Category Archives: Writing

How to Overcome Writer’s Block (And Generate Better Blog Topics)

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Content marketing requires constant engagement. It’s like a beast that must continually be fed. You can’t slack off, or take a month off from content creation; there are always new blog posts to be written, new social media updates to share, new emails to send. If you stop moving—if you stop hustling—your audience will shrink and your efforts will come up short.

This can obviously lead to some obstacles. Take blogging as an example. When you’re tasked with developing new, unique, creative blog posts every single day, it can be draining. You may find yourself developing a case of writer’s block, even as you also realize that you don’t have that luxury. You’ve got to keep writing—but how can you come up with a fresh topic to write about, without simply plundering and repurposing older ideas?

There are some simple habits that can prove effective in pumping those creative juices, and providing you with the fresh insights and ideas you need.

Have Regular Brainstorming Sessions

You may be the person who is tasked with writing the company blog posts, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get some help sparking your creativity. Meet with team members once a month or so and ask them for their thoughts. What are some of the questions that customers have been asking them? What are some of the topics they’ve detected interest in? How do they see the blog being improved, made more useful and informative? These brainstorming sessions can generate new perspectives you may not have thought of otherwise.

Look Through Your Customer Correspondence

Make a habit of regularly reading your recent customer emails or social messages, and take note of the questions or concerns that people are bringing up. Those are things people want to hear more about. Those are the pain points. And those can make for really timely and relevant blog posts.

Consider Your Hobbies

We’ve written articles comparing content marketing to The Walking Dead and to Mad Men—because we happen to really like those shows. Are there activities or passions in your personal life that you could translate into blog posts? Think about the things you care most about, outside of the office, and ask yourself how these things intersect with your professional life.

Subscribe to Other Industry Blogs

This one is simple: When you see another industry blog that you admire, bookmark it, or subscribe to the RSS feed. Make a habit of at least skimming through these posts from your competitors, and using them as potential launch pads for your own posts. (Obviously, you need to make sure you’re putting your own spin on things, not pilfering posts wholesale.)

These are all basic habits you can form that will keep your good-idea machine hoppin’. If you need an extra hand, though, we’re always around. Contact Grammar Chic’s ghostwriters at 803-831-7444 or at www.grammarchic.net.

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

Make Your Email Marketing a Summer Success

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Here’s a phenomenon you may have noticed: During the grueling hot months of summer, you’re much more likely to get out-of-office auto-responders from the people you try to reach by e-mail. It’s not that everyone’s avoiding you. It’s just that everyone’s on vacation—or so it seems, sometimes. Certainly, the summer season is touch-and-go when it comes to emails, which may tempt you to pack in your email marketing campaign for the summer, perhaps revisiting the ol’ email list when September rolls around.

That’s not an illegitimate temptation, nor is it necessarily a wrong one: Certainly, there is an argument to be made for scaling back on your marketing emails during the summer months, if not disbanding them completely.

No matter how many marketing emails you send over the next couple of months, though—just one or a baker’s dozen—we encourage you to implement some simple tweaks to your strategy, which can make those emails much more enticing to your recipients—and thus, likely to get opened and acted upon.

Get Your Marketing Emails Ready for Summer

Keep those subject lines succinct. A lot of your readers may be getting those emails while they’re waiting in line for movie tickets, a plane ride, or a trip down a roller coaster. They don’t have time for epic-length headings. Shoot for subject lines between 30 and 50 characters—never any more.

Cozy up to emojis! Summer time is fun time, right? There’s no better season to adorn your subject lines and your email messages with a few tasteful smiley faces or other festive icons. Don’t go overboard, and don’t sacrifice actual words for emojis, but do feel free to use them as they fit.

Resist the temptation toward click bait. Drop two swimsuit sizes in a week’s time may seem like a tempting promise, and if your product can actually deliver it, then good for you! Don’t fall into the trap of making cheap promises that you know you can’t keep, though, nor of writing subject headings that aren’t actually relevant to your content. You may get click-throughs, but you’ll also get a lot of annoyed customers.

Don’t let your emails fall into the junk pile. Nobody has a lot of time to sort through their junk folder, so avoid letting your emails end up there. Cut down on spam triggers, as we talked about in this previous post.

Need some further assistance getting your marketing emails summer-ready? We can help you strategize, write, format, and send. Reach out to Grammar Chic today at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Business Writing, Email Writing, Writing

Facebook is Changing its Algorithms. Here’s How Brands Can Adapt.

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In the coming days, Facebook will be making some not-insignificant tweaks to its newsfeed algorithms—prioritizing posts from friends and family members but reducing the visibility of branded posts. In other words, when you sign into your personal Facebook account, the first posts you see will be ones from the people you know and love. Posts from the businesses or public figures you follow will be second-tier.

For the consumer, this is probably welcome news. In fact, Facebook has said the entire impetus for this change is that so many users have complained about being inundated by branded content while missing out on the key updates from their friends and family members. For small business owners, though, this news isn’t welcome. What it means is that branded posts will be less visible on Facebook, and thus, Facebook referral traffic will likely take a dive.

Crafting Posts to Be Shared

So what’s the solution? Given how critical Facebook is to the marketing landscape, it can’t very well be abandoned. The good news is that there’s a way for companies to work around this algorithmic upheaval. Essentially, the way to get branded content into consumer newsfeeds is to have it shared by friends and family members. Engineering this kind of social connection can provide kind of a back door into more and more Facebook feeds.

In other words, we’re back to that timeless Facebook marketing question: What can you do to get your posts shared by as many people as possible? We’ve got a few tips and techniques—some of them tried and true, some a bit off the beaten path, but all Grammar Chic-tested and Facebook-approved.

Keep the narrative brief. Nobody wants to read an entire book just to get to the point of your Facebook post. Aim for text of no more than 80 characters or so, if you can help it.

Select a compelling image. Pictures are what get Facebook shares—period. Colorful, eye-catching images that provoke humor or sentiment are always going to be winners.

Avoid first-person as best you can. Make your post feel like it could come from anyone, to encourage people to share your thoughts. Keep your text to some brief, open-ended questions or short declarations.

Include a call to action where appropriate. Something as simple as “visit our blog for more” can be perfectly compelling.

Share content that’s actionable and advice-oriented. Make sure the blog posts you write and share have headlines that convey immediate, practical value for the reader.

Need some help crafting posts that’ll slide easily into Facebook’s new algorithms? Give Grammar Chic a call. Reach us at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Content Writing, Social Media, Writing

5 Ways to Improve Your SEO Copywriting Today

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Search engine optimization (SEO) is a daunting topic: Because it’s ever in flux, you really never reach a point where you know everything there is to know about it—and that can be intimidating. Just when you think you’re a master, you realize how much you still have to discover.

That’s not to say that there are not some tried-and-true principles for you to lean on, though. This is especially true of SEO copywriting. The words you use to develop your Web content are crucial to SEO success—every bit as crucial as, say, page layout and navigation—and there are some reliable methods for making your SEO copy even stronger.

We’ll show you what we mean: Five ways you could improve the SEO value in your written content today.

Write for Actual Readers

This is so basic, but so important—and in many cases, so easily overlooked. You’ve got to break out of the mindset that you are writing for Google robots. You are, to some extent, but what those bots want is for you to develop content that is actionable and interesting to human readers—the people actually searching for information on the Web. That’s the audience to shoot for. As you write, ask yourself how you can answer questions and offer solutions to the people who might be seeking information on the Web.

Quit Keyword Stuffing

How many times should you use a long-tail keyword phrase in each piece of content? Two? Five? Ten? Three percent of the total word density? Frankly, if you’re getting caught up in these questions, it probably means you’re shoehorning words into places they don’t quite belong. Having a keyword or two to guide your content development is helpful, and including a keyword in titles and meta descriptions is always good, but beyond that, the best advice is to just be organic.

Don’t Let Your Words Stand Alone

Sharpen your words and enhance the impact of your copy by sprinkling in some other rich content—embedded videos, GIFs, and above all else some strong imagery. High-quality, relevant images can make the professionalism of your writing stand out all the more.

Spend More Time Writing Headlines

Your headline creates the first impression readers will have of your content, and in many ways the headline is what determines whether your content even gets read at all. It’s arguably the most important component in your online copywriting, then—so don’t rush through it. We’ve offered some specific headline-writing tips before.

Include Meta Descriptions

The meta description—a 150-characters-or-so snippet that’s displayed in Google search queries—is an invaluable piece of online real estate, and a free way to significantly boost your online traction. Make sure to use the full character count to provide a robust summary of your content; try including a keyword and a call to action, if you can.

Of course, you can also shape up your SEO copy by hiring the pros: Contact Grammar Chic at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net to learn more.

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Filed under Business Writing, Content Writing, Web Content, Writing

Blogging Blunders: Don’t Regress in 2016!

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We’re now more than a month into a new calendar year—and a new chance for your company to excel in its blogging endeavors.

Don’t blow it.

Business blogging can be an invaluable way to build credibility and trust; to cultivate authority and thought leadership; to engage readers and to drive traffic to your website. But that’s all assuming you’re blogging well. That’s all assuming you aren’t falling prey to classic blogging blunders, or regressing in your business blogging practices.

We’ll show you what we mean: A few blogging faux pas that are easy enough to make, but potentially lethal to your overall marketing goals.

Writing Posts, but Not Augmenting Them

A good blog post isn’t just about the words on the page—though obviously, those are important! It’s really about the overall presentation. And if you don’t have compelling images, infographics, embedded videos, and/or social sharing buttons, your presentation leaves something to be desired.

Writing to Nobody in Particular

Quick: Who’s your audience? What are the demographics? What are the values and pain points? It’s critical to keep these things in mind as you blog. You can write the best blog post in the world, but if you’re writing to the wrong crowd, it won’t make any impact on your readers.

Writing, but Not Sharing

A great blog post means absolutely nothing if it never gets seen—if it never gets read. That’s where social media comes into play. The minute you publish a new post, your next step should be spreading the post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest—you name it. Don’t let your content just sit there. Pass it around.

Writing About Stale Topics

Don’t beat a dead horse. If you’ve written about a topic in the past and it hasn’t gotten you any results, there’s no point in resurrecting it. Move on to something your readers actually care about.

Writing Without Linking

A good blog post is like an information hub: Not only does it provide insight of its own, but it points readers toward some related resources and avenues for further learning. Internal and external links can really add depth and context to a solid blog post.

One way to take your blogging to the next level this year: Hire a ghostblogger. Contact Grammar Chic to start the conversation: 803-831-744, or www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Blog Writing, Social Media, Writing

This is How to Write a Compelling Email Subject Line—and Boost Your Open Rates

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Report after report and study after study suggests that email is the most effective digital marketing tool.

So if you’re not seeing much of a benefit from your email marketing program, you’ve gotta wonder why.

Maybe the reason people aren’t responding to your emails is because they aren’t even opening them in the first place. Obviously, that’s a problem. A low open rate means your email marketing strategy is dead in the water.

Your open rate is even more significant than your total subscriber number. Think about it this way: Having 1,000 subscribers who all open your emails means much more exposure for your brand than having 6,000 subscribers but only a 2 percent open rate.

No question: You’ve got to get your emails opened. And the best way to do that is to tweak your subject lines—but how?

Tip #1: Make your subject lines longer.

Both the conventional wisdom and the natural instinct is to make your subject lines short and snappy. We’ve offered that very advice in the past. But one new study suggests that maybe longer—like, 60-70 characters, if not more—is the way to go.

Perhaps the rationale is simply this: When you’re working with just a couple of words, it’s hard to offer more than salesy platitudes and generalities. But if you give yourself more space, you can actually convey value and specificity to your readers.

So maybe it’s worth trying long subject lines for a while, just to see how they work.

Tip #2: Write in all lower case letters.

All caps screams of desperation, and can be pretty annoying. Mixing upper and lower case—you know, like you would in normal, everyday writing—is fine. But consider: a lot of the emails you get from your friends and family members probably come with all lower case subject lines.

Writing an all lower case subject line can convey intimacy and familiarity, then—and that’s not such a bad thing for your brand!

Tip #3: Provide value—but don’t give everything away.

As for the actual content of your subject lines, something we recommend is focusing on the value you offer—the benefits your email will provide—without getting into the specifics.

Show your readers what’s in it for them to open your email, but not necessarily how they’ll get it.

Example: Try a subject line that promises something like this: “Drive traffic to your website… and turn it into paying customers!”

You’re showing your readers exactly what they stand to gain from reading the email—but to learn how they’re going to gain it… through SEO, email marketing, or whatever else… they’ve got to open the email and read it.

Try some of these tips in your own email marketing—and see how your open rates improve. Talk with us about it by calling 803-831-7444, or visiting www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Email Writing, Writing

4 Things That Will Guarantee your Emails Don’t Get Opened

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Email marketing can pay off big time—but only if you do it right. And obviously, if you’re spending a lot of money on emails but not getting any of them opened by your target audience—if those emails go directly from inboxes to trashcans, contents unseen—then you’re doing little more than wasting money.

So what can you do to ensure that those emails get read? We’ve shared some email marketing best practices before. Today, what we’ll offer is a set of don’ts—some common email marketing elements that are sure to get your messages promptly deleted.

In other words, these are rookie errors—boneheaded mistakes—that will basically squander whatever effort you put into your email marketing campaign. Naturally, we recommend avoiding them at all costs!

Email Elements it Pays to Avoid

  1. Spelling and grammar errors. Yes, it sounds like common sense—but you’d be amazed at the number of business owners who take time to proof their messages but not their subject lines. If somebody receives an email from you and it’s got a glaring error in its subject heading, that immediately undercuts your authority—and all but guarantees your email gets rejected.
  2. Impersonal greetings. Here’s something else that can wreck your subject line—and thus, your entire email: A greeting that’s obviously impersonal and unspecific. Any message that comes with a title like Dear Sir or Madam will look like spam, and likely be treated as such.
  3. Spammy words. Along the same lines, spammy buzzwords located in your subject line will get your emails buried and your servers blacklisted. Avoid saying click here, % off, order now, sale ends at midnight—anything that clearly marks your marketing email as cheap or salesy.
  4. Bombast. Finally: Remember that a subject line is meant to be short and snappy. If your subject line lacks brevity, it may turn off busy readers who’d rather you get straight to the point.

There is plenty you can do to make email marketing a more effective tool for your business—but also plenty you shouldn’t do. Keep these tips in mind as you strive to achieve email marketing success.

For help crafting an effective email marketing campaign, contact the Grammar Chic team at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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Filed under Email Writing, Writing