Posts Categorised: Writing
How any business owner can write a blog?
If you want to write a blog you can buy a course, get some training, hire some professional guru or get some coaching. Personally, I would suggest coaching because you can get better results sooner. That is what I plan to do in this article. I will tell you what I tell all business owners who want to write a blog, but are not sure where to start.
First, come up with some good information to write about.
What to write in your blog
- Write about your Frequently Asked Question. What do people ask you about often? If you can’t think of any, visit a website of a competitor and find their FAQ’s. Don’t steal their information, but use their questions to get you started.
- Share some videos from Youtube or Vimeo. If you see a video that may be helpful to your customers share it on your blog. I suggest adding a few sentences with you expertise and opinions about why you are sharing.
- Share some news. There is always something happening in the business world today. Find relevant topics to talk about as they relate to your business. Then, add in your personality and tell why you think it is relevant and what your customer needs to do about it.
- Share some entertainment. No, I am not talking about the latest celebrity gossip, unless that is relevant to your business. I am talking about sharing things that are fun. Share a funny story that happened at work. Share a funny picture and tell what it reminds you of about your work. People love to laugh and if you can help them laugh, you will have a new friend. . .and possibly a new customer.
I hope you can see that you don’t have to write everything. Make your blog a collection of relevant information to your customer.
Let me give an example:
Let’s say Lacy runs a dog grooming business. She starts by writing about the technique she uses. She shares her experience about how she got into dog grooming and answers her top ten FAQ’s. She was able to come up with three months’ worth of blog content in one afternoon. She spends 20 minutes a week writing and uploading her blog. She even has time to add some really cute pictures to go with each posting.
The next month is busy for her, but takes ten minutes to upload four blog posts, one for each week. On one she shares a cute picture of a new puppy and congratulates the family on their addition. The next one she adds an encouraging quote for dog lovers. The next week she shares a news story about a lost dog being found. And the last one, she shares a single paragraph about her upcoming specials.
The next month she is back on track, she shares her thoughts on a new dog feeding system she saw at the store. She took a quick picture on her phone and used that on her blog. People are excited about it and she orders a bunch for her store and sells out in a few weeks all because of a regular blog posting schedule.
As you can see, there are a lot of things to write about, even for a simple subject like dog grooming. Imagine all the things you can write about for your business.
Quick Exercise: Pull out some sticky notes, index cards, scratch paper or a note pad and start writing down anything you can think about your business. Just put the topic or title in one sentence on each pieces. Write as many as you can for about twenty to thirty minutes. Even if you think you run out of idea, go to a search engine and search your business or industry. See what other people wrote about your topic. Use that as a spring board to write more topics. Before you know it you will have over 50 topics to write about. That is enough for a blog a week for an entire year!
Tips on Writing Your Blog
- Write like you talk. No one wants to read boring technical mumbo jumbo. People want to hear from real people. They want to hear stories. They want to hear how you can help them. Always write as if you are talking to your favorite customer in person.
- The more you write, the better you get. Your first blog posts may feel clunky at first, but keep at it. Eventually you will develop your writing voice and your blogs will be regularly read by your customers. The more your customers like what you post, the more they will share it. When they share it, their friends may become customers, who share it with their friends, who become customers . . . I think you get the point.
- If you don’t like to write, just talk. Record an audio or video of you talking about your topic and have someone transcribe it. There are services that will transcribe your video a dollar a minute (like the rev.com). It may be worth your time to have someone else type it up if you don’t type fast. You can even hire someone from a college, have a secretary type it up or ask your loving spouse to do it for you.
- If you must, hire a writer. You can use a writing service, a college student or a site like Upwork to get someone to write for you. I suggest that you read it for quality and verification and make sure you take time to view their writing before you hire anyone. Remember, they will be representing you and your business.
- Always keep ideas handy. Once you begin looking for ideas, you will see them everywhere. Have a single place to keep all of your idea. You can use electronic notes or programs like Evernote. Or you can just keep notepad or sticky notes handy. Whatever you do, write down any interesting information and you will always have something to blog about.
I have to admit it. I am a bit ADD. There are times where I just can’t focus. But even with that, I still find time to write a blog. Yes, I know we all have a business to run, but taking a few minutes each week, or once a month to share our expertise is imortant. People need and want your wisdom. Share it with the world and the world may just come knocking at your door.
If you need some personal coaching, I have limited availability, but I would love to help out. I bet we can get you started on the right path of blogging quickly and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. (Click here to learn more)
Attention Do It Yourselfers! I know a lot of us are DIY Entrepreneurs. When we get started, we have more sweat equity than money. If that is you, I have created an entire training for entrepreneurs teaching WordPress. I am offering it for a special price for a limited time, so jump on it quickly if you are interested. (Click here to see the course.)
PS: If you are a person of faith, you especially need your voice to be heard. Read this great article on Christian Business Revolution.
How to ask questions on social media
Asking questions should be easy, right? Then, why are so many people doing it wrong.
When I was working on my Master’s degree, I had to write a 30 page paper on how to ask the right questions. . . yes, you heard me, thirty pages! At first, I was not sure how I could do that, but then, I realized there is a lot more to asking questions than I thought. So, let me share a few tidbits that will help you ask the right questions on social media.
Avoid Yes/No Questions
I see many questions like: “Do you like chocolate ice cream?” There is nothing wrong with that question, but it does not engage your audience. A simple yes or know will suffice for the answer. You want your questions to create engagement.
Avoid One Word Answer Questions
“What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?” is a better question, but it still leads to a one word answer. If you are trying to create a survey or tallying up the favorite of some topic, this would be a great question, but for most of us, this would do little to entice people to answer.
Avoid ambiguous questions
Let’s continue our ice cream question. Some people think that adding a ‘why’ to the end of a question helps: “What is your favorite ice cream flavor and why?” That leaves too much open. Again, it asks for a one word response based on opinion, then follows with an opinion which could be answered, “It tastes good.” There is no reason to engage with that question.
Asking the RIGHT Questions
Engage the audience
Asking great questions on social media involves engaging your audience. If you have a reason to ask about flavors of ice cream, then make it a question that really entices the readers to respond. “Why do you think chocolate is the favorite flavor of ice cream in _______?” This is a why question that asks the reader to engage their brain and think about something. They can answer funny, serious, opinion and so forth. It gives them the freedom to allow their personality to come out.
The Power of “IF”
“If you created an ice cream flavor, what would be in it and would you call it?” “What if” questions allows the reader to put their own spin on things. Again, with social media, people want to show off their personalities. Asking ‘what if’ scenarios allows the readers to show off their personality and engage with your brand.
Open ended questions
The opposite of yes/no questions is open-ended questions. It allows the reader to answer on their terms. Using the word ‘what’ often gets you started for these questions. “What items go best with ice cream?” This questions engages your audience.
Ask for their experience
“What is your ice cream story?” Look at how broad that question is. Depending on your audience, it could work. People love to share their experiences. Other ways to relate to this question is: “What was your favorite experience with _________ ice cream?” See how that asks the audience about themselves? People love talking about their story.
Ask them to predict the future
I am not talking about prophecy here. I am asking you to engage your audience in thinking about the future of your topic or industry. There are some valuable insights that could be gained with the right question: “How would your life change if there was no more ice cream?” “If ice cream disappeared, what would you do?”
Asking questions is powerful. You may have noticed the word ‘engage’ was repeated throughout this article. Good questions engage your audience. You must know your audience, speak their language and ask the right questions. IF you do this, you will see your shares and your engagement on your social media increase tremendously.
Which tip are you going to put into practice this week?
Share your questions with us Youtube or GooglePlus. What did we leave out? What would you add to the list?
The ONE Video Your Business ABSOLUTELY NEEDS
Many people think that the one video they need to have for their business is a video on their main page. I don’t think so. The most valuable video you need to have is your story video. Your story video should be on your ABOUT page
Why an About page video is so powerful:
- When someone goes to your ABOUT page, they have a mental ‘buy in’ to who you are. New visitors want to know more about you than your business. They have taken the action to learn more about your, so reward them with an powerfully engaging video.
- The ABOUT page is the second most visited page on your site. (Check your stats and you will be amazed.)
- People connect to your story. People buy from people and they want to know the story behind what you do.
Your story video tells why you are in business and what drove you to create the value that you give to others. It is your passion and your past melded together into a wonderful story that connects potential customers to you.
When potential customers take the time to visit your About page and you blow them away with a powerful story, you will have a customer for life.
What do people want to see on your story video:
- Tell them about your struggles and why that drove you into your business.
- Tell them about the passion you have for your business.
- Tell them a funny story about how you got started.
- Tell them the person who inspired you to go into business.
- Tell them about your values and why it is important to you and your business.
This video should be between 2-5 minutes, but it can be longer if it is really engaging. Have some employees watch it to see what they think about the length. This will help them buy into your story and hopefully, they will be one of your biggest cheerleaders.
Creating a ‘Documentary Style’ Story Video
A documentary style video adds interest and keeps the ‘feel’ of the story moving forward. It is a powerful way of telling a story that goes beyond the story and into emotions of people who are watching. It is not hard to do, if you know some basic editing.
First, you want a good quality video. Keep in mind, this will take some editing, but most computers have the needed tools to do this. If you are not comfortable doing this for yourself, contact my business page and let’s set something up for you.
Quick Tips to get started:
- You want the words to be powerful: script it.
- You want the images to be engaging: photos and video should use good angles and lighting.
- You want the background to be accentuating: tell your story with your surroundings.
- You want the sound track to be relevant: audio should be clear with light music to accent the tone and feel of the video.
When creating a documentary style video, your first, ‘main’ shot, should be you talking directly into the camera. This should be the ‘complete story.’ You may shoot it in one, two or three sections: just keep the story moving forward.
I suggest writing a script, but do the video recording from memory. You don’t want it word for word from your script. You know your story. The script is just a guideline to make sure you include all that you want to include about your story. You want to talk to the camera like you are talking to a friend.
Then, you want to create a ‘B-roll.’ These are the videos and images that will go ‘on top of’ your main video. You may want a second camera to video you from the side while the main video is being recorded. You may want shots of you walking in a park, talking to people in your business, doing work at your desk…whatever is relevant to your story. (If you want to be fancy, you can create a storyboard based on your script and note video shots you want to include in your video.)
For example: Let’s say you are talking about how family is important to you. You are talking from your business office, and as you continue to talk, an image of you pushing one of your children on a swing fades onto the screen. The audio of you talking continues. Maybe, you want to be simpler and just show a picture from your desk is focused on showing you and your family.
I think that is a good quick understanding of how you can create your story video in a documentary style. If you want to know more, there are plenty of videos that can give you tips. I found some tips from another video professional here. Caution: if you do this video for yourself, make sure to get some feedback from people who will be honest with you. A poorly done video could hurt your business.
There are some training courses online you can pay for, but honestly it would be a better use of your money to pay for someone to help you create your documentary story. It will be more professional and save you a bunch of headaches. You can hire a college video student or you can hire a professional video company. Also, I have some basic video marketing training on a playlist.
I hope this helps.
If you create a story video, share it with me. If you have basic questions about creating your own video, ask me on on Youtube or GooglePlus. If enough people respond, we may create a training just for you!
Creating Meaningful Purpose
Everyone wants to have a deeper purpose to life. When we define that purpose, we begin to live in the reality of what we were created for. Imagine knowing exactly what you are supposed to be doing. Imagine knowing exactly why you are here on this earth. You can know these things if you look to the one who created you.
In business, there are many things that distract us. Sometimes we have to redirect our employees or our team. If you have a defined mission, values and purpose, your team will be strengthened. They will know where they need to goal. Howard Partridge says that leaders need to:
Effectively communicate a meaningful purpose that inspires.
Are you inspiring? Are you an effective communicator? Do you have meaningful purpose?
Mission is how we get where we are going. It is usually one sentence and defines what you are trying to accomplish each and every day. To define your mission, just ask yourself what do we deliver to our customers?
Your mission can be used to help make decisions. If your mission is to deliver great customer service and someone suggests a remodel of your waiting area, you know what to do.
Vision is what your business looks like. You define what kind of business you see for the future. It is a goal that you are striving towards. While mission may be ‘deliver valuable customer service’ your vision may expand that into quantifiable numbers. “Our vision is to deliver valuable customer service by having the best waiting area, attentive customer service ambassadors and the most polite workers in the industry.”
Values are standards we live by. Values help you live out your mission. These are principles that ring true in every department. You may think of things like integrity and outstanding customer service. Simple ask yourself, what do we really value?
You can find out what you value by the attitude of your workers. Look at what gets rewarded. Do your employees get a pat on the back for completing a task quicker than expected? You value speed. Do your employees get acknowledged for making customers happy? You value customer service. Do you encourage employees to have fun while they work? You value fun.
Purpose is the why behind what we do. Everything in business comes down to a single point: passion. Why do you do what you do? What drove you to create or become part of the business that you are in? There are motivating principles, but usually there is a story.
For instance, when I was younger, I wanted to be in business. I could not find anyone to mentor me, so I went at it alone. I found the struggles much harder and it took me longer to reach success. I decided that I wanted to give back and help other entrepreneurs. I wanted to help them with the help that I did not have. “Helping entrepreneurs’ is my why.
Creating a system is the goal. If you can define what we talked about on this blog, you can begin to lay the foundations to your system. Employees won’t have to call you for every decision if they know the values your company has.
When you create a system, you free yourself from your business and allow the business to grow. There is two ways of doing it. You can work ‘on’ your business. Or you can work ‘in’ your business. If you work on it, it runs when you are not there and you have a system in place.
Share your mission with us on Youtube or GooglePlus.
The power of pause for productivity
The power of pause is one of the most underutilized productivity hacks. I know it seems counterintuitive to pause when you are trying to be productive, but it will make all the difference in the world.
There is an old fable about a lumberjack competition between a young strapping lumberjack and an old grizzled lumber jack. Each was handed an ax, they stood up at ready and as the gun popped to release them to chop, something interesting happened. The older guy, stopped, sit down and sharpened his ax.
The young guy thought to himself, “I got this. I am surely going to win.” He would be wrong. The older guy not only finished quicker, but he had a better stack. It was more clean and consistent. The younger guy was worn out so much that the older guy went over to help him finish!
The older guy understood the value of sharpening the axe. He knew that his instrument works best when it is sharp. You most valuable tool is your brain. If you take time to rest, it allows your brain to do what it does best, synthesize information.
Trust me, I love productivity. I have a standing desk and a white board system to keep me on track. Productivity without reflectivity will burn you out. When you take time to reflect on what you are doing, you take time to power up the full resource of your brain. In essence, you are sharpening your ax.
Tips for sharpening your brain:
- Start by turning off electronics. Turn off the phone and don’t listen to music. It is important to let your brain relax and just take in what is around you.
- Take a walk in a natural setting: park, garden…something with lots of trees and nature.
- Take a scenic drive and let your mind wander.
- Take a bike ride around your neighborhood or park area.
- Go play on a playground, if there are no kids around. You don’t want to be creepy.
- Laugh. Watch a funny movie, comedian or youtube video. Give yourself permission to laugh.
- Go to church. Religion plays an important role in your values and beliefs. Prayer does wonders for stress.
- Take a nap. Science shows that 20 minutes is the ideal time for taking a refreshing nap.
- Spend some quality time, face to face, with a loved one. Just listen and let them talk. Your brain will smile and so will the other person.
There ya go. I give you permission to at least once a week take time to pause and sharpen your best tool. It will help you stay more focused, more centered, and more productive.
Share with us your favorite thing to do when you pause on our Youtube or GooglePlus.