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I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy! Tash

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About Word Constructions

Newsletter and website update

Just a quick post to announce my newsletter has been sent out this month (yes you can see it online but it’s much easier when it arrives in your letterbox or as a Facebook link!) I wanted to share the quote I included in the newsletter:

Your website is a window into your company.
Your website is the online equivalent of your office – the place people go when they want to do business with you.
~ Shama Hyder Kabani

 

I like the analogy of a website and an office – and it ties in nicely when my blog series on the establishment of a new website as the why is at least as important as the how…

 

The rewards of hiring a business writer

Occasionally I am asked what return on investment (ROI) people can expect from hiring a professional writer. And now I have your curiosity peaked, too, I can’t give you a straight answer – sorry!

The ROI of someone else writingI can’t give a dollar figure (or even a percentage) as there are too many variables to factor in – the type of business you run, what aspects you get professionally written (eg just an about us page or your entire website), your profit margins and how you utilise the words the writer scribes for you.

However, I can give you some ideas to assess how a writer can reward you and your business so you can decide on your own ROI…

  • at the worst, you gain time for selling and servicing customers. So if you hire me to do two hours writing for you, that’s two hours extra in your working week – in fact, if you don’t write as fast as me, you’ve saved more than two hours which you hopefully spend on making money!
  • for online content, remember that content is king. Fresh, quality content will result in more links and traffic which ultimately increases your chances of making sales
  • sending out a clear message and ensuring that your website answers all key questions competently will save you phone call and emails asking basic questions. In reality, that saves you frustration, time and the time it takes to get back on task after such interruptions
  • polished and professional content will build your image and reputation as much as your message does, and possibly more so. A stronger reputation builds your credibility which will have a long-term positive impact on your sales
  • a proposal that flows, is spelt correctly, etc is more likely to win you work
  • a well written website will have a higher conversion rate (ie will turn more visitors into buyers) than a site that is hard to understand or uses poor grammar and spelling – remember that doubling your conversion rate will double your turnover…

Have you experienced a good ROI from hiring a business writer?

Let me finish with a quote from Brad Sugars, entrepreneur and multi-millionaire, author and investor:

Communication is the lifeblood of business, and when it comes to sales, it’s vital. It has a direct relationship with sales. You see, the better you are at communicating, the better your sales results will be. You can almost measure the one with the other… Let me put it another way. True communication is the response you get. So if you’re not getting the response you want, you’re not communicating properly.

Spending on your content made easier

Believe it or not, we’re almost half way through 2011 and the Australian (and others) financial year is about to end.

As you may be reviewing budgets now or planning ahead for a great 2012, I am offering everyone who reads my blog a 5% discount for any business writing project booked between now and 30 June (for completion by 1 August 2011).

This could be for a series of blog posts, updating your ‘about us’ page or ghost writing your eBook through to project managing your annual report. Simply email me with details of your project and mention you read this offer on my blog. Or leave a comment and I’ll email you from that.

Consider this my end of year sale and my gift to your business planning for 2012.

Keeping you updated…

Over recent weeks, I have been doing various things in the background for Word Constructions. I’m quite pleased with my progress, although it is still a fair way from finished, but if I don’t tell you what I’ve done you may never know!

Before that distracts me onto a new blog post, let me tell you some of what has been happening at Word Constructions…

I have released two eBooks for sale, both of which are aimed at business people interested in learning about writing to further their business. A style guide template will be added soon and I have another eBook or two underway so keep an eye on the eBook page of my site plus the top menu to the right of all blog posts.

I have joined Twitter and started tweeting – this is a great way to know when I post something new here in the blog. It will also have occasional bits and peices about writing and business. If you’re on Twitter, drop in and say hi!

What uses up bandwidth?

If you’ve tried reaching my blog or website in the last day or so you may have experienced some trouble unfortunately. I know I wasn’t happy to see a ‘exceeded bandwidth’ message when I tried to log in to post yesterday and again today.

Knowing I was well under my host limits a few hours earlier, I was surprised by the message and have contacted my host. Especially as the second time showed about 12,000MB of bandwidth used in less than 24 hours!

Figuring out the bandwidth issue

A laptop covered in chains and a padlock

Securing computers is important but not always easy…

No one has accessed the back end of my site or ftp (but I have changed passwords anyway!) but my host found that someone (and let me add that it is very restrained of me to just write ‘someone’!) in Washington has been using my bandwidth. I should say ‘had been’ as that ip is now blocked.

My host has been great at trying to help me and extending my bandwidth to keep the site live while the issue was researched, so thanks Lucie at Multimediart.

My question however, is how is someone using up so much bandwidth on my site? No unexpected files have appeared on the site and apparently no one unauthorised has logged in so I’m confused. Do you have any idea what this person was doing?

Does anyone have any suggestions to share so we can all avoid this sort of distraction and time-wasting in the future? I’d really appreciate any help I can get!

 

* Image courtesy of 123rf

Recycling is good for business

What does your business do with the waste materials it produces? Have you even thought about it?

There are a surprising number of recycling options available – and many are listed by the business recycling website. This includes means of using those wastes to produce new products (the obvious recycling aspect) and ideas such as giving unused food to charity groups for direct reuse.

Personally, I believe in recycling as I hate seeing waste and hate perfectly good things filling up our tips. On top of that, there is the environmental aspect and a feel-good factor. However, for those who need a commercial justification for recycling business waste, here are a couple of points to consider:

  • if your local council restricts your bin size, you have to pay to remove your waste materials so recycling may save you money directly
  • more and more people care about the environment and ‘green’ practices so start recycling and tell people (potential customers) about it – it won’t generate sales in itself but may be the deciding factor between you and a competitor one day
  • your team will appreciate being able to ‘do their bit’ for the environment so they’ll be happier and have one less reason to leave
  • you may find recycling materials in-house gives you new product leads or saves you money, too. For example, making notepads for staff from old letterheads saves paper and the expense of buying notepads
  • it can give you a conversation starter or topics for blogging about – and sometimes new ideas are hard to come by!

Can you think of things to recycle? I’d love to hear of your ideas and successes – I may even copy some if applicable!

When can a professional writer help?

It isn’t only people who ‘can’t write’ who use the services of professional writers like me; in fact, many of my clients can write reasonably well. However, there is a misconception that hiring a writer means you are stupid or can’t write so I thought I’d share a few examples of where people find it helpful to talk to a professional writer.

1. writing about yourself. I’ve had a few people who are excellent writers ask me to write their website about us page or a business profile as they don’t feel objective enough to write about themselves

2. writing specific items. It takes some different skills and knowledge to write web content and technical reports for instance, so I have clients ask me to write their procedures but write their own web copy.

3. they don’t like writing. I don’t like doing data entry or researching differences between mobile phones, and I don’t expect that everyone likes writing as much as I do :) Many of my clients are relieved to be able to hand me their written needs so they don’t have to face it themselves – and because it leaves them time for what they do like doing (hopefully!)

4. writing takes time – and we’re all busy. For my clients who can write, time is usually the biggest reason they hire a professional writer – they are simply too busy to write their own material. In many cases, I can write it faster than they would have anyway, so it saves them time in two ways really.

5. consistent and effective results. I write all the time and can set aside blocks of time for clients so what I produce for them is consistent (within that document but also with their other materials) and effective whereas they have more distractions if they try writing it themselves so the result is often less than optimum.

Can you relate to any of the above reasons for using a professional writer? How do you deal with such situations if you don’t hire professinoal help?

Merry Christmas!

On behalf of everyone associated with Word Constructions, have a very Merry Christmas (or at least a lovely day if you don’t celebrate Christmas as such) and a wonderful, prosperous and safe 2011.

And for those who have been good all year, I hope you enjoy your visit from Santa!

Keep smiling and use your words wisely!

Christmas hours for Word Constructions

As December is moving along, I want to wish you a lovely holiday season without too much stress and with many laughs.Holly leaves and berries

Word Constructions will be closed over the Christmas/New Year period, starting from 4pm Wednesday 22 December 2010. We will reopen on Wednesday 5 January.

During this time, I will check emails and blog comments but it may take a few days before you get a response. Thank you for your patience as I take some time to spend with family.

And as we get closer to Christmas, remember there is still time to order a personalised Love Santa letterto delight the children in your life (yes, it is a shameless plug but Love Santa letters are so much fun I can’t help myself!)

Delight Australian children with a personalised Love Santa letter

A step forward

Have you ever had to deal with something unpleasant, and then experienced the relief when it is resolved in some way, especially in a positive way?

Last week, I went to a VCAT hearing about outstanding payments from an ex-client.

Background story: A client I thought was trustworthy requested various writing projects over a period of time but hasn’t paid me for them. This client has never indicated a problem with the invoices, but just hasn’t bothered paying – or asking for any extension or payment terms. Late last year, I sent statements with the message that although interest hadn’t been charged it would apply from January and further action would be taken if she didn’t respond by that time. She chose not to respond so I filed an application resulting in today’s hearing.

Outcome: There is now a court order against her to pay me – and it is binding even if she goes into liquidation. I wonder if she knows the courts can go as far as repossessions if she ignores the order? Personally I think it is for the general good that an order can go on public record so others an see her reputation and be protected from her.

Of course, I would have much preferred to not go down this path and have been paid when I presented the invoice. It is an unfortunate risk in business that not everyone is honourable; fortunately, I have not had a lot of problems with payments and this client is certainly the worst in my seven years of running a business.

There is a great sense of relief however to have the hearing over and know that she is liable to pay me now.