Monday, November 29, 2004

Bly's blog

Yet another notable fellow has hopped on the blogging bandwagon: Bob Bly, master writer and inspiration to freelance copywriters everywhere (including yours truly) has launched one of his very own. (Visit it.)

This is further proof that more and more folks are taking business blogging seriously. According to one source, Bly had been skeptical about entering the blogosphere. Now he's apparently decided to take a stab at it. If you check the comment section you'll see that he's enjoying a good deal of response--which shows that people do read these things, after all!

Of course, Bly is a major figurehead in the copywriting world. People know who he is and they respect and trust his opinion. Follow his new blog or any other of your choice and you'll see how this relatively new method of online communication can help your business establish a presence on the web. And not just any presence, but that of an authoritive figure, an expert, and a leader. All this looks good in your customers' eyes.

So what are you waiting for? If you have questions about blogging for your business, or if you want to dive in but aren't sure you can come up with content regularly, contact me. I'd love to help.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

New service: website critiques

Websites. If you’re in business, it’s pretty much expected that you have some sort of presence on the Internet today.

That said, there are a lot of poor websites in cyberspace. Some common problems include:

Each page has a completely different look/feel. As a result, business identity begins to diminish…and potential customers begin to forget whose site they came to or even why they are there in the first place.

Poor/confusing navigation
If a visitor has a tough time maneuvering through your site, chances are she’ll leave it for good. We’re busier than ever today and our attention spans are decreasing, so make it really easy for visitors to navigate around your site.

Weak content
Your website exists to communicate with your customers: to provide them with information about your product or services and to persuade to do business with you. Poorly organized and written content will hurt—not help—your business. Examples include typos and misspelled words, lack of headings to separate chunks of text, and not breaking large pieces of information apart. Writing for the web is not like writing for print materials…a whole new set of rules is required.

Thinking about the effectiveness of your website? We now offer website critiques. Contact us to get feedback on design, usability, and content aspects of your site today.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Get organized!

Organization is, perhaps, the most difficult part of any job. It's an ongoing process. And you may feel as if there just isn’t enough time to plan for this very basic—but very necessary—task.

I occasionally fall victim to poor organizational skills. I have lists upon lists scrawled on Post-it notes, and sometimes I can’t remember which note contains urgent to-do activities and which includes important tasks for the week, but not necessarily for the day. This is compounded work-at-home issues: laundry, dirty dishes, yard work…all of which are actually nice breaks from my daily desk-time but can end up sucking up way too many minutes.

But most of the time, I’m pretty good about organizing. I’ve got files on all my clients—past and present—and a system for keeping track of potential work. Really, I have no choice but to be organized in this area. Not being able to answer a client’s question when it arises or being unable to find the second revision of Company XYZ’s brochure copy is bad for business. And since it’s just me running the show, I make an extra effort to be on top of things. No reminders from anyone…except for additional scribbles on Post-it notes. (What can I say…it’s an addiction of sorts.)

Having problems staying organized with your own time and resources? Check out these tips from Carol Halsey for prioritizing and organizing.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Newsletters for president

I did my civic duty by casting my political vote this morning. Hope you did, too.

Now I'd like to put in my vote for newsletters. At the end of each month, it seems all my newsletter duties begin to surface once again. I currently serve as editor of 2.5 newsletters (the .5 is a volunteer position for one organization I'm involved with, and I'm set to resign after the final issue). Since they all come due around the same time, my schedule gets pretty frantic.

As editor, it's my job to assign, follow up, write, edit, and assemble content. The hardest part is following up--when you're in charge of contributors, it's no easy task to make sure they submit their information to you in time to put together the piece and ship it off to the printer. Especially if they are contributing out of the goodness of their hearts (i.e., for no pay).

But all bottlenecks aside, I really enjoy the process. It's just a lot of work. But totally worth it.

Does your business or organization have a newsletter? If not, why? Newsletters provide an excellent way to communicate with customers or employees. You can motivate, inspire, inform, and entertain with a well-planned, well-written newsletter. Give me a holler if you'd like to learn more about the benefits of publishing one of your own.

Here are a few of the newsletters I currently produce:

Illinois Heartland Chapter STC: Heartline (quarterly)
Central Illinois Jazz Society: Jazzscope (monthly)
Cassie Hart Copywriting & Editorial Services: WriteTips (monthly)