Why Your Business Needs a Newsletter

Image on Flickr by Andrew Whitacre

It sounds like a lot of work. Collecting information, articles, even adverts together, formatting them together in an attractive format then, possibly the worst bit of all, printing and distributing them. Is there really any need for your business to have a newsletter?

I would suggest that it can be worth the effort for your business to have a newsletter and here’s why:

– It keeps your business in the forefront of your customers’ minds

– It can enable you to offer other companies you work with extra exposure

– It enables you to make special offers to your customers to encourage them to spend more money with you

– You can tempt your customers with new products.

– You can send an email newsletter rather than a paper one, avoiding the recycle bin and saving the planet!

– You collect details of your customers and know who they are.

There are lots of great reasons why a newsletter should be at the forefront of your mind. So how do you do it?

What Makes a Great Newsletter?

The elements of a great newsletter is great headlines, interesting and succinct articles and  graphics. You can include adverts for new products, news and information that is likely to be of interest to your customers and of course information on how to contact you should any of the offers be of interest to your customers.

There are some great publishing packages out there and if you are going to do it yourself, it might be worth investing in software that will help you set it out professionally. Being able to move graphics around easily and play around with the format can help the ease of putting the newsletter together.

Your newsletter can be as short as a page. If you are planning on printing a newsletter, bear in mind that for a folded format, you will need a minimum of four pages if there is not to be a large piece of blank space on it.

Fonts and Graphics

Make the font easily readable such as Arial. Times New Roman has also been traditionally used. At least 11 point will be easily read by most.

If you are printing, graphics quality is everything. Pictures do not come out so well on coloured paper and need to be as high a quality as possible. They also look good with a border to separate them from the text on the page.

Check Your Newsletter Well

Proof read everything thoroughly and preferably get a second pair of eyes to look over them to pick up mistakes you have missed. If your spelling and grammar is not as good as it could be, then use your publishing software hints to help you out and spell check the whole. Bear in mind that this will not pick up words spelled right but in the wrong place.

Make a commitment to getting out the newsletter weekly, fortnightly or monthly and stick to it. Make a commitment, block out some time to deal with it as appropriately. Get used to squirreling bits of information away for the newsletter and collect graphics.

Finally, if you really think it’s a great idea, but just don’t have the time, then hire a writer. Give them the information and ask them to format and produce it as a pdf or a printed book. Rates will depend on how much work will be involved in producing the newsletter.

If you wish to discuss starting a newsletter with me, then please check out my contact page.

Photo Link: Newspaper Icon

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Helpful Business Blogs

I haven’t written a ‘helpful blogs’ post for a while, and I’ve been enjoying some new heights of helpfulness since my last one. If you’re running a business, then here are some blogs you may find helpful.

Photo by crystaljingsr on Flickr

I love Enterprise Nation! It has a great forum for asking questions, daily helpful articles and a twitter meet-up every day around the watercooler at 11 am.Particularly if you are a UK business, then do check it out.

I found Enterprise Nation from Startup Donut. Again it has a help forum and is particularly useful for information and help for newly formed businesses.

Karen Gunton’s blog, Build a Little Biz is a new favourite of mine. It is great reading for new business owners, or even those just beginning on the Internet. She writes well for Mum entrepreneurs but her advice would suit anyone looking for more information on running a business online.

Freelance Switch is a great site for web developers and designers, but it also includes writers in the mix. The articles are regularly added and very helpful, it has a great cartoon strip and advertises jobs. Well worth a look.

I have only recently begun following Freelance Folder. It is similar in style to Freelance Switch which is a clean professional look. The articles are just as good with lots of helpful hints and tips for business owners.

Finally, if you are looking for either a creative job or for creative workers, try CrowdSpring. It is a simple website that posts projects for a set amount, allowing simply the best proposal to stand out. There are jobs for graphic or web design or for writers. Check it out if this sounds what you are looking for.

We all have different websites that we regularly visit and enjoy. Recommend your favourites in the comments below.

Photo Link: 3D People and Internet Symbol

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Are You Linked-In?

Copyright: Manan Tuli at Open Photo

Linked-In is a really great tool for networking and growing your business. I’m still exploring all it can do, but if you are hoping to get an online business up and running then it’s a great idea to join Linked-In.

I know lots of people who have heard of it, but many are doing nothing about it. It’s easy enough to get started, put up a profile and post a picture, but then what?

Well, I’m still answering that question! I am still fully exploring Linked-In and what it has to offer to me, but I know a woman who does!

Her name is Laura Espinosa and I learned about her through LaVonne Ellis’ site when she posted How to Generate a Warm and Fuzzy on Linked-In which was a great, thought-provoking post.

Laura is also taking part in the #Customer Love Challenge and promises to answer your questions on Linked-In on her website as part of it.

So, what are you waiting for?  There’s an expert who wants to give you her help on one of the most useful sites on the web!

Don’t forget to say I sent you!

Photo Link: All Eyes

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#Customer Love

www.thecompleteflake.com

In the spirit of the New School Year, New Start, I have joined the #Customer Love Campaign which was started by LaVonne Ellis of  The Complete Flake.

Basically this campaign is all about showing your customers or even people who just come by your site and read it much love! If you want to know how it all began, then check it out here.

I really like this idea. If it’s something that you would like to join, then go to the challenge page to declare your intentions.

This is a 28 day campaign and at the end of it, I plan to offer a free report probably on grammar and style usage. This is not completely decided, however, so do let me know in the comments if there is something else that you would like information on.

Much love!

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How to Hire a Freelance Writer

Photo on Flickr by Vitualis

You’ve got some writing jobs. They’ve been hanging round for a while  because you haven’t got round to them. Everytime you think about doing the jobs, you stare a blank piece of paper for a while then put it away and go and do something more productive. You need to hire a writer.

Where to begin? Writers are easy to find. Go on Elance or Guru and you will find a whole pile of writers ready and raring to go. How do you know which one to hire?

Perhaps you explore some blogs and find some people blogging about writing. You like their writing style and think it would be a good fit for your company. How do you approach them about writing for you? Some will make it easy for you to approach them, but others may not be so obvious. How do you know how much to offer to pay?

The first thing to do is decide your budget and plan out the job. It is best to know exactly what you want your freelance writer to do. Have an idea of how long the job will last too. Then decide on a rough idea of budget.

There are many different kinds of writers out there at varying levels and also from different countries. Consider what kind of English you will want your work written in. American English differs from UK English and Australian English. It depends on the audience you are trying to reach. Some writers will have English as a second language. Their writing may be better than that of native English speakers!

Decide how much the job is worth to you. Some company owners go for the cheapest option they can, but it is worth bearing in mind that you get what you pay for. If you offer a good wage then you can expect work to a certain standard.

Bidding Websites

Sites such as Elance and Guru are easy to set up and use. You will find varying standards of writing there and there are people always willing to offer under the odds, but ask yourself whether the hassle of dealing with rewrite after rewrite as the work is below standard is worth it. Some jobs attract a high number of bids. Discount the lowest. Check out the middle and higher ranges. Read their submissions carefully and check out their profiles. Does their writing flow easily and are they selling themselves well? If they can sell themselves then they can sell your product.

Awarding the job within Elance or Guru sets you up automatically with a contract and an Escrow account that protects both employer and freelance if you choose to use it. The money is only released when you are happy with what you have purchased.

What if you want to approach a writer direct?

Approaching a writer direct can be as simple as finding the contact form on the website. In some ways it is a much better way than using a bidding site

as you can set up a dialogue with the writer and see if you will get along. It is easier to work with someone who you feel comfortable dealing with. Ask about their rates and tell them as much about the project as you can to enable them to set a fair price. You are both free to negotiate if necessary.

Finding a freelance writer can seem daunting, but taking the time to find the right person can pay dividends. You might be at the start of a long working partnership which may prove to be beneficial to both.

And, yes, I am available to hire!!

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Why Hire a Writer?

Picture on Flickr by blupics

Writing comes easily to me and I enjoy it. I love the challenge of playing with words, getting the quick first draft down and letting my work flow. I enjoy reading through it afterwards, checking my work for errors and to ensure that it reads through easily and with meaning. I enjoy research and using it to write an informed article. Since I  began freelance writing, I have enjoyed ‘going to work’. (OK, OK. That should be switching on a laptop!)

I know that not everyone feels that way. Some people panic at the thought of writing a letter or an important email where they really want to get their point across. It is easy for your piece of writing to be misunderstood and even cause offence.

Bringing Your Business to the World Wide Web

These days, every small business wants to get on the Internet. It gives them a presence where customers can find them (I never use telephone directories now) and helps take their wares out to a wider audience. Often a website is enhanced by a blog.

There’s the problem. How do you find the subjects to blog about if you do not feel confident writing a letter? How do you find the time to blog when you barely have the time to do the other equally important activities your business requires?

Why Blog?

Blogging adds value to your site and gives information to your customers. It adds frequent useful information to your website which will encourage customers to visit your site and Google to lift it in the rankings.  Blogging is most effective when done regularly.

Blog about relevant subjects to your website. Encourage discussion. Visit other blogs and add relevant comments which can link back to your site. Brainstorm a lot of ideas and pick the best ones to use.

Hire a Writer

Hiring a writer to blog can be a cost-effective way of keeping a blog up-to-date. Writers are able to write easily and effectively and can post regular comments to your blog.

Finding the right writer to write for you will help you to create a great blog for your business, which will enhance your website content. A writer will create articles and blog posts which reflect your business. These in turn will help to inform your customers about your services and products.

Creating a Great Website

Using a writer to create content for your website also offers a professional finish. There should be no spelling errors, grammatical errors and the sentences should be constructed correctly. Clients read grammatically correct sentences without even noticing, but misplaced punctuation is soon noticed. Spell checkers do not pick up correctly spelled words in the wrong context, but writers do! (At least this one does!)

Finally, it is important to decide what kind of a price you put on offering a professionally run website. There are many kinds of writers out on the web who offer very cheap services, but they do not offer the professional touch that your business requires. Negotiating the right rate with the writer is very important. Expect to pay a good rate and you will receive an excellent service.

Hire a freelance writer as you would other employees, by contacting them, talking to them and asking to see samples of work. Ensure that they understand what is expected of them, communicating regularly with them and your business will benefit from the results.

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