Tag Archives: business help

How to start using Twitter as a Freelance Writer

One of the main things about becoming a freelance writer is the need to network and connect with other writers and clients. How successful you are in connecting with people is partly dependant on getting to grips with social media and learning to use it to your advantage. Here are some tips on getting the most out of your social interactions.

Do you use Twitter?

Do you use Twitter personally? What is your attitude to meeting people through social media. It is easy to be wary and restrict interactions with friends when it comes to our own personal accounts, but the whole reason for using social media for our business means that we need to reach out to others that we will not necessarily know. You may need to change your mindset in order to use social media effectively.

Where do your clients hang out?

I can remember attending an interview for a builders’ merchants who were looking for a social media person to build up their Twitter accounts. I didn’t get this job, but I still wonder whether builders actually have time to hang out on Twitter and pick up their offers. Most businesses these days offer email, many send out newsletters and have a website, usually developed by a third party, but Twitter and Facebook are very personal choices that not everyone wants to use. Check whether potential clients that you want to contact are choosing to use the method of social media that you are planning to use.

Where do you begin?

Choose a username that reflects your business. All the social media make it very easy to set up an account and the hardest thing can sometimes be finding the right name that has not already been taken.

Set a profile picture and a cover picture too. Most social media accounts also give you the option to reach out to people from your contacts list, so that you have a ready-made list to start connecting with. It is best to set up your profile as fully as you can.

Write your first post and publish.

Check in with your account regularly and monitor the activity. There are tools available to help schedule posts to help save time, depending on the form of social media.

What to post?

Social media is great for promoting your blog posts, website, offers and promotions, or just for sharing an article that you found useful or news. Decide how often you want to post. Posts should never just be self-serving promotions but full of useful information for others. Keep in mind the people that you want to reach and what they might be interested in reading about, or the knowledge that they might like to acquire. When you post, include a link and an image if possible.

You can also share videos, podcasts and infographics. You can curate news to post, writing the headlines in your own words and including a link. This can be a useful way of posting more often. Keep it relevant to your business and make it useful to your clients.

Social interaction

The most important part of social media is the social bit! Each form of social media has its own way of interacting. Twitter allows likes, replies and retweets. Retweeting other people’s tweets is a good way to begin your interactions. Follow people and their tweets will show on your feed. Look for people and companies that align with the people you are trying to reach. Thank people for following you and use hashtags.

Hashtags enable your posts to be found by interested parties. The most popular hashtags will appear when you start to type a word after a hashtag. Choosing one of the more popular ones will help people find you. Post regularly and follow up when people try to contact you. Some companies set up automatic replies to people who follow them, to let them know that it is appreciated. This can be a good idea, but make it a thank you and possibly a freebie that you offer rather than a hard sell.

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Getting Feedback on Your Business

Photo on Flickr by Tambako the Jaguar

It can be good to talk to people about their opinions on how your business is doing. When we deal with customers, it is important to know that we are doing a good job and that our customers are happy with what they are receiving for their money. When you are first starting out, it is important to get feedback from a trusted source: someone in the same line of business, perhaps with more experience. This is valuable feedback that can help inform your business and what you decide to do.

Feedback from Peers

When we seek feedback, the response is usually thoughtful and helpful. However we can be given unsought feedback from peers and friends which seems to be more like unhelpful criticism.

Although your first response might be to get angry and be rude back, it is best to sit back and take stock of what has been said. You may need to separate the words from the manner in which they were delivered and consider them both separately. Some people do not come across well when delivering feedback. They feel awkward and struggle to find the right words to say. If this has been the case, then you know at least that the feedback has come from the heart and perhaps the words should be considered carefully. You can ask other people about the issues to try and confirm whether the first comments were correct or not.

However, occasionally you feel that the feedback can have ulterior motives: that the speaker wants to put you down for some reason. You might feel that they are jealous because you have a job that you can do from home, or your business is doing better than theirs – whatever the reason, the possibility is that the criticism stemmed from a desire to bring you down rather than build you up.

Answering Criticism

Hard as this can be to take, the correct response is to do nothing that will reveal how cross you are. You will need to calm down before responding to the criticism and then answer in a measured way. Don’t feel the need to justify yourself, but if you must answer their comments, then do it calmly and don’t let them know how much they have upset you. If possible, allow time to go by before responding. The best way to answer criticism is to allow time to prove them wrong and for you to be even more successful than you were before.

Feedback from Customers

Feedback from customers on how your company is doing is a positive thing and should be sought out wherever possible. Ask customers for references; provide feedback forms on your website and encourage them to use them. Post glowing praise on your website for other customers to see – with their permission of course!

You can use your company Facebook fan page to ask customers to give you feedback or you can pick up comments through Twitter. Some bigger companies are now monitoring Twitter chat so that they can improve bad experiences of customer service. However you do it, encourage your customers to engage with you and tell you their experiences good or bad. You need to know how your company is doing and your customers are the best-placed people to tell you.

Photo Credit: Photo on Flickr by Tambako the Jaguar

  • What Are You Doing To Engage Your Facebook Customers? Here Are 5 Tips You Can Do! (socialmediadudes.com)
  • Turn a Bad Customer Experience into a Good One (blogs.constantcontact.com)
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Using Apostrophes – its and it’s Part 3

Photo on Flickr by mag3737

In the first post on Apostrophes, we looked at using them with plurals and singular nouns to show possession. The second post looked at using apostrophes with contractions. This post will examine a simple little word, yet the apostrophe is often used wrongly in it.

Its or it’s?

Do you know which is which?

In this case, the answer is simple – disregard the possession rule. So if you have a sentence:

The dog lolled out its tongue.

This is correct. You do not need to put an apostrophe in because you do not need the apostrophe to show possession of ‘it’.

However:

I love going to Spain. It’s a great place to have a holiday – lots of swimming pools and sunshine.

In the case of this sentence, ‘it’s’ is actually a shortened form of ‘it is’ – a contraction. So you will need the apostrophe.

In short when deciding whether to use ‘its’ or ‘it’s’, you need to know whether the word is showing possession or if it is a contraction. Only use the apostrophe if a letter is missing.

Try these out just for good measure. Is the apostrophe right or wrong?

The horse was lame in one of its hind hooves.

It’s OK you don’t need to explain it to me.

The house was old and ramshackle: it’s whole outward appearance was one of neglect.

Its dangerous to go water-skiing when the red flags are out.

Did you get it right?

The horse was lame in one of its hind hooves. – CORRECT

It’s OK you don’t need to explain it to me. – CORRECT

The house was old and ramshackle: it’s whole outward appearance was one of neglect.  WRONG – NO MISSING LETTER.

Its dangerous to go water-skiing when the red flags are out.  WRONG – ‘ITS’ IN THIS CASE IS SHORT FOR ‘IT IS’ SO IT SHOULD BE ‘IT’S’

Using apostrophes can be easy once you know how. This concludes this series of posts on apostrophes.

Photo Credit: Photo on Flickr by mag3737

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Helpful Blog Posts

I read round the Internet avidly and every so often I come across some really great posts that I consider helpful. I am sharing them here today, knowing that someone else could find them useful too.

Guiletta Nardone wrote a fantastic guest post for Men with Pens about being bold and fearless in our business. In ‘Have You Discovered Your Fearless Why?‘, Guiletta explains her own thoughts process as she came to terms with marketing her design business.

If you are thinking of setting up a Facebook page, then Karen Gunton of Build a Little Biz explains what is and isn’t allowed. The rules can be quite strict regarding marketing using Facebook, so it is worth checking out before you begin. The cans and cannots of Facebook plus some dos and don’ts too is her sum up of previous articles so that the information is all in one place.

As Christmas approaches, the annual dilemma arrives – how to send clients Seasons’ Greetings. PS Jones in her Diary of a Mad Freelancer addresses how she copes with the problem in her post on Keeping in Touch with Freelance Clients with Holiday Cards. Well worth a read.

Jenn Mattern’s post on How to Make Better Decisions About Your Freelance Writing Career could actually apply to any small business owner. Jenn explains the steps you need to take to make your small business a successful small business.

Finally, the community of Enterprise Nation has been going for five years, but this year they have decided they are ripe for change. The community have been switched over to Bitsy where there will be the opportunity to sell your services (for a small fee) and join in the business conversations in both the forums and Twitter. The website has only just launched, but if it is anything like Enterprise Nation was, then it is going to be an invaluable website for small and medium businesses.

What blog articles have you found useful recently? Let me know if you like any of these.

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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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