All posts by jslagell

I have been writing for the Web since 2007. As a copywriter, I have provided SEO web content for more than 30 travel websites and written dozens of blog posts about social media, Internet trends and website design, as well as being the Content Editor for Coupon Claim.com. Not only do I provide web content, but I also manage several social media accounts that help businesses maintain a presence on the Web. In addition to SEO work, I am part of the creating and editing team with Creative for Kids, a children’s church curriculum company. When I am not at my computer, I enjoy cooking for my family as well as for large events/activities, scrapbooking, reading and visiting new places. I am also involved in a variety of activities at my church such as writing children’s Bible lessons based on themes or for specific topics, directing Vacation Bible School and volunteering as the Administrative Assistant to our Children’s Director.

It’s All in Your Perspective

Recently, I was watching a friend’s preschool age boys. The oldest one was sitting at the table snacking as I ate a plate of spaghetti. He asked what I had and – just to get his reaction – I answered, “pasta”. He grinned, then promptly told me, “No, it’s ‘sketti!”   We argued a few minutes before he finally shook his head at me and proceeded to eat his snack of mini cupcakes.

After a bit, I asked him if they were good cupcakes. He grinned, lifted his hand above the table then promptly smashed a cupcake. He then smirked and replied, “Nope, these are pancakes!”

What else could I do but chuckle? He had made a solid – if not somewhat messy- point. His snack definitely was more pancake than cupcake!

As I have thought about this incident, it has made me remember-again- that it really is our perspective on a job that makes the difference. Not everyone loves to write, or work with numbers, or design websites or manage social media. Depending on your interests and perspective, any one of these activities can feel like varying levels of work – or perhaps enjoyment.

Fortunately, we don’t all have to like the same things and can often hire out those tasks we find less than fun. Other times, we might have to simply look for ways to turn that basic “cupcake” into a unique -though perhaps messy -pancake. But, if we are able to find the joy in the activity, then that positive perspective can make even the most mundane job pleasurable.

As spring turns into summer and you find yourself looking for ways to make those long work days feel a bit less be sure to keep your outlook positive! It might not make the work disappear, but it will make getting the tasks accomplished more enjoyable. Of course, for those writing tasks or social media jobs that might seem impossible to face, why not talk to Write Away and learn how you can simplify your To Do list.

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone in 2018

So what goals have you set for your business for the upcoming year?

Whether it is building a larger client base, starting a newsletter, learning more about social media or perhaps adding a new service, there is always something to learn and explore. And one of the best parts about being a business owner is that you can take the chance and try them.

Of course, that can also be overwhelming and frightening, too. However, if you have set goals for the year ahead, then here are some things to keep in mind.

I wish I could say I was brilliant, and came up with these points on my own, but it’s only right to give credit where it’s due.  Hence, thanks to my pastor, Bud Wrenn – Integrity Church, Burlington, NC – for these reminders about on moving forward.

1. Be all in to be all out. Did you set goals for 2018? Then give them all you have and work towards achieving them.
2. Shake up the status quo. Doing what you have always done, or what everyone expects won’t bring about change. You will likely have to do something unconventional.
3. Have your eyes on the big picture and work daily to achieve it. Whether the goal is meeting new people, gaining more clients, better time management or something totally not work related, you have to focus on the goal and take action every day towards bringing to fruition.
4. Don’t give up! Ups and downs are the norm, but don’t let the lows hold you down.

Are you ready for the year ahead?  Then now is the time to take the first step. Keep in mind that you don’t have to work alone to accomplish your goals. Surround yourself with people who want to help you succeed.  Then hold your head high and take those steps. If you falter, there are people to catch you and help stay focussed.

And, if some of the goals include writing, then don’t hesitate to talk to someone at Write Away to learn more. After all, just because you want to do rewrite your web content, begin using social media or start a blog, it doesn’t mean you have to do it by yourself!

So, what do plan on accomplishing in the year ahead? Contact Write Away today to get started.

Integrating Digital & Traditional Media

Did you know….

  • 23% of Americans still read a paper copy of a daily newspaper.
  • 48% still listen to local radio.
  • 82% of consumers say they trust print advertising.
  • 80% trust television advertising when making a purchasing decision
  • 76% trust direct mail advertising.
  • 87% of the Millennial generation still buy the print version of textbooks – even when the eBook is offered free.  Why? Because they are stating they prefer print because it’s easier to follow stories.

When all is said and done, getting the word out about your product using traditional media is still an effective approach.  In fact, a MarketingSherpa study found that email is the only digital medium that ranks a 50% engagement rate, as consumers typically have signed up to receive the information.

As a business owner this should drive home just how necessary it is to make use of every available means of getting the word out about your company.  So how can you combine traditional media with digital media? Here are a few tips to consider:

·      Be sure your branding is consistent – no matter the media form used! Keep the same colors, font, images, etc. whether electronic or traditional.

·      Keep up with the results of each type of media used. This will help you know where to invest your media budget.

·      Integrate your online presence with your traditional advertising approach. Mention your website and social sites on any print, radio or television spot. It should be a seamless approach to engagement.

·      Be organized and thoughtful in your approach to media. Think about your niche and the audience you will be reaching with each type of media and then design the media campaign(s) with that focus.

·      Use pictures, video, radio announcements, etc. that tell a story and draw people in. People like stories so be strategic, real, and inspirational – traditional media thrives on this, as does the social media world.

·      Remember that social media is only one part of the story. People still use traditional media as a news source.

So, if you are looking for a way to get the most from your advertising budget, then integration not segregation is the key. Electronic media and traditional media can coexist. By using traditional media, you can reach a large audience that is often ignored, but if you ignore the digital you will miss a significant portion of your audience. It’s all about determining what mediums work for your needs. Look for ways both digital media and traditional media can help improve your business and use them to your advantage.

If you are interested in navigating the world of social media, but have no idea where to start, don’t despair.  Write Away Copywriting is happy to set up and manage your social media platforms. Contact a social media professional today.

Rising Tide Society: Tuesdays Together

Tuesday together Recently, I was privileged to become part of a local group of business owners.  The group, Rising Tide Society: Tuesdays Together, is made up of store owners, writers, calligraphers, designers, photographers, event planners, and other creatives who believe that working with each other is more important than competing against others in their field.

As we gathered together in event coordinator, Sara -anne Caudle of Sara-anne Photography‘s studio, we talked about how to build a better social media presence, the struggles we face in managing our website and our hopes and dreams for the future.

As we talked, we found that many of us had the same struggles – no time to work on our own website, fears of committing to starting a blog, balancing work and family, finding time to just unwind and others. But we also recognized that each of us had talents and skills that we could use to help each other grow.

In going to that meeting, I was reminded again that no matter what the problem, there is always someone who has “been there -done that” and is happy to lend a hand to help someone else navigate the path they are called to explore. Being a business owner is a great blessing, but it is also one that is made better when you can connect with others and do life together. I can’t wait to see how the Tuesday’s Together group evolves and how we work together to build stronger businesses!

***Tuesdays Together is part of The Rising Tide Society whose motto is Community over Competition.  The Tuesdays Together groups meet on the second Tuesday of every month to discuss ways to build their business.

15 Blogging Tips from around the Web

Pencil-Editor-WriterBlogging is an important part of building a web presence, but it can be a bit intimidating. If staring at a blank screen seems to be more common than you would like, then use the tips below the next time yo are asked to write for the company blog.

  1. Brainstorm and organize your ideas. Start with your concept as the anchor, create a brief outline and write 2- sentences for each point.
  2. Include hard data such as facts and statistics, being sure to link to the original source.
  3. Have a title that is eye-catching. Men are typically drawn to titles with numbers (7 Ways to…) while women are prone to titles with “How to” or “Why”.
  4. Identify your audience, and determine what type of content appeals to them. This may take a bit of trial and error.
  5. Write with authority. Establish yourself as an industry expert.
  6. Check out other blogs within your industry and see what is trending.
  7. Be consistent. Whether you publish on the same day of the month/week, use the same format every time, etc. don’t change things up every time you post something.
  8. If you are part of a conference or webinar, blog about it.
  9. Don’t be afraid to create controversy.
  10. Write in your own voice.
  11. Use Spellcheck programs. Proofread multiple times. If possible, have 1-2 others proof your work before posting.
  12. Link to others, but never let someone pay you to do so.
  13. Your blog should include the following info:
    • Graphics that draw the eye. These can be images, infographics, bar graphs, etc. It is even better if the images are original to you.
    • Offer specials (when appropriate)
    • Answer questions
    • Teach people how to use your product/services
    • Have a point; don’t just ramble in order to reach a specific word count.
    • Always have a Call to Action
  14. Use keywords and phrases. Be sure to target the cities where you want to build a customer base.
  15. Formatting is important!
  • Use short paragraphs – no more than 75 to 100 words or 6 lines long.
  • Having white space between paragraphs makes it easier to read.
  • Use subheadings in bold that include keywords.
  • Use an easy to read font.
  • Lists with bullet points or numbers make it easy for readers to scan information quickly.
  • Shorter sentences are better.
  • Align to the left, rather than the center.
  • Keep posts to no more than 300 to 1,000 words long.

Blogging is a part of being found on the Web; and, with bit of planning, it doesn’t have to be a stressful process. Of course, if you would rather have someone else write the blog posts for you, contact Write Away and explain the types of post you need, and a few other elements and you can mark “write a blog post” off of your To Do list.

Are You Ready for Social Media?

star treck social mediaYou don’t have to be an expert to maintain a presence on social media. However, you do need to have a strategy, a plan and a commitment to make your presence known.  If you have never given any thought to what you want your social media platforms to look like, then there is no time like the present.

Here are a few things to keep in mind;

  1. Determine who your audience is (or who want it to be).
  2. Decide how often and when you will post.
  3. Study the various platforms, paying special attention to the most popular- Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus ,  LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram.  Keep in mind that not every business will work on every platform. For instance, while the first four will work great for nearly every business, Instagram and Pinterest might not.
  4. Choose a cover photo and profile picture that expresses who your company is and what you do. Be sure to use the same images on every platform as this adds credibility and helps with branding.
  5. In most cases, shorter posts are better than long ones.
  6. As much as possible, include a picture as part of the post. Ideally, the picture should be original to you/your company. When it isn’t be sure to give credit to the source.
  7. Be sure to check for spelling, punctuation or grammar errors.
  8. Don’t be afraid to post something that might be controversial. This often encourages reader engagement.
  9. In making a social media post, ask yourself the following: Is it educational? Is it entertaining? Is it encouraging?  The more of these you can answer, “yes” to the better the post.
  10. Consider linking back to your website whenever possible.  This is referred to as signposting, and provides external links.
  11. Don’t make every post about yourself. Ideally, only 20% of your posts should be about you. Otherwise, your followers will get bored with what you have to say.
  12. Did you use #hashtags and keywords that go with your business?

These are but a few tips for developing a social media presence. Develop a plan that works for you and then commit to it.  Need help? Contact Write Away to manage your social media platforms for you.

 

(image from imforza.com)

Game Time! Playing with Words

Some of my best memories of growing up involved word games–specifically, playing Scrabble with my dad.  My dad is a pro at Scrabble and it was viewed much like a  rite of passage to be able to beat him at this game.  My dad plays Scrabble like he does everything he approaches- he plays it to win, preferably by a large margin.  So, when playing Scrabble against my dad, it wasn’t just about having a good word, but about playing it in the spot that gets the maximum number of points.  A score of less than 10 was scoffed – unless it was the end of the game and the goal then became, “Just get rid of the tiles!”

This passion for words was encourage through other word games such as Upwords, supplemented with books of word searches and solving scrambled word puzzles and in doing crossword puzzles. As I got older, I discovered the wonderful world of Roget’s Thesaurus and could be found reading the thesaurus or dictionary – just for fun.

But this love of words and wordplay  was something I saw more as a hobby that fit well with my love of reading and writing. I never saw writing or words as being a career. However, a few years ago, I was taught how to join my love of words with the Web and the perfect job presented itself. And for that I will always be grateful!

Writing for the Web has taught me many things. It has opened up doors I never dreamed possible, It has allowed me to make many great friends and learn about topics and fields, I would- most likely- have never studied. Forming Write Away Copywriting and spending my days writing is an awesome journey and one I look forward to embarking upon every day.

So to those of you who have had a part in broadening my horizons and expanding my knowledge and skills, Thanks! I look forward to many more writing adventures in the future.  If we haven’t met, drop me a line, I would love to help you build your Web presence – be it through text for a new website, making revisions to your existing site, crafting and writing your newsletter or perhaps managing your social media–just ask. If there is writing to be done, I am happy to do it.

And for now, perhaps it’s time to break out the Scrabble game–it’s been at least a week since the last time I played!

widowsphere.blogspot.com
image from widowsphere.blogspot.com

Words Are Hard!

Recently one of my son’s buddies spent the night. Whenever this charming and amusing young man would get tongue-tied, he would grin and quip, “Words are hard.” Upon hearing him say this a time or two, I told him I was stealing his line for my blog. After all, as one who spends many hours a week working with words, I would be lying if I did not say that, at times, “Words are hard!”

Words are hard!
Words are hard!

For many people, writing is one of the most difficult chores out there. Yes, they recognize the value of a properly written website, but the thought of spending time crafting web content that flows and gets the message out is intimidating. Add in things like understanding search engine optimization (SEO) and incorporating pics, managing social media pages and producing a newsletter and you have moved beyond “words are hard” on to “I hate writing!”

Fortunately, when you hire Write Away Copywriting, you don’t have to bogged down with finding the right word(s). Rather, you can hand that job off to me. I will be glad to take on the writing process for you so you can focus on elements such as helping current clients, reaching out to potential clients and developing new ideas and products. I will take time to learn about your service/industry and will then create SEO content that is perfect for both web crawlers and people, alike. By hiring a copywriter, you can pass the job of Finding the Right Words off to someone else.

So, the next time you are facing a writing project and find yourself thinking “words are hard”, don’t stress out. Just contact Write Away and take writing off of your To Do List. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

Words image from Constant Contact.
Child's pic, used with permission.