December 29, 2016

This Simple Tip Will Improve Your Writing... and Your Confidence


Sometimes it's hard to heed my own advice. Even when I know this particular piece of advice is perhaps the most important when it comes to creating content.

I can give you a number of tips to help you write better articles. But there is one simple thing you can do that can really improve the quality of your work, to make your content more useful and interesting. This tip is particularly ingenious - are you ready for it?

Prepare your content over two separate sittings, preferably on two different days. It's a simple concept but often not so easy to implement with deadlines looming.

First sitting:
  1. do an outline
  2. research if necessary
  3. write a draft
Second sitting:
  1. review and edit your draft
  2. add appropriate links to past articles
  3. run spell-check and proof (read aloud if you don't have a proofer)
Coming back to your writing with fresh eyes will almost always result in improvement. Because you are taking extra care to craft your messages, you'll feel more confident about the results. Another bonus is that it doesn't cost you more money or take much more time. All you have to do is not wait till the dreaded last minute. Easy, right?​

photo by delgrosso / Flickr

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originally published in Work Better, Not Harder newsletter Dec-30-16

December 22, 2016

Newsletter Example: Local Restaurant


Sometimes I can be quite judgmental of others' newsletters, and most of the time I keep that to myself. Being a critic means I can also appreciate good examples of newsletters, and email marketing in general. Have a look at this one which arrived in my inbox recently from a local restaurant with the subject line: Seasons Greetings from all of us at Finbar's.

The content in this email is just right for several reasons.
  • The subject line clearly said what is was - a holiday greeting. If I wasn't in the mood for holiday cheer, I could have deleted it with little hassle (but stayed subscribed for future news). I was feeling cheery when I received Finbar's email.
  • A good overall balance of images and text - and not too long. It looked like it wouldn't take much time to read.
  • A colourful photo of the young kids dressed for the season - you won't find this on shutterstock; it connects on a personal level.
  • A funny personal story - curiosity got me reading the whole thing.
  • The 'advertising' part of the content felt more like something I needed to know from one of my favourite places to eat.
  • The hours are also useful to me. If I want to get there for my fav Guinness & Bacon Mac & Cheese before Christmas, lunch on Saturday is my last chance.
  • Finally, the contest winner announcement is social proof, important to building your reputation online.
What did this great email do for Finbar's? I only know that I'll be in for Mac & Cheese over the holidays. I bet I'm not the only one.

Thanks to Michelle at Finbar’s Forest Hills who good-naturedly agreed to me using their newsletter as an example. (I wasn't paid to write this and Finbar's isn't a client of mine.)

photo by Meghan Tansey Whitton

December 16, 2016

Home Office Holiday Party

In preparation for our office party this year, I wrote a poem. Then I gathered together the things I would need to have a party with Romeo and Danielle. (The Temptations were for Romeo, the phone for Danielle, and the coffee for me.)


Romeo, my cat, is used to hearing me talk out loud as I proofread and he was unusually excited about hearing the poem.

Danielle, who lives several time zones away in Saskatchewan, also works alone (and helps me out lots) so I invited her to my office party by phone. It was a good move because she's a master at rhyming words.


After much anticipation, I started to read the finished poem aloud to them. As you can see in the photos above, I had their full attention.


Ode to a Midnight Blog

Silent night, late at night,
I've still got my blog to write.

My laptop propped up on my bed,
I'm hoping ideas will fill my head.

Yawns escaping, eyelids drooping,
Neck is stiff, my thoughts are looping.

My brain is sore, I think some more
About what the heck I'm doing this for.

I'm so tired, in words I'm mired!
I just can't seem to get inspired.

Feeling stumped after several tries,
I think I just need to rest my eyes.....

Sunlight streaks across my bed.
I wake up fast and shake my head.

To the bathroom I must race
And in the mirror I see my face.

I'm so surprised I can only squeak.
There's keyboard marks across my cheek!

The lesson for bloggers is not too deep:
Move your laptop aside before falling asleep.


When I was done, Romeo was looking for a place to sleep (I'm sure because he was full of treats) and Danielle said, "Didn't I already hear that story?" I had to remind her it was true.


We wish you a fun-filled holiday season! (And heed my true story - you really don't want keyboard indents on your face when you have to go to a party in person ;)

WAIT! Before you take off...

If you've enjoyed my (almost) solo Christmas Party, I'm sure you'll enjoy the other bloggers who have joined me in this fun, new tradition. Please visit all of the blogs and leave a comment. Not only will you make them feel good, you might win some other awesome prizes, too. Next up on your holiday party tour is Lori Byrne at Farm Fresh Style - click here to party on!

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December 10, 2016

Create the Content; Promote the Content


Are any of these your reasons for publishing a business blog... ?
  • to be found (on Google or anywhere else)
  • to build your reputation
  • to be seen as an expert
  • to be useful
  • to start relationships
All of those are great reasons to blog! But, regardless of why you've been writing, your efforts will only pay off if people are reading your stuff.

Aside from creating content, does your content strategy also include a plan to both distribute your content and attract new readers?

Create the content, then promote the content. It's an ongoing process that you need to keep alive - both for your own benefit and for your fans.

photo by wallyg / Flickr

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December 4, 2016

Protect your Investment in List Building


Building a contact list is a long slog, which is why most business owners don't have a good one. And why, when you have a good list, you need to appreciate every single entry in it. One of those contacts will bring your next big opportunity.

Protect your contact list - don't ever sell it. And don't give your list away for free, either. Keep it all to yourself - it's a gold mine.

People may know you've given away their contact info but, even if they don't, you've given away their attention - a most valuable thing, today and tomorrow.

photo by Franck BLAIS / Flickr

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