Category: Blogging

Why Your Blog Posts Need Photos

Why Your Blog Posts Need Photos @ SarahWritesStoriesWe talked last month about how to get photos for your blog, but maybe you’re not yet convinced that’s even something you need.  So let’s back up a bit.

You know the feeling when you arrive at a web page and see a wall of text, right? Your reaction is probably the psychological equivalent of backing away slowly before turning & running, but with much less energy expenditure — you simply click away.

Three Reasons Your Blog Posts Need Photos

We live in a visual age, so including images in your blog posts is important.  Here are three reasons why.

Photos Catch Your Audience’s Attention

You can help avoid “tl;dr” syndrome by breaking up your post with an eye-catching image.  Our eyes are drawn to images, and when you’re fighting for attention on the internet (which you are), a striking image can be the difference between a click in or a click away.

Photos Give You Another SEO Tool

Another benefit of including images in your blog posts is that they give search engines another opportunity to find you — if you’re incorporating SEO.  And you can optimize your images in two easy steps:

  1. Use a meaningful file name.
  2. Include alt-text.

Photos Make Your Posts More Appealing to Share

If you’ve ever shared an article on facebook, you’ve probably noticed that you have the option to select an image from the page to appear with your link.  And thinking about your own habits on facebook, aren’t you more likely to a) actually see the link with a photo and b) click it?

Giving your readers an image to share gets your small business on Pinterest and facebook — and that sort of word of mouth is some of the best, most targeted advertising you can get — and it’s free.

Need More Proof?

The proof is in the pudding, so to speak, and MDG Advertising has done a wonderful, statistic-pudding-filled infographic.

It’s All About the Images [infographic by MDG Advertising]

Infographic by MDG Advertising

Talk about a picture being worth a thousand words, right?

Blog Writing and Pinterest-Ready Graphics at Sarah Writes Stories

If you’re ready to take your blog to the next level but need help doing so, let’s chat!  I’d love to work with you to create a blog that engages your readers and brings in the new customers you’re looking for.

How NOT to Find Images For Your Blog

How NOT to Find Images For Your Blog @ SarahWritesStoriesAre you using photos on your blog? You should be!  But you can’t just pull photos from anywhere on the web.  We’ll talk more next week on what makes a good blog image, but let’s start with the basics — where to find photos.

Google Image Search is not a Photo Library

If you’re using Google Image to gather images for your blog, you’re probably infringing on someone else’s copyright.  And in short, that’s stealing.  Which is bad.  It’s unethical at best and illegal at worst.

I’ve seen online marketing companies tell clients to use Google Image Search, so don’t feel bad if you didn’t realize this was a problem.  But now that you do know, let’s take a look at the right way to find images.

When to Pay for Stock Photos

If you’re looking for photos or artwork for company materials — like a static website, brochures, etc. — paying for stock photographs is probably the best way to go.  Places like istockphoto or shutterstock offer decent prices for high quality images.

When to Use Free Stock Photos

It’s understandable that you wouldn’t want to shell out a ton of money for images for your blog posts, but they’re an important part of Search Engine Optimization and — just as important — making your posts visually appealing for the humans who visit your blog.  (They’re also a great starting point for getting traffic from Pinterest.)

Luckily, there are great sources for free photo art on the web, and one of the best places to start is the Creative Commons section of Flickr.  Just make sure you’re grabbing photos with a license appropriate for your business and that you’re giving the artist proper attribution in the photo caption and the photo’s description.

The Right Creative Commons Licenses for Blog Photos

The best license for blog photos is the Attribution License, which allows you to use the photo and modify it as long as you attribute the original art to the artist.  Simple enough.  This is great for posting original photography as creating Pinterest-ready images for your blog.

The No Derivatives License means you can’t alter the image.  So, while this works just fine for a blog image, you can’t tag it with your logo, web address or post title.

Which license can’t you use?  The NonCommercial License.  If you’re selling anything — products or services — then steer clear of photos or artwork with this type of license.

Blog Writing at Sarah Writes Stories

If you need help writing compelling, informative and entertaining blog posts that engage your readers with text and images, I can help.  Let’s chat about how we can work together to create a blog that fits your company’s brand, voice and vision.

How to Use Pinterest for Your Small Business

How to Use Pinterest for Your Small Business @ SarahWritesStoriesWhen you think of Pinterest, do you only imagine recipes and crafts? If so, think again!

Pinterest has become another great tool to share what your company is doing.  People use it not just for recipes and crafts, but also for tips, tricks and information to make their lives easier and better.  So if you’re writing great blog content, then there’s a good chance there are people on Pinterest who want to see it and pin it — and that means more people visiting your website.

How to Use Pinterest for Small Business

You can set up your boards just like you set up categories for your blog.  For instance, on my Sarah Writes Stories Pinterest account, I have boards for Content Writing, Organization & Productivity, Recipes for the Busy, Keeping Fit & Healthy, Social Media, Growing Your Business, Staying Motivated, Holidays, and Finances for Freelancers & Small Businesses.  As I develop more categories on my blog, I add them as boards on my Pinterest.

Once you have these categories, you can pin your own posts as well as repinning other appropriately themed pins from other Pinterest users.  Once again, social media is about (you guessed it) being social.  You should also have one board to which you pin all of your posts, in case people want to keep up with your blog that way.

Making Your Blog More Pinterest-Friendly

The best way to make your blog more friendly to Pinners is to incorporate logo-tagged images with your posts’ headlines.  Take a look at the image on this post for an example.

Whether you’re using your own photos or using stock images, it’s a good idea to tag them with your logo & website so people immediately know where the information is coming from when they see it.  The added bonus?  Pinterest-friendly graphics look sharp and professional on your website, too.

Pinterest-Ready Images at Sarah Writes Stories

If you’d like to incorporate Pinterest-ready images into your blog posts, I can help.  Whether you’re looking for a template you can update yourself or a batch of ready-to-go graphics, I’d love to work with you to create images that grab attention both on your blog and on Pinterest.

Three Ways a Blog is Like a Baby

If all goes according to plan, I should be having a baby this week (or I’ve already had one & am reveling/drowning in baby bliss/delirium).  So, as you might imagine, I’ve got a major case of baby on the brain.  But I’m going to try to make that work to my advantage here today.  And so, I present to you:

3 Ways a Blog is Like a Baby @ Sarah Writes Stories

#1: Schedules are super important.

Or at least that’s one school of thought on babies, especially as they get older.  When it comes to your blog, choosing a schedule and sticking to it is also super important.

If you post sporadically, you’ll have a hard time catching regular readers.  Whether it’s once a week or once a month, choose a frequency and stick to it.

#2: You have to arrange for care.

You can’t just up and head out to work without making arrangements for your baby to be taken care of.  Similarly, if you head out on vacation or are swamped with work, you shouldn’t just leave your blog unattended.

There will be times when you won’t be able to keep up with a typical blogging schedule.  You’ve got three options: a) work ahead, b) schedule guest posts, or c) at least announce your time away ahead of time — and when you’ll be back — so your readers know what to expect.

#3: You have to be responsive.

When your baby cries, you can’t just ignore the poor thing.  And similarly, you’re really missing out if your baby is smiling, cooing & laughing but you’re too busy to respond.

The same goes for your blog and other social media.  When someone takes the time to comment or ask a question, you should make it a priority to respond.

Blogging Services at Sarah Writes Stories

Like a baby, a blog is a commitment.  The good news is you can outsource a lot more of the blog work than the baby work.  If you need someone to run your blog, I’d love to chat about how we can work together.

Three Ideas for Great Blog Content

So, now that you know you need a blog, you maybe wondering what the heck you need to blog about.  It’s not as hard as you might think.  There are three sure-fire ways to provide solid blog content to your current and potential customers.

3 Paths to Great Blog Content @ Sarah Writes StoriesThree Paths to Great Blog Content

All good blog posts should do at least one of these three things:

  • Inform
  • Entertain
  • Persuade

And the secret to creating a great blog post is to combine them.  Here are three topics that do just that.

Tell People How To Do Something

If you have a special skill set, use your blog to share some of that knowledge with your customers.  This not only builds credibility and positions you as an expert, but it also helps build trust with your customers.  Don’t worry about giving away trade secrets.  For instance, even though I understand what happens during an HVAC tune-up and have even written about it for clients, I’m still going to turn to the pros when I need the job done.

Tell People Why To Do Something

Along with telling people how to do something, you should also tell them why they should do something.  For instance, if you’re in the gutter-cleaning or chimney-sweeping business, tell people WHY these tasks are so important.  If you’re in the cupcake business, give people a list of occasions for which they should send cupcakes to friends, family or coworkers.  These posts are especially great for including a call to action to turn your past customers into repeat customers and your potential customers into new ones.

Tell People About Your Business

If you’ve got something special going on at your business, like a sale or promotion, a new product or service, or a special event you want people to be aware of, then blog about it!  Your blog is a great place to showcase new and time-sensitive information — and a blog post is easy to share with your other social networks, like twitter and facebook.

Make Your Blog a Priority

Remember, you don’t have to be a great writer to ensure your blog has great content.  Writing a blog takes time and effort you may want to devote to the parts of your business you’re passionate about.  Working with an experienced SEO copywriter who can take your ideas, style and voice and turn them into Great Blog Content is one of the best ways to take your business to the next level.

Blog Writing at Sarah Writes Stories

I’d love to work with you to come up with Great Blog Content that will inform, entertain and persuade past, current and potential customers.  Having worked with more than 40 clients in the past year alone, I know how to adapt to each client’s personal needs and goals.  If you’re ready to get your blog started or make your current one more effective, let’s chat about how we can work together to make that happen!

Does Your Business Need a Blog?

3 Reasons Your Business Needs a Blog @ Sarah Writes StoriesThe internet is a big place, and it keeps getting bigger and bigger.  You may be wondering, does my business really need a blog?  The answer is YES.  Here’s why.

Three Reasons Your Business Needs a Blog

#1: A Blog is Your Best Chance to Put a Personal Face on Your Business

In this day and age, it’s not enough to simply have a listing in the yellow pages or even a top hit on Google.  Potential customers want to get an idea of who you are and what you stand for when it comes to your business.  A blog allows you to put your best foot forward and make a good impression before they even set foot inside your door.  And if you’re NOT making that impression, your customers might find another business that is.

#2: A Blog Helps People Find Your Business

One of the best practical reasons for a blog is that it increases the odds of people finding your website to begin with.  Every time you post, when you include a link to your website or to pertinent information on it, you’re giving Google & Friends more to work with.  More links to your website means it climbs higher in the Google’s rankings.  Continuous fresh content further increases your rankings.

#3: A Blog Helps Build Your Brand

In addition to building relationships as in Point #1, a blog gives you the opportunity to showcase aspects of your business you’re proud of.  Whether that’s your company history, a new product or service, a great customer service experience you want to highlight, or a new promotion or sale, your blog acts as your own personal news service for your current and potential customers and business partners.

Not a Writer? Not a Problem!

So now you know your business does need a blog.  What do you do now?  Don’t try to be a writer if you’re not.  Instead, find yourself a copywriter you can trust to take your personality and business brand and translate them into relevant, interesting, informative blog posts with proper SEO.

Blog Writing at Sarah Writes Stories

And wouldn’t you know it, if you’re looking for a copywriter for your blog, you’re in the right place!  Shameless self promotion aside, I believe in working with clients to create content in a style that is unique to you and your business.  I want it to be your voice the customer hears in your blog, not mine.  If you’re interested in talking more about what I can do for your business blog, then let’s chat!

The Battle of SEO vs. Content

Sarah Writes Stories: SEO vs. Content -- Why You Need Both to Get What You Want

SEO acts as a path to help people find your content. It’s your content that turns those people into customers.

It always makes me chuckle (OK, OK — or pull my hair out) when I hear about an online marketing company jumping on the “Content is King” bandwagon.  It’s always seemed like common sense to me, not to mention it’s exactly what search engines like the mighty Google tell you.  Here’s what you need to know.

What SEO Does

Search Engine Optimization helps get people to your website.  That means using certain tools (some of which are behind the scenes) to ensure that search engines find your content.

Why SEO is Important

Without using SEO, it’s going to be very difficult for people to find your website short of word of mouth — which is great, but that limits you to a much smaller target demographic.  SEO isn’t always the enemy of content either.  There are a number of SEO tactics that can help organize your content so that both search engines and humans can find what they’re looking for.  Here’s a good starting list:

  • Use meaningful titles for your web pages and blog posts
  • Use heading styles in your page content to organize information
  • Use alt text for images in your page content
  • Organize your blog content with tags and categories

What SEO Doesn’t Do

I hate hearing about companies that spend insane amounts of money paying a company to “optimize” their websites or blog only to find that they’re full of barely readable, uninformative, or totally banal content.  Because here’s the trick: once you get people to your website, it’s what’s on your website that converts hits into sales.

Why Content Matters

Visitors don’t care how Google found your website.  They care that what’s there is informative, personable, and representative of what you and your business are about.  Remember the old adage, “it’s what’s on the inside that counts”?  It’s still true today.

SEO + Content = Success

The best websites and blogs combine solid SEO with stellar content.  Great content shouldn’t be an afterthought or an optional add-on service.  It should be your main focus, supported by mainframe of solid SEO.  That’s how you turn potential customers into patrons.