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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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7 tasks to delegate for your blog

Some time ago I wrote a post about building blogging skills based on a list by Chris Garrett (on a blog that is no longer live unfortunately).

One of his tips was to delegate, and this was picked up in the comments of that post so I thought I’d list some ways delegation can help your blogging:

  1. pay someone else to write some or all of your blog posts
  2. have regular guest bloggers in your blog. For example, I used to have a web designer include articles in my newsletter.
  3. use RSS feed to collect some relevant material to add to your blog (similar to a guest blogger but totally automated!)
  4. write the posts yourself but get someone else to enter them into the software, adding keywords, categories, etc
  5. have someone else manage your blog and website – software updates, adding new graphics, collecting stats, etc
  6. finding ideas – have someone else research topics your readers are interested in so you have a list to work from when it is time to write
  7. outsource multiple tasks so you have more time for blogging – think about your bookkeeping, filing, writing, graphics, negotiations and sales

While it isn’t something to delegate, I would also suggest keeping a notepad or computer document handy to note ideas at any time. Any time you think of something to blog about, write it down so you don’t have to spend time with bloggers block – and you don’t face the frustration of knowing you had the perfect idea yesterday…

How do you ensure you have enough time for blogging?

Building your blog

Presumably, if you have a blog you want to build it with content and readers. It isn’t always easy to do, especially over time, so it takes dedication to truly build a blog into something you can be proud of.

Finding ideas to write about, maximising your topics, building trust, attention grabbing titles, dealing with negative or poorly written comments, and ending your blog posts are all important parts of a successful blog.

Recently, Raivyn gave some advice for anyone wanting to make money from a blog (or blogs) – some of that advice applies to all blogs whether their aim is to make money, share ideas, promote a business or anything else.

The points I most liked (rewritten into my own words and comments) were:

  • keep writing – even if uninspired, you need to write to build the habit and experience
  • find your own blog rules – some blogs have very short posts, some have long posts and some find a combination or middle ground works best. Instead of writing to a formula number of words, find what works for you and your readers. And apply the same logic to frequency, style, running carnivals, inviting guest bloggers, and so on.
  • keep your credibility – recommend products/services/etc that you truly think are worthwhile, not just those paying a commission or giving you a reciprocal link.
  • write for your readers – this may not be so important for a personal blog, but to make money (directly or indirectly) you need to write what potential customers want to read about in a way they find interesting and useful. Knowing your audience is a key part of any good writing

Good luck with building your successful blog!

New weight loss system?

I was on a walk yesterday, and I noticed a sandwich board out the front of a beauty shop. As well as the usual details, it included some text to the side as if to attract attention. The text was:

50% off new clients

If you are very overweight, you may be happy to know they could remove 50% of you (I wonder if you get to choose where the 50% comes from?) If you aren’t overweight enough to want to loose 50%, we can only hope they don’t remove other parts of you!

Of course, what they really meant was new clients pay half price on their usual services – but it is important to write what you mean rather than assume people can understand you.

How could it have been better?

50% off for new clients {yes, adding one word makes all the difference!}

OR

half price for your first visit {longer, but very clear and also shows the discount is for only one visit}

Have you read your marketing messages to be sure they say what you mean them to?

Allude to an illusion

If you’re not careful with the pronunciation, allusion and illusion can sound very similar, and they are occasionally incorrectly swapped for each other.

An illusion is not real; so someone may have a false idea or see something that isn’t really there – they are facing an illusion.

Allusion is a reference to knowledge you assume your reader/listener understands, especially when referring to literary or art knowledge. For instance, I will make an allusion to Shakespeare’s work when I write: the young couple considered themselves to be as tragic as Romeo and Juliet. I can assume that most people know the story of Romeo and Juliet so the allusion explains a lot in few words.

To remember which is which, consider that illusion starts with I and often relates to a trick of the eye. Allusion starts with A and usually relates to Art and literature.

Writing survey questions

Writing responses to questions in a formMy earlier post listed some examples of poor survey questions I have come across, so now here are some tips for making your survey questions effective…

  1. Know what you are preparing the survey for – and how you will use the results. By planning the results, you will know what questions you need answered and be sure to word them to get the relevant answers. For instance, if you want to know if clients prefer green or blue so you can change your corporate colours, you won’t bother asking “Do you like pink?”
  2. make each question clearly different – if someone has to read a question two or three times to see why it is different to a previous question, they are likely to  give up or answer incorrectly. Be particularly careful to not ask the positive and negative for the same point.
  3. don’t just copy the same responses for every question. Yes, it is reasonable to give responses such as excellent and poor to some questions, but not if you ask “did the book help you?” A bit of variety is more interesting and makes it more likely people will read each question properly.
  4. check questions follow on from one to the next, especially if you are using software that provides different questions depending on earlier responses. For example, if someone answers “I don’t have children” to question 1, question 2 really shouldn’t ask “how old are your children?”
  5. Always provide a response for everyone. It is frustrating for someone who can’t give any of your responses as their answer so always include every option or a way of indicating nothing applies.
  6. Make sure every question and provided response makes sense. That means read every question/response pair individually. For example, “was the presentation interesting?” works, “was the presentation informative?” works but “was the presentation expectations?” doesn’t work.
  7. every question must be simple and clear – if the question is too complicated you can’t expect useful results. Simplify questions by
    • using simple and short words as much as possible
    • divide a long question into two parts if possible
    • give responses to choose from rather than an open ended question
    • staying to the point – and keeping to your purpose
    • keeping all question short – it’s much easier to complicate 12 words than 6!
  8. Always use good grammar and spelling so people aren’t confused or distracted by your errors.
  9. Present your survey well so people will actually read and respond to your well written questions!

Ideally, prepare the questions and leave them for a couple of days. Then reread each question to make sure it makes sense and will get the answers you are after. Once you are sure the questions are workable, ask someone else (or a few someone elses) to answer the survey for you and provide feedback on questions they weren’t sure of.

A well written and prepared survey can be a very valuable tool for your business so it is worth putting the time and effort into making it as good as you possibly can.

Communicating with suppliers

 In a business context, most people think of clear communications in terms of their customers. But it is also important to communicate well with your suppliers.

For instance, someone I know recently ended a project because his client gave him insufficient and contradictory information. This client had prepared a brief but work done to match that brief was rejected!

Connect and communicate with all business contactsObviously communication is a two-way thing but if you make your needs straight forward it is more likely a supplier will give you what you want.

1. specify anything mandatory – e.g the logo must always be on a white background or the newsletter must be ready by the 1st of each month

2. explain your ideas – a rough sketch is ok as long as it is labelled

3. avoid jargon unless you are sure the supplier understands it the same way you do – that includes using their jargon if you aren’t sure of it yourself!

4. write or talk as if they are a customer – clearly, concisely and politely.

 

Have you had client projects where poor communications made the project a dreaded chore instead of challenging and interesting?

Keep up to date when you write

calendar of datesIt is important to keep track of the date and what is happening if you want your writing content (and other communications) to be credible and respected.

I heard a perfect example of this morning. As part of a news item in the 10 am radio news, the newscaster said “… will be announced later this month.” Of course, at 10am on the 29th February, there really isn’t much of the month left for things to happen in! It was probably a simple mistake (perhaps it should have been “… later next month…”),  but it stood out more than the actual news itself.

While people can allow for small mistakes, and sometimes won’t even notice them, mistakes can change the impact of what you write (or say) and that can be costly. So remember to check:

  • you have the correct dates
  • you refer to the appropriate season (for example, today is summer and tomorrow is autumn in Australia, but not in the northern hemisphere)
  • when unusual, but important, changes occur, such as leap years, daylight savings starts/ends and when Easter is

Take particular care when you are writing something in advance. For example, if you write blog or newsletter posts weeks or even months ahead of publishing them, it can be easy to refer to current details instead of the relevant future ones.

What to write in a blog…

As I am learning to blog, I am aware of the dilema “but what do I write about?”

Of course, as a writer of many, many articles and two monthly newsletters (one filled with business and writing tips and one with time saving tips and information about the web) I have dealt with the question of what to write many times:)

So what can you write about, other than your daily life?

Let’s assume you have a particular theme to your blog and a particular audience… then some examples of content to get you started are:

  • experiences you have had with customers/clients that others can learn from
  • useful tips you have learned from reading a book/blog/article, etc
  • relevant mistakes you notice in everyday life – and how they could have been avoided
  • upcoming events
  • reviews of relevant books/magazines/websites/programs
  • current news items that affect your audience
  • special offers/deals you are planning or you are aware of that may suit your audience

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