February 26, 2014

A Personal Introductory Message

If one of your newsletter goals is to make a personal connection with your readers, an introductory message from you is a nice touch. (If it’s your first issue, there are some specific things you might want to include.)

Your personal introduction to each issue might include such things as:
  • a preamble to the content within – example: Lea Brovedani
  • a summary and shortcuts to the content within – example: Meryl Cook
  • news that you want to draw attention to, like upcoming events – example: Tess Restaurant
  • special offers or new products and services – example: The Wine Cellar

This is your personal message and should contain your personality but it shouldn't be all about you. Write it for your readers. What will be of interest to them?

photo by Sirelroka

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February 22, 2014

Does your Content make your Readers feel Guilty?

During a recent workshop, I remarked that sometimes health and wellness newsletters make me feel guilty. The two professionals in the room who work in that field were a little surprised.

Of course, no one intends to make their readers feel guilty – or at least they shouldn't. We want our readers to feel positive emotions, like confidence and motivation. Perhaps even to take some positive action.

Do you know how your readers feel when they read your newsletter? Or even before they open it?

Consider how to craft your message so that negative emotions, like guilt and helplessness, are overcome by positive, empathetic ones. Here are a few tips:
  • Use 'we' to show you empathize - instead of 'you' - when it makes sense.
  • Avoid words like 'must' and 'should'. Try 'can' and 'will' instead.
  • Tell a personal story that illustrates your point.

Reread your content from the perspective of your target market. Put yourself in your ideal client's shoes. Are you walking beside them? Or dragging them along behind you?

February 18, 2014

5 Ways to Polish your Online Presence

polish your online presence

When people meet your brand online, they are judging you. We all do it and, based on those judgments, we make assumptions about:
  • what it’s like to work with you
  • the quality of your products and services
  • your prices
  • your commitment, integrity and trustworthiness
  • if you care about your online reputation

Below are 5 ways to make sure your online presence is polished so people will make the right judgments and assumptions about you and your brand.

#1. Monitor
Conduct quarterly audits on your website and social profiles. This means reading all the text, clicking all the links, and making corrections and improvements. This is a great task to outsource to a virtual assistant because an impartial eye will see things you won't.

#2. Be found
Make sure you can be found where people expect to find you. Often it's easier to find someone on LinkedIn than to find their website. There are a multitude of social media sites where having a profile makes sense even if you aren't especially active there. Ensure that all of those profiles include a prominent link to your website. Don't forget Google Maps.

#3. Walk the talk
If you are a design firm of any kind, make sure your website design is top notch. If you're a social media specialist, your own profiles better be complete and an example to others. If what you do is cutting edge, your website better be newer than 2011. Your online presence should set expectations that support your business claims.

#4. Social proof
Nothing demonstrates your expertise like public testimonials and success stories. Encourage your fans to provide accolades online. Collect and display examples of what success looks like.

#5. Give value without expectation of ROI
Delight the people who find you online by making sure they discover some real value. What that value looks like will be different for every business. It's up to you to know what that is for your target market.

photo by ATOMIC Hot Links

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February 13, 2014

Searching for Creative Commons Images

I have fun searching through images, looking for "just that one" that is a visual expression of my written words. Usually I want a look that is less staged than a purchased stock photo.

You can access Creative Commons licensed images directly from their website via a number of sources. But I have a Flickr account, so that is where I head first.

Once you go to Flickr, here is how you search:

First, enter your search term - I used 'newsletter' - and click the magnifying glass.

On the next screen, click on 'Advanced Search'.

The next screen gives you a variety of search options. Near the bottom, you'll find the Creative Commons option. Select it and then click 'Search'.

Make sure you give proper attribution to the photographer - their 'handle' or name and a link to the image. There will be a link which gives you detailed info about the license type - it's always good to double-check.

Warning: minutes and even hours can go by quickly!

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February 8, 2014

Idea Challenged? Here are 3 Tools

We can all get writer's block. I've found 3 tools that help me get past it. I may not use the exact suggestions that result, but the suggestions trigger more ideas and before long I'm off and writing.

Hubspot's Blog Topic Generator
Fill in the fields with terms (preferably nouns) that you'd like to write about, and you'll get a week's worth of relevant blog post titles in a matter of seconds!

Imagination Prompt Generator
A prompt appears and you can click the button to generate another. Keep going till you find one that speaks to you, then start writing.

420 Fables
Freewrite. Choose a subject and write continuously for a set period of time. Disregard spelling, punctuation and grammar. 420 Fables gives you a time limit and a place to write. If what you freewrite is good, edit it into an article.

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February 4, 2014

People will Judge You


I meet someone new, hear about a new local company, or get a new email subscriber – these things usually send me in search of their website.

Let’s be honest, I’m there to judge them. You do it, too, whenever you check out someone’s website. But your frame of reference and perceptions will be different than mine. Here’s what I tend to notice:

  1. First impression: It’s that split second judgment that sets the stage for the rest of my critique.
  2. Formatting: Is there white space or is it crowded and busy? Does it have a consistent, cohesive look? How many different fonts are used?
  3. Colours and images: Are they appealing to me?
  4. Grammar and spelling: I’m immediately turned off if I see obvious mistakes.
  5. Social media accounts: Hmm, haven’t made it to Twitter yet?
  6. Completeness of information: Is there an email address and a phone number? Oh no, not one of those ‘contact us’ forms!
  7. Outdated information: Not a good sign when the first thing I see is an event that happened last year.
  8. Do they have a newsletter? I always wonder this, of course.

Your way of judging websites will be different than mine. But you will judge and you will make assumptions – good or bad.

Now it’s time to have a look at your own website and get some honest feedback. How do others view it? Are they making the judgments and assumptions you want them to make?

photo by CraigOppy

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