Him/Her Blogging for Business

You Can Get Your Ex Back

 

“If you want your ex back, but you lash out against them in hurt and anger, they will probably have trouble getting over that,” Gene Morris assures readers in the little book You Can Get Your Ex Back.”

Getting an ex back is not something I need help with just now. But as a business blog content writing trainer, I couldn’t help noticing something very interesting about this little paperback book: In just 56 short pages, the author managed to use the pronouns “they”, “them”, and “their” no fewer than 192 times when referring to ONE ex-spouse!  In addition to the opening line which I quoted above, examples include:

  • “Now, if the relationship ended because the other person cheated and left, you might be tempted to think that they left and you did not do anything wrong.”
  • “Do not slander, insult, or otherwise speak ill of your ex to anybody, because it will get back to them eventually, and that will kill your chances of getting back together with them.”
  • “”Let your ex have their new relationship, because you will still have a chance.”
  • “When it is time to contact your ex, they will notice the improvements.”
  • “Show them that you are serious by getting out of the depressed state and putting a smile back on your face.”
  • “You have been eagerly awaiting your moment where you can contact them and profess your love and your regret to them.”

The grammar question, of course is this: Is there a pronoun to use when referring back to a singular noun? Actually, as englishstackexchange.com explains, “singular “they” enjoys a long history of usage in English. For example, it’s OK to say “Each student should save their questions until the end.”  It’s standard to use the masculine: “Each student should save his questions until the end”; feminists might prefer “Each student should save her questions until the end”. One solution might be to use pronouns of both genders together, like “he or she” or “him/her”, but that quickly becomes awkward. You might, the website authors suggest, reword sentences to always use a plural:  “Students should save their questions until the end.”

In doing online marketing through blogs, the last thing we content writers want is awkwardness – the whole idea is to engage readers, not frustrate them! To me, using “they”, “them”, and “their”, referring to just one ex-spouse in every other line of that little paperback was awkward enough to derail the message that book was obviously designed to convey.

I think the answer in blog content writing is to be direct.  “Your ex will notice the improvements you’ve made.” “Show your ex that you’re serious”. “You’ve been eagerly awaiting the moment when you can convey your love and regret to your ex.”

Above all, in blog content writing, avoid the awkward!

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Book-Review Blogging for Business

Book review word cloudOnline visitors are “test-driving” your company or practice through reading your blog posts. They want to see whether you understand their problems and can quickly and effectively help solve those. Often, the way to be of most help to searchers is to offer “book reviews”, collections of material you have “curated” (gathered and presented) for them.

Remember, though, a review is more than a mere summary. Whether you’re blogging for a business, for a professional practice, or for a nonprofit organization, you’ve got to have an opinion, a slant, on the information you’re serving up for readers. In other words, blog posts, to be effective, can’t be just compilations; you can’t just “aggregate” other people’s stuff and make that be your entire blog presence. But, even while putting your own unique twist on the topic, give your readers links to websites from which you got some of your original information or news.

There’s another reason to curate and review other sources in your own business blog – you need to read what others are saying in blogs and in the press about your field. If there are bloggers whose writing you especially enjoy, create links between your websites.  Your own blog content will be all the richer for this back-and-forth sharing.  What’s more, you’re likely to win the wholehearted approval of the search engines; you’ll notice that “approval” in the form of upward movement of your blog in the rankings!

Omnivoracious, Amazon’s official book review blog, is focused on books, author interviews, and industry news. As  business blog content writers, we are aiming for an Omnivoracious-like effect – making our blog the “go-to” place for target readers interested, not only in the things we sell, the things we know and that we know how to do, but in what our colleagues and competitors know and what they know how to do.

Condensing information is a general term whereby the source message is reduced in length without impacting meaning or grammatical accuracy, says dailycues.com. “Writing for online readers is distinctly different than traditional writing; this means your online content must cater to these readers to grab and keep their attention,” write.com adds.

Try book-review blogging for business!

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Why and Why-Not Blogging for Business

book Aliens

 

Aliens would probably come to Earth in peace, quantum physicist Jim Al-Khalili assures readers in his book Aliens, proceeding to bust no fewer than five commonly held myths-from-the-movies about encounters with visitors from other planets.

The author uses scientific knowledge to debunk each myth:

Aliens will eat us. No, because, in order for them to process our molecules of amino acids and sugars, they’d need to have a biochemistry similar to ours, “a long shot for a species that hails from a different world”.

Aliens will breed with us.  No, we can’t even reproduce with our nearest evolutionary relative, the chimpanzee.

Aliens will look like us.  No, because their evolution would not have been parallel to human evolution and it’s “near impossible that they would have human-like features.”

Aliens will be living creatures. No, should aliens contact us, “we will hear not from fellow organic creatures, but from the robots they produced.”

Aliens will come to steal our water and metal.  No, most of our metal is in the Earth’s core, not its crust; asteroids would be better for mining, and icy moons would be easier places to stock up on water.

The Time article about Aliens is a good example of mythbusting, which is used in many fields to counteract counterproductive thinking. For that very reason, I’m a firm believer that myth debunking is a great use for corporate blogs.

In the normal course of doing business or operating a professional practice, misunderstandings about your product or surface are bound to surface.  (It’s even worse when those myths and misunderstandings don’t surface, but still have the power to interrupt the selling process!)

That’s why the de-bunking function of business blog writing is so important. It’s our way of taking up arms against a sea of customers’ unfounded fears and biases.  Blog content writing can “clear the air”, replacing factoids with facts, so that buyers can see their way to making decisions. The technique is not without risk, because customers don’t like to be proven wrong or feel stupid.  The trick is to engage interest, but not in “Gotcha!” fashion.

In other words, business owners and professional practitioners can use their blogs to showcase their own expertise without “showing up” their readers’ lack of it, assuring prospects and clients that they, like movie aliens, are coming in peace!.

 

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Posing the Question in Business Blog Content Writing

people question markI tell new Indianapolis blog content writers that, in creating content for marketing blogs, we need to keep in mind that people are online searching for answers to questions they have and solutions for dilemmas they’re facing.  But, even if those searchers haven’t specifically formulated a question, I suggest we do that for them by presenting a question in the blog post title itself:

  • “Is the U.S. Ready for Future Disease Threats?”
  • “Can the Mind-Body Problem Be Solved?”
  • “How Many Lego Bricks Would It Take to Build A Bridge from London to New York?
  • “Do Baby Boomers Deserve Social Security?

Using a question in the title of your blog post can arouse readers’ curiosity about which side of the issue your opinion is going to represent, and about the answers you’re going to provide in the content of the post itself. The question-title also informs the reader that you’re going to be providing information specifically relating to their search:

Blog questions can be either confirmatory (closed-end, yes-or-no) or exploratory (open-ended). Remember, unlike marketing research firms, business owners or professional practitioners are not out to gather consumer data; they want to engage their blog readers and show that they understand the dilemmas those readers are facing.

  • Did you know….?
  • How do you….?
  • What’s one of the most common problems in…..?
  • Do you want to learn how to…?
  • Have you ever…?
  • you ever wonder if…?

Besides offering readers a promise of relevant content in the body of the blog post, the title question can include keyword phrases to help Google index the blog.

Question: Does your business blog deserve better titles?

 

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Posing the Question in Business Blog Post Titles

people question mark
I tell new Indianapolis blog content writers that, in creating content for marketing blogs, we need to keep in mind that people are online searching for answers to questions they have and for solutions for dilemmas they’re facing. But even if those searchers haven’t specifically formulated a question, I suggest we can do that for them by presenting a question in the blog post title itself

- “Is the U.S. Ready for Future Disease Threats?”
- “Can the Mind-Body Problem Be Solved?”
- “How Many Lego Bricks Would It Take to Build A Bridge from London to New York?
- “Do Baby Boomers Deserve Social Security?

Using a question in the title of your blog post can arouse readers’ curiosity about which side of the issue your opinion is going to represent, and about the answers you’re going to provide in the content of the post itself. The question-title also informs the reader that you’re going to be providing information specifically relating to their search.

Blog questions can be either confirmatory (closed-end, yes-or-no) or exploratory (open-ended). Remember, unlike marketing research firms, business owners or professional practitioners are not out to gather consumer data; they want to engage their blog readers and show that they understand the dilemmas those readers are facing.

  • Did you know….?
  • How do you….?
  • What’s one of the most common problems in…..?
  • Do you want to learn how to…?
  • Have you ever…?
  • you ever wonder if…?

Besides offering readers a promise of relevant content in the body of the blog post, the title question can include keyword phrases to help Google index the blog.

My question to you: Does your business blog deserve better titles?

 

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Your Business Blog Can Be Their User Manual

User guide book illustration design
“In the olden days – say the 1980s – if you bought a piece of technology, a paperback user guide came with it.  It was the manufacturer’s one big chance to explain its engineers’ thinking to you, to communicate what the designers and marketers had in mind,” David Pogue writes in Scientific American. Then, Google happened, Pogue says ruefully, and physical manuals began disappearing from our hardware and software boxes.

It’s not that users understand all the features of the devices they’ve purchased, although the kind of technologies we use has changed, Pogue explains. “People increasingly spend time in apps and social sites that have a fairly simple interface”. To this day, however, “it’s astonishing how little we know about our phones, computers, and software,” he observes.

Hardware and software makers still operate with their traditional business model: Every year or so they sell us a new version, whose appeal is supposed to be more features. Yet our access to documentation remains scattershot and incomplete, Pogue concludes. That is true, he asserts, despite the availability of answer sites, online communities, and YouTube mini-tutorials.

Enter business blogging.  In fact, according to Forbes, the #1 most important component of the perfect business blog post is answering this question: “What’s the unique angle of this post, and how will it help my audience?”  A blog post can be well-written, but it will be virtually worthless if it doesn’t speak to its audience’s interests, needs, preferences and pain points.

People are online searching for answers to their problems.  They might be there because they need answers to questions they have or solutions for dilemmas they’re facing – or because they don’t know how to use a product or service they’ve already paid for.! That’s when, if you’ve been consistently blogging, they find you, because your blog post gives them just the information they’re looking for in terms of “how-to” content.

Now, I’ve been touting “how-to” content in business blogs for years.  yet it often happens that new blogging clients have a fear that, if they “teach” in their blog, demonstrating the steps in their process, they’ll lose, rather than gain, customers and clients, because the customers will be able to “do it themselves”! In reality, the opposite is true: Consumers who feel fairly informed often prove more willing to make buying decisions.

Let your business blog be their user manual!

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The Power of Place in Business Blog Content Writing

The Power of Place
“Branding helps people identify and recognize your products and organization,” asserts thebrandingjournal.com. And just how does that happen? Branding:

  • makes your company different from the competition
  • helps you connect with customers emotionally
  • helps consumers know what to expect
  • allows you to be clear with your strategy and stay focused

So, in today’s world of online marketing, is physical location important?  Obviously it is  for businesses that sell goods or services directly at brick-and-mortar establishments, yourbusiness.azcentral.com states. Location influences operating expenses, taxes, and regulations. But, even for home-based businesses, I think it’s important for customers to envision you at work; a photo of you at your desk should be included on your website.

“In a world where the movement of people, capital and ideas is more fluid than ever, a strong place brand is more important than ever,” Resonance explains. Having done online marketing for the past decade, I couldn’t agree more.

The story of the O.K Corral bears out that idea of the power of place in consumers’ minds.  The OK was a livery and horse corral from 1879 to about 1888 in the mining boomtown of Tombstone, Arizona, near the Mexican border. It was there that the most famous shootout in the history of the American Wild West, portrayed in 1957 film Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was supposed to have taken place.

Truth is, the gunfight did not take place either within or even next to the O.K. Corral, but in a narrow lot six doors west of there. Despite the historical inaccuracy, the corral is currently marketed as a tourist attraction where visitors pay to see a reenactment of the shootout between Wyatt Earp and his brother in a faceoff with the Clanton-McLaury gang.

“Today’s world of commerce is not kind to those who serve average products to ‘average Joes’,” remarks eograndrapids.org. “You’ll need to identify your niche, or your unique value proposition.” For blog content writers seeking to attract readership in their niche markets, I add the reminder, “Don’t forget the power of place in business blog content writing!”

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Mythbusting Blog Content is More Than OK

OK

 

“There may be more stories about the origin of ‘OK’ than there are uses for it,” a Mental Floss magazine article points out. Writers have attributed it to:

  • the Haitian port Aux Cayes
  • a Puerto Rican rum labeled “Aux Quais”
  • the German alles korrekt
  • shipbuilders marking wood for “outer keel”
  • Civil War soldiers carrying signs for “zero killed”

The truth, as Allan Metcalf explains in OK: The Improbable Story of America’s Greatest Word, is that the expression “OK” was born as a lame joke by the editor of the Boston Morning Post in 1839, meant to poke fun at poor spelling habits.

Today, Mental Floss points out, “OK” has become an all-purpose expression in dozens of languages, used as:

  1. an enthusiastic cheer
  2. an unenthusiastic rating of a movie or a meal
  3. a way to draw attention to a topic shift in conversation

What Metcalf has achieved is a myth debunk, and myth-debunking is one great use for business blogs. Many misunderstandings about a product or service present themselves in the natural order of business, in the form of questions and comments from readers and customers. Shining the light of day on that misinformation shines light on your own expertise.  If your blog post is well written, perhaps with a bit of tongue in cheek, it can offer enlightenment in a way that engages searchers and keeps them coming back.

In the process of debunking a myth, I tell business blog content writers, you can:

  • Offer little-known, interesting information related to your industry
  • Season that information with your own unique slant
  • Demonstrate the business owner’s or the practitioners’ knowledge and expertise

An important caution is in order when it comes to myth busting in blogs, however. As a blog writer, you want to use myth busting in your corporate blog to actually showcase (as opposed to showing off, or “showing up” your readers’ lack of knowledge).

So long as you keep that important caveat in mind, mythbusting blog content is more than OK!

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Deep Dive to Create More Blog Content

 

Diving suit equipment isolated over white
Deep dive, freshsparks.com advises blog content writers. “Take articles with more general information and create a separate article focusing on one specific area.”

All the way back in 2008, I wrote about target marketing in a Say It For You blog post titled “If the Parents Hate It, the Kids Will Love it”. I had based the post on an article in Speaker magazine about the Alice Cooper rock music group, whose stage show was considered “over the top” by anybody’s standards at the time, complete with guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, live chickens, and a boa constrictor, with a male in tattered women’s clothing holding a snake. The band, according to professional speaker Terri Langham, had made a brilliant career decision, focusing on one target audience – kids.  “If the parents hate it, the kids will love it” became the motto.

In that post about the Alice Cooper band’s marketing strategy, I advised blog content writers to emulate that kind of targeting, narrowing down their market focus. It doesn’t matter, I advised blog writers, if other segments of the market hate your blog, so long as your target customers love it.

In the years following, I’ve come back to that target marketing theme time and again to take a deeper dive:

  • In Blogs and Podiums – Choose Yours Wisely: “Who are your target customers or clients? What approach would have the most appeal to that segment of your market?  Will the emphasis be on your product or on special service and expertise?  Pick one primary area of focus – don’t try to do everything in one blog.”
  • In Befitting Bloggery:  “Everything about your blog should be tailor-made for that customer – the words you use, how technical you get, how sophisticated your approach, the title of each blog entry – all of it.”
  • In With Blogging, a Small Business Can Have a Long Tail: “Regular, high quality content, posted consistently on your blog, can have a huge effect in a small market.”
  • In Scoping Out Your Blogging Niche:  “Blogs, after all, use “pull marketing”.  The people who find your blog are those who are already online looking for information, products, or services that relate to what you know, what you have, and what you do! Your online marketing challenge is not to seek out the people, but to help them seek you out!”
  • In Smaller Targets, Better Hits: “Blogs are smaller, shorter and more centered around just one idea than e-zines or newsletters or even web page content. And blog posts will stick around forever. Blogs can link to other blogs and web sites, turning mini-power into maxi-power, and increasing exposure to the search engines.”

Deep dive into your own blog content, creating more content and more detailed information.

 

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Above All, Do No Puzzling in Blogging for Business

Confused Geeky Woman“Many claim that the word “forte”, coming from the French fort, should properly be pronounced with one syllable. Common usage, however, prefers the two-syllable pronunciation (for-tay), which has been influenced by possibly by the music term forte, borrowed from Italian. Speakers can continue using forte as one syllable knowing that the origin of the word supports this pronunciation, but they do so at increasing risk of puzzling their listeners.”

For us blog content writers, of course, the “listeners” are our readers and, needless to say, puzzling those readers is absolutely the last thing we should aspire to do. (For bloggers, that is equivalent to the “above-all-do-no-harm” warning in the Hippocratic Oath.)

One way we can inadvertently puzzle readers is by using allusions (figures of speech) where the reference is unfamiliar. If we allude to someone’s “Achilles’ heel”, for example, we need to be pretty sure our readers’ level of education will allow them to know what we mean. If we mis-calculate their ability to recognize the allusion, the danger is they’ll find our content frustrating rather than illuminating.

“Basic English” simply means using words that people will understand,” says business humorist Todd Hunt. Blogging for business means using understandable, clear language. My own observation, based on working with different industries doing corporate blogging training, is that lack of clarity between writer and reader is worse with business-to-consumer corporate blog writing.  But even among suppliers, consultants, and retailers within a single industry, there’s no question that the clearer the words are to all the parties, the easier it becomes for transactions to happen.

Clarity is the soul of business blog writing. Not only does making yourself clear keep online searchers from quickly “clicking away” to another website to find what they want, but clarity avoids misinterpretation of the message in each post.

Above all, do no puzzling in blogging for business!

 

 

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