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Why Have a Guest Blog?

Posted on : 01-11-2012 | By : admin | In : Blog, Writing Help for Businesses

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website ideas

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

Posted on : 25-10-2012 | By : admin | In : Blog, Writing Help for Businesses

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website ideas

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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How to Save Your Website

Posted on : 04-04-2012 | By : admin | In : Blog, Writing Help for Businesses

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website ideas

website ideas (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

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!

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

Posted on : 26-01-2012 | By : admin | In : Blog, Writing Help for Businesses

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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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How to Ensure that Your Message is Understood

Posted on : 18-05-2011 | By : admin | In : Blog, Writing Help for Businesses

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girl, writing

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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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Should You Start Your Own Home-Based Business?

Posted on : 11-05-2011 | By : admin | In : Blog

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Image Copyright David Hawgood

Many people have job uncertainty at the moment and the option of working from home begins to look more attractive. You can’t fire yourself and the prospect of giving yourself a disciplinary warning seems unlikely!

 

Joking aside, however, the decision to start your own business cannot be taken lightly. You would be well advised to look into the idea thoroughly before taking any steps to become self-employed. If you need the wage you earn to cover the costs of day to day living, then you will need to consider carefully what you need to live on and what you will need the business to make a month. You need to consider a pension, National Insurance and tax. The tax office in the UK requires you to register within three months of setting up in business. You will be responsible for finding your own customers and clients and you will need to keep your cashflow going.

If you are still reading this, undaunted, then you truly have got the bug and there may be no hope for you. Here are some of the things you will need to consider when setting up your own business:

Competition

Check out your competition. Is there a need for your kind of business and what are you going to do to compete with them?

Make That Sale

The hardest part of any business is getting the customers through the door or on the website. You will need to be your own sales person, so get used to talking on the phone, designing leaflets and buying business cards.

Get a Website and Your Own Domain Name

Having your own website is essential. It is best if the domain name describes what you do in some way although the more obvious names will be taken. Try to find a name that your customers will search for when they are looking for a business like yours. Bear in mind that a website is a long-term investment and that unless you employ an expert, you are likely to be blogging to yourself for a while.

Sell, Sell, Sell

After getting customers through the door, the hardest part is getting that sale. Make sure that your shop or website is bright and appealing. Don’t forget promotional offers can tempt customers to buy and make sure that it is as easy as possible for a customer to buy from you. A website should include big 360 degree pictures of products and accurate descriptions. Logical departments for products and a search facility can also help.

Get Feedback

Offer great customer service to keep your customers coming back for more. Ask for feedback and post reviews. Keep in touch with customers via a newsletter so that you can offer more promotions.

Keep Up-to-Date

Keep your website fresh and up to date. Don’t let yourself get in a rut. When you can afford it and the business is bringing a little money, hire a graphic designer and have some custom designs made so that you can build your brand.

Starting up a new business is an exciting decision. When the excitement dies down, make sure that you have thought everything through and planned thoroughly to ensure that you will be a successful business owner.

I have written some articles on this subject on Suite101:

Five Reasons to be a Home-Based Worker

How to Find a Home-Based Job

Five Qualities of a Successful Home-Based Worker

 

Photo Link

 

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Does the Google Panda Update Spell the End for Duplicate Content?

Posted on : 09-05-2011 | By : admin | In : Blog, SEO Help

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Google Logo officially released on May 2010

Image via Wikipedia

Remember the Google algorithm, now nicknamed ‘Panda’ which was rolled out in March to the USA and now last month to the rest of the world? The implementation of the algorithm has caused much interest in internet marketers and some consternation in the websites it has affected but now results are beginning to come in to show how much websites have been affected by the changes.

Changes Caused by the Update

If the USA version of the change had one effect, it instantly knocked back articles by Suite101 and Hubpages. These websites have traditionally been used by internet marketers to backlink to their websites to enable them to rise in the search engine rankings. The problem was that although these websites were moderated and edited, the articles on them went back to the beginnings of the website. There needed to be some changes and both websites have implemented stricter edits and have begun to delete older and perhaps less useful articles. The change did not affect all websites however such as Ehow which also contained a lot of content.

The version rolled out to the rest of the world showed that Google had listened. Ehow lost some of its traffic, but so did UK tech websites and price comparison websites. Ebay improved their ranking as did UK newspaper websites.

Improving Search Results

The stated aim of the update was to improve the Google search and eliminate duplicate content. For years internet marketers have suggested that the best way to get quick results have been to submit the same or very similar articles to article websites such as Ezine and Technorati in order to gain back links. The articles can be submitted for free and are allowed links. Members of these websites can copy these articles for their own use and therefore spread the links over the internet. The problem is that many of these articles are simply copied, spreading duplicate copy over the web.

Using these articles allowed website owners to populate their websites quickly with copy for the price of a link and it seemed a win-win situation. The problem occurs when a user searches for information and the same article on several different websites is returned.

Say No to Duplicate Content

Duplicate content has never been a good idea. There is so much rubbish out there on the internet that it can be hard to find the right information that you are looking for. Google is going to continue to update the algorithms and try to eliminate websites that it perceives as being nothing less than spam.

The message is clear: by all means add content to your website. Regular, relevant content added to a website will help it to rise in the search rankings but make sure that it is original and useful information in order to ensure that your website is not hit by further updates.

 

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Some Ideas for When Running a Small Business Gets Tough

Posted on : 05-05-2011 | By : admin | In : Blog

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Prince Andrew

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I loved the Royal Wedding last Friday. The family sat down together to enjoy the day. The bride was beautiful, the dress was gorgeous, the groom was handsome in his uniform and the bridesmaids were cute. The bride and groom appeared to thoroughly enjoy their day and the beginning of their new life together. Most of the people I know sat down and enjoyed the wedding as I did.

Starting a new business can be a little like a wedding.

It’s a lot of work, but you are looking forward to the end result. There’s the excitement of the new ideas that can come tumbling out barely fully formed, there’s the joy of the fun stuff like researching new products, designing new websites and perhaps looking for new premises. There’s the not so fun stuff such as visiting the banks and informing HMRC. Overall it is a time full of promise, full of adventure and full of trepidation.

Then you have to deal with the day to day stuff of running a business. In the service industry, you have to continually find new clients. On an e-commerce website you have to keep your search engine optimisation working as well as you can to bring clients to your website. If you have opened a high street shop, then you need your customers to come through the door. You have to keep your cashflow going and your overheads paid. The shine begins to wear off.

Before you know it, you are struggling to find clients, the website is failing to meet its targets and you are not ranking for any of your keywords in the Google top ten pages. Or you’re faced with a sink full of dirty dishes while your new husband goes off for a sulk over the way you cooked tea…! (It could happen)

What Can You Do?

What you do next will show the stuff you’re made of and whether you’re really cut out to be a business owner. You need to find a way through the slump times and discover a way to bring customers thronging to your door once again.

You can share your problem on the business forums and ask advice from some of the old hands there. You may be able to find a customer or two lurking there as well.

You may wish to read up on your problem. Subscribe to one or two recommended blogs and see what the experts suggest.

Linking and networking with like-minded people can bring help so that you can get your head clear and understand the steps you need to take to remedy the situation.

You may decide to hire somebody like a copywriter or a web designer to ensure that your content and your website are as fully optimised as they can be.

Proactively seek clients, especially if you are in a service industry. Go where your clients hang out and join in discussions. Post your availability and let people know that you are able to help.

Use social networking to increase your customer awareness. Tweet, update your status on Linked-In and keep your Facebook page up to date.

Use a promotional offer to encourage people to buy. Use leaflets to target customers.

Check that your e-commerce website is working as well as it can. Ask friends to check it out and follow up on their comments.

Try a website such wecandobiz.net which encourages networking.

Many of these ideas suggest asking others for help. It can be so encouraging to talk to someone who has gone through this before and is able to share their experience. It can be lonely to be a small business owner, particularly one that is a sole trader. By seeking others out and getting involved in communities then you can find a place to share your problems and also help others.

Don’t give up. Keep going and use every bit of your resources to keep your desire to work for yourself alive. Try and remember a little of the excitement of the first days to help you find the resources to get through these dark days. Every business has its ups and downs – that’s what keeps most of us interested.

Good luck.

Oh – and never burn the dinner when cooking for your new husband!

Have you had some difficulties with your business recently? Perhaps you have just come through a difficult patch or you are feeling low at the moment because things are not going the way you would like. Comment below for a sympathetic ear.

 

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Ten Tips to Help You Launch a Party Plan Business

Posted on : 26-04-2011 | By : admin | In : Blog

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Bringing a party plan business to a new country can be daunting. There’s lots of competition out there and starting from scratch to market your business and bring it to the attention of potential new consultants takes some work. Laying some ground work can really help to ensure that your business launches successfully.

Here are some top tips to launch a party plan business:

1, Have a great product. Make your products something that you yourself really like and can get enthusiastic about. They can be useful, ornamental or treats. Make sure that the products you are promoting are items that people will want to buy.

2, Get your website set up with a domain name that relates directly to the product that you are selling. You really want an url that reflects what your potential clients will be searching for.

3, Use all the free directories that you can in order to promote your company.

4. Link up to homeworking resource websites that can offer listings.

5. Decide on your target market and use Facebook ads to reach them. Set up a Facebook page and use social media too.

6. If your target market is Mums then try Mumsnet which has a thread on working from home

7. Don’t forget your local press can also be an invaluable source of advertising which needn’t be expensive

8. Use business forums to ask advice and find web designers and graphic designers if you have no recommendations

9. Use a copywriter to ensure that your web content is crystal clear and sparkling with your sales message

10. Include reviews by satisfied customers on your website to encourage others to get involved.

Party plan businesses can be very successful for both the people running them and the consultants that get involved. Keeping the structure simple can also be beneficial. There are plenty of different models available and it is worth doing your research and reading some reviews before deciding to get involved in this kind of business.

 

  • But where will I get my customers? … TheSuccessFactory.com (azhomeshowwomengroup.wordpress.com)
  • Tips on Starting a Party Planning Business (thinkup.waldenu.edu)
  • Mistakes Every New Online Business Owner Needs To Know When Launching Your Online Business (preciseinternetmarketing.com)
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Google Panda Comes to the UK

Posted on : 12-04-2011 | By : admin | In : Blog

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Google Logo officially released on May 2010

Image via Wikipedia

Google has rolled out its latest algorithm worldwide. The first introduction of this code change to the search engine had some far reaching effects on websites that had previously flourished under the Google regime. Websites such as Hubpages and Suite101 were affected but they are websites with many contributors and with volume, quality can go down.

The aim of the algorithm change was to increase the amount of quality information returned when a search is conducted. However computers are not foolproof and although some websites can be spotted easily when they are simply there to spam or make money, some are less obvious and therefore are more difficult for computer robots to pick out.

The Google team monitored opinions on the original release of the change and were pleased with the initial results. They seemed to feel that it was doing the job correctly. Website owners and web marketers will be monitoring their website statistics closely to check that it does not have an adverse affect on their results. If you are checking your own website statistics, then do take into account the seasonal changes and the weather. Good weather means that people are less likely to stay indoors and be working on their computers.

The algorithm was rolled out in the USA in March. Now it is here in the rest of the world. What will be the after affects? Only time will tell.

Have you noticed any unusual changes to your website stats recently? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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