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Does Your Writing Pass the $1-A-Word Test?

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Guest post by Neil Everton, Podium Media & Communications Coaching

If you are looking for a quick and certain way of giving your words more impact, look no further than your purse or wallet.

Take a look at the last thing you wrote. It doesn't matter if it's a letter, email, report, newsletter, web content or promo script.

Look at it with a critical eye, and with this question in mind: "Am I prepared to pay $1 for every word I've written?"

Go through the script slowly. Strike out every word that isn't working hard to convey meaning.

Make sure you use the active voice. 'The man opened the door' is active. 'The door was opened by the man' is passive (and two words longer than the active version). A $2 saving in one short sentence.

Look for any of those phrases that slip into our writing unbidden. 'It's my considered opinion' is $3 more expensive than 'I think'. 'At this moment in time' is a long-winded way of sayin…

Being Found vs. Getting Found

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Did you realize there's a difference between being found and getting found? The words suggest a subtle difference but, really, there's a huge distinction when it comes to online marketing. Many new and experienced small business owners make critical -- often costly -- mistakes by not understanding the difference.

I'll start with 'being found' because this is my own strategy (and my area of marketing expertise) so it'll be easier to explain. Also, I think you'll be able to appreciate the difference more when you read down to the 'getting found' description.

Being Found Someone searches for your name or the name of your company because they know you in some way or have heard about you.

These people already know something about you or your business. They have a perception that you might be able to solve their problem and they are looking for evidence. Hopefully, they are also looking for how to contact you.

In sales lingo, these are warm leads. In my …

What's Your Stumbling Block? Blogging Survey

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Ever since I wrote this article -- Where Do You Get Stuck? -- a couple of years ago, I've been on a mission to come up with solutions to content creation obstacles.
coming up with ideasadapting your ideas for writingstarting to writefinishing writingediting and proofingfinding or creating graphicskeywords and publishing Aside from talking about this a lot with small business owners, I've also been circulating a survey on my social media feeds. If I know where people most often get stuck, I know where to focus my problem-solving efforts.

Here are the survey results so far:


If you haven't yet responded to this survey, I'd sure appreciate it if you would -- it's only one question. You can click here to do that now.

If you're suffering from any of those first three obstacles, using writing templates will help enormously. You can get a workbook here that includes 10 templates.

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One Word for 2020

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I'm not sure what I was thinking when I decided on my one word for 2019. It was a week after my husband had told me he wanted to split up... and I chose EMBRACE as my guiding word for the coming year.

At the time, I had good intentions about business development, embracing and growing several different initiatives. Optimism is a good thing but, looking back... well, duh! It was more of a year of shedding: my 16-year marriage, my house and garden, and lots of things I'd accumulated.
It wasn't all bad -- I taught three 11-week courses, partnered in the second successful Social Media Day Halifax Conference, moved myself and clients to a new bulk email service provider, built nine websites, and supported clients with their ongoing marketing. But I didn't really embrace anything; in fact, I turned business away several times.
All is not lost. The word embrace has served me well for the last month of 2019. I'm settled in a new place with a lovely new office. I finally r…

That's Not What I Wanted to Hear

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The best boss I ever had told me I was a crappy listener. Those weren't the exact words he used, but Carlos was always blunt and to-the-point during performance reviews. I was young and confident... and completely surprised to be told I had this failing. After surprise came denial, reluctant acceptance, and finally, a desire to learn to do better.

Twenty-five years later, I recall that discussion with both chagrin and fondness. I'm still not a great listener but I'm a better listener than I was then. And I'll continue to improve.

Now, as a small business owner, I'm so very fortunate to have a few strong people supporting me who have no fear of telling me when something is not so good. Feedback and advice are both important for doing good work and continuing to improve. Whether it's what we want to hear or not, honest, thoughtful feedback comes from people who truly care about our success.

Whether you are a new business owner or an experienced pro, invest time …

Get Read to Get Ranked

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Years ago when I first started doing email newsletters, each new client had questions about writing the introduction to their very first issue. Eventually, I prepared a tip sheet for new clients and also posted the info on my blog thinking it might be useful to others. That was in 2012.

Three years later I realized 2 things: the advice I was giving needed to be refined/updated and this was the top-performing post on my blog (by far!) so others were indeed finding it useful. I published a refreshed version with a similar subject line. That was in 2015.

Now you can see that these two posts account for a huge chunk of the traffic:


And you can see what that organic traffic is searching:


These readers didn't come to my blog because I did something magic to get Google to rank the posts. People came (and still come) because it's a topic they're interested in and the information is useful. (If you search 'write newsletter introduction', you should find me on page 1 right …

Pantone Colour of the Year for 2020

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Now, this is a colour I can get behind - Classic Blue. This shade of blue is great when "any shade of blue will do", which happens more often than you might think. Did you know blue is overwhelmingly the world's favourite colour?
"We associate blue largely with the sky and water (as well as more mundane, but neutral-to-positive, items such as ballpoint pens and blue jeans), raising the average preference for blue higher than the remainder of the rainbow."
Why Blue Is the World’s Favorite ColorPANTONE 19-4052 TCX Classic Blue colour values:
RGB 15 76 129HEX/HTML 0F4C81CMYK 100 76 25 0Will you be using more blue in your marketing in 2020?

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We Must, We Must, Increase Our Trust

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You may not often think of trust in relation to productivity but there's a very direct correlation, especially for small businesses.

What is trust in a business relationship? It can be quite different than in our personal lives, of course. I've recently weathered the end of a 16-year marriage which was quite a life lesson in trust. And, while we can certainly have business relationships longer than this, the trust element is not all-encompassing - it's limited to delivering on work-related promises. This means things like having clear expectations, establishing goals and deadlines and meeting them, respecting each other's time, being honest about feedback, keeping communication open and relevant, and, of course, doing good work or selling reliable products.
“Trust is your willingness to be open, vulnerable and courageous based on positive expectations.”Lea BrovedaniHaving established trusting relationships helps us be more efficient because our customers will know we…

Editing Checklist for Your Marketing Content

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Whenever you write something, it's always a good idea to wait a while before editing - later the same day or the next day. You'll have a fresh perspective and it'll be easier to pick out what can be improved upon.

Here are a few things to watch out for when you're editing:

Brevity: Cut out every word that adds nothing to the meaning or flow. Each word should be working for you! Read Slice Words to Save Money for examples.

Clarity: Use specific adjectives instead of vague ones to increase understanding and interest. Instead of "We received numerous applications to volunteer at the conference," say "We received 33 applications..."

Paragraph length: Each paragraph should deal with only one topic or idea. Short is always better.

Tone and style: Don't write like a business; write like a human being and use your normal conversational style. Try the "Hi Mom" test.

Variety: Avoid starting each sentence or paragraph with similar words or phrases...…

How to Make Smart Marketing Decisions

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Small business owners can spend a lot of time and money on marketing initiatives. Sometimes we're successful and sometimes not so much.

I think of marketing as an experiment because - really - there are no magic bullets. There are best practices, there is good and bad advice, there are lots of experts and gurus. But we, the business owners, have to make the final decisions and... live with the results.

Marketing isn't cheap (even if it's our own time) and poor decision-making can hurt more than our wallets - our reputation may also be at risk.

So, how do we make decisions about things we have little experience with? How can we possibly know what all of our options might be when it comes to getting a new website? Or knowing which social media platforms will work best? Or building a content strategy? We can't... unless we put some extra effort into it.

Step #1: Clearly identify the decision that needs to be made. Sometimes it'll be staring you in the face but other t…

Getting Back on Track

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If you're feeling - like I am - that you need to get focused for the next quarter, perhaps my list of planned activities below will be helpful.

Business development: Continuing to refresh and work a business plan is a top priority, but sometimes it can get lost in the daily grind. I have several activities I'm keeping alive and making progress on by using a simple project management tool (Trello). I recommend reading The Phone Lady's post with advice about how to reach your revenue goals this year.

Website refresh and audit: It's a good idea to do an audit of your website quarterly. It's even better if you pay or beg someone else to do it for you - they will see things you won't. Over the summer I've been working with Alison Knott on a brand refresh that you'll see roll out in September. A full audit will be part of that process.

Masterminding: This continues to be an important road to business development and growth for me and my company. If you're n…

Old Marketing Tricks

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"Yes, it's an old marketing trick to "accidentally" make a mistake in an email campaign so you can resend an email shortly thereafter to increase the number of times people see your message."
This was the lead message in an email I received recently which included a correction to information which I had indeed received a couple of hours before.

Making a deliberate mistake is a darn poor excuse to get into people's inboxes. Making ANY mistake doesn't reflect well on you, deliberate or not.

Do your marketing well and you won't need to resort to tricks. And you won't need to fix mistakes.

If a *real* mistake happens, here is my advice about how to deal with it. Let's avoid those made-up mistakes completely.

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How Outlining Gets You Unstuck

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This post was written by Liam Friesen, who has recently joined Daley Progress in a part-time support role. (How lucky am I to have a journalism student helping me out?)

Telling yourself that you want to start writing an article is simple. The hard part comes when you actually begin.

This is an issue that plagues those who know what they want to write about but don’t quite know how to explain it. If this is a problem you run into often, try starting with an outline.

From time to time, I struggle when trying to formulate an article. I find myself unable to put my ideas into words and I get stuck. However, when you create a layout or an outline for your topic, you won’t fall into a pit of wordiness and confusion.

An outline can appear in any way you want, as long as you include the following: an introduction, your main body information, and a conclusion. The introduction and the conclusion are quite self-explanatory but the main body paragraphs are where most people get lost.

Think of it a…

Being Sneaky About Email

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When I see the words "try this" along with the words "your email subscribers" in a headline, I get a little antsy. The email I received today included "sneaky-favorite email sequences" in the body text.

Here's the thing, if you're delivering value to your readers on a regular basis, you don't need to do anything sneaky. If your readership is dropping off, start delivering more value. Keep giving the thing your readers signed up for... or give even more of it.

Being sneaky may result in short term gains (i.e. your stats look better for a month) but it will tarnish your reputation and long term results. Being sneaky means you've run out of value to give and you're getting desperate.

You're not there yet. You only have to keep discovering the value that your readers want. Do a little research... get inspired.

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What Are You NOT?

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Every small business owner struggles with their messaging from time to time and this is especially true when developing content for a new or refreshed website.

I - and you - can sit and make a long list of words and phrases that describe the way we work with customers. That's a good idea, of course.

Here's a more powerful option and, in some ways, it makes the task easier.
Search your words and phrases online. See what others in the same line of work are saying about themselves and the way they do business.Start a list of the words and phrases that are NOT like you and your business, that are clearly not ones you would use. They will practically jump off the screen at you.Using that NOT list, write a list of 'opposites'. If this is how you're not, then change it to the way you are. Now you can use these new words and phrases as you develop your website content and marketing messages. And you could easily include a bullet list of "This is not ..." to clari…