Thankful

I am thankful for the wonderful clients I have worked with this year.

We’ve experienced some amazing writing and editing adventures: websites, books, articles, blog posts, autoresponders, newsletters, e-books, reports, and case studies. I have learned and grown as a writer.

The best part was getting to enjoy working with my clients.

Thank you for the privilege and opportunities. I look forward to more adventures in the coming year.

Got Bloggers?

Did you know that if you are a nonprofit organization, you can invite bloggers to write in their personal blogs in support of your organization? (If you are a for-profit company doing a market campaign with a nonprofit, you might want to know this as well. It would be a great suggestion to give your nonprofit partners, and you might have the resources to help them set it up.)

We all know that the best way to spread any message is word of mouth. And what better word than the words written by people who love blogging and love what you do.

Compassion International offers a great example of engaging bloggers to make a difference in the life of a child. You can learn more at their Compassion Bloggers web page.

Samaritan’s Purse also offers a Blogger Network and sends occasional blog post topics for people to write about. I recently wrote a post in one of my blogs in response to the annual Samaritan’s Purse Christmas Shoebox project (notice I am intentionally not using the full name of the project because I don’t want this blog post to detract from their own online messaging).

You can read my blog post about the shoeboxes, where you’ll see that I opened with my own story: what a special Christmas box meant to me as a teenager. Then I went on to explain why I love the project. I closed with a reminder of the upcoming collection date and a link to their website.

Samaritan’s Purse did not pay me to write that post. I offered it voluntarily – in other words, I have offered my blog and my blog writing skills to support their cause and to let people know what they are doing. Therefore, I am not under advertising influencer restrictions.

Yet I did choose to write at the bottom of my post, in italics, that “I volunteer for the public Samaritan’s Purse Blogger Network,” with a link to their blogger website. (Some blogger networks even provide a badge or button that bloggers can add to their posts with this messaging already on it.) That alleviates any questions about my reason for blogging and my relationship to the organization. It also alerts other bloggers that they can sign up for a similar opportunity to blog for this organization.

In my blog posts, I also sometimes talk about or refer to The Center for Inner Healing, Inc., which is another nonprofit organization I support with my writing and for which I also volunteer locally. There again, I am not paid to write about the organization. But for the sake of informing my readers, I add to those posts that “I enjoy volunteering for The Center for Inner Healing, Inc.”

Blogger networks and blog posts by volunteers: Those are two different ways you can help bloggers write about the amazing things your organization is doing. While bloggers may choose to write about you in any type of blog, whether personal or business, often people will write about your organization in their own blog with a similar theme. Bloggers often write because they are passionate about a cause. If their passion lines up with your cause, chances are it’s something that will interest the readers of their blog as well. That’s more people who would love to know what you are doing and who would love to click on your website link to learn more.

If you set up a blog network or allow your volunteers to blog about your organization, be sure and create a disclaimer that the volunteer/network bloggers are not representing your organization. You might also occasionally spot check to be sure the blogging network is being utilized appropriately (one of your volunteers that you trust may enjoy that task).

If your own volunteers write on their own blogs, be sure they understand what is and is not appropriate to talk about (i.e., no confidential information from inside the organization) and be sure they indicate in their blog posts that they are volunteers, so readers will know they are not speaking on your behalf. You can provide whatever messaging you want them to add to their posts to clarify this, or even create a message badge or button for them.

When I reference The Center for Inner Healing, Inc. in my blog posts, I am very careful to word things so readers will know I am not representing or speaking on behalf of that organization, but rather I am responding to them as a volunteer who loves what they do.

There are bloggers out there who love what you do. Consider giving them a way to give back through their blogging.

People Are Waiting for Your Blog

I love writing blog posts. Why? Because I also love reading blogs. I enjoy the experience. As a writer and business owner, I want to create that experience for others. Your blog will also create an amazing experience for your website visitors.

That’s exactly what people want to find in your blog: an amazing experience. They want to come to your website, read your blog, and feel like they have already tried out your products or services through the stories you share. They want to have that experience before they sign up or purchase something. If you create this atmosphere for them, your product or service will fit in easily. The experience comes first.

How do you create that atmosphere with your blog? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Let readers know who you are. Tell your story. Why do you love your product or service so much? How has it changed your life? (Let people know how you, yourself, are a customer or client of your own business.) What motivated you to start this business to offer this product or service to others? How do you hope to help make their lives better?
  2. Why should readers trust your perspective on your field of business? What are the specific problems and struggles you have seen – and personally experienced – that have motivated you to offer a solution? (Very often, we are concerned about our loved ones and readers will connect emotionally with your honesty.) What are your values – as a person and as a business leader?
  3. What is it like for you to work with your products or services every day? What are some of the highlights, the memorable moments in the life of your business? Share about a time when you said, “Wow, I’m so glad I get to do this every day.” People love those stories. They want to be part of those experiences.
  4. What advice, suggestions, and helpful tips can you share with your website visitors, based on your experiences of working in this business? If you had only one opportunity to talk to a person who is asking questions about your products or services, what would you want that person to know? Don’t think about sales. This is a bigger moment. If you had one chance to impart some wisdom or a helpful suggestion about the problems or struggles that brought that person to your website, what would it be? Picture the person standing in front of you, asking for help. What would you say to that person?
  5. Think about something new and surprising that’s happened with your business. It could be a discovery that led to a new product or service. Or just one of those amazing moments when you said, “Wow. Did that just really happen?” If you have employees, think about a moment when one of them experienced something fascinating or even life-changing at work. Or a unique moment when a customer or client shared something interesting about your products or services. (Obviously, you’ll either want their permission to share – which is a powerful way to blog – or you can share more generically using a different name and changing the specifics.)

People enjoy hearing stories. They enjoy experiences. Your prospective clients and customers actually want a blog they can look forward to reading and sharing. If they were interested enough in your product or service to find your blog post, they want to know more. They want to explore and try out what you offer before they make a purchase decision. They want to find someone they can trust for reliable information and answers to their questions, and then spend some time listening to you.

A well-crafted blog can provide all of that and more. Your clients and customers are waiting to hear from you. It’s time to start blogging! What will your next blog post be? Let me know – I would love to read it.

Blog Posts Build Customer Relationships

Blog posts are a great way to build relationships with your clients, customers, and prospects. When people read your blog, they connect with you and your business. They get to hear your helpful suggestions. They discover some insights into a problem they are trying to solve.

One of your most effective blog posts is to share a way your clients or customers can do for themselves what you could do for them.

That might seem counter-intuitive. You want them to come to you for help. Why would you teach them how to do it themselves?

Here are three great reasons to share a helpful how-to in your blog posts:

1. You can’t go wrong giving something away. You will always get more in return than you give. When you are generous with your clients and customers, they will be generous with you.

2. Each time you share helpful advice, you position yourself as an expert. People who read your blog will see how much you understand, just by how you describe your answers to their problems. This makes your website a trusted go-to resource, and one they will share with their friends. Trust is not easy to build. The more relevant insights you share in your blog, the more people will trust you.

3. In many situations, no matter how well you describe a solution to your clients’ or customers’ problems, they will not be able to do it by themselves. They will still need help. And whose help will they seek, but the person who tried to get them started: You! Even if they are able to put your advice to good use and get past their immediate problem, who will they turn to down the road, when they encounter a bigger problem they can’t fix by themselves? Again: You!

Blogging is a great way to share what you know, to help people see firsthand what you can do for them, and to become a trusted resource in your area of expertise. Where do you start? Find out what your customers or clients need most, and start talking to them about it through your blog.

Writing about Your Corporate Social Responsibility … A First, Easy Step

All the conversations about corporate social responsibility can seem daunting.

Especially if you’re a small business.

Are you supposed to change everything overnight? What will potential clients or customers expect from you? Do you have to carry the weight of the world, when you’re understaffed? Does this really affect you, and what can you do?

I work as a solopreneur. So I understand.

Don’t let this momentum for global change overwhelm you. And don’t be left out. This is your time to shine.

And don’t worry about the world, for a moment. Just think about your own community. I’ll bet you are already making a difference in your town. You just need a simple way to communicate what you are doing.

Below are 5 easy questions to ask yourself. Write a one- or two-sentence answer to each question. Tweak each response into full sentences that make sense without seeing the question. Then post your 5 responses on your website, on a simple page called “Social Responsibility.”

This is a great way to start communicating – to your website visitors, prospects, customers, clients, employees, and neighbors – what you are doing to make the world a better place.

Here are your questions:

1. What is one way your business (or you, as a business owner) has volunteered in your community? (Don’t overthink it; it’s probably right in front of you.) Bonus Question: If you have employees, what is one thing you’ve done to encourage them to volunteer?

2. What is one step you have taken to reduce your company’s environmental impact?

3. Name one thing your business has done to help a nonprofit in your community or region? (Again, look for what’s in front of you.)

4. Describe one simple way you hope your company can make the world a better place.

5. This last question might take a little more time to research, but try it out: Name one step, taken by a larger company in your industry, to bring awareness to a charitable cause or need. How did that inspire you?

Congratulations! You have just created great material to share on your website. And I hope these questions have inspired you to recognize more ways your business is making the world a better place.

 

Create Interest through Your Online Content

When I visit a cause-related website, I love to read and explore. I appreciate websites with lots of good content.

I especially like to read anything that shows me the impact my donation is making:

• Personal stories, where I can meet people who are overcoming struggles through their own determination and with help from people who want to make a difference.
• Articles that show me the specific ways big problems are decreasing through the efforts of your organization and others like you.
• Step-by-step descriptions that walk me through a particular field project or a day in the life.
• Anything that lets me feel “hands on” with the solution to a big problem that affects people’s lives.

If you can offer that kind of content, on a consistent basis, people will become regular visitors to your website. They will engage with your organization, possibly in more ways than just their monetary contributions.

Your content will help people come to know and trust you. They will start to see your organization as a resource for information about a particular problem and its solutions.

People love to share great content on social media and email their friends with links to your content pages.

Make your content as real, engaging, and insightful as possible. Invite your readers into your world, so they can feel and experience the situations you focus on every day.

Do that, and you will already have people involved as partners in your efforts, even before they decide to donate their funds, time, and social sharing. When they do become involved, you will have their commitment because they have already spent quality time with you, through your online content.

Look at 2-3 good content pieces that have piqued your interest in another organization’s efforts. What is it about the content that really draws you in and keeps you interested? That’s what you need to offer your own readers.