Posts in Content

What’s your experience in the IT sector?

I’m the first person to admit that I am in no way technical, despite working in the IT industry since graduating in 2006. But I like to think that it works to my clients’ advantage because if I can understand what they do, then anyone can.

Whether it’s been working in-house, agency-side or freelance, I’ve now lost track of the number of companies that I’ve helped with their content requirements. From lead generation initiatives for the big vendors, strategic positioning for IT resellers and consultancies, or brand awareness for startups, I’ve learned how to take the technical language and industry jargon, and extract the right messages to transform it into compelling, simple copy that anyone can understand.

One aspect of my job that I find particularly rewarding is showing organisations how their internal content – all the stuff that’s produced as part of business-as-usual – can be respun and repurposed into promotional materials. There’s so much value locked in the proposals, project status reports and project completion reports, because they’ve been written by the subject matter experts, it’s such a shame to waste it.

Starting my career in the world of software, I then moved on to spend time working for a PR and marketing communications agency, where I managed and delivered campaigns for data centre technologies, such as UPS systems, back up power and HVAC. Before returning to an in-house role that was split between IT infrastructure and SaaS, where I also sat on the senior leadership team helping to set the company’s overall strategic direction.

Turning freelance in 2015 I chose to continue my specialism within the IT sector, gaining wide exposure to various technologies and innovations within cloud, storage, big data and analytics, SaaS, cyber security, business process, digital transformation and more. 

Most recently, I’ve dedicated a lot of my personal time to better understanding the link between sales and content marketing, and how the two go hand-in-hand to support the business in achieving its overall goals. I now choosing to focus my efforts on ‘top of the funnel’ content, such as blogs, articles, case studies, guides and white papers, employing powerful tactics, such as storytelling technique and behavioural psychology, to ensure the content I deliver really resonates with the audience.


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Can you help us with content strategy?

Once upon a time I spent 6 months crafting a content strategy package that neatly wrapped up years’ worth of experience into a tight little fee and presented my clients with a practical plan for them to implement for the good of their business…

And there lay the problem.

Everyone who bought this package then wanted me to deliver the work, which in some ways was amazing as I got to write lots of lovely articles, blogs, case studies and guides, but in other ways was the biggest professional mistake I’ve made – at one point I found myself in a situation where I was a full-time marketing manager for two companies and looking after several other clients when I was only working 3 days a week, and then being a full-time mummy to my boys.

It broke me.

So I scrapped the package and now offer the advice for free

Sounds crazy? It’s really not…

You could ask me to write a one-off case study, which I’d be more than happy to do, and you’d end up with a wonderful marketing asset. But sat alone on your website, that case study doesn’t do a lot. I want you to realise its true value, so I’m more than happy to share my thoughts on how you can make it work harder for you.

Similarly, you could ask me to write a blog, but it’s never going to be as powerful or deliver the same result as a series on a particular topic. Therefore, I’m happy to share ideas and help you plan the content that will form part of a broader marketing campaign.

I love strategy, and I’ve been doing it a long time, but I have a habit of taking on too much because when you’ve paid for that strategy, I feel obligated to then execute it. But that’s not good for me because I don’t have the time to dedicate to you alone, and it’s not good for you, because there are far more talented marketers out there that you’ll miss out on working with.

If you choose to work with me, I will absolutely support you with your content strategy and share my experience and tools, but I’m not going to charge you or come up with a professional documented plan. If that’s what you’re after, I’m more than happy to make introductions to some far more qualified freelancers that can help.


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Have you got any B2B blogging tips?

To help answer this question I thought it might be helpful to look at why I’ve seen blogs fail in the past and what we can learn from these mistakes…

Blog with a purpose

If you produce content just for the sake of it, it’s never going to deliver the return you expect. I’ve spoken to companies in the past that are keen to copy what their competitors are doing – to the point of replicating their blog content. But when I’ve questioned why, the answer is simply, “Well if it works for them it’ll work for us.”

This attitude really jars with everything I’ve ever been taught and learned about marketing. Everything you do should be driven by the wants and needs of the customer. And even if blogging is what the customer wants, you need to consider whether it’s the only, best, or most effective way of delivering what they want.

Once you’ve determined the purpose of your blog, you can identify the criteria you will use to measure success. Once you acquire the ability to measure its effectiveness, you can start to tweak and test things to improve your blog and get it working harder for your business.

Commit to blogging regularly

Blogging should never be a case of chucking some content on your site when you have some time to spare. It’s a marketing tactic that needs to be executed against a plan. And when executed regularly, research suggests that it yields impressive results – marketers who prioritise blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive return on investment, with B2B marketers that use blogs receiving 67% more leads than those that do not.

If you’re not creating and publishing regular content, it can actually damage your brand. If you’ve not blogged for a while, what message is that giving people? That you don’t care, or have nothing interesting to say? Perhaps that you’re too busy with client work, so you don’t need any new business? Or maybe that you’re out-of-business?

Blogging requires commitment and investment. If you know you can’t keep it up internally, consider hiring a copywriter who can dedicate the time and effort it requires.

Mix it up

If you stick to the same format, it becomes boring to write and uninspiring to the reader. To prevent this from happening, think about trying different things on your blog – afterall, blogging is so broad in its scope, it wouldn’t make sense to stick to the same old format.

Think about mixing:

  • Short pieces with long copy
  • Opinions with research-lead pieces
  • Round up blogs with thought leadership
  • Thought leadership with tactical SEO pieces
  • Words with pictures, video or infographics
  • Pieces bylined to the company with pieces produced by subject matter experts

Make it part of something bigger

A stand-alone blog doesn’t deliver as much value as a series of blogs that centre on a specific theme or topic, or blogs that tie into something else to explore a particular element in more detail.

Case studies, white papers and guides are great examples of content that you can break down or expand out. By re-spinning and repurposing that content, you can elaborate more on specific elements to demonstrate your expertise or thought leadership.

Alternatively, if you’re starting with creating a series of blogs on a specific theme, why not wrap them up into an ebook to create a high-value piece of content that’s worthy of really shouting about?

Share your content

I worked with one client that insisted that once they’d published their blog on the website it would automatically be read. It took me a long time to convince them that people don’t wake up one day and automatically know you’ve shared something new. You have to tell them to visit your website – and make it as easy as possible for them to perform that action.

So once you’ve published your blog, rather than assume people will read it, make sure you share it far and wide online to give it the best chance of being seen and shared.


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Do you follow any blogs regularly?

I don’t religiously follow specific blogs because I don’t want to narrow my field of vision and miss amazing content that’s being produced and shared within our community. But, there are certain people within the community doing wonderful things to support freelancers and promote best-practice around copywriting and content marketing…

#Write52

What started as a simple Tweet by Ed Callow has quickly turned into a dedicated community of incredible writers. Follow #Write52 for original content that’s produced and shared every week both on Twitter, and through Ed’s weekly email newsletter.

Creative Rehab

The genius child of Jake KeaneCreative Rehab is an outlet for frustrated creatives everywhere who have nowhere else to publish their random ramblings. The monthly magazine with accompanying podcast features some incredible contributions from the industry’s finest.

ProCopywriters

If you’re a copywriter you’ll be familiar with the wonders of ProCopywriters. From its webinars to yearly CopyCon event, insightful blog and upcoming book, there’s plenty to learn from the copywriting community to brush up your skills.

All Good Copy

I love Glenn Fisher because he’s taught me so much about copywriting technique with All Good CopyFrom his blogs and newsletters, to the podcast, his book and standing front and centre on the mainstage of #CopyCon19, he freely shares the insight and experience he’s gained from a successful career in copywriting.

Rock Rose Digital

This was such a treat when it first landed in my inbox. I’ve followed Jen Eastwood for a while on Twitter and loved the content she shared. And then she’s launched a newsletter through Rock Rose Digital, which is amazing beyond words. Full of tips, tricks and monthly content calendars, it’s something to look forward to.

Adam Pearson 

Adam is IPSE’s ‘new to freelancing’ winner. He lurks in the realm of research, but I think he’d be better suited to joining us on the dark side of copywriting, because he has such a wonderful way with words. His newsletter is full of interesting and inspiring content.

Being Freelance

Being Freelance is a wonderfully supportive community of freelancers across all creative disciplines. Its leader, Steve Folland, indulges us with a Facebook group for open discussion and support, weekly podcast, live Q&A sessions, regular vlog, and highlights other’s achievements through the weekly ‘non-employee of the week awards’.

Jot Jot Boom

Emma Cownley is my hero. Again, I’ve followed her on Twitter for ages, and yet somehow only recently discovered the amazingness of her bi-weekly videos through Jot Jot Boom. Sharing all sorts of amazing freelance insight, she lays bare the reality of life as a company of one, and gives you the confidence to say “I can f*cking do this!”

Work Notes

Dave Smyth is another freelancer who shares his valuable knowledge far and wide. A web designer by trade, Dave has created a wonderful hub of information that every freelancer needs to know under Work Notes – from money to contracts, clients and well-being, Dave’s got you covered. 


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

How should I measure my blog success?

Why are you blogging in the first place?

There’s no point creating content for content’s sake – that’s never going to add value to your business. Before you started writing your blog, you should have determined why you thought you needed one in the first place and what return it would need to give to your business in order to be successful.

I’ve previously covered best-practice for B2B blogging, and the first item on the list was to define its purpose.

“The best blogs create value for your customers, while supporting your overall business strategy. Is your blog going to raise your brand awareness? Boost your SEO? Start conversions with new leads? Establish trust with prospects? Position you as a thought leader?”

Once you’ve defined the purpose, it’s easy to know what success looks like, and then decide the metrics you will track to say when you’ve achieved your goal.

Examples of 10 common blog metrics include:

  1. Web traffic
  2. Referral sources
  3. Time on site and bounce rate
  4. Lead generation
  5. Conversion rate
  6. Media coverage secured
  7. Average length of stay
  8. Number of social shares
  9. Number of comments
  10. Number of people clicking your call-to-action

Defining success is personal to your company. I’m probably every marketer’s worst nightmare because I don’t have a SMART objective that says, “Success is acquiring 5 new clients by posting weekly blogs about content marketing“. For my business, blogging success is…

Being able to present myself as credible enough to secure enquiries. When someone is looking for help producing certain types of content (like blogging!), I want them to feel reassured when they find me and see that I know what I’m talking about and have the experience necessary to do a good job for them.

Acquiring the support of the copywriting community. To see the hearts and comments when I share links to Twitter lets me know that they think I did a good job. I highly value the expertise of the community, and it gives me a personal boost to receive their feedback. But similarly, I appreciate it when I’m challenged to consider an alternative perspective, they highlight something I haven’t covered, or share links to further reading on the topic – all this helps me to learn and continuously improve.

Having the opportunity to learn more. In writing my blog content, it forces me to read up and learn very specific things about technique, structure, psychology, content marketing… Existing in a state of constant education means I’m always improving my craft, which is both satisfying for me mentally and benefits my clients in the work I deliver. 

In the words of Simon Sinek, it has to ‘start with why’, because once you know why you’re doing something, the rest of it falls easily into place.


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Where should I publish my blog?

All that lovely blog content needs a good home. The following is in no way an exhaustive list, but they’re channels I’ve found that work for my business, and will hopefully spark some ideas to help you with yours…

Post it on your website

Your website is your most valuable sales tool. Available at all times, it’s promoting the amazing work you do 24/7. It shows all your best bits, reassuring visitors that they’re in good hands with you, and compelling them to get in touch.

Any new content that you post to your website is going to enrich the visitor’s experience, and it’s also going to improve your chances of being found online when people are actively searching for your services – research shows that companies that have published 401+ blog posts in total get about twice as much traffic as companies that published 301 – 400 blog posts.

Share it as a LinkedIn article

As the professional social platform, your LinkedIn connections are people that should be the most receptive to hearing what you have to say. Then when they find it interesting or useful, they’re more likely to share it with their wider business connections, which gains your blog even greater exposure.

LinkedIn doesn’t penalise you for sharing the same content that’s posted on your website, so technically you can re-post it word for word. However, think about whether you want/need to tweak the message slightly for this audience. Or whether there’s specific types of content that you only want to post to this platform.

I like to highlight all the things I do for continuous professional development – like reading, attending events, participating in Twitter chats or undertaking training – to demonstrate the value that I personally could add if someone was to choose me as their copywriter. So I wrap this up in a dedicated LinkedIn post every month, which goes out to my network. 

Hook people in on Medium

This isn’t something I’ve indulged in yet, but I’m convinced it’s going to add value to my business once I start posting.

Medium is an online blogging platform that allows you to republish your existing blog posts. Many people search Medium for information that will help them in their job, or to answer questions they may have. And there are individuals that actively invite you to share your content with them, which they then wrap up into themed topics or newsletters that are shared with their contacts.

But as well as being a platform to increase your exposure to a wider audience, it’s also good for increasing traffic to your own website. Rather than simply reposting the full article, think about posting some teaser text, or sharing the highlights, and then link to the full article on your website. Now you’re hooking people in on Medium and converting them through to your site.

Identify your sector-specific platforms

As a copywriter, my professional body is ProCopywriters. As part of my membership, I can share my content with them, and if they deem it to be interesting, useful and relevant to their audience, they publish it on their blog and then promote it more widely through their social media platforms.

I’ve experienced a lot of success with ProCopywriters, in helping me to connect with fellow professionals – they’ve even selected two of my articles to publish in its upcoming book!

Take some time to identify the platforms that are most relevant in your industry, and then see what opportunities exist to promote your content. Even if they don’t have the opportunity to publish your content on their website, they may still share it through their social platforms to help you reach a wider audience.

Don’t forget to share as well as publish

Once you’ve published your blog online, make sure you share it far and wide to ensure it reaches as many people as possible. A wise man (@allgoodcopy) once said:

If you create something of value, that you genuinely believe will help someone, you should never feel ashamed of sharing it again, and again…and again.

Email it to your database

If you’ve created a database of people who have subscribed to hear your news, make sure you send them a link. This doesn’t have to be a huge, lengthily newsletter that takes hours to craft, it could be a simple teaser email with no more than 100-words and a link to read the blog online.

Leverage Twitter 

I’m not going to attempt to hide the fact that I’m a huge Twitter fan, frankly if you’re prepared to invest the time in engaging the community it’s a fabulous place to be. Start by sharing a link to your followers and look to include relevant hashtags that will get your content seen by a wider audience.

Then when you’re taking part in Twitter chats, look to share your content when the right opportunity presents itself.

BUT…

Don’t try to shoehorn your content in at every opportunity because the community will blank you and you’ll lose their trust and respect.

Share it on LinkedIn

As before, you’ve spent the time building a wonderful network of professional connections on LinkedIn – so talk to them. Publish some teaser text with a link to the blog post to your profile and share it with that audience. And when they start posting comments, make sure you respond and thank them.

Use it to offer support on Facebook

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of Facebook. In fact, I left the platform 12 months ago…

Only to re-join when I discovered the Being Freelance group. Now I have an account purely for work-purposes where I am a member of 3 groups.

Once upon a time, LinkedIn groups were amazing. I managed to execute a hugely successful PR campaign for one client because of the power of LinkedIn’s groups. But over time, they’ve been spoiled; people saw the power of the group and exploited it, using them as a platform to promote, rather than engage in a conversation. Now they’re pretty much full of salespeople shouting at other salespeople.

Facebook groups seem to have replaced LinkedIn groups, offering real value because of the discussion and support that takes place. Taking the time to identify the groups that are relevant to your business and then engaging in the discussion takes time, but it’s hugely beneficial. And you’ll find that as part of the conversation, you’ll naturally find occasions where you can share a link to your content. And because it’s framed as being useful, rather than a simple “Read our latest blog“, it’s more likely to be read.

Add a post to Google my Business

This is a wonderful way to naturally boost your SEO, and it’s really simple and completely free to do. Once you’ve set up your profile (mine took about an hour), you can then add links to your new blog posts.

Google loves its products, so the more you engage with them, the higher you’re moved up the search rankings. Plus, by adding your profile to Google my Business, you’ll now show up in the highlights on the right-hand side, and on the Maps results.

Good luck!

Writing good content takes time and effort so don’t sell yourself short and quietly leave it in a corner of your website. Shout it loud and share it far and wide – if you’ve got something valuable to say, people will want to hear about it!

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Blogging once a week is the ideal, but is it really that realistic?

What’s stopping you from spending a few hours every week to promote your business?

The most common excuse I hear is time…

“We’re so busy at the moment – absolutely manic.”

Followed by topic…

“I’m not sure what to write about, or how much we’d have to say.”

With scepticism coming up the rear…

“I’m not sure blogging weekly would deliver more than a monthly commitment.”

So let’s look at each excuse in turn:

Time

You absolutely need to make time to promote your business – especially when you’re crazy busy. If you’re not getting your name out, your brand is losing visibility, so when people need your product/service they’ll go elsewhere.

If you genuinely can’t spare the time in-house – outsource. When you engage an agency or freelancer to maintain your blog, you’re placing the responsibility on them to dedicate the time to your business needs.

Topic

The wonderful thing about blogging is that the scope is so wide that you can write about anything and everything. I find companies in this camp are usually blogging in a reactionary way – every week they sit and think, “What shall we write about today?”

Taking the time to properly plan your content, you’ll end up with a list of varied topics that is interesting, useful and relevant. And you have the time to engage others – like subject matter experts – within your business to help contribute to the content.

  • Start with your key theme.
  • Brainstorm all the things you could cover.
  • Shortlist the ones that seem most interesting.
  • Wrap them up in a working title.
  • Schedule them.
  • Engage the necessary resource to get them drafted.

Return

This one really is a ‘no brainer’:

Companies that publish weekly blogs are nearly 2.5x more likely to report ‘strong results’ than those who publish monthly or less. 

So really, what’s stopping you?


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

How do I create more inspiring content for my blog?

It’s easy for blogs to get tired, especially if you’re writing about the same subject matter. You reach a point where you feel like you’ve said everything there is to say, explored every angle and now you’re starting to repeat yourself.

I’ve been there.

The best advice I can give is to stop. Close your document and walk away from the laptop. If you’re bored of writing, it’s going to come across in your words and your visitors will be bored reading it. You want people to feel inspired by your content and compelled to do something as a result of reading it – ideally contact you or share it with their network.

The following are my top 4 tips to inject some life into your blog…

1. Get a new writer

This isn’t a pitch, I promise. If your current writer is tired of writing about the same stuff, get someone else to contribute. Their fresh eyes and new take on the situation will give your content an instant boost. This person could sit within your organisation, or they may be external. They could even be the industry ‘celebrity’ or thought leader that you ask to contribute a guest post.

2. Change the media

Nothing (as far as I know!) says that blogs need to be written – even if there is there’s nothing stopping you from mixing it up with some interesting graphics to illustrate your point. And think about dropping in some videos. They don’t need to be high budget, Hollywood blockbusters. I’ve seen some incredibly engaging videos made on a mobile phone. The bonus of using video is that people get a sense for who you are since your personality is there for them to see on the screen.

3. Write about something else

You might be trying to sell one product, but that doesn’t stop you writing about other things that interest you. In fact, talking about all the periphery areas demonstrates your expertise and knowledge of how your offering sits within the wider business context.

4. Re-purpose existing content

If you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ll have a wonderful library of rich and interesting content. Take the time to look through your older, or best performing, posts and think about whether you could update them, or explore a different angle.

Read more about re-purposing content…


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

What’s a good blog length?

There’s a wonderful article written about this by Gareth Hancock (a.k.a That.Content.Shed), which you should bookmark to read:

How long should a blog post be?

While I absolutely agree with Gareth’s advice, I would also advise thinking about why you’re writing that blog in the first place, and how it fits into your overall content strategy.

For example: 

You might feel like you have a lot to say about the world of cloud computing. But if you’re target audience is someone sitting in the C-suite, they probably don’t have 20 minutes to sit reading everything you have to say. 

So why not think about writing a longer white paper or guide, which is targeted at the people who would influence the decision to purchase and be involved in helping to implement your solution, and then write a high-level summary for the C-suite? Creating this larger asset would also give your marketing team something to re-spin and re-purpose to produce a bigger campaign to raise awareness and generate leads. Plus, research shows that long-form content tends to rank well on search engines.

Alternatively, if it’s all about reaching more senior personnel, can you break your larger blog down into a series of smaller ones, each talking about a different aspect of the overarching topic? This way, you could post something new every week, which keeps you in front of that prospect. You could even get them to subscribe to receive the next instalments and identify people with a genuine interest.

Focus on the value

Ultimately, if you’re writing blog content, you need to think about how you’re going to make it interesting, useful and relevant to the reader. Nobody has the time to read fluff and waffle, and there’s definitely no point in creating content for content’s sake.

If you’re guided by your strategy, and always adding value, you can’t go far wrong!

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash