Category Archives: Blog Writing

How to Brainstorm Content Ideas for Your Small Business

Often, the most challenging part of content marketing is simply coming up with good ideas. Perhaps you’ve had this experience: You set aside an hour of your day to write a post for your small business blog, then stare at your computer for a good 45 minutes trying to think of a topic. By that point, of course, you hardly have enough time left to write a solid introduction, much less a full post.

Something we recommend is keeping a list of topics ready to go—so that when you have those moments of scheduled content creation, you don’t have to waste time fumbling for inspiration. Still, the question remains: How do you come up with good ideas to populate your list?

Start with Content Categories

A good place to begin the brainstorming process is not with specific topics, but simply with categories.

Think about your areas of expertise—the services your company provides, the niche it serves. Try to think of five to seven big “buckets” into which content can be placed. For example, say you own a plumbing company. Your buckets might be Commercial Plumbing, Plumbing Repair, Drain Cleaning, Bathroom Remodeling, Household Plumbing Tips and Tricks, and HVAC.

Now, for each of these content buckets, try to come up with some subcategories—further ways to classify content. For each bucket, aim for a good five subcategories. For example, under Plumbing Repair, your sub-categories might include:

  • Fixing leaks
  • Water heater maintenance
  • Removing clogs
  • Preventative maintenance
  • When to call a plumber

Once you’ve written down those big buckets and their related sub-categories, you’ve got a pretty good blueprint to work from.

Brainstorming Content Ideas

Now we come to the part of the process where you actually jot down some content ideas.

Start with any of those subcategories you wrote down, and approach it from a couple of different angles:

  • First, there is the expertise angle—wherein you’re simply trying to impart some knowledge to your customers, sharing your expertise on the topic in question. What are some things you’d like your customers to know, as relates to this topic? What are some of the most common questions you get?
  • Second, there is the offering What are you trying to sell, as relates to this topic? Generating posts with an offering angle might mean listing the perks, benefits, or pros/cons of a specific service—for example, under the Preventative Maintenance category, your topic might be The Benefits of Preventative Plumbing Maintenance, underlining the value of homeowners having routine inspections from a certified plumber.

Even if you only come up with a couple of topics for each of your subcategories—an expertise angle and an offering angle—you’ll still have a fairly large list of topics at your ready.

And there are ways to take those topics and spin them into additional ideas. For example, if you land on the perfect angle for a blog post, type your working title into the Google search bar and just see what comes up. You may find that competitors or industry experts have written related or thematically-adjacent posts that can inspire your own work.

Outsource Your Content Creation

Having a list of pre-determined topics—and periodically spending some time expanding and revising it—can make content creation much more fluid, and much less frustrating.

And if you’re serious about generating quality content, you can take the next step—outsourcing your content creation to the writers at Grammar Chic, Inc. We can provide a full spectrum of services, from topic generation to writing, proofing, editing, and formatting. To talk content strategy, reach out to our writers at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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Filed under Blog Writing, Business Writing, Content Marketing, Content Writing, Social Media

Do These Four Things to Land More Eyeballs on Your Content

If a tree falls in the woods and nobody hears it, did it really happen? And if your brand produces the world’s greatest content but nobody reads it, will it make any impact?

We can tell you with certainty that the answer to this last question is no. Content creation is innately limited by content promotion; if you can’t get eyeballs on your blog posts and other written content, you’re not going to reap any of the benefits of improved brand recognition, consumer trust, etc.

Yet getting people to read your content is one of the true challenges of content marketing. It’s something small businesses especially struggle with. Sure, it’s easy for Fortune 500 companies to generate interest in what they do—but what can the little guy do to build buzz?

Actually, there are four practical steps you can take today to boost your content’s reach and its readership. These aren’t flashy or gimmicky strategies, but they do really work, and Grammar Chic uses each of them on our own content.

Here are those four recommendations.

Tag Industry Influencers

First and foremost, you should always be sharing your content on Twitter—but don’t stop there. Start a conversation around it. Bring in the movers and shakers within your field, inviting them to be part of the dialogue.

There are different ways to do this. If you can, cite their work in your own content—then tag them on Twitter, giving them due credit and encouraging them to share the content. Or, you could simply ping their Twitter handles and ask them to weigh in with their feedback. Whatever attention you can bring to your content is good, especially when it’s attention from industry stalwarts.

Use Facebook Ads

There’s a time and a place for Promoted Posts, but what’s even more effective is going into Ads Manager, where you can actually target the people you want to reach with your content—by demographics, by relationship to your brand, etc.

Yes, this will involve some financial investment on your part—but did you know that solid content is one of the keys to ad success? If you have a good content offer, paired with some ad dollars, that can really make waves.

Include Content in Your Newsletter

A periodic email, including links and summaries of your best content, is a great way to win a few clicks from people who might not otherwise be following along with your blog. Plus, it allows you to repurpose your content; not only does it show up on your blog, but it’s fodder for your email list, too—killing two birds with one stone.

Publish to Medium or LinkedIn Pulse

Finally, remember that you can publish on many different channels—and we’ve had great success sharing some of our best posts on Medium and Pulse. Both publishing platforms have good, built-in SEO traction that makes it so much easier for your content to be discovered, even by people who aren’t otherwise familiar with your brand.

The bottom line? There are small steps you can take to make sure your content isn’t invisible. To learn more about bringing in traffic, reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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Filed under Blog Writing, Brand Management, Content Marketing, Content Writing, Social Media, Web Content

The Time to Start Your Holiday Marketing Campaign is Now

You may be the sort of person who grimaces at the sight of early-display Christmas candy and other holiday goods, so often pushed onto store shelves before Halloween even arrives. For consumers, it can certainly be annoying how much earlier the holidays tend to arrive. For marketers, though, these are giant opportunities to snatch—but to do so, you’ve got to act quickly.

The Data on Holiday Marketing Prep

How quickly? Quicker than ever. According to a new report published in Marketing Land, 37.5 percent of businesses say they’re going to be launching their holiday season marketing preparations earlier than they did last year.

And that’s not all. “Overall, online retailers are feeling good about their preparations, with 88 percent expecting an increase in holiday revenue,” the article states. “Forty percent of the survey respondents are forecasting a more than 25 percent increase in holiday sales over last year’s earnings.”

Finally, the Marketing Land report finds that 64 percent of businesses expect the majority of their holiday sales to come through their company website. Brick and mortar stores come in second, trailed by Amazon and Facebook sales.

Is Your Holiday Marketing Ready to Roll Out?

The implications of this data are twofold. One, the holiday season can potentially be a very big deal for online sales. Two, it’s only going to happen if you prepare—and the sooner you do so, the better.

So the question is, what can your company start doing to prepare its holiday marketing efforts right now?

Here are some of our tips:

  • Start planning holiday sales, including Black Friday or Cyber Monday promos. Know what discounts you’ll be offering, but also how you’ll market them. Start preparing some sales copy, ad text, etc.
  • Set up landing pages for any holiday-specific products, discounts, or deals you want to offer. Have them ready to launch a bit later in the year.
  • Start segmenting your email list into different groups or demographics, and write compelling emails you can send out later in the year.
  • Start bidding on Facebook or AdWords ads to build brand recognition and lead consumers down the sales funnel.
  • Create content—blogs, white papers, etc.—that you can use to boost your authority and educate your holiday shoppers.

It’s not too early to start thinking about holiday marketing. There’s much at stake, so do it right. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. for help. Contact us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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6 Types of Content That Always Tank

Brands and small businesses invest time and money into content creation because they know that it has myriad benefits—including increased brand awareness, boosted website traffic, and higher conversion rates.

But of course, not every piece of content has the intended effect.

In fact, some content can actually be counterproductive—turning off your readers and failing to move the sales needle in any meaningful way at all.

In this post, we’re going to list a few content archetypes that are guaranteed to fall flat—content FAILs to avoid at all cost.

Content That’s Guaranteed to FAIL

Boring Content

We’re not saying you have to turn every company blog post into the great American novel, but there should be some semblance of a story—a theme, hook, or angle to make readers interested. Here it’s important to remind you that you’re always creating content for human readers, not for search algorithms exclusively; if you wouldn’t find the content to be interesting and readable, no one else will, either.

Brand-centric Content

It’s not about you! It’s about your readers. Make sure your content focuses on what’s in it for thembenefits, value, actionable takeaways that they can draw from your content.

Content That’s Written to Nobody in Particular

When you write content, you should always have an audience in mind—a specific demographic you’re trying to target, based on internal data or buyer personas. The content should be tailored to address your audience’s needs, problems, and values; generic content, written with no specific audience in mind, will always fail to offer clear and specific benefits, and should be avoided.

Content That’s Written for Robots

Are SEO tricks and gimmicks making your content unreadable to actual human beings? If so, then you might as well not bother. People matter, and Google will see right through your tricks.

Salesy Content

Your content can obviously be written to build trust, to increase brand awareness, and ultimately to sell, but it shouldn’t just be straight-up advertising. On the contrary, content that is aggressively salesy and interruptive will peter out pretty fast, as readers just aren’t going to want to engage with it, share it, or link back to it.

Your Content is Hard to Read

Paragraph breaks, short sentences, bullet points, section subheadings—all of these things are important for making your content easy to skim and to digest. Poor formatting will leave your content basically useless and unread.

Write Content That Gets the Job Done

These are just a few examples of what not to do—but to take a more positive approach, and to write content that gets results, we encourage you to call the pros. Grammar Chic, Inc. is ready to offer our expertise, and to make your words and ideas shine. Reach out to us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

 

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6 Reasons Why Guest Blogging Still Matters

SEO and content marketing are in a constant state of flux—and some of the strategies that worked well three years ago (or even three months ago) are of dubious impact today.

Yet there are some strategies that are tried and true, and remain very much recommended. One of the best is guest blogging. Simply put, submitting authoritative posts to relevant blogs—other than your own—is one of the smartest ways you can build your online brand.

Allow us to explain why. Here are just a few of the top benefits you can expect from guest blogging.

What Do You Get Out of Guest Blogging?

Targeted Traffic

First and foremost, there’s traffic. Even if you don’t get a backlink, you will almost certainly arouse the audiences’ interest—and that can lead to curious readers flocking to your website. Not only do you get traffic, but—assuming the blog you write for is relevant to your own industry—that traffic will probably be well-matched to your own customer demographics.

Relationships

Something else that guest blogging provides you? Connections. Developing some common bonds with other bloggers and contributors can open the door to more possibilities down the road—more guest blogging opportunities, more social media shares, more collaborations.

Social Media Shares

Speaking of social media, when you write a blog for another publication, you can bet that the owners of that publication will promote it—meaning you can expect social shares and re-tweets from a lot of folks who aren’t otherwise aware of your brand or your content.

Authority

When a respected publication agrees to host your guest blog, it’s a vote of confidence—a vouch for your authority. This can increase your visibility and prestige within your industry, and also lead to more social media followers—people who determine that your brand must be legitimate, since your guest blog was accepted by their favorite publication.

Links

We’re burying this one deep down in our list because most everybody knows that this is a benefit of guest blogging, and if anything it’s overemphasized. Still, the point must be made: Guest blogging is the best way to build up your backlink profile, which is an SEO essential.

Brand Awareness

Finally, guest blogging simply gets your name and your writing out there in front of people who probably wouldn’t see it otherwise—and if even one of those people becomes a paying customer, the guest blog has served an important purpose.

Start Guest Blogging Today

The benefits to guest blogging are many—but how do you get started? We’d love to chat with you about mapping out a guest blog initiative for your brand. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. to begin that dialogue: www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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4 Ways to Make Your Copywriting SUPER Persuasive

Good online copywriting does more than just fill up the page, or offer fodder to the search engine algorithms. It also persuades. It encourages the reader to travel further down the sales path, either signing up for an email list, buying a product, or picking up the phone.

Or at least, that’s the way it should happen. We all know that much online copy just doesn’t move the dial; it doesn’t motivate the reader; and it certainly doesn’t improve the bottom line. That’s because it fails to persuade, often because it’s too steeped in tired, clichéd used-car-salesman tactics, or else bogged down in generalities.

So how can you make your copy not only pristine, but persuasive? Here are four steps to take right now.

Cut Meaningless Phrases

Consider this copywriting example: Our company produces world-class products that are bound to delight.

What does world class mean in this sentence? If your copywriting includes words or phrases you can’t readily explain, then it’s just not very good copy.

Specificity should always be your goal. Consider this rewrite:

Our products empower customers to increase their lead generation by 200 percent, representing the highest return on investment of any company in our industry.

Now that means something to your customers—and it’s better copy, because of it.

Use Numbers

Our second tip once again hinges on the idea of specificity. Simply put, using numbers and statistics is almost always more persuasive than speaking in generalities.

So, rather than saying that countless customers love your product, say something like, more than 200 businesses have trusted us with their email marketing needs, and we maintain an average 4.7-star rating among our clients.

Again, the specificity is eye-catching. It’s meaningful. It’s persuasive.

Get to the Point

A good rule of thumb with calls to action: Be direct, and tell your customer what to do next.

Consider these two variants:

If you’re interested in learning more, we encourage you to contact us at your convenience.

Or:

Call us now to start improving your lead generation by as much as 200 percent.

Which is more direct? And, which is more persuasive? The second, we’ll contend, is the option that conveys the most urgency and the most value.

Focus on Value

Your copy isn’t really about you. It’s about your customers, and the benefits they can gain from choosing your product or your brand.

Focusing on those benefits is the best way to persuade. Again, consider two variant CTAs:

Contact us today to learn more!

OR:

Contact us to empower your sales team and start capturing more leads.

Only the second option lays out a reason for your reader to take action—and that makes it by far the more persuasive of the two.

Get Help with Your Copywriting

Good writing should get results. At Grammar Chic, Inc., persuasive writing is our bread and butter. We can help you beef up your sales copy and start increasing your leads and conversions. Contact us today to schedule a consultation, and start filling your website with compelling sales copy.

Reach Grammar Chic, Inc. at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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5 Ways You’re Botching Your Blog’s SEO

Blogging is one of the things we’re most proficient in here at Grammar Chic, Inc., and it’s a true honor to have so many small and medium-sized businesses entrust us with their blogging needs.

When new companies come to us wanting help on the blog front, they tend to have a couple of different emphases. First, they want something that will be compelling to their customers—compelling enough to elicit social media shares and perhaps even light up their phone lines. Second, they want something that will rank well on Google. After all, what’s the point of a business blog if no one can see it?

And here’s the tricky thing about blogging: It can be an absolutely critical tool for improving search engine visibility, but only if careful attention is paid to a few technical dimensions of the blog itself. Far too often, we see business blogs that have been written well, but not necessarily optimized well. Simply put, there are some key blunders that make otherwise-good blog posts less than SEO-friendly.

Naturally, you’ll want to avoid these blunders. Allow us to point out some of the most common ones.

Forgetting Keywords

There’s been a curious shift in the way people perceive keywords; where they used to be overemphasized, now they’re all too often overlooked. So let us clear this up: You definitely don’t want to force a bunch of ill-fitting keywords into your content, but you do want to have a couple of target keywords to guide your content creation. Use them as organically as you can, and try to smoothly work them into the following places:

  • Your title
  • Your meta description
  • Section sub-headings
  • Body content—not excessively, but wherever they naturally fit

Not Creating a Meta Description

Speaking of the meta description, each individual blog post should have one—roughly 150 characters to summarize your content, lay out your value proposition to readers, work in a keyword or two, and end with a call to action.

Not Formatting for Readability

Keep in mind just how many of your blogs will be read by people on their mobile devices, waiting in doctor’s officers, stuck in traffic, or taking a quick break from work. Making for fast, easy readability is key. Think:

  • Bullet points
  • Lists
  • Section sub-headings
  • Short paragraphs
  • Images and/or embedded video

Not Including a Call to Action

Every blog should have a strong call to action, inviting the reader to take the next step. Include your company contact information here for best results, especially in terms of local search.

Not Offering Value

A good blog post should be substantive and value-adding—which means providing take-away points for your readers; enough length to do your topic justice; and some external and/or internal links to related resources. Remember that by writing for the end user, you’re ultimately making your blog more appealing to Google.

Blog Better. Avoid SEO Blunders.

These are all potentially serious errors, yet they can also be very easily avoided. One way to steer clear of them: Trust your blogging to the pros. Learn more by contacting Grammar Chic, Inc. at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Blog Writing, Business Writing, Content Marketing, Content Writing