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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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Blogging services

honesty

Being open in blogs

One of the reasons behind the success of blogging is the humanising aspect of it.

What does that mean? Well, the personality and thoughts of the person blogging come through in their posts, especially if read a few posts, so you see the human being behind the website. This is particularly true for businesses who previously had a static set of pages with information but showed little of the person(people) behind it.

So where do you draw the line between showing yourself and staying professional in a business blog? (That was a question to you rather than being a rhetorical question!)

I was inspired to ask after reading a blog post by Tuan where he openly discusses his blog traffic results for June– he gives actual figures as well as celebrating the fact he has reached a new high in traffic (congratulations Tuan!) and what he learned along the way. So many people will exaggerate or imply they are doing well but Tuan’s honesty is refreshing – and he does have a lot if visitors, too!

So would you be as open about Tuan, at least on certain topics, or do you prefer to keep a wall between you and your business image?

Attitude to mistakes

How do you deal with making mistakes? Do you accept that you are going to make mistakes when dealing with clients, and consider how to deal with the aftermath?

I came across a blog post by Danielle Keister where she advises new VAs that they will make mistakes. I love her attitude and her honesty in warning people that they will make mistakes – “Someone who says they never make mistakes is a liar (or delusional).”

What really caught my eye, though, is her ‘speech’ to prospective clients. She basically tells them that mistakes may occur despite her best intentions but that she will also work at fixing them as soon as she is aware of them. Her ideal business relationship is built on trust – people trust her to do the job and fix mistakes and she trusts them to be honest and give her feedback.

I have never written out my attitude about mistakes like Danielle, but I think what she has written is close to what I would write for myself. As a writer, I often deal with feedback from clients and fully expect that to occur – together, clients and I get the best result for their needs as I have the communications skills and they know their brand, business and customers best. This is why my quotes often include a certain number of edits.

Of course, that feedback is not often based on me making a mistake but on technicalities in content, personal preferences and unclear objectives. When it is my mistake, though, I apologise and do my best to quickly rectify the situation. I do that naturally out of a sense of pride and professional integrity.

Additionally, I know that I prefer a supplier to be honest and admit their mistakes to me – I am less likely to return somewhere that makes mistakes but denies or hide them. So it is a business decision to deal with mistakes openly, too.

Given that we are all human and make mistakes, do you have a policy or guideline for dealing with mistakes once you are aware of them?

Grabbing attention

When writing for your business, it is critical that you grab people’s attention quickly – there are too many websites, blogs, newsletters, direct mail letters and emails for any of us to read them all just in case they hold something good further down the page.

Having said that, you need to grab their attention in the right way or it can actually be damaging rather than a marketing opportunity.

What is the right way? Well, it varies according to the situation of course, but when preparing an opening to a document/webpage/newsletter consider:

  • make it relevant – no point grabbing the attention of people interested in retirement villages if you sell motor bikes
  • keep it honest – don’t promise a discount unless one is really on offer
  • keep it appropriate – swearing, sexual references, hateful comments and so on are not necessary and are unlikely to win you good customers
  • keep it as short and/or visual as possible – a half page paragraph is not going to grab like a 6 word word heading
  • aim it at what your customers want to hear, not what you want to say – I recently read an email which started by saying how great their two organisations were – the final paragraph was about a competition they were running. It would have been much more effective to start with the competition to grab my attention.
  • be realistic – or so far over the top that is obviously humour. An almost believable claim probably won’t build trust so people will move on
  • be sparing with bad (or gimicky) spelling – preferably stick to good spelling altogether and be as grammatically correct as possible
  • make it interesting or ask a question – or ask an interesting question!

Dilemas…

Writing is easy enough for me, and honesty in my writing is important, but sometimes it isn’t easy to write the complete truth.

For example, when I write a review of something I will be honest – I’d never say it was great if I hated it. I’d always be polite and as constructive as possible rather than slamming it, but I will say if it isn’t up to scratch.

But what about when the less-than-pleasing item is owned/created by someone you want to impress? It gets tough because I want to be respected for honesty and feel the responsibility that if I review something it could influence other people’s use of money & time.

In the past, I have managed this by pointing out all the positives of the item and only mentioning the weaknesses – and obviously not saying anything like ‘great read’ or ‘value for money’. Once I reviewed a book which I found to be fairly boring, but it’s got a lot to do with the fact I don’t like that genre much either. My review commented on how it used simple language and was true to its genre with a few unexpected twists. That way, someone liking the genre would read the book but others wouldn’t bother – win win for everyone!

Word Constructions