5 Ways to Improve your Business Blog

Internets = srs.biz. Parody motivator.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nowadays, almost all small businesses and corporations have an official blog. Thousands of employees also have their own personal blog to share thoughts and insights to fellow employees. All in all, blogging is a fixture and an important element of how we do business today.

While business blogs are plentiful, that doesn’t mean they are all good. Worse yet, a poorly-written or unprofessional blog can damage your and your company’s reputation quickly.

A vibrant and informative blog, however, can boost your personal brand, show others your expertise and fuel interest in your business. Here are 5 simple ways to improve your business blog, whether you’re writing for your customers or an internal audience:

  1. Provide lots of information and answers, not sales. The most interesting blogs don’t list the benefits of a product or service. Instead, they showcase these benefits in interesting ways. You could tell a customer’s story,  analyze a trend or answer common questions. Speak to your readers and initiate a conversation, don’t preach.
  2. Address challenges with candor. Don’t shy away from discussing your business’ problems or challenges, write about them in a straightforward and professional way. These topics draw in readers who will connect with you and your message strongly.
  3. Write well. Take the time to create well-written posts. Jargon and slang reflect poorly, no matter how common they are in conversation at your office. Your posts don’t need to be term paper-worthy, but they should have excellent grammar, spelling and structure.
  4. Make sharing and commenting easy. Create a great conversation by allowing readers to easily share your content and comment.
  5. Create a queue of finished posts. Publishing content frequently and consistently isn’t always possible! Keep the content flowing by writing several posts to go out at later times. The number of posts to queue differs for everyone, so choose what’s best for your blog.

P.S. Do you read (or write) an awesome business blog? I’d love to explore your favorites. Pass it along!

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5 Big Grammar Mistakes Common in Web Writing

As business writers, we create content for websites, blogs and intranet sites almost every day. This writing can be challenging because it’s more difficult to catch small mistakes on a computer screen than on a piece of paper. Yet, these mistakes are visible to all your readers, including employees, customers and potential clients, making you appear careless.

Your web writing is important, so make sure you avoid these common mistakes that destroy your credibility.

1. Loose vs. Lose (homonyms)

Wrong: We can’t loose this account.

Right: We can’t lose this account.

2. It’s vs. Its (homonyms)

Wrong: Bring the presentation, along with it’s adjoining documents.

Right: Bring the presentation, along with its adjoining documents.

3. They’re vs. Their vs. There (homonyms)

Wrong: The executive team is currently in they’re meeting.

Right: The executive team is currently in their meeting.

4. Effect vs. Affect

NOTE: In general, affect is a verb which means “to influence,” while effect is a noun which means “the result.” There are exceptions to this, such as “a happy affect” and “to effect change.”

Wrong: The work-life balance symposium has had many positive affects on our company’s culture.

Right: The work-life balance symposium has had many positive effects on our company’s culture.

5. Overuse of Ellipsis

NOTE: The ellipsis (” . . . “) is a series of marks that indicates the intentional omission of a word, phrase or section. The ellipsis also indicates an unfinished thought.

Web writing, especially blogs, use the ellipsis too frequently. Using the ellipsis to indicate an unfinished thought has great impact in fiction and poetry, such as portraying melancholy. However, they should be used sparingly in business writing. Frequent use of ellipsis makes the writer appear lazy or unable to finish a complete thought.

Why worry about good writing for your website?

When creating (or redesigning) your business’ website, design and code are vital. You want to immediately impress and draw in visitors with your site’s punchy and professional appeal. But by focusing only on the site’s development, color scheme and fonts, the site won’t achieve the success you want. You must take the time to create  high-quality copy for every page.

Writing matters to website design and, ultimately, its success. Great copy makes your site better by:

1. Dividing information logically and intuitively

If the site’s information isn’t organized, it’s difficult to read. This means that visitors will leave before they are persuaded to buy your product or service. When the information is divided and distilled intuitively, visitors will want to read every page — and return again and again. These visitors are most likely to share your ideas with others or purchase what you’re selling.

2. Determining search engine optimization

Your copy influences its search engine optimization — and whether or not searchers can find the site. Without properly placed keywords, your site may be beautiful, but will not show up in search results.

3. Showing the reader who you are and how you do business

With great writing, you demonstrate to readers that you have a great attention to detail, know your business and have a professional attitude. Also, clear descriptions of your business’ services, products and mission will attract the best prospective clients.

4. Selling your products and ideas 

The site’s design and useability attract the visitor initially. The words are what seal the deal. With excellent, benefit-orientated writing, visitors will become promoters of your blog posts and business. Ultimately, the writing turns visitors into customers.

Good writing is vital for your site’s success. Make sure you are putting the time and effort into creating great copy. If you aren’t sure where to start or need help creating insightful content, be sure to hire an expert.

Engaged Writers = Engaged Employees (Part 1)

KPMG’s What Makes A Top Employer Video Contest...Employee engagement is vital for growing your business’ bottom line. Improving engagement increases productivity rates, retention, morale, creativity and overall financial performance. How to actually go about measuring – and then improving – employee engagement is heavily debated.

Practically every business book, magazine or blog weighs in on how to develop an employee engagement strategy that gets results. Some suggest collaborative decision making, coaching programs or greater professional development opportunities.

Whatever strategy your business develops, make sure it includes engaged writing.

Engaged writers captivate readers. They understand the importance of their writing in strengthening the organization’s goals, brand and messaging. They develop new ideas and creative concepts to showcase their message – through dynamic social media, power point presentations or simply via email. Their energy and dedication shines in their writing. Engaged writers are foundational to any employee engagement program because clear, vibrant communications support and sustain larger (and more costly) employee engagement initiatives.

Engaged writers are not only dedicated copywriters or communications specialists – anyone who writes at work can (and should) be an engaged writer. In part 2, I’ll share simple techniques to become a more engaged writer at work.

How do you define “engaged writing”? Have you seen examples of this type of writing at your work? How did it help employee engagement?

5 Reasons to Start that Internal Blog

Blogging is contributing to a conversation – a conversation that’s happening with or without your input. Internal blogs are platforms for thoughts, ideas and perspectives pertaining to vital conversations at your business.

Whether you’re a professional, supervisor or executive, you have an abundance of knowledge, information and experiences. Blogging benefits your business by allowing you to share your thoughts, ideas and perspectives easily. You can tell anecdotes, recommend an insightful book, offer tips or address pressing concerns.

While an internal blogs’ return on investment cannot be measured quantitatively, blogging benefits your business by:

  1. Increasing morale and engagement: Your employees and co-workers will appreciate your candid discussion of their concerns and questions. Use an upbeat and positive tone – your optimistic attitude will be infectious. By sharing your advice and experiences, you’ll promote collaboration and equip your readers to tackle similar challenges more easily.
  2. Creating a feeling of connectedness: Employees and co-workers throughout the world will read your posts, and contribute their thoughts by commenting. By addressing internal concerns, you’ll promote transparency and openness. Also, you can blog about the corporation’s long-term objectives and projects or relate the business’s work to important events and trends, giving employees insight into the importance of their contributions.
  3. Raising awareness and promote change: By blogging strategically, your message will grow stronger throughout the organization. For example, if you are an executive implementing a new sales strategy, dedicate your blog to outlining the strategy’s goals, tips for improving sales tactics or stories about individual employee’s experiences selling under the new strategy.
  4. Showcasing your business’ resources and opportunities: Promote your corporation or business internally by highlighting why it’s a great place to work, exciting new opportunities and resources for employees to leverage. Blogging is one of the best ways to strengthen your business’ brand internally, which bolsters how your customers perceive your brand.
  5. Keeping employees coming back for more: Insightful and thoughtful blog posts will peak readers’ interest, so they’ll want to keep coming back again and again. Over time, your blog will become a hub for important information, resources and conversation.

Internal blogs help businesses grow, fostering more productive and knowledgeable work environments. Give your blog the attention it deserves; high-quality content is vital for it’s success. If you aren’t sure where to start or need help creating insightful content, be sure to hire an expert.

Have you read a business’ internal blog that impressed you? What did you like most about it? What made it successful?