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.

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.

 

Social Media: Try it – You Just Might Like It!

pic from en.wikipedia.org
pic from en.wikipedia.org

Not long ago, I had the privilege of being a part of a educational event at a local university. It was my “job” to pretend to be suffering with pains similar to  having a bladder or kidney problem. It was up to the students to ask enough questions to determine the cause.  This was an activity far removed from my normal day, and one that I greeted with excitement, and even a bit of trepidation. After all, I am more of an observer, and prefer to avoid drama of any kind.

However, the day was actually quite enjoyable. I found that stepping outside of the box was more fun than anticipated and I got to meet some really great people.  And, even better, I found that with each new “doctor” I met, the more comfortable and easier the acting became.  I found I anticipated the questions, knew better how to answer and learned a bit about what it takes to train to be a physician.

My experience with acting is often how people feel about using social media or blogging about their company. Taking that first step and setting up a social media page might be intimidating. There are “all those” questions to answer, and the job of finding the right pictures. Then, you have to spend time each week posting things that are engaging and interesting. These tasks can seem daunting, so people often choose to merely observe other businesses on Facebook, Twitter or other platforms rather than get involved with the “drama” of social media.

But, just as I was a bit uncertain at the outset of my day of being a patient but later found it was actually a bit fun, those companies that take the plunge and set up a social media profile (or two….) usually find that while it may initially seem difficult, with practice it becomes a great way to engage with others. By using social media to promote who their company is and how others can benefit from using their products and services, they build up their customer base and develop a strong presence on the Web.

No,  the first few social media updates may not go viral (chances are, they won’t!) but with practice and perseverance, a social media page can be a strong tool in your marketing toolbox. So, don’t just sit back observe the social media scene, get out there and give it a go. You might just find that you like it.

 

Social Networking is Great!

vintage-social-networking1My, how the times have changed!

I love to network. There is something about the thrill of connecting someone who needs a website designer with a list of qualified, talented designers that makes me smile. And, I love it when someone contacts me and connects a friend of theirs so that I can write their blog posts, manage their social media accounts or write their website content.  Yes, that is what social networking is all about. And whether you use email or the telephone, networking is fun, and beneficial to all. So, if you are in need of connecting with a website designer, PPC campaign manager or other Web need, let me know. I will be happy to connect you with some of the pros I know.

Have a great day!

How Do You Get Your News?

funny-anti-social-media-jokeIn a bygone era, we had two ways to keep up with the world around us –the newspaper and the 6:00 pm news. Today, however, many of us keep up with local, state and world events using the Internet and our social media news feed. Consequently, it is vital that companies are sure to take advantage of this ever-changing news venues such as Facebook, Twitter and others.

As a company, it is up to you to see that your social media sites contain beneficial content that engages readers. Your posts might be made hourly, daily, weekly or even monthly, but whatever you choose, you want to be sure your news is staying in your audience’s news feed.

Of course, this maintaining a social media presence can take time and effort.  You can give admin rights to people with your company and ask them to be vigilant in showcasing your latest industry news and pics or you can choose to hire a social media management team who can help you maintain the pages, interact with those who ask questions on your social media page(s) and even help you build a larger following.

So, don’t lag behind the times and choose to only use print media, take advantage of the social media and scene and keep your name out there. If you need help with managing social media pages, contact Write Away Copywriting and ask about the rates.