Are you getting the most out of your blog?

The thing is, blogging takes a lot of time, brainpower, and creativity. Those resources are in high demand as a small business owner, and frankly, I don’t want you to waste them! When you think about your blog, are you doing it just because you feel like you have to? Or do you have a clear strategy that guides you on what you need to do to make your blog work for you and boost your business?

As you read through this blog post, take an honest look at your blog. Ask yourself what you could be doing to leverage your blog to leverage your business. Not only will it help you get a better ROI, but it will help you serve your customers more effectively!

A photo may be worth a thousand words, but what happens when it’s paired with a well thought out caption? Now that’s where the magic happens.

Instagram captions can be a time-suck. You finally perfected your photo and are now staring at a white box wondering what in the world to say. You frantically head to Pinterest searching for an idea, a clever phrase, or a witty quote. Maybe you type a few words, but then immediately erase it because it’s not creative enough, cheeky, or genuine. Next thing you know, a half hour goes by, and you have to move on to the next thing on your endless to-do list without even posting a photo! Ugh.

I have a confession to make that I am totally embarrassed to admit.

I haven’t written a blog post for Rough Draft Solutions since December. How in the world did I let that happen? As a content writer, this gives me a big dose of guilt. What kind of professional writer am I if I can’t even keep up with my own blog?

Well, the thing is, I allowed myself to indulge in a break over the holidays and didn’t have a plan for getting started again. And before I knew it, the weeks were slipping by, and I still didn’t have a plan. I didn’t feel inspired, and frankly, I felt like I was too busy with client work. While all of this may have been true, it didn’t have to result in me neglecting my blog for four months!

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AuthorAmanda Washburn

Your business can’t do it all. You may want to offer all the services your customers are looking for, but that’s not the best plan for you or them. What ends up happening is that you offer mediocre services you don’t love providing.  

Instead of trying to offer everything, consider refining your one area of expertise and partnering with other companies that specialize in the other services your customers need.

A couple of weeks ago, the Michigan Business Rap had me on their Lunch Break radio program. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting local business professionals and sharing my insight on content marketing! The other participants couldn’t have been more welcoming and gracious.

So what is the Michigan Business Rap? According to their website, “Michigan Business Rap is a daily radio show hosted by Michael Patrick Shiels and Tony Cuthbert. Every weekday afternoon from 12-1 p.m. on The Team 92.1 FM the show is live. The hosts engage a panel of local business experts in a roundtable discussion, which is designed to break down hot topics and timely news stories from the perspective of business owners. The show opens the microphone to the business community, resulting in informative, interactive and entertaining discussions.”

Your website is the face of your company.

You may have heard that before, but it’s worth repeating. Your website is often the first place people go when they want to learn about what you do and how you can help them. And while it’s important for your website to look appealing, the words on each page will determine if it works effectively for your business or not.

The truth is, website content is often an afterthought. When building a website for your business, your first thought was probably about how you wanted it to look. Don’t get me wrong! A well-designed website is imperative, but your content is what’s going to cause people to take action.

By now, as a business owner, you’re probably well aware of the benefits of blogging. But do you realize the harm you may be doing by NOT posting consistently?

The thing is, humans are creatures of habit. We like to have routines. We want to know that the businesses we choose to work with will deliver on their promises consistently. And frankly, grabbing the attention of your readers is hard enough. If you succeed in capturing their interest, you better not push them away by only posting interesting content once in a blue moon.

If you blog every week for a month, and then disappear for six weeks, your customers are going to wonder what happened. If you post sporadically, your customers won’t make it a habit to check your blog every week. You want to make sure you deliver content to them when they are looking for it! You want your readers to get used to coming to your blog every Wednesday, or whichever day you post!

While I’ve been an Instagram-addict for well over three years, I just began using it for business in August. As an Instagram-for-business-rookie, I’ve learned a lot in a short period of time.

Last week I participated in my first “Instagram Challenge.” If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry. I felt the same way when I decided to participate in The Rising Tide Society’s challenge, but thanks to their helpful guide, I knew what to do and quickly started seeing traction.

I want to share a bit of my experience and encourage you to join in on the next Instagram challenge you come across!

Starting a company from scratch isn’t easy. Trust me, I’ve been there.

When you first begin, it can be frustrating. You don’t have the money to create big, extravagant advertisements or campaigns to get people’s attention. You don’t have the online presence with your website or social media to direct prospective clients to your company. You don’t have the help of a full-time marketing staff. But there are still affordable things you can do to raise awareness about your business! 

Business owners are some of the busiest people in the world. It’s no secret that you’re juggling a million things. Often, writing content for your website, blog, newsletter, and social media platforms probably isn’t high on your priority list. But if you’ve been around here very long, you know how vital content is in enriching your customer's experience.

The truth is, as business owners, we have the tendency to put too much on ourselves. This isn’t because we don’t trust our staff or don’t know how to prioritize. It’s because we want to do the best we can for our business. But if you’re anything like me, you need to remember you can’t possibly do it all and it is okay to get help.

This week was one of the best lately! To start it off, I had a splendid long weekend with my family and friends in MN. So good to unplug, refresh, and refocus on what is most important.

Even though skipping work for a few days made my week a bit squished/rushed, I was able to plow through the work I needed to finish. We edited several articles for a client's newsletter, wrote a few client blog posts, and got through the final content implementation for a client's website! Woohoo!  

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AuthorAmanda Washburn

You’ve got a blog, you’ve scheduled the time to write, and now you just need one more thing. A blog post idea to write about.

Even though you’re an expert in your field, sometimes the hardest thing is to figure out how to capture your knowledge and ideas into a pretty little blog post. How do you balance sharing what you know and answering the questions your customers have?

Do you ever wish you could hire someone to write blog posts for your business and still get the credit?

Kind of feels like cheating on a test, right? Thankfully, it’s not. In fact, it is a recommended practice that will not only save you time but provide value to your customers.

A ghostwriter is someone who will take on your tone, style and persona and use it to write content for you, under your name. Not all successful small business owners are skilled writers, nor do they have an abundance of extra time. A ghostwriter can write your blog posts and newsletters, giving you the freedom to focus on the work you love and need to do.

As a small business owner, your biggest concern is probably not your blog. You’ve got clients to please, products to produce, services to refine, and a whole lot more. And yet, blogging is vital to the growth of your business and the support of your customers.

Your to-do list may seem endless, but you cannot afford to ignore your blog.

If you’re disenchanted with writing for your business blog, it’s important to refocus, shake things up, and find your mojo again.

Recently, I've heard a few people say email is dead. They are wrong.

Even in the world of overflowing inboxes, it is still worth your time to reach out to your customers through email.

Email campaigns are an effective way to provide value, connect with your customers, and share more about your business. With an email campaign, you are sending out marketing content on a specific schedule with the intention of increasing your customer’s awareness, trust, and interest in your business.

If you’re a small business owner, content marketing needs to be a part of your daily business strategy.

Still scratching your head and wondering what content marketing is exactly? 

oe Pulizzi defines the concept in his book, Epic Content Marketing, as “the process of developing and sharing relevant, valuable, and engaging content to a target audience with the goal of acquiring new customers or increasing business from existing customers.”

Pulizzi further explains, “Content Marketing is about delivering the content your audience is seeking in all the places they are searching for it. It is the effective combination of created, curated and syndicated content.”

Who doesn’t want their blog to be more successful? Nobody.

As business owners and marketers, we are all looking for ways to increase readership, enhance engagement, and ultimately, get more mileage out of the blog posts we write!

A couple weeks ago, we published a short video “4 Ways to Make Your Blog More Successful.” We totally appreciate all of the wonderful feedback you gave! We wanted to provide a more in-depth look at these tips and share a few more tips we think you need to take your blog to the next level.

These are the tried-and-true strategies we have been using for the past year. Enjoy!

Public speaking is one of the most critical forms of communication in the business world. It comes in all shapes and sizes, from introducing yourself at a networking event to being the keynote speaker at workshops and seminars.

Whether the speaking engagement is small or large, it can cause us to feel extremely nervous.  According to Psychology Today, most people fear public speaking more than death! That is a lot of fear.

Sometimes we put so much pressure on ourselves to speak perfectly that it causes us to overthink things. 

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AuthorAmanda Washburn
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Most of us recognize when it is appropriate to write emails in a formal or informal tone. At work, we are told to error on the side of being too professional when communicating with coworkers, our boss, and our clients. We’re given the impression that it’s better to be safe than sorry and to be careful not to come off as too casual or worse, disrespectful.

But once you’ve formed strong relationships with coworkers and clients, wouldn’t it feel weird to be strictly professional in your emails? Shouldn’t your communication style reflect the connection and trust you’ve built over time? So, how do you walk the line between being professional and personable in your emails?