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Content strategy for small business: A podcast with the Australian Businesswoman’s Network

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Cat Matson and Suzi Dafnis for a podcast in the ABN’s series on Social Media for Small Business. The topic was content strategy and small business – how you can take control of your content and some tips on what to focus on first.

I really enjoyed the discussion (although it’s always strange to hear how your own voice sounds when it’s recorded!), and was really happy that content strategy was included in the series.

Listen to the podcast here: The Power of a Strong Web Content Strategy.

Editorial strategy and blogging

Last week I went to Melbourne for the Problogger Training Day to lead the panel on Editorial Strategy with Sonia Simone from Copyblogger and Lucy Feagins from The Design Files. Each of us had quite different experiences with editorial strategy and how it could be applied to both personal and business blogs.

Lucy, Sonia and I talking about editorial strategy

Lucy, Sonia and I talking about editorial strategy

 

What’s editorial strategy?

Newspapers and magazines have been using editorial strategy to plan the how, what and when of content since publications first started.

Now that we are all publishers (on the internet) editorial strategy is still an important way to ensure your blog (or website, or newsletter, or other content marketing activity) supports your business goals.

Key themes from the panel discussion

It was a great discussion and one I’m sure could have extended for another hour or two.

Key themes which came out of the panel included:

  • Know your audience and what they expect from your blog. Lucy uses an annual survey to do this, and then backs it up by monitoring metrics to see which posts are more popular than others, and (as she posts daily) which days of the week are more popular.
  • Think about post topics in advance and use an editorial calendar to keep track of what’s going to be written when. Think about holidays and celebrations, seasons, or major sporting events that may be relevant for your blog.
  • Stay flexible enough to still post about hot topics in your niche, or events you hadn’t planned for. The whole day had a strong theme of balancing blogging from the heart with blogging strategically.
  • If you have other contributors to your blog, have some editorial guidelines so the voice and personality of your blog stays true.
  • An editorial strategy can help you come up with ideas for posts by breaking larger ideas into smaller chunks of content.  It can also help with SEO as you can build a number of posts around a particular topic (or set of keywords).

An editorial strategy can be as simple or as complex as your needs. For personal bloggers, it may be a simple list of post ideas. For bigger sites it may be a more complex road map of deadlines, approvals and costings. Sonia said she used an editorial calendar plugin to map out posts at Copyblogger up to 12 weeks in advance. She also provided some fantastic insight into how editorial strategy works at Copyblogger, including how they link post topics with other products and services that are in the Copyblogger Media stable.

If you’re interested in what some of the other panels covered, Annabel Candy live blogged a number of the sessions including the one I was on.

Do you use an editorial strategy in your business?

If you don’t already have an editorial strategy for your business, why don’t you get in contact with me so I can help you write one?

Sales secrets from a food lover

This week I went to a pantry tour at Black Pearl Epicure. It was for Brisbane Food Bloggers, and although I don’t have a food blog I figured I really do love food and was very keen to learn more about it.

The demonstration was hosted by Black Pearl’s founder Babak Hadi, and was simply amazing.  Babak took about 30 of us through the ins and outs of extra virgin olive oil, different vinegars (including aged balsamic – yum!), salts, chocolate, saffron, vanilla, and cheese.

We all left with a full belly and a better appreciation of how these staple ingredients are made.

So what does this have to do with writing?

The stand out of the night (in my mind) was Babak’s knowledge and passion for his products. He was really interesting to listen to, was very confident in what he was saying, and had answers for a couple of curly questions that were asked.

This knowledge and passion are the foundation for successful sales.

1. Know your product

Babak explained everything from how extra virgin olive oil was made, to the fermenting process of balsamic vinegar.

You should know your business and your products that well too. Describe it in your sales pages, detail it in your customer service info – show your customers that you’ve taken the time to learn.

2. Understand how your customers will use your product

Throughout the demonstration, Babak related all information to how we would use the products ourselves. This is a great technique for selling as we all were picturing using the product in our own kitchen before any purchase had been made.

Unfortunately, this is an area where I see many businesses fail. There are a lot of business owners who are really out of touch with their customers – make sure you aren’t one of them!

3. Love using your product

Sure the foods we sampled were all top-notch, but Babak has a genuine love for using them all. When you are excited about your own products or services, it acts as a reinforcement for potential customers. The old “I’ll have what he’s having” mindset.

So after all that eating (erm, learning), what did I buy? Check it out:

Black Pearl goodies

Note: I did get some chocolate too, but it was gone before I took this picture!

Are you passionate about your products? Share your thoughts below.

Working with a copywriter for the first time? Read this.

Working with a copywriter for the first time can be daunting. Writing is very personal, and having an external person write about your business (your baby) takes a lot of trust and communication.

And to be honest, the actual writing is only one component of a much larger relationship. Get these other components right and the words will come much easier.

Completing the brief

I’ve talked about the importance of a good client brief as a key component of a successful copywriting project. Keep in mind that you know  your business best, and it may take a lot of questions and discussion for me to get my head around what you do, what makes your business so special, and who your customers are. If you don’t know the answers to some of the questions – be truthful. We can work through it together.

Allowing enough time

A rushed job is never good. As soon as you know you have a project, make contact so I can add it to my schedule. The more time I have to prepare and write, the better the outcome for everyone. It doesn’t mean that I’ll necessarily take longer to write your content, it just means I can spread it out and have enough time to refine  it.

Providing feedback

I like happy clients. I want you to be happy with the work I do. I want you to let me know what works and what doesn’t work. I want you to tell me why. It’s all about communication. Don’t be afraid to say what you think – I want the best outcome for the project just as much as you do.

Paying the invoice

My invoices are due within 14 days of the date of issue. If you know that your accounting department doesn’t work that quickly, please let me know before I start so I can plan accordingly. It may mean that I ask for a deposit up front, or issue more frequent invoices along the way.

What are your experiences? Please share them below.

If you are ready to take the plunge and work with a copywriter for the first time, contact me to arrange a quote.

What’s your favourite copywriting book?

I’ve got a sneaky little side project on the go. Very exciting.

Without giving anything away, it has something to do with books. Real books.

My question to you is:

What’s your favourite copywriting, usability, information architecture, writing for the web, or content strategy book?

Let me know.