Is This Blog Really Necessary?

The ancient art of blogging has come a long way since the early days of the Internet. For every industry, occupation, niche, interest and hobby, there are countless companies and individuals posting their thoughts, experiences and opinions about everything they can think of. From the sustainability of cryptocurrency to the best things to see and do in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to the controversial subject of who shot first, Greedo or Han.

I rest my case. (Image courtesy of Stephen Hayford Plastics)

But with so much digital saturation, are blogs still a viable marketing tool? Do people still read them? Are they worth the time and energy it takes to craft each carefully worded sentence?

The answer to these questions, dear reader, is absolutely, undoubtedly and for sure, 100% yes.

In 2016, Blogger, the nation’s largest blogging platform, reported they receive 46 million unique visitors every single month. That’s like the combined populations of Texas and New York. That’s why 67% of B2B marketers and 56% of B2C marketers use blogs as a tool in their social media campaigns.

But why are blogs so critical to online marketing? I’m glad you asked.

Blogs build a stronger relationship between you and your audience

You wouldn’t be doing what you’re doing if it weren’t for the passion you have for it. Sharing that passion with your customers, especially ones that feel the same as you, creates a connection that goes well beyond that of business owner and customer. It creates a bond between the two of you that’s much more than a simple transaction. It makes you part of the same community or tribe.

Plus providing content that’s relevant to your industry or niche puts you in the position of expert, teacher or mentor. And while you can have some fun (I’ll get to that in a minute), I can’t emphasize the importance of the word relevant enough there. If you’re an astronomer, you can’t just post a bunch of pictures of your dog in a pirate costume and expect people to believe you when you tell them you know everything about the Westerlund 2 star cluster.

Grarrrgh… Thar be starrrs here. (Image courtesy of Brett Briley)

Blogs enhance your SEO

Blogs are also an incredibly powerful tool for improving your SEO. To understand why, you need to know that Google currently runs eight search algorithms, codenamed Hummingbird, Pigeon, Mobile, RankBrain, Panda, Possum, Penguin and Fred. Honestly, they sound like the worst collection of superheroes ever, but together they work together to check your website for keyword, relevancy, age, location, originality, mobile-friendliness and quality of content.

So of those factors that Google uses, which do you think is the most important? If you said bacon, I like the way you think. Although it’s completely wrong, I will give you partial credit for thinking outside the box. If you said quality of content, give yourself a gold star. And a piece of bacon.

Here you go. I made this piece just for you.

Quality content that is relevant, original and engaging is king when it comes to Google’s search rankings and marketers know it. That’s why there’s so much online. Check out some of these fun statistics about life in the digital ether:

  • 1 billion+ web pages in existence
  • 2 million+ blogs posted every day
  • 70,000+ videos viewed every second
  • 2 billion+ active users on Facebook alone
  • 35 million emails sent every second
  • 5 billion google searches every day

That’s a lot of noise. So to be heard above all the clamor and clatter, you have to provide real content to appeals to your audience. In fact, 80.5% of marketers list ‘writing amazing content’ as one of the top three keys to a building a successful blog.

Posting regular content on your blog also keeps your site fresh (another important search factor) and lets your audience know you’re still in business. And because you’re building up an archive of content for you site, those blogs will help drive more traffic to your site, ensuring long-term success.

Blogs support your social media campaigns

For those who live for social media campaigns, a good blog can go a long way towards more clicks, shares and retweets. Sharing a blog on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn gives your followers something with substance, teaching them the secret knowledge you’ve promised them so they can finally start that cult of all things you. Or it could just persuade them to buy your product or service.

Posting links to your blogs through your social media also gives your followers an easy way to share your products, services or brand to a potentially huge audience. All it takes is a few people to share your post and the exposure begins to grow exponentially. Shares and clicks turn into more traffic for your site, which converts into sales, which turns into great success. Why do you think all those B2B and B2C marketers love blogs so much?

Blogs help you be more… you.

When you write a blog, you have the unique opportunity to humanize your business. Let your hair down, bring the music down a notch and get real with your audience. Tell them your brandstory about who you are and what you’re about.

If your great-grandfather started the company selling nose-hair clippers out of a burlap sack outside of Wrigley Field in Chicago, embrace that quirky origin story and share it with the world. If you’re passionate about the plight of the rare slow jam lizard (Reptilius chillaximus), let people know about it.

Ohhhh… I got me some scaly blues… cuz some gecko stole my baby.

And remember that time you were reading this blog and I said you can have some fun with your blog? Yeah, that was awesome.

But seriously, if you want to inject a little humor in there, do it! Who am I to judge? Besides, laughter triggers the brain’s emotional reward center and delivers whopping amounts of dopamine, serotonin and endorphins, all of which make you feel like a rockstar. And if your audience can feel that way just from reading your blog, imagine how they’ll feel when they use your products or service!

Bottom line… there are no rules that say you have to have a blog to help your business. I’m sure Coca-Cola, Nike, Starbucks and Target could all do perfectly fine without one. But a blog can do a lot of good for your business. Besides, to quote Matthew McConaughey, “It’d be a lot cooler if you did.”

 

 

Do Your Words Matter?

Studies have shown a direct relationship between positive/negative words and the impact they have on the growth of things. In essence, if you tell a plant how much you love it, it will grow and flourish in comparison to a plant that is given nothing but negative critique and feedback.

So what does this have to do with copywriting? Simply put… Everything.

As a copywriter, the most powerful tools you have are your words. Despite the antiquated philosophy of ‘sticks and stones,’ the truth is words are powerful things with the ability to harm, heal, educate and persuade.

When you write, you should always do so to accomplish one of three goals (bonus points if you can knock out more than one at a time). I call them the Three E’s:

  • Entertain – Just like that friend that makes you laugh so hard you rupture your spleen, content that entertains your audience will draw them in so you can connect with them on a personal level.
  • Educate – In today’s Google-savvy world, information is never farther than a click away so take the time to show off your knowledge. They’ll come to depend on you because they trust your expertise.
  • Engage – While entertaining and educating your audience is important to draw in interest, it’s a waste if you don’t engage them. You have to challenge them to act because if you don’t, someone else will.
David C Justin, Dallas Copywriter

The goal of copywriting is all about creating sales for your business. You can do this by Entertaining, Educating and Engaging.

To accomplish these goals, your words have to matter. They mean the difference between connecting with your audience on an emotional level or creating a disconnect so great that they click back, turn the page, change the channel or close the book, never to look back.

But connecting with your audience isn’t always easy. You have to know them well enough to elicit a subconscious reaction that resonates on a personal level for them. In other words, they have to feel what you’re saying. And the only way to do that is by using the right words to make what you’re writing about them or about what they want or what they need, even if they themselves don’t even know it yet.

The best way to do this is to use specific words that connect with your audience, words that will intrigue them, interest them or convince them that reading on is in their best interest.  Some of these ‘power’ words are:

  • You
  • Free
  • Love
  • Power
  • Guarantee
  • Easy
  • New
  • Safe
  • Discover
  • Healthy
  • Save

By learning the best way to use these words to persuade and influence your audience, you’ll discover you have the power to attract new leads and generate new business.

And I guarantee you’re going to love it.

How to Maximize Your Quality Time

I was in a client meeting the other day and was asked to talk about myself. So I gave him the usual spiel.

My wife and I blended our families about 4 years ago. Her contributions to the mix were two daughters and a dog that likes to bark incessantly any time someone knocks on the front door. I also brought two daughters to the party, but mine are twins. As of this writing, their ages are 16, 13, 12 and 12.

And they are busy.

Theatre. Band. Orchestra x2. Soccer x3. Not to mention another set of parents and families to schedule around, plus social calendars that would put a New York socialite to shame. Add to this complicated juggling act two full-time jobs and you can imagine our level of exhaustion at the end of an average day. I’m sure many of you can relate.

When I told my client this, he asked how I manage to do all this and still have time to freelance. I told him, my wife and I do things a certain way to ensure that not only do I have time to work, but we also have quality time as both a couple and as a family. Since that meeting, I’ve thought about this and realized that there are really seven things my wife and I have done to maximize our quality time.

Do you think this guy wasted a bunch of time watching television?

Cut the Cord

It might sound sacrilegious but we didn’t watch the Super Bowl this year. Also not watched were the Olympics, the World Series and every single episode of Game of Thrones and This Is Us. Other than Netflix, we don’t have a TV service provider, nor do we want one. This frees up an enormous amount of time that would normally be sucked away by reruns of The Big Bang Theory.

Have Family Dinners

Every chance we get, we sit down to dinner as a family. We’ve banned smartphones, tablets, TV and music while we eat so we can concentrate on conversation, updates and lots of laughter. And there’s bonus points when the kids help cook.

Point Out the Beautiful and the Amazing in the World

From richly-hued sunrises and shooting stars to joyful children and flowers encased in ice, we make it a point to share the beautiful and amazing things we see in this world with our daughters. You know you’ve made an impact when they start pointing these things out to you.

Limit Social Media Exposure

Believe it or not but I don’t have Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat or Instagram, although I do have Facebook and LinkedIn. My daughters each have the ‘Gram and Music.ly but we monitor them and limit their exposure if they’re getting too consumed by it. Being tied to every social media app in the digital ether keeps your attention glued to that little screen in your hand and ignorant to what’s going on around you. So limit your time, be present in the real world and teach your kids the same thing.

Live a Day Without Electronics

A couple of times a month, we ditch our electronics for the day and live like its 1985. We go on hikes, go to a museum or play a board game. Heck, if you really want to be daring and adventurous, find the closest lake, pond or river and go fishing. You’ll enjoy it even if you don’t get a single bite.

Make Your Errands an Adventure

Every other weekend, we go grocery shopping. And my daughters love going with me despite the fact that we go to three different stores. The secret? We make it fun by challenging them to find the items on the shopping list. This gives them the confidence of problem solving plus exploring the store. And of course we sample every food we can lay our hands on.

Turn Extra-Curricular into Extra Time

When one of our daughters has an extra-curricular event, whether it’s a soccer game, theatre performance or orchestra/band concert, everyone goes. No exceptions unless there’s a scheduling conflict. Not only does it show unified family support for each other but gives you extra time to spend with your kids.

We’re not the most perfect family. Not by a long shot. But we try to make every moment have the potential for something better. To quote the great fictional philosopher Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

What is SEO?

What is SEO?

How was the universe formed?

Where exactly is Timbuktu?

I only have time to answer one of these questions today so I’ll choose the one that is the most relevant to this blog and you, my target audience.

Quit looking. I found it.

The city of Timbuktu is on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert. Established in the 12th century as a seasonal settlement, it is located in the landlocked Republic of Mali in Western Africa.

And that went much quicker than I anticipated, so let’s talk about SEO.

SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of making your online content more enticing to the great and powerful search engines called Google and Bing and therefore moving up the search rankings and showing up sooner. This is critically important because people don’t typically like to click past page one of the search results. In fact, 95% of web traffic goes to the sites on the page one results and the number one result gets 33% of overall search traffic.

So how do you get your site higher in the rankings? Two options here. Option one… you can walk outside, turn around three times and spit in an easterly direction. Or you optimize your site your site for the spiders. Come to think of it, that first option might be to remove a baseball hitting slump hex so ignore it.

You see, search engines send bots called spiders out to scour the web for content. Spiders. The Web. Get it? That took some next-level marketing brain power to come up with that word association there.

When the spiders look at a website like this one, they’re looking for three main factors:

  • Relevant content – This is where those keywords factor in. Does your site cover topics related to your offered services and products or does it spend all its space discussing the city of Timbuktu?
  • Hyperlinks – Does your site share the love and add links to other relevant sites? Better still, do other sites link back? It’s kind of like a high school popularity contest.
  • New Content – Fresh and updated content is crucial to a website’s success in the world of the spiders. If they come by several times and everything is exactly the same each time, they’ll assume your site is dead and begin to drop it in the search rankings.

Now there’s something you need to keep in mind. Just because you say you want to go to Timbuktu doesn’t mean you get there instantly. You’ve got some planning and traveling to do. SEO campaigns are the same way. They take time. The spiders have to check out your content, compare it to other sites and then swing back by for a follow up visit. The whole process can take weeks or even months. So be patient and give it time. And update your site with relevant, updated content and hyperlinks.

On a side note… in a few weeks, this page might be the top ranked page when searching for an SEO expert in Timbuktu. I guess that means I need to start brushing up on my French. Au revoir!

Disclaimer: Just because I know this information about SEO and spiders doesn’t make me an expert. There are some really brilliant SEO folks out there like Malcom Chakery. But I like to read and I like to learn which makes me know just enough to be dangerous.

Copy vs Content

Do you know the difference between copy and content? If you don’t, it’s okay. You’re not alone. I asked a random guy on the street last week and he didn’t know either.

But don’t fret or worry. You can always look it up on Google. Or you can just keep reading, which is much easier.

In the world of advertising and marketing, there are two types of written message: copy and content.

Copy exists with a singular objective. It is created to convince or persuade you to commit some form of action. It can be as simple as asking you to follow this blog (Wink. Wink. Nudge. Nudge.). However, it’s usually written to get you to buy something like ice cream. Not that it takes a lot to convince us to buy ice cream.

Copy is typically seen in advertisements, marketing emails, direct mail outs and landing pages.

Hey. I like ice cream. Why didn’t anyone offer me any ice cream?

Content, on the other hand, is written to inform, entertain or generate curiosity by sharing relevant or interesting information. For example, did you know that once removed from their natural habitat, poison dart frogs lose their toxicity due to change in diet? And now I bet you want to click on that link, don’t you? Well, that’s what good content does for you.

Content is most commonly found in blogs, articles, infographics and podcasts.

So how do you know which type of message would best suit you and your business? That all depends on what you want to achieve.

Why You Should Hire a Good Copywriter

A selfie with this guy would be worth more than a thousand words.

Can a good copywriter help you scale the Himalayas so you can take a selfie with a yeti?

Can a good copywriter help you wrestle a grizzly bear for the right to catch salmon in the Yukon River with your teeth?

Can a good copywriter help you play a game of Marco Polo with great white sharks off the coast of South Africa?

The answer to all of the above is probably no. Unless, of course, your copywriter is part Indiana Jones and part Lara Croft.

But there are plenty of other reasons you should hire a copywriter.

They know when to use a comma, when not to and that most people don’t really care one way or another about the Oxford comma.

They know the difference between THERE, THEIR and THEY’RE. Although, admittedly, they still get tripped up occasionally by ITS and IT’S.

They know the difference between AFFECT and EFFECT.

They can improve your online visibility if you’re into that sort of thing.

But most important, they can help you communicate with your target audience clearly and effectively, generating leads, creating interest and providing trusted information.

In other words, they can help you succeed.