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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.”

Last week, we got to know Amanda, the owner of Rough Draft Solutions. This week, we wanted to focus on the two other team members of the business, Emily and Maddie.

These two ladies have added so much value to the work we do at Rough Draft Solutions. They are skilled writers and editors, and we are excited for you to get to know them a bit more!

AuthorAmanda Washburn

In the world of small business, we must take ownership of our story. We must speak out, share our experiences, and open up about our struggles. By doing this, we can inspire and encourage one another to keep the dream alive. We are continually inspired by the hardworking business owners who are bootstrapping it and making things happen!

This week we’re interviewing our very own Amanda Washburn, the owner of Rough Draft Solutions. We hope it gives you a bit of insight into our company and why we’re committed to empowering other businesses to communicate with their customers! So, grab a cup of coffee and stay awhile! 

Moment of truth: I had no clue what content marketing was when I started working at Rough Draft Solutions (RDS).Thankfully, after a year of working at RDS, I’ve got an idea of what content creation strategies businesses should be using.

The amount of advertisements we see each day is excessive. Businesses are striving to show off their brands and attract potential customers, but if they are strictly relying on self-promoting ads, they are missing the mark. If companies want to make a meaningful impact on their customers and extend their reach, they need to produce value-focused, authentic, and hard-hitting content.

Love it or hate it, blogging is here to stay. Every week I meet business owners who ask me about whether or not they should be blogging. Most times, my answer is yes, but under one condition.

Don’t be a dummy.

Okay, that may not be quite what I say, but if you’re going to write a blog you need to follow some house-rules. The rules aren’t complicated, in fact, they aren’t too different from what your 7th grade English teacher taught you in regards to writing a paper.

Awhile back, we made this blog writing checklist for a training session we did with one of our clients. This checklist is a quick and easy way to make sure you cover all the bases before you publish your blog post. Use this checklist as you get started writing and before you know it, blog writing will become second nature.

If you published a powerful piece of content without your name on it, would your customers know it is from you? If you're not sure, you've got some work to do.

One of the most important things you can do when it comes to marketing is to create a business voice that stands out and is easy to connect with.  Remember, we've gotten away from just selling our products through content and are now focused on producing value and telling stories. To do this effectively you must create a style and tone for your business that can be used across all platforms and documents.

Remember, your customers probably won’t acknowledge that you have a set style in place because they will be too caught up in effortlessly reading your content (and that is what you want!). And often, if they do notice your writing style and tone it's when something is off and your cadence/approach/perspective doesn't match what they are familiar with. 

Let's dig into why you need to establish your business voice (more specifically, your writing style and tone) sooner than later and lay out exactly how you're going to do that. 

I know your secret… You don’t have a marketing department, and you’re kind of embarrassed about it.

It’s okay, I promise. You’re not alone. In fact, there are more businesses than you can imagine that don’t have a marketing department. These include businesses that employ as few as five people and companies with more than 500. And it’s not necessarily because they don’t want to have a marketing team. It’s simply a result of not having the resources to put one in place, not realizing the need, or more commonly, not realizing the opportunities you’re missing.

While incorporating video into our social strategy has been a major plus, it has been a learning process. There’s nothing like a significant spike in audience engagement to tell you you’re on the right track - or that you’ve been missing the boat in the past. Don’t get me wrong, we are pleased with our results! Our organic audience reach skyrocketed to over 5,000, and our engagement levels were the highest they’ve ever been organically. For a company page with a little over 200 likes, I’d say that’s pretty decent!

But like any new communication strategy, there are a few things we wish we would have done differently. So we’re spilling the beans on what we’ve learned from using video on Facebook in hopes that you can pick up some tips and avoid some of our rookie mistakes. 

How many advertisements do you think you come across in a day? A handful? A couple hundred? Try nearly 5,000! Each day you are inundated with thousands of ads and sometimes, you aren’t even aware of it. Companies attempt to gain customers by proving themselves through constant logo appearances, media, and advertisements. But let’s be honest, how well do those ads work on you? Not as well as they used to, right?  So how do businesses break through to customers when they are swamped with so many messages?

AuthorAmanda Washburn

Many business owners want to showcase the products or services their company offers, but aren’t sure how. When you have a variety of offerings, it’s easy to create brochures that have too much information and are not that enticing. What you need is a marketing piece that is focused, easy-to-read, and compelling.

Your business needs a one-sheet (or a series of them!).

Keep reading to find out what exactly a one-sheet is, get the ultimate one-sheet checklist, and learn how you can use this tool productively for your business.

In the evolving world of content marketing, we continually need to refine how we communicate with and reach our customers. Here are a few content marketing trends you should consider as you refresh and plan for this year's blog posts, newsletters, and social media campaigns.

1. Sophisticated algorithms will force you to get serious about quality control

If your goal is to reach users with first-page search results this year, then it's about time you ditched the traditional SEO marketing strategy. The truth is, the game has changed. Google algorithms now evaluate content based on its value to readers who are searching for it. The focus on quality content means excessive keyword stuffing and backlinking won’t do you any good.