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.

Writing According to Calvin & Hobbes

C  & H writing1

I love Calvin & Hobbes! Their imagination, silly antics and exciting adventures are a great example of of living life to its fullest—even if some their ideas and  supposed adventures may be a bit far fetched! Of course, it is the most outrageous adventures that often have the most profound comments.

 It’s a lot like the life of a copywriter. We are often asked to write about products or processes that are unfamiliar and that results in an adventure in learning —and for me, that never gets old.  I love it when I am approached by a  new client as that means I will be learning about a new topic, and conversely, it is awesome when I am asked by an existing client  if I would be willing to learn how to (fill in the blank) so they can take that particular job off their To Do list. In both situations, I get to learn something new, and that is part of what makes my job so much fun.

So to those who are already a part of the Write Away family, thanks for all the opportunities to learn. And, to those who are in need of a copywriter, be sure to drop me a line at jslagell@writeawaycopywriting.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

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.

 

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 again, 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 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 can 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.

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)

Best SEO Practices: Getting the Most From Your Website

If you have a website, then you have already scored important space on the Web. However, having a website isn’t enough. You must also take time to ensure that your SEO is up to par. Use these tips to boost your rankings in search engine results and improve your SEO.

17 Best SEO Practices

  1. Know your audience – Choose words, emotions, images, etc. that will engage them. Also, think about how what you offer relates to your client’s needs or interests.
  2. Pay attention to your competition, and note what key words/phrases seem to be working well for them. Then, leverage this knowledge to connect your audience with your content.
  3. Be sure to use headlines and headers that include your keywords. This also makes it easier to engage your readers and help them find the information they want.
  4. Write with featured snippets in mind. These are the tidbits that Google Search will pull to answer questions based on queries.
  5. Use images, and be sure to include keywords as part of the meta description. Also, images help break up copy making it more engaging and easy to read. An article with relevant images will get 94% more views than a post without pictures.
  6. Readability – Be sure that the content is not just written well, but is easy for readers to understand as well as focus on. Keep sentences to no more than 25 words -ideally less- as much as possible, and paragraphs to a maximum of 5 sentences.
  7. Post articles/content to your site domain. Sure, posting to sites like LinkedIn or Reddit is helpful, but you want your readers to come to your site first!
  8. Take advantage of social media. Know what platform works best for your business and be sure to post links to your website content there. Include your site’s keywords in your social media posts whenever possible – but not to the extreme, as you want your social posts to be engaging and sociable rather than stilted.
  9. Link internally by connecting information on one page to content on a different page on your website.
  10. Frequently monitor your efforts to see what keywords, phrases, marketing approaches, etc. are working for you. Adjust as necessary.
  11. Be sure to write meta descriptions that engage readers as they scroll through search engine results.
  12. Always have a Call to Action. Readers need to know what it is you want them to do.
  13. Use bullet points and numbering to make it easier for readers to locate information.
  14. Have Jump Links. This allows a site guest to jump from info at the top of a page to a different part of the page, without needing to scroll through all of the page’s content.
  15. Use a Data Map to determine what the FAQ are for your industry and be sure to include that info on your site.
  16. Be consistent and correct. The more often and consistently you post, the more your site will come up in searches. In addition, be sure to check all facts and information you post. Link to sites to supporting data. Do original research as well. Don’t rely on others to provide stats and intel. Consider performing tests and queries within your own business/industry.
  17. Improve page speed. Slow loading pages frustrate site guests, and they are likely to leave your website without even giving it a chance. One report showed that half of shoppers will not wait more than 3 seconds for a retail page to load, and a Nielsen research found that most users will leave pages within 10 -20 seconds.

This is just a handful of ways that you can boost your website’s SEO. If you would like to learn more about improving your website content or boosting your search engine results ranking, contact Write Away today.

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.

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!

16 Tips for Using Social Media to Build Your Business

Garfield

While there are many people out there who do not see the value of social media, as a business owner one cannot overlook its use.  Of course, for social media to truly effective, knowing a few basics about how to make the most of it is important.  These 16 tips will help make using social media easier and more effective.

  1. Always be sure the content is interesting.
  2. Don’t be afraid to post a controversial topic that is appropriate to your industry.  Just be ready to defend/explain your position.
  3. Remember that most people prefer pictures to lengthy text. In fact, 65% of people are visual learners.
  4. While numbers are important on social media,  keep in mind that engagement is even better.
  5. Be sure to occasionally signpost (link back) to your website via your social media pages.
  6. Ask questions and then listen to the answers.
  7. Be sure that your company profile is completely filled out, and that you have used keywords in the description.
  8. Don’t be afraid to try Pinterest – it’s not just a place for recipes, crafts and home decor ideas!
  9. Don’t begin Tweets with @whoever as this limits who can see the tweet. Rather, type it as .@whoever (note the period) as this allows everyone to see the tweet.
  10. Schedule posts on Twitter,  just before or just after the hour.
  11. Keep up with the changes on Facebook—especially those that pertain to business accounts.
  12. Be sure that your full street address is on Facebook, so that people are able to check in.
  13. Be careful about what you say to people, and don’t bad mouth competition, it’s just poor business.
  14. Facebook and  Pinterest, in addition to YouTube,  are great venues for posting videos about what your company has to offer, be sure  you are using them all.
  15. Post coupons on your social sites—it builds interest and income.
  16. Don’t over socialize…it is not necessary to be on every social media platform. Choose 3 or 4 that will suit your needs and put your efforts into those.

Social media is a great platform for business, so be sure you are not overlooking its power and potential.  Do the posts yourself or hire someone to do it for you, but whatever you do, do not ignore it.