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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Making topics seasonal

My January enewsletter resulted in the question of how to make your blog or newsletter topic seasonal occasionally to generate timely interest and show an external connection.

Don’t assume you can only use major events (like Christmas, the end of financial year and Mothers Day) for a seasonal flavour to your blog and newsletter. Find seasonal things throughout the year that are relevant for your clients – especially things around times when your marketing may need an extra boost.

Here is a list  of seasonal examples I’ve though of to get your creativity flowing…

  • at the start of summer, a hairdresser writing a hair care blog can discuss protecting hair from chlorine and salt
  • many businesses can find a new year’s link – make a resolution to get fit, sort out your accounts, update your will, care for your heath (quit smoking, visit a dentist, get your eyes tested, etc), buy new tyres or learn something new are just a few possibilities. Write about what is possible and give tips on how to achieve it
  • a car detailer could write a newsletter article on how to make a car nice before taking out someone special on Valentines Day
  • anyone in security (including computer security) can give blog tips on protecting empty homes and offices leading up to major holidays (Christmas, Australia Day and Easter for instance) when people won’t be at home
  • any business can support an awareness or fundraising event so write about your efforts even if not directly related to your goods or services – e.g. give a discount to all new parents during world breastfeeding week, offer a part of profits to the cancer council in Movember. Use the newsletter article or blog post to explain why the cause matters. The event or cause may not be related to your industry but make sure it does align with your brand and company beliefs.
  • write blog posts and newsletter pieces about clients or suppliers who do community work around a specific event (such as a client who shaves for ‘shave for a cure’ or a cafe who hosts a ‘biggest morning tea’)
  • in September or October, a VA could write about spring cleaning a filing system and a ducting specialist can write about the importance of cleaning heating ducts
  • a nutritionist could explain the benefits of hen eggs over chocolate eggs around Easter time
  • a physio interested in RSI topics will find plenty of examples during January with the Hopman Cup, Brisbane International and Australian Open underway
  • a town planner has the Tour Down Under and Tour de France to inspire blog posts about including bike paths in developments
  • Clean up Australia Day is a great time to post about reducing clutter (any organisers or storage solution people?) and cleaning (cleaners, cleaning product sellers and chimney sweeps)
  • a conservationist can give non-paper wrapping tips in December and environmentally friendly cleaning ideas for Clean up Australia Day or spring cleaning – in an electronic (not paper) newsletter of course!

What creative seasonal ties have you used in your blog posts and newsletter articles?

repeat the boring stuff…

Do you get bored with hearing the same stuff a number of times? What do you do about repeated information?

As I wrote a few days ago, some repetition of stuff is necessary to succeed – either because it takes a few goes to really understand it or the timing wasn’t right initially or even just as a reminder that it is still important.

I agree with Jack that looking professional is important – and that includes care with grammar, spelling, effective links and care of details. So I write about those topics quite often, which may seem boring to some I know, but I do try to cover a range of topics within clear and professional communications.

Given the amount of poor writing I come across every day, I see there is a need for a repetition of grammar and spelling tips, too!

If you are good at grammar and spelling – my apoliges for repeating what you already know! But why not take this opportunity to tell me what other topics you would like me to write about?

A blog topic or theme

Writing a blog takes time, and if you are doing it as part of a marketing strategy (however informal!) for your business, you want that time to turn into readers and potential clients.

Whilst a blog is good for building relationships and demonstrating the person behind a business, lots of irrelevant and/or personal posts won’t work so well to promote your business and products/services.

I have just read a blog post by Penelope who wrote about wasting your time unless you have a topic or focus. She makes the point that you can can use a wide-minded perspective on the focussed topic to keep it interesting, but that to keep people coming back for more they need to know what your blog is about.

 Withn each post, it is particularly important to stick to your topic so people can follow the message in each post. And each post should generally contribute to your overall topic – for example, my blog is about business communications and development so posts on email subjects, basic grammar, business resources and blog content are all relevant.

However, I think even a business blog can include the occasional off topic post and stay relevant to their readers. But it really does have to be infrequent to maintain the feel and theme of the blog.

Sometimes, you can find a relevant angle for off topic ideas. For instance, I recently joined in blog action day on climate change – while I believe in helping the environment, it isn’t what this blog is about so instead of writing about climate change in general, I wrote about how I run my business to reduce my impact on the environment and climate change. At other times, I have used personal experiences such as going on cuboree last year and being subscribed to newsletters by ‘friends’ to inspire relevant posts.

Using such personal moments for inspiration

  • is more interesting to read than impersonal, almost text book type of posts
  • gives you an insight into me as a person as well as a writer
  • lets me be creative
  • gives me opportunities to blend my personal and business lives
  • demonstrates my versatility and real world understanding of my topic

So how tightly do you think a blog should stay to one topic? Does it vary for a personal blog compared to a business blog?

Does your own blog(s) match that opinion?

Maximising topics

Last week, I aprticipated in Blog Action Day(BAD09) with over 13,000 other bloggers – we all posted on the topic of climate change in order to make everyone aware of this important topic.

While everyone wrote about climate change as the theme, there were many different angles covered – for example, I listed green decisions for my business to inspire other businesses to fight climate change and I read posts about conserving water, marketing, using local foods, some affects of climate change (affects on western society caused by direct climate changes) and things we can do to stop climate change.

This made me think about using a limited topic can provide many blog posts and/or articles – as well as about climate change of course!

Even if you limited yourself to business related aspects of climate change, there were many different ways you could have participated in BAD09. Here are just some of the business angles to show what I mean:

  • tips of how to reduce a business’ impact around the office
  • discussion of how manufacturing businesses can reduce their emissions
  • discussion of how business can contribute to the solution
  • opinions on carbon pricing and how it will impact small businesses
  • list some business ideas that will help the planet
  • low impact marketing ideas
  • how climate change has impacted on a particular business or industry – or is likely to in the next decade or half century
  • discussion on political and social factors affecting how a business can implement greener processes

So next time you are looking for something to write about to promote your business, look back at old or obvious topics within your business and see if there is a different angle you can discuss – there usually is!

Not only does discussing different angles give you more blog posts/articles, it also:

  • gives you the opportunity to share more of your expertise in a niche subject
  • lets people read about different aspects and therefore be more informed
  • gives people who may use your article (e.g. website owners and other bloggers) more choice about what angle of the topic to use and that increases the chances or your article being read
  • demonstrates your knowledge and that you have more than one dimension
  • enables you to link between posts more easily

Use your words wisely, and your topics thoroughly!

Email subjects

Like the heading of an ad or article, the subject of an email is important.

For one thing, if someone needs to find some information you sent them, it is much easier to sort through emails if the subject clearly identifies the email contents. I have been known to send the same person three emails in a row so that each topic is in its own email for easier sorting and answering, rather than one long email covering three topics.

If you are emailing someone new or sending out an enewsletter, your choice of subject can mean the difference between someone reading it or deleting it. Some points to consider in writing your subject are:

  • avoid hype and over-used words as many people can’t be bothered with more of the same
  • be honest. For example, I recently received an email via my website with the subject ‘business cooperation’. The subject interested me so I read it only to find it was purely an ad for their services. Not only is their subject dishonest, it annoyed me so much I would never use their services and added their email address to my junk mail list.
  • relate it to the reader –  and that is easier when you know more about who you are emailing in the first place. As an example, “help with your marketing” has more appeal than “we offer great marketing services” but neither will appeal much to a retiree or a school child!
  • personalise it if you have the technical ability to do so – but be warned that trying to personalise it and getting it wrong is not good. Yes, I have received emails addressed “Special message for {add name}” – the word ‘you’ would have been a better, safer option
  • add an enticement or call to action – sometimes a time frame can help, such as “sale this weekend only”
  • keep it as short and simple as possible – for one thing, some people’s email system doesn’t give much space for the subject so if it takes too long to get to the point, people may miss the point altogether

How often do you put much effort into your email subject? And I’m curious – do you usually write the email or the subject first?

Happy writing!

Stick to your topic

When writing, especially if it is an article or blog post, it isn’t hard to get distracted by related topics and ideas. But if someone has chosen to read about a certain topic, that is what they expect to read about.

Changing topics within a piece of business writing can confuse your readers and reduce your ‘expert’ status. This is especially the case if you are presenting a number of points about a topic (such as ’10 ways to save money’ or ‘tips for reducing water waste in your office’.)

As an example, I recently read an article listing various ways to sell a product. It started with market stalls, direct sales and wholesaling, but then went onto networking and advertising which are not sales methods although they can increase the number of sales made.

If you do want to include points that are not part of your original topic, change the topic to indicate the scope of the writing. Alternatively, write two or more pieces, each about a separate although related topic, instead of one piece on different topics.

 Learn more writing tips from the Writing Well eBook