The phrase “Grammar Nazi” might be familiar to you. It’s a rather less-than-respectful way of pointing out when someone takes an interest in the use of proper grammar on the Internet. However, the question really shouldn’t be “Why should I care about grammar?” but rather, “Why wouldn’t I?”
You don’t have to be some stuffy academic or a contender for Stephen King’s throne atop the literary universe to appreciate how bad grammar can seriously damage your credibility. I’m not just talking about off-the-cuff text messages to friends, either; you’d be surprised by how many “worldly” brands out there don’t take grammar seriously. Here’s why they should.
Credibility and Beyond
When you want to learn more about a particular person, brand or company, what do you do? There’s a good chance you set a course for their official website or social media page. If you should find that it’s riddled with spelling mistakes, poorly-worded posts or language that barely passes for English, what would you think of that person or brand?
You’d probably think they lack a certain attention to detail. You might even begin to question whether the product or service they’re selling is also of dubious quality.
We search the Internet for all kinds of things; suppose you were looking for something as innocuous as squirrel repellent or mosquito traps. You’re fairly likely to gravitate toward a company whose word you can trust when they talk about the effectiveness of their products. The aforementioned examples – Havahart and Mosquito Magnet, respectively – make a point of using excellent grammar across their main sites and their Facebook pages. They know what it means to put their best foot forward. Anything less would be a letdown, wouldn’t you agree? It’s due in no small part to their commitment to good grammar that you can believe them when they say that their products work.
How to Maintain Good Grammar
To some extent, carrying on about maintaining good grammar is going to make all of us feel as though we’re back in junior high, but maybe that’s what it takes. with people sharing and linking to the content you’ve created. Imagine how quickly one mistake can snowball.
Imagine how disappointing it is for a customer to find a company that has something worthwhile to say, but can’t seem to get it out in a coherent manner. It’s like finding out your favorite musician exclusively uses Auto-Tune; they might have pretty words, but have no talent for presentation.
The most elementary advice I can give you is to read everything you write out loud. Better yet, get someone else to read it out loud. Obvious mistakes will jump out at you. Then, if you need a little bit of help nailing down the difference between “your” and “you’re,” take a look at CopyBlogger’s Grammar Goofs cheat-sheet.
The English language has suffered enough damage over the last few years. I’ll echo what I said above: You don’t need to sound like a pompous intellectual to get your point across, but maintaining your credibility means sounding smarter than, say, a 12-year-old.
People who use the Internet have certain standards when it comes to the companies and brands they interact with. Having standards of your own is the first step toward leaving a lasting impression on them.
Question: Have you seen companies promoting their services or communicating to their followers and visitors with poor grammar? What is your take on that?
In today’s digital age, getting your business to stand out among a seemingly never-ending pool of competitors is not an easy task. After all, those competitors are doing all that is within their power to ensure that their businesses have a more prominent digital profile than yours. With this in
mind, trying to position your company in such a way as to drive more traffic to your website — and maybe even diverting it away from your competitors’ sites — is a continual process.
Luckily for business owners seeking to fortify their online presence, there are a few easy tricks that can be leveraged to accomplish that goal in earnest. One such trick is establishing and maintaining a regularly updated blog.
Why Your Business Needs to Blog
For those decision makers who are intent on increasing sales, gaining more exposure and boosting brand awareness, blogging is important for your business website, whether you sell Etsy graphics or s-type load cells. No matter what your business’s specialty is, it’s virtually guaranteed that there will be companies doing almost exactly the same thing you are doing. And, financially speaking, those competitors are trying to get as big of a slice as possible from the same pie you’re trying to eat.
With that in mind, you’ve got to do all that is within your power to differentiate yourself from your competitors. That’s where blogging comes into play. By launching and maintaining a blog, your company will benefit from:
Increased traffic: Blogging organically increases your company’s placement in search engine results, which are determined by complex algorithms. Generally speaking, search engine spiders like content that is relevant, has the name of the author attached to it and is current. The more often you blog, the more often your company’s blog will turn up in search results. And the numbers support that claim, with businesses maintaining blogs saying that they’ve seen their web traffic increase 55 percent thanks to that particular platform.
New customers: With increased traffic comes new eyeballs to the content you’ve created and the products you’re selling. With that in mind, it’s very likely that some of those new visitors will be converted into customers at some point down the line. And research supports that claim, with 57 percent of businesses indicating that they’ve grown their customer base thanks to their blog.
Thought leadership: If you’re in the market for buying a car, for example, it’s likely that you’d rather buy it from someone who is knowledgeable than someone who knows nothing about automobiles. That concept can be applied over a variety of products and industries. Blogging about industry-specific news, developments and ideas proves to your customers that you have your fingers on the pulse of what’s happening. In turn, this helps you become a thought leader in your respective space.
A fortified business: When you hear the word “blog,” you might not think much of it. But the fact of the matter is that in actuality, well-crafted and pertinent blog posts become assets
to your company. With those assets simply living on your website, traffic will be directed in that direction continually over the years. Put another way, spending 20 minutes today crafting a clever and informative blog post could pay dividends for quite some time. In addition to landing a new customer tomorrow, you could also land a new customer four years from now through the same post. What’s more, according to HubSpot, 70 percent of the traffic that that company receives on a monthly basis is due to posts that were published in previous months.
Starting Your Blog
Are you ready to start writing? It’s important to remember that while starting your own blog is great, you’ve got to maintain it as well. If you’ve crafted the perfect blog post and subsequently welcome a host of new visitors to your website, it’s almost guaranteed that some of those visitors will be curious to read additional content that they
expect you to produce. In other words, once you’ve attracted them to your website, it’s important that you give them a reason to keep coming back.
Many businesses that launch blogs don’t spend the time necessary to maintain them and likely lose customers along the way because of it. Have you ever visited a company’s website and clicked on its blog only to find out that it hasn’t been updated in a few years? What does that make you think about that particular company?
In order to differentiate yourself from your competitors — something which is essential for businesses wishing to navigate today’s difficult economic climate — you’ve got to provide something that other businesses simply do not. By creating and dispersing informative, entertaining and unique blog posts on your website, you’re able to attract the attention of potential new customers while proving to your existing customers that they’re making the right decision to support your business.
So what are you waiting for? Better get blogging!
Need help setting it up, shoot us an email! We can surely help!
Twenty percent of Americans have no Internet access in their homes, according to Face the Facts USA, and that means a fifth of your potential client base can’t see your witty status updates, search for your hashtags or jump on your Living Social deal. These people look to the mail for notice of sales and promotions—is your postcard going to be there, or are you going to forget about this block of potential customers?
Direct mail campaigns aren’t just about reaching the people who don’t have Internet access. They are also about reaching those who are skeptical of marketing emails or who don’t know you’ve just opened a new shop down the street. It may be a hashtag world, but direct mail still has its place in a healthy marketing plan.
The U.S. Postal Service has delivered almost two billion pieces of mail through their Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) program. Designed to reach customers based on their address, this program provides targeted marketing solutions for business owners with all sizes of enterprises, according to USPS.com, and it is the most effective way to blanket an entire zip code with your ad.
If you don’t have experience with EDDM, find an online printing service that will produce your pieces, fill out the USPS paperwork and deliver your shipment to the post office.
A Personal Touch
For the best results, ensure that the mail you send out offers value to your potential clients. Include a coupon or promo offer, and if possible, make your messages look personal. A handwritten address or customized romance copy may be just what you need to catch someone’s eye. If you can’t personalize, make sure that you offer value through a coupon or a promo deal.
Remember direct mail should only be one piece of your marketing plan. Clients need to repeatedly hear
about your brand over emergent media like social networking sites as well as over traditional media like radio or direct mail. The postcard is just the first step. Use your direct mail piece as a tool to invite customers to your social media page. Marketing Think reports that only nine out of 51 direct marketers are linking their social media and direct mail campaigns, and if you do, you’ll be ahead of most of the competition.
In addition to using a direct mail
campaign to bolster the rolls of your social networking page, you can also tie your direct mail campaign to your online campaign in other ways. Pop a QR code on your card, and link your new clients to a demo video, an ordering form or any other part of your online campaign. If you think your clients will be reluctant about getting online, make it valuable for them with a coupon or a special offer.
Places to Find Legal Images on the Web
It’s a common occurrence: You’re looking for a cool photo for your blog, and within seconds, a Google search brings you a ton of images to choose from. You drag it, download, and most likely forget about the photo’s origins. Happens every day, but unfortunately, you probably just stole an image without knowing it.
Don’t just rely on Google’s image search engine to take you there. That could become costly. Sometimes, a company such as Getty Images might contact you demanding payment for usage of their image. So, make it simple; avoid the impulse. Why risk it when you can find a variety of sites that give you free access without legal issues?
Free Image Sources
With a little patience and endurance, you’ll find exactly what you are looking for. Here are five popular choices.
Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that encourages creative people to share across the Internet by using free copyright licenses. It’s also a place to find some of the best images for your projects. Creative Commons has thousands of images to sift through. Simply type in what you’re looking for and wait for the results. As with most searches you have to do the grunt work to get the job done. Creative Commons images usually require a link back to the original source, so read the licensing information carefully.
Part of a group of free sites devoted to giving creative people a voice across the Web, MorgueFile has the distinction of being not just completely free, but a throwback to times past. MorgueFile takes it name from the old newspaper days of a file that holds “past issues flats,” according to the site. Of course, you’ll have to wade through some things that won’t quite fit your expectations, but that’s always the challenge. In pretty much all cases you’ll be required to credit the photographer or artist when using the image.
Stock.xchng works best when you know exactly what you want. The website will work to narrow down the best choices. The images are typically very high quality, and if you’re an artist, it actually works as a great site for
exposure. The browse categories cover abstract, nature, people, streets and cityscapes and more.
Wikimedia Commons is a product of the Wikimedia Foundation (the folks responsible for Wikipedia), so you’ll find a wealth of information on their site. The site makes it easy to find license-free material, including not just photography, but drawings as well. Use it to deepen your search.
Advanced Google search
While it’s not ok to simply use whatever image Google discovers from your search you can certainly use Advanced Google Search. By going under the “advanced search” drop-down menu, you can find copyright-free images. Although Advanced Google Search is a reliable source, you might want to try using TinEye, a website that uses reverse image search to find any copyright issues before they spring up.
Step It Up: Paid Services Worth the Price<
Once your website or blog takes off, you’re going to want to stand out – and that means not using the same, average-quality free images everyone else is using. After all, how many times have you seen this free image of social media icons on an iPhone? You may not realize it, but it’s probably more times than you can count.
The solution are royalty-free photography sites where you pay a modest fee in order to license an image that will ultimately be far more unique and most likely higher-quality. Here are five options:
iStock is a royalty free photography and illustration collection by Getty Images. Start looking for the perfect image using the category collections on their homepage, or using their great advanced search. Pay as you go if you just need a single image, or buy credit packs starting at 30 credits for $49.99.
Shutterstock’s massive collection features over 30 million royalty-free photos, illustrations, vectors, and videos, with over 10,000 new items added daily. Choose to pay as you go or get a subscription in order to download 25 images per day for $199 per month.
Thinkstock may not have the biggest collection out there, but it pulls some of the best images from Getty Images and iStock into its catalog. It’s cheaper than many services, with a 5-image pack for $50 or a monthly subscription at $139 per month to get 25 images per day.
Fotolia is a great choice if you regularly need images for projects. Pay as you go for as little as 74 cents an image, or choose from one of the subscription options to get between 2 and 1000 full-size images per month.
PhotoXpress is a great paid stock image site to use if you need a small number of unique images for your projects. Their credits don’t expire as long as you continue subscribing, allowing for a design schedule that may be busy at times and slower at others. Single images start at $1 and subscriptions start at $9.99 per month for five images.
Whatever your needs, taking the time to find copyright-free images will potentially save you money, and allow you to focus on what matters most: having a powerful and unique website that stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Adrienne Erin is a freelance writer who covers trends in social media and social marketing. She has written for Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs, and Search Engine People, and is always looking for new opportunities. To see more of her work, follow her on Twitter or check out her blog, Pongra.
Whether you’re looking to start a career, change jobs or increase visibility, a blog is a way to establish your personal brand. There are 6.7 million people posting on blogging sites and 12 million blogging on social media, according to Social Media Today. Almost 77 percent of Internet users read blogs. Get your name out in front of the masses, and build your brand with these tips for managing your personal blog.
Who is Going to Notice?
It’s no secret that nine out of ten companies do online research of candidates. This includes personal websites and blogs, social media sites and professional sites such as LinkedIn. Recruiters stated they find better candidates this way. Just having a blog, website or social media page doesn’t guarantee you a new job. How you present yourself in those spaces will be a big
factor. These places define your brand, which is most important to the recruiters.
Your Blog is You
People will evaluate you based on what they read in your blog. What you say and how you say it represents you. Read it back to yourself as if you were a visitor who
knew nothing about yourself. How would they visualize you after reading your post? What would a recruiter think of you?
Your blog creates a level of authenticity about you, as well as your brand. You can become known as a passion-filled opinionated writer, a high-tech guru or a persistent problem solver just based on your blog. Blogs have been called the “new resume,” because people will decide they know you once they’ve read your blog.
Keep in mind that as recruiters and hiring managers read your work, they will be asking themselves if you will fit into their culture. If you are not being authentic in your writing, such as adding a little drama to make it more entertaining, it could keep you from getting into a lot of companies.
Blog as an Expert
Write with the intention of being seen as an expert in your field. Recruiters do look for this. Write about your experiences, what you have learned and how this has helped you in your field. After many blog posts and followers to read them, you will develop the reputation of being an expert in that area. Whether it’s baseball, Egyptian history or event planning, come across with confidence in your posts.
Make It Easy to Blog
Create a space in your home where you can do your blogging undistracted. Pick a time of day when you can focus for two to three hours at a time. You will do a lot of research, so make sure you have a fast Internet connection. Check various bundles available at verizonfiosdeals.com to get the best plan for your budget. Your blogging will become drudgery if you have to wait for every page to slowly load on your computer.
Don’t Try to Have All the Answers
Your blog can create a network of resources you could tap into by leaving people with some questions. This gives the astute of your followers a chance to respond to you. It also creates a more loyal following when they feel you are listening to them.
“I see how smartphones are becoming smarter, but I wonder what influence Google Glass will have on their future…” is a way to engage with your readers. You may learn some useful tips for future blog posts and, perhaps, something that will help you in your career
The way you set up and manage your business can have a greater impact on whether you succeed than the merits of the business idea itself. The businessman who takes a mediocre idea and implements it effectively will succeed far more often than the creative genius that doesn’t know the difference between a 1099 form and a payroll tax. The late Steve Jobs exemplifies what it takes to succeed perfectly; he took a hobby he was working on out of his parents’ garage and turned it into one of the most profitable businesses in history: Apple.
The first step for many is to make a profitable hobby out of what they love. If you’ve done this already, congratulations! You are on your way to turning your passion into a business. Before you quit your day job, there are some questions you need to ask yourself to determine if your hobby is truly ready to become a business and transition into a full-time endeavor.
Can It Really Be A Viable Business
The first question you must ask yourself is whether or not your hobby has the capability of sustaining you and your family. The IRS has a list of categories to help you determine the legal status of your business. It’s one thing to make side income from a hobby, but ask yourself “could I survive and maintain an acceptable quality of life using only the profit from this business?” With a hobby, a month in which you make no profit is offset by your regular income. When the hobby is your full-time business, you must have enough money set aside to handle
a bad month or three.
You should have a minimum six to 12 months of living expenses set aside in addition to enough money to operate your business for that same length of time before making it a full-time business. You want to be able to focus on making the company grow, not worrying about the rent payment or how you’re going to buy groceries that week. Until you’re at that point, keep the hobby as a part-time venture and use the money to build the nest egg you need to take the big leap. CNN has some additional tips, such as speaking to actual business owners to get a realistic estimate of startup costs to help prepare you for making your business a full-time venture.
Structure For Success
Should you operate as a sole proprietor or form an LLC or corporation? Should you bring on partners or investors, or fund startup costs with savings? These are all questions you must know the answer to before starting your business. It is not enough to have knowledge and passion for your craft; you must be a savvy business owner as well. The U.S. Small Business Administration has a number of resources that can be critical to the success of your business, including:
- How to write a business plan
- How to register your business and obtain licenses
- How to hire employees
- Countless other tips and tricks
These resources are there to help you succeed. Use them!
Depending on the type of business you run, you might need capital to take you to the next level. American Express cash back credit cards are a great way to get the early financing you need while providing the benefit of cash back on your expenses. Do your homework, and find out what solutions work best for your unique business.