that A LOT has changed in the past year. Facebook advertising specialist Jon Loomer published the best rebuttal to the video. You can read it here.

I’m here to tell you that yes, you should spend some money and advertise on Facebook.

Here are four simple reasons why:

With Facebook’s organic reach declining advertising keeps your message out there. 

Whether you promote a post or run an ad in the newsfeed, you are out there. However, use promoted posts carefully – if someones sees something too much in their feed, they will unlike or hide the page. I once saw a social media professional promote a post asking how everyone’s day went. Seriously?!?! You wasted money on THAT? That is an example of not using promoted posts carefully.

Facebook ads are more affordable than traditional advertising.

You can run a series of 10 ads roughly half the size of my quarter page ad in my local paper for $1,200.00. Yes, over one thousands dollars for a paper that has a circulation of 8,000. Doing the math I am paying $1,200.00 for 80,000 views, if everyone sees it. I can run a Facebook ad for 10% of the traditional ad cost and get roughly the same number of views. Of course, a lot depends on the targeting of the Facebook ad. Facebook ads are easier on your advertising budget, especially if you are a small business.

You can specifically target those with whom you want to do business.

No other advertising option out there, traditional or digital, can give you the targeting options Facebook can. This also controls the quality of any new fans.

You can track and see the results.

No other form of advertising will tell you exactly how many people saw your ad. Or clicked on the links. Or liked you because of it. Traditional advertising can guesstimate, but it’s rarely accurate (unless you have a coupon for them to bring in). It’s amazing to see the results of your ad and be able to measure the ROI of it.

Facebook advertising is definitely something to try if you have not already. You will see results.

If you do advertise, do you think it’s worth it?

 

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Content Marketing Speaks, But Are People Still Listening?

Content Marketing Speaks, But Are People Still Listening?

I don’t know about you, but I love going on road trips. My family of four just returned from 10 days of driving and visiting family and friends who live in other parts of the country. There’s nothing quite like lengthy road trips for spending a lot of time together in close quarters. When you’re spending so many hours together, you have the chance to really talk and listen to your travelling companions – whether you like it or not. You can try your best and tune out the chatter, but it’s not so easy when you’re stuck in a small area together with nothing else to do…except maybe sing along to the radio. Do you ever feel like you’re stuck in a small space and being forced to listen to the endless online content marketing chatter coming at you from all directions? If so, you’re not alone.

Content marketing proves to be one of the most effective ways for businesses to reach their potential and current clients. I see one major problem with content marketing, however – there is so much content currently available on the Internet, and more is being added all the time. As of July 10th, 2014, the Indexed Web contains at least 3.32 billion pages. I wrote an article for B Squared Online Media in April, 2014, and referenced the same source to find out how much content was available. Just a few short months ago, on April 12th, 2014, the number was at least 1.79 billion pages. Wow.

In other words, simply creating and sharing your content doesn’t mean that people are going to automatically listen to you. It’s just like sitting in the car together for hours on end…sometimes people are going to tune you out or simply lose interest. What to do? These are some ways your business can execute a content marketing strategy which encourages your audience to keep listening.

Answer the Questions Your Readers Are Asking

Mandy Edwards publishes a regular series, right here on this blog, titled, “Ask Mandy Q&A.” As part of this series, she encourages visitors to her website to submit their questions about social media, content marketing, blogging, etc. Mandy then tackles each question head-on and provides useful and relevant information for her readers in response.

A series such as Mandy’s carries a two-fold benefit for businesses that want to use this technique as part of their content marketing approach. For one thing, the blogger now has plenty of content to create relevant articles. Secondly, this type of open invitation allows readers to contribute directly their voices to the content, and helps them feel directly involved in the conversation. The more involved they feel, the more likely they are to tune in and keep listening to what your business is saying.

Include enticing visuals as a way to spice up your content marketing

By nature, most people are visual creatures. Incorporating captivating images and/or videos within your blog posts can make a significant difference to your reader.

Heidi Cohen recently wrote an article about the benefits of visual content marketing. In this article, she shares 5 facts, based on data from MDG Advertising, which help explain visual content’s success:

  • 94% more total views on average are attracted by content containing compelling images than content without images.
  • 67% of consumers consider clear, detailed images to be very important and carry even more weight than the product information, full description, and customer ratings.
  • 60% of consumers are more likely to consider or contact a business whose images appear in local search results.
  • 37% increase in engagement is experienced when Facebook posts include photographs. This is consistent with research by Dan Zarrella of Hubspot.
  • 14% increase in pageviews are seen when press releases contain a photograph. (They climb to 48% when both photographs and videos are included.)

Sounds like good reasons for using visuals, don’t you think?

Run a contest or offer cool giveaways

Who doesn’t like winning contests or getting something for free? Including contests in your content marketing strategy helps your business win, too. Depending on what type of contest you choose to run, you may see benefits such as the following:

  1. Increased traffic to your website
  2. More followers (and eyeballs) for your blog
  3. More social media exposure and “free” advertising for your business

Successful contests require a lot of planning and patience. They should be fun for your participants without being overly complicated. If you’re interested in learning more about running contests, Yael Grauer provides an excellent resource in her recent article for Vertical Response titled, “12 Tips to Running a Winning Social Media Contest.”

Over to you

Are you using these or other techniques to help make your content marketing speak so people will keep listening? I’d love to hear your thoughts…please feel free to leave a comment!

 

3 Important Things to Know When Making a Business Decision

3 Important Things to Know When Making Business Decisions

Hit snooze or not hit snooze? Coffee at home or coffee at Starbucks? Work late or take it home? …you get the picture. Choices are placed upon from the moment we wake up until the moment we go to bed at night.

The choices we make affect every part of our life – home, work, business, social, etc. I recently heard a great sermon about choices and found it very applicable to business. One bad business choice and you could end up in jail. One good choice and you could be like Warren Buffett.

When we make a choice for our business, it will affect more than one person. We have to be wise and use great caution.

There are three important things to know when making those crucial business decisions – wavering on any of them and you could end up down a path you didn’t intend to go down.

Know who you are and to whom you answer to.3 Important Things to Know When Making Business Decisions

The most successful people in business will be those who know who they are and what they will/won’t do. You have to know how you’ll react to certain situations and be prepared for them – and know what you will and won’t compromise on. We also have to keep in mind we answer to someone – it could be based on our religion, it could be your boss or business partner – it could even be your kids or bank account. Every choice we make affects more than just ourselves.

Example – recently I wrote an extremely personal post about losing clients. I am someone deeply rooted in my faith and know that that faith is what leads me on in my business. I know there’s a higher power looking out for me in what I do so I know when something doesn’t go right, I have to answer to that.

Knowing who you are a businessperson sets the tone for the way you conduct yourself and your business. People can tell a lot about a person based on the way they act.

Know what you stand for ahead of time.

Your character has a lot to do with what your stand for. There’s a country song by Aaron Tippin that says “you’ve got to stand for something – or you’ll fall for anything.” In today’s fast-paced business world this is so true. You have individuals and businesses coming at you from every angle – “Buy 10,000 Twitter followers for just $10!” “Yes, you can copy that person’s post and pass it off as your own!” “Let’s hack that website!” What you do in those situations says a lot about your character and the type of businessperson you are. If you already know ahead of time what you stand for and what you will and won’t do, it will make those decisions MUCH easier.

My Pastor quoted a college student he was mentoring and it really marked the point of this – [Tweet ““Today’s compromise becomes tomorrow’s standard.” – GSU Student and @johnwaters11”]

US Senator Dan Coats was quoted as saying, “Character cannot be summoned at the moment of crisis if it has been squandered by years of compromise and rationalization…Habit is the daily battleground of character.”

[Tweet “Habit is the daily battleground of character. – US Sen. Dan Coats”]

When you face difficult or questionable decisions/choices, what you do will already have been determined by the choices that led you there. What are your daily habits? Are they a reflection of who you are?

So, what do you stand for?

Know that it’s never wrong to do right.

Those who continually do right are the ones who see the most success. Albert Einstein once said that what is right is not always popular. Yes, you may lose a client or job over making the right choice, but you know what? Something better is on the horizon. Would you rather make the right choice and be able to sleep at night or compromise your beliefs/standards and know a stress you’ve never known?

In the business world, doing what’s right is very hard to do. We have temptations all around us – plagiarizing posts, buying fake communities to inflate numbers, just lying in general about being an expert when you just started yesterday. Don’t give in and compromise – you are never wrong when you do what’s right.

How do your choices affect what you do? What do you do when faced with a difficult/questionable decision?

 

I know this isn’t your typical social marketing post, but there are times when we have to work on ourselves and grow as business owners. If we are going to be successful in a field where there are literally millions of social media professionals, we need to do what we can to develop ourselves as business leaders and make ourselves stand out from those who are not in this for the right reasons.

What We Can Learn from Losing Clients

The Power of Hashtags

In our modern society, there is no denying that social media has become part of our lives.

Every day numerous posts are shared to increase connectivity and activity on various social media platforms. However, the most influential tool in the social media world is the hashtag. First used by Twitter, the hashtag has taken the world by storm, revolutionizing the way people connect and interact with each other.

The popularity of the hashtag accelerated so quickly, that other social media platforms hopped on the bandwagon. Instagram, Vine, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, and even Facebook have begun to recognize the hashtag.

As the world caught wind of trending hashtags and their power to persuade and influence the populations, television networks formed profiles on various platforms to use these hashtags to increase the interconnectivity of producers and consumers.  In doing so, the hashtag has allowed networks and television shows to interact with their watchers, as well as receive fast feedback on new campaigns. This has proven so successful that even commercials have integrated them into their advertising campaigns.

Jenn Hanford previously wrote about the power of hashtags on the blog, stating, they [hashtags] help conversations flow and stay on track at the same time. In these cases, the hashtag’s value is revealed by the number of participants. Savvy marketers are starting to recognize the increasing value beyond the symbol as their potential customers use hashtags in their purchasing decisions.”

Similarly, the sports world has exploded with the use of hashtags. So much so, that ESPN has been responsible for a plethora of trending hashtags, especially during major sporting events such as the Super Bowl, the World Cup, and the Olympics. This tool has given sports fans a way to interact with each other, even if they are miles away.

Other organizations and philanthropies are catching on to the hashtag trend and are seeking to reek its benefits. Though the hashtag is trending in many facets of social media, it will be a long time before this tool becomes a relic.

One of our former interns, Alex Carruth, wrote about the hashtag milestone and how people are incorporating it into their everyday lives. In fact, I was just at a wedding where guests were asked to use a certain hashtag if they posted their pictures on Instagram.

Alex also gave a good list of resources for hashtags:

How are you harnessing the power of hashtags with your marketing?

 

When Should I Post on Twitter?

Ask Mandy Q&A – When Should I Post on Twitter?

Ask Mandy is a weekly Q&A blog series. To ask your question about social media, please click here.
Don’t miss out on our weekly Q&A! You can subscribe to receive these via email here.

I love when I get asked questions about Twitter. It’s my absolute favorite platform and honestly, the one that’s brought me the most clients. However, when it comes to your Twitter strategy, it’s hard to tell what is the best time to post. They do not have a cool feature like Facebook where you can see when your community is online.

With this week’s question, I got to dig in and do some research –

What is the optimal time to post to Twitter?

First off, Twitter is a very fast-paced platform. I always joke you better buckle in and hold on. This is a platform that requires dedication – daily.

Here are some things to consider when using Twitter –

To answer the question, your optimal time depends on who your target audience is.

Some questions to ask to figure out your optimal time(s):

  • Who is your audience?
  • What time zone are they located in?
  • What is their occupation?
  • What percent is using Twitter via their mobile device?
  • Will you schedule tweets or post them in real-time?

See, optimal times vary for each business. If you are business in the United States that does most of their work for clients in Europe, then the optimal US times would not apply. You would need to research the optimal times for Europe. Likewise, if you are based in Europe but do business in Asia, you’d need to find their optimal times.

With social media, there’s no one general measure – it depends on many factors, the main one being your audience and their usage pattern. Moms use Twitter much differently than dads; college students are on a different times than the 50+ crowd. What works for Mary may not work for Martha.

There are some widely-used suggestions that you could try and apply to your audience’s time zone –

  • B2B brands get better engagement during the week.
  • B2C brands get better engagement on the weekends.
  • Most link clicks happen between 12pm and 6pm.
  • Mobile users are more likely to use Twitter during their commute times.

The most common piece of advice on the web, and I often give, is that it’s really trial and error. Try posting at certain times on week and then do another set the next week and compare the two. You and the response you get are really the only accurate measures you can get for your business (or your client).

If you are actively using Twitter, how do YOU know when you should post on Twitter?

Sources:

A Scientific Guide to Posting Tweets, Facebook Posts, Emails, and Blog Posts at the Best Time
10 Surprising New Twitter Stats to Help You Reach More Followers
When’s the Best Day & Time to Post on Social Media?
The Social Media Frequency Guide

Do YOU have a question about social media for businesses? Simply click here to ask!

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What Facebook's Organic Reach Decline Means to You

What Facebook’s Organic Reach Decline Means for You

Anyone who runs a Facebook page has either heard about the organic reach decline or has felt the effects of it firsthand.

For those of you who aren’t too familiar with advertising or reach on Facebook, there are two types: paid and organic. Paid reach is the total number of unique people who were shown your post as a result of paid advertisements. Organic reach is the total number of unique people who were shown your post through unpaid distribution.

Since Facebook is declining organic reach for pages, this means brand page posts are becoming less visible in fans newsfeeds. This translates to fewer interactions (clicks, ‘likes’, comments and shares). Facebook wants its brand pages to not only pay to have potential fans see their page, but now they want brands to pay for the content that shows up in fans newsfeeds.

Facebook claims that organic reach is declining because with more pages on Facebook, there’s more content competing to be seen in newsfeeds. The brands that want to get noticed by potential fans and users who already ‘like’ their page have to pay to be seen. Fortunately, Facebook advertising is not terribly expensive. Ads can be run for as little as $2/day and still get great results. Likewise Boosted Posts can be run for $5 or $10. Of course, the money you put behind an ad, the more people will see it.

In order to continue receiving a benefit from marketing on Facebook, marketers have to find a way around declining organic reach. There are three simple steps fans can take that drastically change how often they’re seeing a business’s posts –

  • They can encourage their fans to engage with their posts when they do see them. The more you interact, the more the brands posts come up in their newsfeeds.
  • They can let their fans know they can go directly to the businesses page, from the left-hand side toolbar, to see updates.
  • They can also advise their fans to subscribe to the page to receive notifications every time the business posts something new.

Marketers also have to go beyond the frequent untargeted posts, by publishing relative content to a specific target market. The goal is to get as much interaction on one post as possible. The more interaction from comments, ‘likes’ and shares on a post, the higher your chance of showing up in newsfeeds through organic reach.

As any Facebook user knows, the social media site is constantly changing. For marketers, this means that no marketing plan or advertising campaign is going to work forever. Just as Facebook is constantly changing, businesses have to constantly change in order to keep up.

What have you been doing to work around the decline?

Is Google Plus Worth My Time?

Ask Mandy Q&A – Is Google Plus Worth My Time?

Ask Mandy is a weekly Q&A blog series. To ask your question about social media, please click here.
Don’t miss out on our weekly Q&A! You can subscribe to receive these via email here.

To use Google Plus or not use Google Plus. That is the latest question.

Google Plus is one my favorite platforms to use. There is a wealth of information there, but many think it’s a ghost-town. This week’s Q&A question was simply,

Is Google Plus worth my time?

There is a great debate in the social marketing world about whether or not Google Plus is still of value. The platform was (slowly) trucking along until their main-guy left this past Spring. Soon after the “Google Plus is DEAD!” posts started to be published all around the web. It was like Chicken Little crying “the sky is falling!!”

Anyone who actively uses Google Plus knows that one, it’s not dead, and two, there is still a lot of value in using it.

My answer to the question above? Yes, Google Plus is worth your time.  Here’s why…

1. Content Curation

There are so many great, quality articles published on Google Plus everyday. For businesses using social media, two of my favorite people to follow for great content are Mike Allton and Rebekah Radice. I could give you many more names, but start with these two. I have found that Google Plus provides me a great opportunity to discover and share content. With the larger graphics and blog-like updates, the statuses on Google Plus are much more detailed and provide more value to the reader.

2. Quality Connections

Yes, you can make connections anywhere on any platform, but I’ve found I can develop more quality connections on Google Plus than on Facebook. There are people on Google Plus that I have followed on other platforms, but it’s here that we’ve really gotten into discussions and learned more about each others’ business. If you are using this for your business, this gives you the opportunity to really reach out to your community in a more detailed way. Added bonus – there’s not the drama there is on Facebook.

3. HOA (Hangouts on Air)

Google Plus’ Hangouts on Air are a great way to broadcast your business on the web. Imagine having your own TV show or video series. With HOA, you can make these private or public plus they are easily integrated into YouTube for later viewing. I’ve participated in a few and watched many and this is a great bonus to using Google Plus. Added bonus – you can have your name and logo along the bottom, just like on any of the news shows on TV (yes, I know this is simple, but it’s really cool).

4. Google Authorship

Despite the fact your picture does not show up in the search results anymore, Google Authorship is still important. Google Authorship links your original content with your Google Plus profile building your authorship within the search engine. This helps you build credibility as an author in Google. Anyone who blogs needs to have this set up. You can read more about Google Authorship here.

I highly suggest that everyone use Google Plus – it’s a great forum for these reasons and them some.

What do you think? Is it worth your time?

 

Do YOU have a question about social media for businesses? Simply click here to ask!

Don’t miss out on our weekly Q&A! You can subscribe to receive these via email here.

How One Guest Post Changed the Way I Write

How One Guest Post Changed the Way I Write

I always thought I was a good writer. I would get compliments on my style and lots of social shares. Praise makes a person feel good, right?

However that all changed when I got the awesome opportunity to write a blog post for Mark Schaefer and his {grow} blog.

Here’s what happened…

Mark keeps a high content standard for his blog. He has worked hard to build his community by consistently providing quality content.  Completely stoked when he told me in our consulting session I was welcome to submit an article, I went to work.

I picked a topic that is being buzzed about – being human in your business. I thought, easy peasy! WRONG.

The first draft submitted was sent back.

The second draft was also sent back along with a note to not be discouraged.

When the second draft was sent back, Mark was gracious to give me some pointers on how I could write it better. So I took a while between drafts two and three. Meeting such a high standard by someone who I have the utmost respect for was honestly a challenge. It made me question my writing ability. It made me question if I was truly writing fluff.  I was thisclose to just giving up on the whole thing. I then emailed a friend and colleague for some advice and she gave me some great feedback that I’m very grateful to have gotten.

I circled my wagons, re-read the emails Mark sent me and started over.

Third time was a charm. Talk about a sigh of relief! And to top it off, Ragan published it as well (with permission from {grow}).

So what did this experience teach me?

  • Cut the fluffy openings and get to the point. I tended to ramble in my article openings. That doesn’t provide value to the article. So cut it and get the point.
  • There should be more meat than vegetables in your articles. People are reading articles for value and expertise, not fluffy philosophical thoughts.
  • Don’t drag on with your points. Make the point rather taking a whole paragraph to explain it, unless 100% necessary.
  • An actual visual is sometimes better than an explanation of it. Use video or infographics to explain your point. Sometimes these are more entertaining.

The biggest lesson of all?

—–>Get to the point.<—–

Going back and reading some of my earlier articles I realized I took too long to get to the point. I am now making a concerted effort to cut the bull and get to it in my articles and holding myself to a higher standard of content.

I will be forever grateful to Mark for challenging me to do better. We should always challenge ourselves to do better. It is the only way we are going to grow in our business.

That being said, I am going to challenge you now – find a major blog you admire and make it a goal to have your article published on it. You will become a better writer because of it.

Click here to read the article I wrote for Mark 🙂

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