Blogging for Business – HOW?

Part Three: HOW To WRITE?

From my Blogging for Business One and Two you will hopefully have gathered together a ton of ideas and started to think creatively about different ways to engage with your target customer.

Working At Home

Image courtesy of http://laurelsprings.com

All these ideas it can be overwhelming – where do I start, how do I manage it all?

I start by creating categories. Look over your lists and ideas and start grouping them together under category labels.

Some examples-

Tips
Business Skills
Profiles
Inspiration
Company – focused
Events

Look at things critically and see what ideas slot in nicely and what doesn’t fit in anywhere at all.

Remember to keep in mind your niche and your brand. Do these all match up nicely with what you want your business to convey?

Choose three to five categories that seem to fit best. From here its time to create a very simple Blogging Calendar: this will be the core of your blog planning.

Everyone will have a different way to structure this and there are a ton of different tech tools that can help. For me, an excel document with a month by month plan works best.

Think about how many times a week you want to post. Be realistic. How much time do you have? Maybe you want to post once a week? Two or three times a week can be a good target.

Your categories can slot into your Blogging Calendar as you see fit. An example would be:

Tuesdays: Profiles
Thursdays: Company- focused posts
Fridays: Inspiration
Every second Monday: Tips and Tools

Once you have the basic categories planned, start adding blog titles to go out on certain dates. If you have further details like links or descriptions put them there too. The more information you have the better. If you can fill up 12 weeks of content planning – perfect. If not, try for 8 as a minimum. Look at upcoming events and see where guest posts can be fitted, or thematic posts around a holiday, but keep your categories consistent.

The more in-depth your planning is now, the easier it will be later when you are trying to write. Here’s an example

blog
Actual Writing

For many this is the scary bit.
Now you have a plan, you have to actually do the writing!

Posts don’t have to be long. 500 words is a good length. One page.

But the key is scheduling YOU. As well as your Blogging Calendar you need ‘Content Creation’ slots in your own calendar.

If you want to publish a post on a great salad recipe or a book review on Wednesdays, you need to schedule an hour into your Monday to write it and half an hour on Tuesday to edit it, find some images and get it looking pretty.

If you have Customer Profiles planned for every Thursday, you need to send out fifteen interview requests at the beginning of every month because it’s likely only five will reply, and even then will take more time than you expect.

Plan and Schedule. Stick to It.

 It’s not going to happen just because it’s in the Blogging Calendar.

Be realistic, with your planning and then commit to keeping to your plan.

If you do, eventually you will have an in depth blog with on-brand articles you can tweet about, share on Facebook and email to clients for whom it could be relevant. You can re-post articles on your Linked In profile (with a link back to your blog), or guest post on another blog.

You will have a way to connect deeply to your customer and help your customer identify who you are and why you are doing what you are doing.

We have covered the Why, Who, What and How in this three part series. Has this helped you identify useful content for your business blog? Have you set up a Blogging Calendar?

 

This article was written by WoolfWorks founder, Michaela Anchan and was featured in Executive Lifestyle. 

Blogging for Business – WHO and WHAT?

If you missed the Part One: WHY SHOULD I BLOG, you can read it here.

Part Two: WHO and WHAT?

Now we have established WHY you should be blogging, the next step is to pin down WHO are you, WHO you are writing for, and WHAT you could write about.

Go grab a lovely big A3 piece of paper, a sharp pencil and a cup of coffee and let’s figure it out.

woman typing

Image courtesy of http://www.womansday.com

Who are you?

What is your ‘why’ behind your brand? What is the story, the passion, the reason you are doing this? How are you going to help people?

What are the qualities you want to convey? What is the connection you want to make with your customer? How do you want them to feel about you?

Connecting to the person and the story behind a company can make a huge decision to a customers decision to do business with you.

Who are they?

It is absolutely vital you put a solid amount of time in to figuring out your niche.

Who is your ideal customer? How old are they? Are they male or female? Are they an entrepreneur, an employee, a freelancer or are they a homemaker? What are they worried about? What magazines do they read? Where do they socialise? Are they tech savvy? Do they want to be? Where do they live?

What?

What are you going to write about: the big question. Again, I recommend a nice crisp A3 sheet of paper and a sharp pencil. Start brainstorming ideas.

Start very broadly:
What are the interests, thoughts and topics that are linked to your business and interesting to your target?
What are the questions customers tend to ask you?
What are the challenges they face?
What do they believe you are an expert in?

Then do a bit of research:
Look at other blogs, magazines, websites related to your industry – what are they writing about?
Ask your customers – do a formal survey or just call them up for a chat. What are they confused about? What do they find mysterious about your industry? What information would they like to have access to? Who do they admire? Where do they want their business to go? How can you help them?
Let these questions and thoughts sit at the front of your mind for a few days – once you start thinking and talking about these questions the ideas may pop up at different times. Write everything down.

blogging

Image courtesy of http://www.scribewise.com

Then, take it further by looking at different types of content. There is so much you can do which can tie in to all of the above:

Customer profiles or interviews
Staff profiles
Profiles of people in history
Profiles of partner businesses
Guest posts from partner businesses
Links to relevant articles around the web
Information about a package / rate you offer
Write-up an event you held
A day in the life in your business
Resource lists
Tutorials
Infographics
Images
Business background stories (focusing on your WHY)
Beginners guide to..
FAQ about your business

And don’t forget videos and podcasts!

Keep the WHO is mind during this – who you are, who your customer is. Keep the ideas flowing – write everything down! Keep going, keep researching – the more ideas now, the better. Don’t worry about relevance or titles yet, just keep writing down ideas.

Next week we will talk about the HOW.

How does this brainstorm of ideas get turned into a structured, planned social media campaign? How is this going to be manageable for me when I have so much going on?

 

This article was written by WoolfWorks founder, Michaela Anchan and was featured in Executive Lifestyle. 

 

Blogging for Business – WHY?

Part One: WHY SHOULD I BLOG

What’s the advantage of blogging for your business?

We all hear about how you must blog – ‘content generation’ is a huge buzzword, and there can be such a feeling of guilt if you haven’t started, aren’t keeping it up or haven’t established a regular schedule.

It can be helpful to go back to basics and think about WHY you should be blogging, and what you hope to get out of it. How do you want it to help your business? We all want to generate more revenue, how can blogging help that?

1. It’s a great way to have a conversation with your target market.

You get to talk to your customers and clients directly. You get to say what you want, share the opinions, tips and topics that best reflect your business and you get it in front of their eyes – it’s a second best to ringing them up and having a chat.

2. It gives you credibility in your industry.

The moment you are an author on a particular topic you position yourself as an expert. Imagine a customer is trying to choose between two landscape gardeners. He looks online and found one has a simple website which looks good, one has a simple website but also has a blog filled with expert articles on weed control, best choices in flowers for the local climate, shrubs of the week and fertilising tips. Who do you think he is going to call?

3. If you give a little, people want more

If this gardener does a series on how to do basic landscape gardening yourself, perhaps creates an e-book around it, her customers are going to imagine just how much more fabulous she can do things as a professional.

4. Branding and Positioning

Your blogs give you a great chance to further develop your brand and position in the market place. Your topics can be targeted and developed to reinforce your brand. A high-end interior design store is not going to write about where to find the cheapest bed linen in town, nor will a yoga studio post about the new burger bar down the road. Keeping your themes and topics consistent with your brand is crucial in connecting with your target client.

5. Driving traffic to your website

Blogging effectively can be a great way to drive traffic to your website. Identify keywords that are bringing traffic to your site and use those keywords again and again. Blogging creates pages of text, which can be picked up on a Google search – use it to your advantage!

and the best part of blogging?

6. Blog posts work while you sleep!

Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week your articles are out there to be read by customers, picked up by Google and referred to by customers. They are your representatives working hard out there in the world, for a very low wage!

Modern office workplace

Image courtesy of http://sueallenclayton.com/

Clarifying WHY you are blogging is important. It helps form the foundation of your social media strategy, and ensures that your blogging is targeted and planned.

Next week, the next important question: WHO are you blogging to?

 

This article was written by WoolfWorks founder, Michaela Anchan and was featured in Executive Lifestyle

Shut Up and Write!

Introducing our latest initiative at Woolf Works:

Web

The concept started in San Francisco as a meetup group and has now spread around the world. A group of writers getting together and, well, writing. After many requests, Woolf Works will open up on a Saturday to writers of any kind.

We’d like to call on

late-night writers 

would-be bloggers

full time corporates with a writing passion on the side

mums with too many kids under foot during the week

lonely writers, stuck in home office hell.

Shut Up and Write is a time and a space for women writers to come together on a Saturday and write. To use the sound of other fingers tapping on laptops to fuel your own fingers, to carve out a set time in the week to just DO IT.

To Write.

No set topics, no peer reviews.

A beautiful space, with great coffee and tea on free flow.

A spot in your schedule that is for YOU to do that blog post, short story, memoir, article, essay that you have been planning.

To meet other women who share your passion.

We kick off on March 7th, from 10am – 4pm and will start as a once a month event.

 

Laura

The day will be hosted by Woolf Works’ member Laura Coulter (who is obviously very friendly and may or may not be wearing ridiculous glasses) who will encourage you to stand up and stretch your fingers every hour and have chat to your neighbour. You are welcome to bring your lunch (we have a fridge and microwave) or eat out from the great places around us in Joo Chiat.

 

Sign up now!  (limited seating available)

 

The Atlantic: David Mitchell on How to Write

For the writers amongst us – this is a fantastic article. David Mitchell shares his favourite poem and his top writing tips – most important of all is just getting down and DOING it, before you can get distracted.
“Part two: Get disciplined. Learn to rush to your laptop and open it up. Open the file without asking yourself if you’re in the mood, without thinking about anything else. Just open the file: and then you’re safe. Once the words are on the screen, that becomes your distraction.”
Click here to read the full article
 Screenshot (76)

A Day in the Life

A Day in My Life  – pre-Woolf Works

6.30am: Alarm goes off with message ’30mins early morning writing time!’. I try to extricate myself from Baby T sleeping on my arm but fail. Lie awake for fifteen minutes thinking brilliant things I could have been writing about which I will instantly forget as soon as I stand up.

6.45am: Big sister comes storming into the room, throwing the door wide with a shout of ‘IT’S MORNING’. Baby T is now definitely awake.

8.45am: Right. Big Sister is at school. Baby T is playing quietly. NOW IS MY TIME. I slink into the home office with a cup of tea and straight away notice the giant pile of random papers that need filing away. I really must have a clean desk before I can get into writing.

9.30am: Baby T is crying and I’ve been lost in a wormhole of filing / working out if I paid last months phone bill / re-labeling the folders since we changed banks AND phone companies last month.

10.45: Baby T is happily napping. My mother skypes from New Zealand and wants me to sneak in to his room so she can watch him sleep.

11.15am: Right. Lets get into this. No more mucking around. Fresh page. Nice pen. I’m free writing to find an angle for my next short story.

11.25am:Baby T is awake.

11.30am: He is well rested and fed so surely he will play nicely just there next to me and I can get some work done.

11.32am: What’s that smell?

11.33am: Nappy change

11.40am: Baby T shuts his finger in the drawer and screams like banshee.

11.45am: Time to go for a walk, I need some fresh air.

1pm: Baby is in the safe hands of our helper, Siony. Time to get to work. I write a power list of three things I need to get done. One. Reply to five emails. check. Two. Back into free writing. I’m feeling the flow.

1.45pm: Doorbells rings and the Singapore Dengue Police want to have a serious discussion about the state of my flowerpots. I’m also under strict instructions to remove a banana tree which is apparently a mosquito paradise.

2pm: Back to my desk, spend twenty minutes googling Dengue symptoms and trying to alleviate mother-guilt.

2.20pm: Start to put together a framework for a short story. Vaguely remember a brilliant twist I’d thought of this morning when a courier rings the doorbell.

3pm: Think about putting together a website for my work but feel lost about where to start. What is a domain host anyway?

3.15pm: Big sister is home from school with two grazed knees and lots of tears.

4pm: Baby T throws Big Sister’s favourite My Little Pony into the toilet. World War Three commences. I give up on getting anything else written for the day.

8pm: Kids are sleeping. I’m exhausted. Still haven’t been for a run. I go to bed with my laptop, Netflix and a glass of wine and set my alarm for 6am with the note ‘Must get up! 30mins quiet writing time!’

A day in my life – post-Woolf Works

6am: Wake up – have perfected the art of extricating myself from Toddler T’s arm so I stealthily escape, throw on running clothes and head out the door.

7.30am: Breakfast with kids, shower, dress.

8.30am: Drop Big Sister at school, Toddler T at Play School, head into Woolf Works.

9am – 11.30am: Work quietly and productively on current projects with a  coffee break and chat to a fellow member about which CRM systems are best.

12noon – Pick up Toddler T from play school, have some cuddle time.

1 – 3pm: Back into Woolf Works, have amazing Vietnamese Pho from a local restaurant while writing and editing.

4pm – 4.30pm: Meet some potential new members and show them around the space.

4.30pm: Meet a local business owner who wants to collaborate

6pm: Home for dinner, bath and bed for kids.

8pm: Glass of wine and chat with my husband

9pm: In bed with a book to read.

Woolf Works is a shared work space for women located on Joo Chiat Rd, Singapore. The concept came as a direct result of my years of of frustration, distraction  and loneliness as a stay-at-home mum / student / amateur writer / entrepreneur dreamer from 2008 to 2013. Woolf Works is a quiet, calm, distraction-free space for women to work productively and find community. Email info@woolfworks.sg for more information.

Notes from Singapore Writers Festival: Paul Theroux

“Reading and writing are the most civilized things you can do.”

– Paul Theroux, Singapore 2014

Paul Theroux gave a lively and interesting talk at SWF on Saturday. In opening he talked of a tv interview of two men standing in the recent US election. They were both asked ‘What was the last book you read?’ and neither had an answer. Theroux was disgusted by this, saying the idea that someone is capable of reading but doesn’t pick up a book is a disgrace. Especially if that person is standing for government.

It is obvious books and writing are in Theroux’s blood. With over fifty books published in his more than seventy years of age now, Theroux doesn’t seem like he will, or could, stop anytime soon.

Most of his talk discussed the idea of why we travel, and he used the Jungian theory of Individuation as a reason for this – that you don’t find out who you really are, and where you want to be in life, til you leave home. He used himself as an example – coming from a family of seven kids, he needed to get away, needed to figure out what he was going to do with his life that would be of value. He spent five years in Africa in the Peace Corps before coming to Singapore in 1968. He worked for the University of Singapore and he credits his time here for helping him figure out that he wanted to be a writer full time. He also discovered his love for writing what he called ‘the truth’ – writing things as he saw them and not how he wanted them to be.

He used many of his descriptions of the people and places on Singapore in his novel Saint Jack. He finished the novel after moving to London in 1972 and soon after he began an epic train journey from London into Asia and back. This would give him material for his extraordinarily famous The Great Railway Bazaar. He described travel as ‘a mode of enquiry’. He differentiated between ‘travelling’ and ‘tourism’ by saying that a true traveler doesn’t know where they are going or what they are going to do. A lot of travel is about having a ‘bad time’ and enduring hardship while tourist travel is about searching out a ‘good time’. Travel helps you develop as a person, it is humbling and it makes you feel small and reminds you of your tiny place in the word. Theroux used an apt description of flying out of Singapore. While we are on this tiny island we feel like it is the whole world. Once we take off from Changi and look out of the window we see the large landmasses of Malaysia and Indonesia right next door we realize how tiny this island really is.

Theroux was passionate, funny and engaging – a pleasure to see a true master in the flesh.