Could you write 100 words per day?

Typewriter. Photography by Nigel Temple copyright appliesWriting all of those ‘marketing words’ can be a challenge, can’t it? Business owners and marketers are already working flat out. How are they going to find the time to get the writing done?

Make writing a habit

Here is an idea for you. Aim to write 100 words, every day. 100 words isn’t very much is it? You may find that once you start, that you can exceed this target. If you write every day about your business and your products or services, your brain will be working away in the background about the subject matter, even when you are not aware that it is doing so.

250 words is sufficient for a blog. So if you were able to write 100 words, 20 days per month that amounts to 2000 words, or eight blogs per month. Alternatively, you could think in terms of four 500 word blogs (i.e. one per week).

My first book was 19,000 words long. If I had used the 100 words per day approach, it would have taken me under 10 months to write. As you can imagine, upping the word count target to say 250 words per day turbocharges everything.

You will find it helpful if you are reporting to someone about your writing output. If you work within an organisation, this could be your manager or a colleague. If you work for yourself, could a family member help you out? As the saying goes:

What gets measured, gets done*

In conclusion, setting a target for yourself really works. It used to be said that it takes 21 days to form a new habit and the other day I heard that it takes 60 days. Even if it takes as long as this, with regards to writing, it will be well worth it.

*There is some debate about who coined this phrase, some say that it was the management guru Peter Drucker, whilst others quote Lord Kelvin.

Extracted from ‘How to Write Words Which Generate More Response’, soon to be available via Amazon Kindle. Here is Nigel Temple’s Amazon Author page.

Nigel provides copywriting training services.

Should I give information away for free?

I am often asked by clients and members of The Marketing Compass: “Should I give information away for free?” The answer is yes – regardless of your type of business. Here are some of the reasons:

pen and notepad*  Sharing information is a marketing strategy in its own right
*  When you write regularly, new ideas keep popping into your head
*  Customers want to learn about your products / services
*  When customers are in the market to buy, they are keen to learn
*  It is a myth that buyers are too busy to read long body copy
(If you are buying a house – would you read the Surveyor’s report?)
*  The more you write within your website, the more that the search engines will love you
*  If you don’t do this, your competitors are doing so, or they will be doing so soon

In an increasingly digital world, it is likely that whatever you are selling has a high information content. Or it may only comprise information (i.e. consultancy, training services, website development, books). Physical products such as cars are now computers with a wheel on each corner. I am always surprised when a business person says to me: “But we don’t have anything to write about.” There is always something to write about, even if you manufacture cardboard boxes (why did you get into this business / how do you make these products / how can you improve customer service / what is your environmental policy / how will automation change your industry / what are the trends within your sector?)

Company information comes in many forms. In the last century, this was primarily sales information i.e. “stuff about us, our products and how great we are.” The challenge is that every company was doing this, causing a cacophony of chest beating and shouting within the marketplace. The customer found it difficult to differentiate any single chest beater from the the rest of the pack.

An alternative approach is to A) Get the customer to talk about what you do, within case studies and testimonials and B) Use a Customer Education approach. This is what I have been doing for the last 15 years. It generates 1 sales lead a day, which is fine for us (my wife and I work together within our 2 person business). If you have a larger enterprise than ours, you would need to scale everything up. Here are some of the things that I do:

1.  I blog regularly. Once a week is now my minimum target, but I am aiming for an average of twice per week. Believe me, this is tough as I am extremely busy.
2. I send out a monthly newsletter. (You can subscribe here, if you wish), via MailChimp. It does help that I am a MailChimp trainer however learning how to create and send Campaigns is quite straightforward.
3. A few years ago, we built our own social media website for business owners which is where I continually engage with people and answer questions (alongside the active members!)
4.  I write marketing e-books and printed books.
5.  I give marketing talks.
6.  I have produced videos (and I will be doing more of these).
7.  I produce marketing guides and checklists.

Yes, this is all time consuming. Yes, I love doing it. No, I am not looking for business when I write blogs and answer questions – I am just writing. Much of the above is free to access and read. Some of it is cheap to buy. Sometimes I give part of my knowledge away for free and then I let the readers / audience members know how they can purchase the whole thing.

I am continually learning. One thing that I have learnt is that the more I give away – the higher my website stats go and the more conversations I have with new customers.

Other blogs which you may find helpful:
Are you are creative thinker?    Coming up with new ideas    Copywriting – art or science?   

Written by marketing consultant, trainer, speaker and author Nigel Temple.
3,000+ clients over a 30 year period.
Hire Nigel as a marketing trainer or marketing speaker.
Join the marketing conversation within The Marketing Compass community.
Attend a marketing strategy meeting for free: click here.
Talk to Nigel 1-2-1 about your marketing for £97 +VAT: www.navigatorplus.co.uk
Photograph © copyright Nigel Temple

Using Quick Draft in WordPress

Are you a WordPress user? When you login to your site, you should find ‘Quick Draft’ within the Dashboard (which is the top item on the menu on the left of the screen).

You can use it to dash off a quick post. You then save your draft post (blog) idea and complete it later.

Google likes fresh content. Customers like to read about your products, services, tips and ideas. The more you write, the more you sell.

I believe that there is a strong argument for writing frequently. The benefits include better quality (writing is a craft that improves with use); deeper thought about your business (the act of writing creates new ideas); and a greater share of the search engines’ attention. Quick Draft helps you to get going and get something out there.

The objective is to ‘just write’ which I teach in my copywriting training courses. On this basis, don’t bother with images or search engine meta data (keywords). Matt Cutts from Google recommends that you write frequently and share your knowledge. Google will find you.

NB Note that this approach flys in the face of the advice that you may have heard about SEO and researching keywords. If you are interested in this issue, you are welcome to ask via The Marketing Compass.

PS I kicked off this post via Quick Draft and completed it in the Posts section of WordPress.

 

Copywriting – art or science?

Tap those keysThe purpose of commercial copywriting is to create more sales. Copywriting is more of a science, than an art. This is because there are established formulas which have been proven to work, time and time again.

If your ‘marketing words’ are going to succeed, they must:
* Get the reader’s attention
* Make them want to keep reading
* Generate desire for your product / service
* Get them to take action (i.e. contact you / make a purchase)

There are many reasons why the buyer won’t proceed:
* Lack of time
* Information overload
* They don’t ‘get’ your message

Writing effective marketing copy requires some special ingredients:
* An understanding of the objectives, for each writing mission
* Subject knowledge
* A clear understanding of your audience and their needs
* Copywriting formulas
* An understanding of the principles of selling
* An understanding of grammar and punctuation

I trained as a professional copywriter for three years. Subsequently, I have written over a million words of marketing copy. I often ask seminar delegates: “Do you love to write?” If you do, then you will want to write and you will find that you improve over time. Incidentally, writers love to read (what are you reading at the moment?)

I wish you all the best with your copywriting!

How to generate new ideas for content marketing / blogs part 2

Following on from Part 1 of How to generate new ideas for content marketing / blogs

….here are  14 more ways to produce new ideas for content marketing / blogs:Content marketing - photograph copyright holder Nigel Temple

15.  Can you write about seasonal or cyclical issues?
16.  Ask your customers what they would like you to write about.
17.  Write about trends within your industry / sector / niche.
18.  Think about technology: there is probably a story there.
19.  Human interest always attracts readers.
20.  Study your blogs stats (i.e via Google Analytics). What are the popular topics?
21.  Run a survey and write about the results.
22. Scrutinise your blog categories – what could you add?
23. Read your blog tags out loud.
24. Could you combine two previous blog topics and create a new blog?
25. Analyse your website / blog search box (i.e. for interesting keywords / phrases).
26. Have a content marketing plan, stretching a whole year ahead.
27. Read a cross section of blogs from other industries and countries.
28. Use creative thinking techniques (would it help to hire a creative thinking trainer?)

The more frequently you blog, the easier it gets. One idea sparks other ideas. The hardest part is getting started.

Photograph © Nigel Temple

How to generate ideas for content marketing / blogs …part 1

I recommend that you blog at least once a week. Serious players blog every day. Producing new ideas for your website content can be a challenge, can’t it? Here is a checklist of 14 ways to produce new ideas for content marketing / blogs:Content marketing - photograph copyright holder Nigel Temple

  1. Have a whiteboard in your office where you can write new ideas.
  2. Carry a notebook around with you: when an idea comes – write it down.
  3. Have a monthly content marketing ideas brainstorming session.
  4. Write customer stories, as people love a good story.
  5. Write about the blood, sweat and tears which go into your products / services.
  6. What are you currently doing. What’s new / interesting / innovative?
  7. Reveal some of your plans for the future (and I hope that you have one).
  8. Create a  Google Drive (or similar) spreadsheet (easy to search).
  9. Pick up media stories and commment on them.
  10. Experiment with video blogs.
  11. Create a giant Mind Map, as Mind Mapping helps you to think in a different way.
  12. Read non-competitive blogs as this will spark ideas for you.
  13. Keep a pen and paper by the side of your bed.
  14. Talk to anyone who will listen about your blogs. As you talk, new ideas will arrive.

By the way, IMHO don’t analyse what your competition is doing. You will just end up copying them. It is important to be original and lead the field. I’m often asked by clients and seminar delegates how to generate ideas for content marketing / blogs and I hope that this checklist helps you. 

Click here to read Part 2 – with 14 more ideas for coming up with content marketing / blog ideas

Photograph © Nigel Temple

7 benefits of business blogging

There are numerous reasons why you should have a business blog.  Here are seven of them:

1.  Google loves a blogger. The search engines (i.e. Google, Bing and Yahoo) send out software ‘crawlers’. When they visit your website, the crawlers look at your sites’ log files. If they notice that something has changed (i.e. that you have uploaded a new blog), it makes them happy. Imagine being a crawler and visiting a website which never changes. You would probably think “how boring!”  You can keep their interest by blogging frequently.

2.  Writing makes you think. Talking about your area of expertise is fine. Writing about it is another thing entirely. In order to write something which is worth reading, you really have to think about it. I know, as I have written books, manuals, guides, articles and blogs.

3.  Your blog feeds your newsletter. If you write three blog entries a month, this is enough, as three stories within a newsletter is fine.

4.  Regular blogging improves your writing skills. Talk to a novelist. They will tell you that you they write regularly (quite often, every day.) Writing is a learned skill. You can improve your writing skills by frequent blogging.

5.  The more you write, the more you sell. Customers like to read blogs about your products / services. When someone enters the marketplace, they are hungry for information. If you blog frequently, it is more likely that they will find you in the first place and – having found you – your blog will give them more material to read which in turn makes it more likely that they will buy from you (as customers do not have an infinite amount of time to make a buying decision).

6.  A creative, researched and thought provoking blog can differentiate your business.  Anything that you can do to ‘stand out from the crowd’ is a good thing. Here is a lblog about: Creative thinking skills

7.  A blog can turn into a book. An Amazon Kindle book can be as short as 5000 words. If each blog entry that you write is 250 words, it only takes 20 blog entries and Voila!, you have your book.  Here is a blog entitled: How to get the writing done  ..which may help.

If you have questions about blogging / social media, you can ask them via The Marketing Compass website.

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Nigel Temple is a marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. To find out more about his services email joanna@nigeltemple.com or call Joanna on +44 (0)1628 773128.

He welcomes media enquiries about 21st century marketing, social media and digital marketing. He has appeared within the national, international and broadcast media.

Nigel is the founder of The Marketing Compass – join thousands of business owners, tell us about your business and ask some marketing questions!

Follow Nigel on Twitter: http://twitter.com/nigeltemple

 

How to come up with ideas for a business book

I have decided to write a new business book and to blog about the process. Feedback and encouragement would be welcomed! I was, quite frankly, lucky with regards to my first book. Hodder and Stoughton – the global publishing company – found nigeltemple.com and asked me to write a book.

This was Writing Copy for the Web in a Week which was published in 2003.  It took me three months to research and write the manuscript. It was a short book: circa 20,000 words + cartoons. Sadly, this particular book is now out of print (it was part of a series which no longer exists).

The big issue, from my perspective, was becoming an author. To this day, I tell seminar audiences and clients that ‘author’ has the same Latin root as ‘authority’. So, if you publish a business book, you become an authority on your chosen subject. As soon as you decide to write a book, you feel good. Even in this digital age, authors are respected. No matter what size your business is, writing a book is good news. It can open doors, generate publicity and act as the world’s largest business card.

The first step is to decide what to write about.  Interestingly, I am often asked how to come up with ideas for a business book (and how to get published – which I will discuss within another blog). Here’s a tip: make a list (or create a Mind Map) of all of your areas of professional knowledge. You know a lot about a great many things, don’t you? Write it all down. Think in terms of your main areas of expertise and associated topics. For example, in my case, I know about marketing strategy. This connects to marketing plans, business models and the promotional mix, amongst other things.

Over the coming days, keep adding to your list. I keep my book ideas in the Cloud – so that I can access them from wherever I am, via any device. Your subconscious will work on this list and it will keep coming up with interesting new ideas. Authors will tell you that whilst they are writing book A, ideas for books B and C materialise. Ensure that you keep track of these ideas.

Once you have chosen the subject for your book – do some research and see who else has published in this area. You can do this via Amazon, as well as via bookshops. Do your best to come up with something original or at least a topic which hasn’t been done to death within its niche area.

I will be following this blog through in part 2!

If you are interested in this topic – by all means engage with me about it within The Marketing Compass community.

 

How to get the writing done

When I am asked ‘how to get the writing done’, I ask a question: “What is the first thing you do when you start working, each morning?” Most business people tell me that they answer their emails. Here’s a suggestion for you. Leave the emails alone. Start a little earlier and write 300 words. If you did this every morning, for the next 21 days, you would have 6,300 words. Enough for an e-book.

Many of the most influential people on the planet are authors. They didn’t get there by saying: “Oh. I don’t have any ideas today.” They made writing a part of their daily routine. Ask any novelist and they will tell you that writing takes discipline. You have to make it a habit.

Early morning is a great time to write (before you open those emails!) Your mind is fresh. The house / office is quiet. The phones aren’t ringing. I say this because I am a ‘lark’ (early riser). I know that you may well be an ‘owl’ (someone who can work late into the evening). The important thing is to make writing a routine (no matter what time of day you do it).

It’s amazing what happens, once you get started. My advice is not to wait for a sudden bolt of lightning / inspiration. Remember that “little and often” beats “big and infrequent”, so write something every day.

You will find that once you get started, the ideas start to roll. At unexpected times, new ideas will come to you. Why not get started today, by jotting some topics down.

For business people, the writing could take the form of a blog, which can feed your newsletter. Regular blogging (about your area of professional expertise) helps to clarify your thoughts. In addition, when you write, you learn.

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Nigel Temple leads a Copywriting training seminar for The Marketing Compass.

Other blogs which may help:
* Copywriting tips
* Blogging tips
* Creative thinking skills

Via The Marketing Compass:
* How to write – five top tips for small businesses

To find out more about Nigel’s services email joanna@nigeltemple.com or call Joanna on +44 (0)1628 773128.

He welcomes media enquiries about 21st century marketing, social media and digital marketing. He has appeared within the national press and broadcast media.

Nigel is the founder of The Marketing Compass – join thousands of business owners, tell us about your business and ask some marketing questions!

Follow Nigel on Twitter: http://twitter.com/nigeltemple

Blogging tips

Here are some blogging tips for you:

Q. Is it a good idea to have a blog?Content marketing - photograph copyright holder Nigel Temple
A. Yes, it is, as it can help your search engine rankings, feed your newsletter and generate sales enquiries.

Q. Where is the best place to have a blog?
A. Inside your website, as every time you blog, you will increase the size of your site and demonstrate to the search engines that you have a dynamic, active website.

Q. What should I write about?
A. Business owners and marketers should write about their enterprises’ professional knowledge.

Q. What if I don’t want to give my knowledge away for free?
A. If I read a doctor’s blog for 10 years, I wouldn’t turn into a doctor. Remember that your competitors are already blogging, so there is a danger that you will be left behind. By the way, you don’t have to share it all!

Q. How many words should I write within a blog entry?
A. 400 will give Google enough for a square meal. (Increasingly, in depth blogs are getting better results).

Q. Any SEO tips?
A. Choose a short keyword phrase which you want to be found for. An example from my blog is: website review service (am I still on page 1 within Google?)

Q. When is a good time to write?
A. Either early in the morning (BEFORE you open your emails) or in the evening, if you still have the energy. (I laugh at 12 hour days).

Q. Any writing tips?
A. Write quickly. Edit later.

Q. How do I get blog subscribers?
A. Ensure that you display the RSS symbol which enables your readers to subscribe to your blog. Oh, and write useful, interesting, relevant and helpful stuff!

Q. Should I allow comments on my blog?
A. Yes. (It’s a good idea to moderate them, though!)

Q. How often should I blog?
A. At least once a week.

Q. How on earth will I find the time to do this?
A. If you are a ‘Lark’: get up half an hour earlier, you’ll love it. If you are an ‘Owl’, extend your index finger. Press the ‘Off’ button on the telly / computer game / whatever. Notice the strange rushing sound of silence. Start to blog.

The above answers are based on 10,000+ website reviews, including 1-2-1 client work, workshops and seminars (I have been teaching internet marketing since 2000).

You may also like to read:
The benefits of business blogging (via The Marketing Compass)
Can you write your way to riches? (via The Marketing Compass)

Join 12000+ people who follow Nigel Temple on Twitter: http://twitter.com/nigeltemple

Join The Marketing Compass – the small business marketing mastermind group.

Photograph © Nigel Temple