Five Things to Keep in Mind when Composing a Guest Blog Title

With visitors taking even less time than usual to stop by a new website and look around, it is really important to offer a great title when writing a guest blog. You can have written the most informative article in the world but if the title does not instantly grab a reader, then there will not be many people willing to read on. The title has to be worth their while.

Here is The Creative Writer’s guide to writing a great guest blog title:

1. Make sure the title reflects the article content accurately. Try and be too clever and you might leave a reader puzzled as to how the title fitted in with the rest of the article. An article on the ‘Five best Toddler Drink Cups’ is expected to have something on drink cups in there somewhere.

2. Make sure the language is suitable for the audience that you want to attract. A title aimed at a teenage audience is very different from one aimed at the small business owner market. You want your blog post to be authoritative and to offer information that your readers need. You should therefore choose your language carefully.

3. Puns are out! Well, ok probably not out completely, but a bad pun can put people off reading an article. Puns are plays on words that make you groan rather than laugh. People who are groaning may not read on.

4. Don’t be too clever if you play on words. It is easy to get carried away by your own brilliance and leave your audience puzzled. Some plays on words work, others should be cut in the edit.

5. You won’t always get the perfect title straight away. Sometimes you need to work on it a little. Using numbers can help – ‘Five Ways to-‘ or ‘Ten Perfect Blog Titles’ but it’s not always essential. It is more important that your title reflects your article and that it will encourage visitors to your site to read on.

Sarah Charmley is a UK-based freelance writer who offers guest blogs as part of her services. To discuss your blog requirements either use the contact form or email sarahthecreativewriter(at) gmail.com.

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Why Have a Guest Blog?

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website ideas (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Guest blog posts are becoming more popular as the demand for website content grows. Introducing a blog to your website can help increase your traffic and bring more customers to your business, but maintaining a blog can be hard work. It can be difficult to constantly think of fresh ideas and easy to put off writing your blog until the last minute. One solution to this problem is to have a guest post.

There are two types of guest posting: one where people get in touch with you and offer to post. This is usually the case with a very popular website such as Copyblogger which is big in its own right. My comments on posts on Copyblogger rank higher in the search engines than my own website. If you are getting offers of guest posts, then my guess is that you have a highly ranked website in a popular topic.

More usually you might offer to swap blog posts with a friend in a similar field. You exchange like for like in return for links that might bring more traffic to your website. If you don’t have anyone that you think would offer suitable links, then there is a Blogger Link Up newsletter where you can post your guest blog requirements and see if there are any you could offer.

Then there is paid blogging where you hire someone to blog for you, usually if you really aren’t finding the time to write and keep your blog up to date.

Paying a blogger to write guest posts for your websites will give you a ready supply of blog posts to keep your website updated. A professional writer does this for a living: they are able to write new and engaging content that your readers can identify with. A good guest blogger will be able to write using a style similar to your own so that your readers feel that they are still getting the information from you, and of course, the final say over the content is yours. You need to feel that the post could have been written by you and that you can relate to the writing that you are posting.

A paid blogger is often writing in your name. Yours’ is the byline – they just happen to have written the words. It is happening more and more and if writing isn’t your strength, then it might just be the solution you need.

Guest blogs offer a painless way of bringing fresh content to your website and keeping it updated. Whether you accept guest blogs in return for links or money, they can offer a fresh perspective, a new voice and further opportunities to link up with other small business owners and increase your social network.

Sarah Charmley is a UK-based blogger who offers interesting blog posts for your website. If you would like to discuss your guest posting requirements with her, then please use the contact form or email sarahthecreativewriter(at) gmail.com.

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Five Good Reasons to Maintain Your Blog

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website ideas (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Many businesses consider having a blog an essential part of their website. Blogging offers a chance to connect with your customers and enable them to see a little of what you do. Blogging brings fresh content to your website and that is a good thing when it comes to search engines.

Deciding to have a blog is a regular commitment. How often you update it is up to you, but updating it regularly ensures that visitors to your website can see that you use your website and that you still have a valid business.

1. Adding fresh content to your blog ensures that your website stays fresh and current. Coming across a website which has not been updated since 2007 says ‘I don’t care’ or even ‘I’m no longer in business’.

2. Finding new subjects to write about helps to expand your own learning and enables you to keep up with trends and learn more about your own business. It will also help you keep your brain active and engaged in your business. You might even get some new ideas to help your business.

3. Putting up a new blog post gives you the opportunity to promote your website and your business using social media. Keeping in touch with customers through social media is becoming increasingly important. You want your business website to be well-known through social media, although spam is not a good idea.

4. You can use your blog post to promote special offers or to offer other promotions designed to increase business and encourage return customers. This can be a great way to use a blog post. Design it carefully so that links leading to products or services are visible and easily accessed.

5. Regularly updating your blog will help to reassure your customers that you are a trusted company for them to do business with. Trust is increasingly important on the Internet. A trusted company will bring more repeat customers.

Regular blogging can bring many benefits to you and your business website, so stop reading this post and go and get writing!

Sarah Charmley is a UK-based writer who offers blogging as a speciality. If you would like a carefully crafted blog post on a topic of your choice, use the contact form to get in touch or email sarahthecreativewriter (at) gmail.com.

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Back to the Basics of Your Business

I’ve been doing some decorating recently. Our living room or lounge needed a complete rethink and redecoration. The ceiling had some water damage from a previous leak but because asbestos had been discovered in a another room it was not considered the right thing to do to strip it out. We hired a plasterer to re-board over our lounge ceiling and put some new decorative coving round. It has been a great opportunity to discuss every piece of furniture and whether it will have a place in our newly decorated lounge. We are not finished yet – in fact we have only just begun.

Sometimes it can help to examine your business minutely – strip it back to the bare bones and see where it is that you intended to go. Look at your marketing – is it achieving all that you hoped or do you need to refresh and refine it and make sure that it is fit for purpose? What about your website? Does it carry out the right function in giving customers the information they need to make a sale? Think about the processes your business uses – do they work correctly and efficiently, enabling your business to make the most of selling to your customers and your customers to acquire all they need.

It’s been ten years since we moved into this current house. It was in good repair at the time and we saw no need to change what had been done – we just added touches of our own. Now the wallpaper is fading, the moisture marks have begun to annoy us and it was definitely time for a change.

Knowing that it’s time to look at your business afresh is not always an easy choice but it is worthwhile. Stopping to look again at the things you have taken for granted will enable you to ensure that your business remains a solvent business and one that can continue to grow.

Photo Credit: Office Repaint by Kelly K.

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How to Save Your Website

Have you ever done this?

Found a bright shiny website with whistles and bells, looking pretty and inviting.

So you decide to stay and look round. Then you discover that although it looks like it will be informative, the website content lacks something…you cast around for the word…what is it again? Oh yes, I know. It lacks INFORMATION!

Welcome by Claudio Matsuoka on Flickr CC
Welcome by Claudio Matsuoka on Flickr CC

The content is lacklustre and the information is badly written, poorly punctuated and there’s a few spelling mistakes for good measure. There are some keywords, but they seem to have been sprinkled liberally rather than used sparingly and in context. Perhaps the owner of the website has written it for themselves, or perhaps they have relied on a web developer to write it for them. After all everyone can write, can’t they? We all learn to write at school. It’s just a matter of stringing a few sentences together and bunging it up on a website.

What’s the result of this cobbled-together content?

Visitors don’t stay around. If you’re selling something, then they may not bother to see what it is. They may proceed to buy, but then they were going to anyway and if they’ve seen it cheaper on another website then they won’t bother. There’s no interest to keep them here, nothing to learn and no real information that they can use.

What lessons can you take from this as a business owner?

  • Bright shiny websites are all very well, but it’s the content that keep people around
  • Everyone might have learned to write at school, but only certain people have kept in practice
  • SEO is an art which is learned. Just adding keywords here and there will not do the job of carefully crafted content which has been optimised for SEO
  • The website has ten seconds to attract a visitor’s attention. Give them something interesting to read and keep them for longer

Talking to a copywriter can help save your website. Organise your information, create interesting content on relevant subjects and your website will instantly improve. Copywriters can create landing pages to entice visitors further, sales pages to help pitch your products and informative articles which can help to sell for you.

If your bright and shiny website also has sparkly and exciting content to match, then your website visitors are going to come back again and again.

Sarah Charmley is a freelance copywriter who specialises in making web content bright and shiny too. Contact her using the form for a personalised quote to save your website. 

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Improve Your Website: Update the Content

If one of your resolutions in 2012 is to raise the profile of your website, then have you considered updating or increasing the content to be found on your site?

Providing useful and informative articles are a good way to keep visitors clicking around your website and encouraging them to spend money with you. It also helps your website look fresh and new. You might want to update your ‘About’ pages, your portfolio or your business information if you provide a service. You may want to improve product descriptions and make them more imaginative.

It’s not enough just to have a large amount of articles and stuffing them with keywords does not make them interesting enough to keep your visitors interested in looking around your website. These articles have got to be the real deal – interesting and full of information on the subject that is your business. Choose an eye-catching headline that reflects the body of the article. If you have a long article, then break it up using relevant sub-headings so that it is easier to digest.

Laura of About: Marketing has written a blog post on this very subject. She knows the value of good content for any website. She enjoys writing and her articles are always useful.

But all this planning and writing takes time. You might have many calls on your time at the moment and the writing gets put off and left to one side – perhaps even left altogether.

Don’t underestimate the value of freshly written content and don’t put it off any longer. Why not outsource it to a copywriter? They are used to creating content that is rich in information, context and professional. Then you can get on with the million and one other jobs that are jostling for your attention. Using your resources effectively can help your business to really take off this year.

Know your strengths and if writing has never been one of them, then outsourcing that particular job might be the best decision you ever made.

Sarah Charmley is a freelance copywriter, editor and proofreader. For a copywriting quote that has been tailored to suit your business, email sarahthecreativewriter@gmail.com

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My Business Goals for 2012

English: An artist's depiction of the rat race...
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What is it about the New Year that makes it such a new start? September can seem to take on this role because of the children changing classes but it seems that January 1st is much more motivating every year.

It’s time to evaluate what you have been doing with your business in the previous year and what you want to do with it this year. The best way to do this is to write your goals down.

Although the past year has been reasonable, it could have been better. My first goal in 2012 is to find more regular clients rather than one-off clients. I hope to achieve this by targeting my markets better and offering regular services such as producing newsletters and writing blogs rather than just articles. I enjoy doing newsletters for various subjects and have the right software to produce a good proof as a PDF which is acceptable to most printers.

My second goal is to take some time for myself creatively. There are other markets that I would like to get into but to achieve this, I will need to put some time in on my own work so that I can polish my writing and bring it to the right standard. This may involve changing some of the things I do on my website, but not immediately.

My third goal is to ensure that a good work-life balance is struck for me. There have been some issues on the domestic front recently that may involve some decorating work which has the potential to affect my work time. I will need to find a way to balance this to ensure that work is regularly coming in.

And finally I would like to attend the occasional networking event this year so that I can make some face-to-face contacts.

How about you? What are your goals this year? Let’s check back in six months and see how they are going!

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How to Keep Your Business from Failing

It’s a scary thought – you came into business, excited at a new idea, buzzing with the possibilities that lay ahead and laughing in the face of failure.

Six, twelve or eighteen months on, the realities have hit: you have experienced the ups and downs of running a business: you have got to grips with accounts, day to day expenses, marketing, invoicing and perhaps stock flow. You have discovered the bad bits of running a business.

Of course it’s not all bad: sometimes your invoices will flow, your customers will pay you on time and you can enjoy being a small business owner and think that all’s right with the world. It seems to be the case, however that business can be feast or famine: either everyone wants your services or no one wants your services. There seems to be no steady flow of work.

First of all, you need to keep a steady head. Take an honest look at your business. What are the good and bad points? Where are problems arising and how are you dealing with them? Check the invoices, check the cash flow and check the customers that you are talking to. Are you doing all you can to keep your customers happy?

Once you have taken stock of your business, then think through what you need to do to improve the bad points. Do you need to increase your marketing? Do you need to set time aside regularly to chase up invoices? Do you need someone else on board to take on the little tasks that are filling your day when you have more important needs to take care of?

Decide on up to three points of action, write them down, pin them to the noticeboard and put them on the calendar then act on them. Do what needs to be done to keep your business afloat. Take the action you need to take and get your business back on track.

It’s your business. Whether it succeeds or fails depends on you alone. You can choose to take the steps to improve it and move it to the next level, or you can choose to let it fail. Sometimes events happen that are beyond our control and in that situation things change and there may be little you can do. Where you have it in your power to instill a change for the better, then do it.

Your business may thank you for it.

Sarah Charmley is a freelance copywriter, editor and proofreader who can use her skills to improve your website and give it that professional touch. You can get in touch with her by using the form on this website.

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What to Do with Your Business When Life Gets in the Way

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It’s been a while since I posted.

We’ve had Easter Holidays and a Royal Wedding in the UK. Then our family had a French student for a week, a week in Guernsey then two weeks of working frantically to catch a deadline or two. It’s been a busy time and this blog has suffered as a result. I have genuinely not found time to update it. So today’s post is all about what you can do when life gets in the way.

For me, I need a way to kick start my marketing again. The summer holidays are around the corner. The advantage of summer holidays is the lack of need to get out of bed too early to take the kids to school. The disadvantage is the fact that the kids are at home!

As a UK copywriter, working from home, I do need some semblance of peace and quiet. It is easy to get distracted from your work by the children. Finding some work-life balance can be even more difficult. Thankfully, my children are old enough to amuse themselves for a short while. I normally trade with them – a morning’s work for an afternoon of fun and we make sure we get out and enjoy ourselves. Any work that I do not complete in the morning I finish in the evening when the children are in bed and this seems to work for us.

After a long time when you have been snatching hours here and there to keep up with your business, it can be difficult to organise your thoughts and decide what to do first. A copywriter’s business is mainly marketing in order to find new and existing clients that need some work doing and it can be difficult to carry this out in bits and pieces.

I enjoyed reading this post by Laura Lake at About: Marketing today. I am subscribed to her newsletter and always enjoy her posts. She suggests a 90 day marketing plan to help keep you on track. This time period suits as it will take you through the summer holidays and out to the other side. Check it out and see what you think.

Could a 90 day marketing plan help you?

Do you have any tips to share about working at a small business during the summer holidays?

 

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How to Ensure that Your Message is Understood

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This week I have an extra teenager in the house: a French exchange student. She has been here for one night and is obviously finding the whole situation very strange as she does not speak a lot of English. There is a lot of laughter, a lot of pointing and many mispronounced words and she has gone off to school this morning, no doubt looking forward to sharing her experiences with her friends in her own tongue, but it got me thinking. How often do we make sure that our message is coming across clearly and succinctly? Or is our message misunderstood?

Naomi Dunsford of Itty Biz wrote a blog post last autumn. She suggested that small business owners needed to ensure that their customers knew what they were selling and that it was important that they check that they get their message across. This led to a post on this very website where I made sure that I explicitly explained what my message is and what services I offer.

Check the Message of Your Website

It can be a bit difficult to examine your own website and promotional literature subjectively, so you might wish to enlist the help of trusted friends. Ask them to look over your work and check it through while considering the following questions:

What is the message of this writing?

Is it clear from the writing what is being sold?

Can you easily find which company is selling the product on the information and can you find their contact details?

Do you have any questions about the product or service that have not yet been answered?

The answers may surprise you. Use their responses to inform your work when you next redesign the leaflet or website. Add information, make sure that the contact details are clear and ensure that your message is coming across loud and clear.

Writing Emails

Just as important as your website and promotional literature is how you come across when writing professional communications. I had a message from a potential client recently. He had been contacted by several copywriters after he posted about a job on a forum. He had chosen to answer me because some of the communications he had received from other people had contained spelling and grammatical errors. If you are a copywriter, then your work must always be proof-read and checked thoroughly. Even I let errors go occasionally, but I do my best to ensure that the work is as perfect as possible.

Emails can seem impersonal, brusque or even rude! If you have a tendency to write short emails, then it is best to have someone to check over them that you have got the tone right. There are probably more misunderstandings over emails than anything else. Don’t forget to use a spellchecker, but always read through yourself as well – spellcheckers do not pick up words that are spelled correctly but in the wrong place.

Pick your words with care, check that what you have written is as grammatically correct as you can make it and proof-read before sending out email will all help to ensure that your communications are professionally produced.

Make sure that your company is sending the right message to your customers to ensure that there is no misunderstanding about what you can offer them.

 

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