Tag Archives: Grammar Chic

Tips for Writing Instagram Captions That Increase Engagement

Instagram has simply become too big and too popular to ignore. Perennially ranked as one of the fastest-growing social platforms, Instagram currently boasts well over a billion global users. And with the incorporation of social commerce functions, it’s more relevant than ever before to the interests of small business owners.

When leveraged effectively, Instagram can help you increase website traffic, boost brand awareness, even generate sales. To accomplish these goals, you certainly need high-quality images and videos. But you’ll also need something more than that: Strong captions that engage the user and encourage likes, shares, and other actions.

How to Write Effective Instagram Captions

So, what makes for effective copywriting on this image-driven social platform? There are a few considerations.

1) Front-load your sentences.

When your posts show up in a user’s newsfeed, Instagram will shorten your captions to about three lines. The user may click to expand the caption in order to read the full thing, but not everyone will take the time, especially if those first few lines don’t grab them. All that to say, front-load your captions with interest and with value. Ask a question or make an attention-grabbing statement. Make sure you pack plenty of good stuff into your opening sentence.

2) Encourage action.

Ultimately, you want your Instagram captions to spark some further action. The best way to make that happen is to ask for it, whether by posing a direct question to the user or by providing a clear call to action. Some specific things you can ask Instagram followers to do include:

  • Visit a particular link in your bio.
  • Leave a comment (usually to answer a specific question posed in the caption).
  • Tag a friend (this can help you expand your reach).
  • Share their own photo using a specific, branded hashtag.

3) Share insight.

An Instagram caption is not a blog post, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it as a way to share actionable advice, tips, or insights that are relevant to your field. Indeed, a post that shares real value is much more likely to be bookmarked or shared.

Side note: One of the best ways to generate insights for your Instagram captions is to actually use your blog posts. Read back through some recent posts for any bullet points that you could adapt to Instagram. Scuttling your blog for spare parts is an easy way to recycle content.

4) Be personable.

Generally speaking, the most effective Instagram captions are the ones that come across as human, not robotic. So, make sure you have a brand voice that can be casual, funny, and relatable. There’s no need to be as formal as you would be in, say, a press release. To that end, don’t be afraid to use emoji to animate your captions and inject some extra humor or emotion.

5) Use hashtags.

Hashtags are crucial for making your posts discoverable in the Instagram search algorithms, which can be key to broadening your reach. As you consider the right Instagram hashtags, we’d recommend a combination of branded hashtags (specific to your brand), community hashtags (widely used within your industry or field), and the occasional trending hashtag (but only when genuinely relevant).

Get Help with Marketing Copy

There’s a real art to effective social media copywriting… and if you need a little help mastering that art, we’re here for you. Set up a consultation call with Grammar Chic, Inc. by visiting www.grammarchic.net or by calling 804-831-7444.

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Email Inbox Overloaded: How to Apologize for a Delayed Response

Most of us know what it’s like to experience email overload. As your inbox becomes more and more crowded, and your life more and more stressful, it’s all too easy to delay your email responses. You may find yourself putting off that much-needed reply email for a couple of days, a couple of weeks… perhaps even upwards of a month.

When you finally do get around to writing that response, it’s normal to feel a little guilt over the delay. And whether it’s a professional correspondence or something more personal, it’s probably not the worst idea to acknowledge your faux pas with a word of apology.

But is simply saying “I’m sorry this took so long” sufficient? Depending on how important the subject matter, and how long the delay, you may feel compelled to go a bit further. We’ve got you covered. Here are a few tips on writing an effective apology for a delayed email response.

You Don’t Always Have to Apologize

First, we’d recommend pausing to consider whether an apology is really needed at all.

We’re all busy, and if it takes you a couple of days to respond to something that is clearly non-urgent, you can probably just assume that the person you’re emailing with gets it and doesn’t begrudge you the slight lag time. In these situations, there’s really no need to make things awkward, or to make your response more cumbersome, with a token apology. Just get straight to the substance of your email.

Try to Be Helpful

What if somebody asks you for something specific, and it takes you a little bit too long to acknowledge their request? In these situations, we would typically recommend owning up to the delay and also doubling up on your efforts to be helpful.

For example, let’s say someone asks you for a specific report, and it takes a little time to get back to them. You might try a response like this:

I’m sorry for the delayed response. It took me some time to find the report, and I wanted to also offer some supplemental information that you might find to be useful. The documents are all attached here.

If you’d like to schedule a few minutes to discuss this information together, I’d love to help however I can. Please just let me know if we can schedule a phone call, or if I can assist in some other way.

What we love about a response like this is that it owns up to the delay, but also makes it clear that you are not trying to be indifferent or unhelpful; if anything, the opposite is true.

Don’t Procrastinate on Delivering Bad News

Sometimes, you may find yourself in the tough position of telling someone that they didn’t get a job, or that you’re not moving forward with their proposed project. It’s always good to send these unhappy tidings sooner rather than later… but if you do wind up with a delay, try a response like this:

I’m sorry for the slow response. I had hoped to get back to you much sooner. We really enjoyed discussing your proposal with you, and felt like you brought a lot of great ideas to the table. Unfortunately, at this time, we have decided not to move ahead with the project.

With that said, I really appreciate your time, and think you have a lot of value to offer. I would be happy to keep you in mind for future projects, and to refer you to other contacts whenever possible.

Again, there’s no point in drawing out your apology or offering a pile-up of excuses. Just fess up, then get to the heart of the matter.

Get Help with Business Writing

These are just a couple of examples of how you can address delayed email responses… but if you’d like to drill down deeper into this subject matter, we’re happy to chat. Contact Grammar Chic for help with business communications or editing: Visit www.grammarchic.net or call 803-831-7444.

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6 Reasons to Invest in Professional Content Creation

Most business owners don’t need to be convinced of the value of online content. By now, the bottom-line benefits of content marketing are well-documented. The right content can lead to greater Google visibility, it can attract qualified leads, it can establish trust and rapport, and it can even ensure that customers are well-educated about your product and service offerings before they get in touch with your sales team.

No, the problem isn’t a perceived lack of value. The problem, in our experience, is a simple lack of time. Small business owners constantly have full plates, and as they get more and more swamped, blog-writing and content refreshes are usually the first items erased from the to-do list.

The solution? Hire a team of pros. Indeed, there are a number of benefits you can anticipate from investing in professional content creation.

Why Invest in Professional Content Creation?

  1. You lack a consistent online presence. Do you ever feel like your business is lost in a sea of competitors? One way to stand out, and to attract more attention from potential clients and customers, is to invest in blog posts, which in turn fuel your social media efforts. Regularly generating content allows you to cultivate a real presence on the Internet, potentially drawing in people who want to benefit from your thought leadership.
  2. You’re not feeding the beast. By the beast, of course, we mean Google’s algorithms, which constantly crave fresh, original content. If you’re not feeding the beast on a regular basis, sooner or later it will cause your SEO rankings to tumble.
  3. You’re creating content without an overarching strategy. Creating content just for content’s sake is a rookie mistake. A better approach is to build out a full strategy, including carefully defined goals and laser-focused buyer personas, then to create content that is tailored to move your bottom line. A professional content creator can help you with that.
  4. You’re not a great writer. Hey, there’s no shame in admitting that writing isn’t your strong suit. Whether you lack experience or simply aren’t able to write quickly, the last thing you want is for your brand to be tarnished with suboptimal content. Hire a team of pros to ensure the right level of polish and professionalism.
  5. Your content exists in a silo. Content isn’t supposed to live in a vacuum. Ideally, your content is developed to fuel your social media activity, to provide fodder for an email newsletter, and perhaps even to lay the groundwork for some compelling videos. A good content developer can help you bring all the pieces together into something coherent and strategic.
  6. You just don’t have time. We’ll say it again: Small business owners have a lot on their plate. We get it. And that’s why we love providing small companies with our content writing services, allowing their busy leaders to focus more time and attention on growing their business and developing their employees.

Questions About Professional Content Creation? Contact Grammar Chic, Inc

We’d love to tell you more about the advantages of choosing Grammar Chic, Inc. as your content creation partner. Reach out and schedule a consultation with us: Call 803-831-7444 or visit www.grammarchic.net.

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Don’t Let Writer’s Block Derail Your Content Strategy

Writer’s block can strike the best of us; just ask James Caan’s character in Misery. And while it can certainly be a lethal affliction for fiction writers, it’s just as unsettling for content marketers. If you’ve ever found yourself on a tight deadline for a company blog post, press release, or email newsletter, you know just how little wiggle-room there is. The last thing you need is to waste precious time waiting for inspiration to strike.

There’s no magic formula for banishing writer’s block, but there are a few simple remedies that can help get your creative juices flowing. Here are a few tricks and tips from Grammar Chic’s writers.

How to Deal with Writer’s Block

  • Walk away for a little while. You won’t accomplish much by banging your head against the desk, or by staring at a blank screen. So why not go for a walk? Get your blood pumping a little bit. Step outside to soak up some sun or make a quick phone call. Spend 15 minutes playing a mindless iPhone game and see if that helps you clear your head. You can’t put off your deadline forever, but you can take short breaks.
  • Always be looking for inspiration. You never know when a billboard or a line in your favorite TV show will inspire a company blog post. Be ready to jot down these inspiration points on your Notes app and consult it when you feel low on ideas.
  • Work when you know you’re at your most focused and creative. Some of us have our best ideas early in the morning. Others tend to perk up toward the end of the day. If you’re the kind of person who just always feels blank first thing in the AM, then choose a different time to get your writing done.
  • Ask for ideas. You know who probably has some great ideas for your next company blog post or newsletter? Your sales reps, who talk to customers day in and day out and know what some of the common questions and pain points are. Don’t hesitate to go to them for inspiration.
  • Just start writing. You may have no idea what your next piece of content is going to look like… but you can always write something: A list of keywords, questions, or even a simple outline. Even if you’re just regurgitating a precious blog post, the act of writing can often inspire fresh ideas.
  • Outsource your efforts. If your writer’s block becomes chronic, you may want to hire someone who can help you shape some new ideas. The Grammar Chic team would be happy to step in as needed.

Reach Out to Grammar Chic, Inc.

Do you feel inspired to learn more about our content writing services? If so, then let’s set up a time to chat. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. by visiting www.grammarchic.net, or by calling our office at 803-831-7444.

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Why Hire a Business Editor?

One way you can enhance your company’s written communication efforts—be that business emails, blog posts, press releases, or internal documents—is by hiring a business editor. A business editor is a skilled professional with expertise in bringing clarity and precision to written copy, focusing in particular on the kinds of copy produced in a business context.

What Does a Business Editor Do?

There are a number of specific ways in which a business editor can serve your company. Some examples include:

  • Moving or reorganizing sections of your text, providing a more logical sense of flow and coherence.
  • Rewriting minor sections of the copy, enhancing clarity and understanding, or simply making your arguments more persuasive.
  • Spotting and removing typos or grammatical errors, giving your copy a strong feel of professionalism.
  • Considering your text in light of the target audience and ensuring it’s well-positioned for maximum impact.
  • Alerting you to any industry terms, jargon, or acronyms that readers might not understand. (It’s very easy for business owners to overlook these issues; a second set of eyes is invaluable!)
  • Omitting any repetition or redundancy, keeping your writing as brief, clear, and focused as possible.
  • Ensuring a strong hook and clear outline, which allows your content to better hold the reader’s attention.
  • Assisting you in putting business terms and concepts into more accessible language. (Again it’s very easy for business owners to assume their ideas are clear to everyone. A business editor can inform you when that’s not quite the case!)
  • Sharpening your formatting and your section headings, making the content easy for readers to scan.

All of these services are offered in collaboration with the business owner or marketing department; a business editor will work with you to get your message across, drawing from your ideas but enhancing them with editorial polish.

What are the Benefits of Hiring a Business Editor?

There are some clear perks to enlisting the services of a business editor. Just a few of them include:

  • One of the biggest reasons to hire a business editor is that it enhances trust in your company. When you present copy that’s poorly written, unclear, disorganized, or riddled with errors, it makes you look sloppy or amateurish. A good editor can keep everything tight and clean, really helping you to look like you know what you’re doing!
  • Clarity of messaging is another important benefit. You know what you’re trying to convey to your target audience, but sometimes you may get so lost in the weeds that you don’t communicate with the necessary precision. A business editor can assist you with carefully honed messaging.
  • A business editor can also help you develop a consistent tone and voice for your brand. In other words, a business editor can work with you to make sure all your communications sound like they come from the same place. This tonal consistency can be an important aspect of brand-building.

There are a number of reasons why it can be prudent to hire a business editor. Grammar Chic, Inc. is a long-standing business editing service, with experience assisting entrepreneurs and marketers across countless industries. We’d love to talk to you more about our flexible, customizable business editing options. Reach out to us today and let’s chat: 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

 

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Why Content Marketing is the Best Bet for Your Startup

Launching a brand new enterprise can be plenty exciting, but also a little bit intimidating. Startup entrepreneurs will always face some uphill climbs, and one of the steepest is getting the word out about your business. Building a marketing presence from scratch is not just daunting, but potentially costly; without it, though, there’s little chance of the company ever developing the customer base it needs for success.

Of all the marketing activities available to your startup, there may be none that fit more seamlessly than content marketing. Indeed, content marketing has a few intrinsic benefits that make it ideally suited for newly-launched or soon-to-launch businesses.

Content Marketing and Your New Business

Here are just a few of the reasons why content marketing works so well in startup or new business contexts.

  • It’s easy to scale. One of the most valuable traits of content marketing is that it’s incredibly simple to start small and build from there. You can begin with a small budget, doing a lot of the work yourself, engaging through a few carefully-chosen channels, and expand as your audience grows and your company finds its footing.
  • It’s easy to customize. With something like broadcast TV ads, you wind up paying a lot of money to reach a general audience. With content marketing, you can spend less money to reach a more precisely-targeted audience. With the right data and analytics, you can ensure your content is being directed to the people you’re most eager to reach.
  • It helps you build a brand identity. A new business is sort of a blank canvas; it’s up to you to paint a picture of what the company is and what it stands for. Through content marketing, you can do that, providing thought leadership that exhibits your expertise, your values, and the basic proposition you have for your audience.
  • It’s conversational. Content marketing is as much about listing as it is broadcasting. Through social media, for example, you can generate real dialogue with your audience, then use their comments and feedback to fine-tune your marketing message as well as your product offering.
  • It allows you to earn attention. There’s definitely a time and a place for paid ads, sponsored social media posts, etc. With that said, carefully-crafted content can give you an opportunity to earn shares/likes/retweets/forwards organically, which can in turn help you generate word-of-mouth buzz.

These are just a few of the attributes that make content marketing a smart option for new businesses… so what’s the next step? We welcome you to reach out to the Grammar Chic, Inc. team to discuss some specific ways in which content marketing can help your young business grow. Connect at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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Online Marketing for Real Estate Agents – Tips & Tricks

Editor’s Note: There are numerous books, websites, and other mediums devoted to assisting real estate agents who want to grow their business. Few of these mediums, however, provide substance when it comes to leveraging the possibilities of online marketing. Mary Beth Downing is a Dayton, Ohio real estate agent who has gotten off to a fast start in her career by leveraging the web. In the article below, she shares how she has achieved early success.

Breaking in as a real estate agent is incredibly difficult. This difficulty is the reason why so many agents quit within their first few years, out of frustration. I’ve seen realtor discussion boards in which many agents say that one should only expect to sell three to four homes in their first year. As of this writing, I’ve had my license for slightly over five months and I’ve put eight homes under contract. The most exciting part is that each month has been better than the previous. I’m excited to use this article to share how I’m going about growing my business.

The biggest thing that has surprised me, early on, is the extent to which many new agents entirely devote their time to trying to meet people face to face as opposed to leveraging online resources. These online resources can include paid ads as well as things which you own outright (more on this below). It’s understandable that many new agents don’t want to put money into building a website or into online listings. In my opinion, however, there’s a flaw in refusing to do so. If you take the approach that “I’m not spending any money and I’ll spend my time networking and trying to meet people” then you’re only saving money if you value your time at $0. Given that time is valuable, and can’t be replaced, I find online marketing to be highly effective.

In my first five months I’ve focused on three main areas: my website, my blog, and video. I’ll discuss each of these in turn.

Real estate agents can use their website to attract and capture leads

Most agents don’t invest the time or money to create a website for themselves. This is the first mistake as having a web presence helps to validate you in the eyes of potential clients. Simply, having a website, however, isn’t enough; too many agents build a basic page for the sake of having one, but don’t truly leverage their site. You can use your website to attract clients who would have never heard of you otherwise. You can then use it to capture more of those leads and turn them into signed contracts.

I didn’t want a website that simply said “Hi, this is me. I’m a real estate agent.” I wanted something that would actually provide value to potential clients. This is why I had my webmaster integrate the MLS (through third-party software) into my site. This allows people to search listings of homes for sale through my site instead of through a service such as Zillow. One of the big benefits of this has been that individual home listings tend to show up well in organic search results on Google and Bing. So when people see a for sale sign, and search for the specific address to get more information, my site’s listing of the property shows up. People then land on my website and call me from there. This results in leads with no additional time or meaningful financial investment on my part.

Another big benefit is that the MLS integration into my website allows me to automate the follow-up process. The software I use, to integrate the MLS, allows me to add a lead’s email and other information to a database. That lead will then receive automated emails whenever a new listing, which meets their desired criteria, comes on the market. This means that, instead of me having to call someone about a new listing, they receive it automatically. This helps people to be informed of listings they may be interested in and, importantly, ensures that the information is coming from me. I could spend hours, every day, researching listings and calling people or I could have an automated system which handles this task. I prefer the latter.

My blog is crucial to my strategy of driving seller listings

As I mentioned above, most realtors don’t create a website. Of the ones who do, very few create a blog and maintain it. Blogging is crucial to my strategy going forward. The thing about a blog post is that it can be the gift that keeps on giving. Say, for example, that I write an article on “how to price your home for sale” and it gets clicked on just five times a month in search. That’s five clicks every month that I pay no money for and spend no time on after I’ve written the article. In other words, investing a little bit of time provides me with web content, which I own outright, that will continue to give me indefinite exposure to potential

clients. This is why I wrote a comprehensive series on the subject of “selling your home.” I see my blog as a crucial component to obtaining listings without expending extensive time or money.

Video is important to helping me convert leads into clients

One of the first things I did after starting my business is hire a videographer to make the following “intro” video:

This has been vital in terms of helping me convert leads into clients. This has happened in two ways.

First, the client with the highest dollar contract I’ve signed so far explicitly mentioned my video when they first contacted me. In other words, these clients found me on the web and were considering calling me. They watched my video and it helped clinch their decision. Second, and interestingly, is another call I received. I market heavily on Zillow for a given zip code. My video appears on my Zillow profile as well as on my website. I received a call from a homeowner in the zip code I market to. She stated that she had been receiving letters from realtors offering to assist with selling her home (a common tactic for obtaining listings). She went onto Zillow to get an idea of what her home may be worth as part of deciding whether or not she wanted to sell it. Since I market to her zip code, she came across my Zillow profile and watched my video. She then contacted me regarding the listing of her home and, again, explicitly mentioned my video.

The foregoing are two examples of how my video introduces me to clients and helps me to convert more leads into signed contracts. I own this video outright. That means it’s another gift that keeps on giving. It’s another way that I’m getting clients, on an ongoing basis, without having to expend large amounts of time or pay ongoing amounts of money.

I strongly believe that many real estate agents are missing out on their opportunity to leverage the web. This is actually good news. The fact that agents aren’t leveraging the web means that it’s not as competitive as one may think. In my humble opinion, this is the best way to leverage one’s time and money when growing their business.

I owe a big thanks to Amanda Clark and the team at Grammar Chic for inviting me to write on this topic.

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Grammar Chic, Inc. Earns Accreditation with the Better Business Bureau

Since 2009, Grammar Chic, Inc. has been a trusted name in written content creation. Our ghostwriters have helped countless small and mid-sized businesses develop a competitive edge through original marketing collateral, while our resume writing team has assisted innumerable jobseekers land exciting new positions. Now, Grammar Chic’s reputation has been made official, thanks to formal accreditation by the Better Business Bureau.

About the BBB

For more than 100 years, the BBB has been an icon of trust in the marketplace. Companies that go through the accreditation are thoroughly vetted and validated as businesses of immense professionalism and honesty. It’s no wonder, then, that more than 70 percent of all consumers say they’d prefer to buy from a BBB-accredited business.

Grammar Chic, Inc. is proud to come out of this rigorous vetting process with the BBB’s seal of legitimacy, and we hope it further inspires trust from our customers and partners.

Our BBB Reviews

What’s more, our accreditation through the BBB means that customers who do business with Grammar Chic, Inc. can now leave us feedback on the BBB website, letting other customers know what their experience was like.

Our team has always sought honest feedback, and we’re thrilled to have another channel to hear from the clients we serve. Grammar Chic, Inc. welcomes reviews on our BBB profile, and as usual, we take very seriously the insights our clients have to offer.

Grammar Chic, Inc.’s Writing Services

With BBB accreditation in tow, Grammar Chic enters a new era of offering writing services to our clients—including:

  • Development of original, SEO-friendly website content.
  • Creation of blog posts, marketing emails, and other marketing collateral.
  • Management of social media accounts, including strategy, content creation, and reporting.
  • Editing and proofreading for business documents of all kinds.
  • Resume and cover letter creation for jobseekers at all levels.

To learn more about our trusted, value-adding writing services—all provided by in-house, salaried, native English-speaking writers—we invite you to contact Grammar Chic, Inc. today. Reach us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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