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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.

Top 10 business saving tips

Lately I’ve heard a few business owners talk about ways to save money in their business so here are my top 10 tips for saving money without scrimping on product/service quality.

  1. review your recurring costs (such as website hosting, bank fees, phone rental and internet service) – it amazes me the difference in prices for the same service so it can be extremely worthwhile to compare what’s available
  2. look for energy efficient options – even if you don’t think the environment is an issue, low energy light bulbs, efficient heaters and the like can save you money especially if you have big premises and/or a lot of staff. This includes things like adding curtains or blinds rather than have temperature gains/losses through windows
  3. compare suppliers periodically – they don’t all adjust prices the same way at the same time and some will offer you great ‘honeymoon’ rates but not be as competitive later. Even if you don’t change suppliers, it will keep you in touch with reasonable industry rates as a reference and negotiating tool
  4. consider who you outsource to – the cheapest price is not always the most cost effective option (putting aside cheapest isn’t always best!) If Sally charges $100 an hour and Mary charges $80 but Sally is twice as fast, paying Sally will probably be the cheaper option. If Sally can also do another task it may be cheaper to use her for both as she knows your business and is already working for you.
  5. send statements and reminder invoices soon after an invoice is due – you will generally get better results for less effort if you ask for money when the project is fresh. Debt chasing is a waste of your resources
  6. buy cheaper when it doesn’t impact on quality. For example, if store A and B sell the same product at different prices with the same level of service, buy from the cheaper store. Likewise, buying 100 pens is often cheaper per pen than buying 10 of them.
  7. recycle and reuse as much as possible. In bigger companies, a fortune can be saved if you use old letterhead or with compliment slips as staff note pads; use the back of envelopes for calculations and scribbles instead of paying for notepads; print drafts on the back of old papers; use incoming packaging to package your products.
  8. turn everything off! Make sure the last person out turns off the lights, get everyone to turn off their computer and monitor at the end of the day, turn off monitors when away from your desk for more than 10 minutes, turn off printers and scanners overnight, and so on – you may be amazed at how much this can save over a year
  9. be prepared and communicate clearly with suppliers and service providers – wasting their time will cost you money
  10. monitor your marketing – if an ad isn’t helping your business then it is a waste of money (and that could include free ads!) Even ads that are working may be made less expensive (smaller size, less frequent use, etc) so try and compare the results

What other ways have you used to save money in your business? How much did it save you?

Blogging for money

I often come across people claiming to make their living from a blog or advocating others to start a blog for the purpose of making money. While I don’t doubt a blog CAN make money, I don’t think it is as easy as starting a blog nor do I think ‘everyone’ can do it.

blog for money or blog for others purposes?

Do you blog for money or other reasons?

Raivyn (who apparently does make money from her blogs) wrote a blog post about the realities of blogs and money. I like the fact she starts with suggesting the need to know why you are blogging and what you want to achieve. If you love writing online and want to make enough for a weekly cup of coffee, then blogs may be the income stream you need; if you hate your job and want a full time income, then blogging needs a lot of thought before believing it is the solution.

Which leads, of course, to why do I write this blog? There are a few reasons, but my aim has never been to make money directly or to be a pro-blogger.

Having a blog attached to my business website allows me to promote my business indirectly – it lets customers know who I am, it is an easy way to add content to my site frequently which gives people a reason to return and search engines a reason to find me, and it is related to my business anyway.

I also enjoy helping people and sharing knowledge which is what most of my blog posts are aimed at.

Of course, if anyone wants to pay me riches for reading my blog, I’m open to new ideas! But making money is not my priority from the blog.

So why do you have a blog? Is your reason for continuing it the same reason you started it? Does blogging bring you an income? An income worth the time and effort it takes to run a blog?

What is profit?

I have seen a lot of businesses recently offering a proportion of sales or profits to the bushfire appeal, and seen/heard various discussions about this. What thing that has stood out to me is that not everyone understands what a profit actually is, so I think it’s time to discuss it!

The concise Oxford dictionary gives the following definition…

profit: 1. advantage, benefit 2. pecuniary gain, excess of returns over outlay.

Or as a verb, it defines it as bringing or being of advantage.

Profit is different to proceeds or turnover which is the total amount of money coming into your business from customers. If you sell 10 items at $50 each, your turnover is $500 but your profit could be a lot less.

Simply put, profit is the money left over once you have paid all your business expenses. Or you can view it as profit = turnover – expenses.

So continuing from the above example, if each item costs you $20 to make and your overheads are $10 per item, your expenses are $30 and you will make $20 profit on each item. So from a turnover of $500 you will make $200 profit.

Expenses are everything your business spends money on to conduct business. As well as obvious costs such as materials and equipment to make products or products from a supplier, it includes what are known as overheads – the cost of electricity, marketing and promotions, staff, office/shop space, insurance, registrations, legal fees and so on.

Getting back to making donations as a business, ‘100% of profits’ would mean a $200 donation from the sale of 10 items whereas a ‘100% of proceeds’ would mean a $500 donation.

Generosity isn’t just money

Last week I wrote about generosity killing mediocrity and  I wanted to add that I don’t think generosity only involves money and things.

blog for the world

Sharing information is also generous

Generosity also doesn’t have to be about sacrifice or ‘doing without’ on your part either. I believe it is about contributing and benefiting someone else – the focus is on who you are helping rather than on you. Obviously, the more you give, the more generous you are being but we all have to work within our own constraints.

You can be generous in many ways, even as a business. Here are some examples of non-monetary generosity:

  • by giving someone your time – for example help at a working bee
  • by sharing your expertise – for example I share tips in this blog and in my articles and speak at workshops and conferences
  • by providing a free service – for example, I want to find a Victorian business and help them rebuild their documents after the bushfires
  • giving a smile and nice messages when dealing with people – it takes little effort but can mean a lot
  • arranging something, such as a fundraising event or a networking function
  • sharing resources
  • by promoting something. For instance, referring someone to your client’s website, linking to a charity or reviewing a book
  • networking – I don’t mean just going to networking events but helping people you know connect with each other as relevant and forwarding useful/interesting things to those in your network.

With the bushfire appeal high on the minds of many Australians at the moment, thinking of ways to be generous may mean we can give more than our finances alone will allow.

*image courtesy of 123rf

Sharing salaries…

It’s one of those questions we don’t usually ask, or answer – how much do you get paid? I’m not going to discuss whether that’s good or bad, or even why it may be the case, but something on the news last night made me think of it.

Apparently, a 16 year old boy was offered a job in the USA for $400,000 a year, which he turned down as he wants to stay here with family and friends. What I find interesting is how everyone found out about it.

I find it hard to believe that the company contacted the media and said “we offered him $400,000” I mean, that sort of announcement can’t be good for them – it shows them being rejected (even if through no fault of theirs) and may cause problems between staff who aren’t being paid $400,000!

I know I’ve had jobs where I didn’t want others knowing my salary – largely because I didn’t want them to get into ‘why does she get that much?’ or ‘but I should get more than him!’

A 16 year old earning so much also makes me wonder about his expectations. I am not making comment on his ability in any way or whether or not he deserves such a salary, but $400,000 is such a lot of money to start a working career with! Where does he go from there?

I see some value in young people starting with small jobs so they learn the value of earning money and getting a realistic view of the working life. It’s not so much the $10 an hour as learning their time is worth something and that it takes time and hard work to increase their pay rate. And learning how to use and  manage that money is also important.

Choosing a charity

For a long time I have thought about having a specific charity to support through Word Constructions’ profits, but have just been too busy to select one. Not good, but that’s the way it is.

I have now found some possible donations and wondered which people would prefer?

If you were my client (or are my client, of course!), which of the following would you prefer me to contribute towards? Which is the most relevant/best suited to Word Constructions?

1. Money towards starting a business (yes, I know there are other places offering this, but if I wait to research them all it will take longer!)

2. School fees for a year in southern Africa

3. Literacy classes for adults in Cambodia

4. general donations to a specific charity (relating to starting a business or literacy) every 6 or 12 months (all of the above ones are individual gifts of $40 or less so I would make a number of them over a year)

I would really appreciate knowing what you think to help me make a decision! I might do another post soon to discuss the value of a charity associated with your business, so hold those thoughts, too!