Is a #Blog Right for My #Business?


Just a short post today…

With so many online applications to consider, business owners must ask themselves, “Is this going to benefit my business?” I’ve written in a previous post about why a Blog is important, but who can benefit from entering the blogging realm?

Online Businesses

If your main presence to the world is through your website and you lack any physical storefront, you should be blogging.

New Businesses

Did you just launch your business in the past year? Consumers will almost expect you to be reachable online if you are a new company. How many commercials have you seen that show you where to find them on Twitter and Facebook? You should be blogging.

Existing Businesses

Are you turning away business because you are so busy? If so, don’t worry about blogging. But if you are like the majority of us, you don’t want to miss a chance to bring in new clients and expand your company. You should be blogging as well.

But I Have a Website

A website just isn’t enough these days. Your blog is a great solution to provide updated content, coupons and to expose yourself as an expert in your industry. At the very least, you are providing another avenue for people to find out about your services.

Later this week, I’ll talk about specific types of businesses that should be blogging and how they can utilize their blog to reach out to customers.

Advertisements

Hey #Smallbusiness – Americans Spend Most Online Time #Socialnetworking


Does your business have an online presence? If not, you could be missing out on a large pool of potential customers.

According to research from Nielsen, Americans are spending a quarter of their online time using social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs. The numbers equate to a 15.8 percent increase from a year ago. Double-digit declines were seen in email and instant messaging.

The numbers continue to reveal the importance for businesses of varying sizes to include social networking into their marketing and advertising budgets. The Nielsen research serves to give an open view into a consumer’s digital profile and online trends. Knowing that customers are mostly looking at social networking sites when online, a business should explore all creative possibilties to reach out to a potential client.

For more information on the Nielsen research visit the full article at WebProNews.

If you are interested in exploring ways to grow your business online, please contact me today.

Photo Credit – Image: FloatingLemons / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

#Blogging for #Business – Creating #Content for Your Business #Blog


Remember elementary school when you were given an open-ended writing assignment and you were left staring blankly at a sheet of notebook paper? You couldn’t come up with anything to write about – but as soon as you walk out of the classroom your imagination would come alive. Creating content for your blog can sometimes feel like you are back in third grade again. However, it doesn’t have to be such a struggle. Here are some ideas for the types of content your readers might like to read about.

Area Information

The real estate industry is heavily location-based so an obvious topic to cover is the city or cities you live and work in. People are always looking for information about places to visit, great new restaurants and fun events like festivals in the area. Maybe you could put out a monthly concert calendar. Or write a review of the new deli that just opened up down the street.

Industry News 

Obviously including real estate news in your blog will be essential. Showing potential customers that you are on top of the latest trends will only help build your reputation. If someone knows that each week they can visit your site and find the latest mortgage rates or home sales data, they are likely to keep coming back and also let others know about your blog.

Interviews

 If you have networked with industry experts or business leaders, consider asking them some questions about information readers would want to read about. You don’t need to sit down and do a 60 Minutes in-depth interview, but if they are willing, maybe you could email them your questions and post the transcript to your blog after they reply (Note: always disclose that you will be posting the answers to your blog).

Videos

Video is a great way to stand out from your competition. Not everyone is comfortable in front of a camera – so if you can do it, you have an edge. Upload the video to YouTube and insert it into your blog. You could talk about anything related to real estate. Maybe you go through a quick checklist of tasks to perform before putting a house on the market. The video should be of decent quality both picture and sound and you should be dressed professionally. Nobody likes watching shaky camera work with the sound of the wind blowing directly into the microphone.

Photos

Anytime you can provide something other than just written content, you will be doing both your readers and yourself a favor. People are visual, so provide photos to accompany what you are writing about. Who wants to read about a beautiful model home and community that just opened without actually seeing it? How great would it be if, while writing your description, photos were posted alongside the content? Not only does it make you look better, your blog post is more pleasing to the eye. All text and no visual-aids make for a dull read. You don’t need photos for every posting, but when it makes sense it should be seriously considered.

If you post information to your blog that isn’t yours, be sure you list the source and even provide a link to the original content. Never pass off work as your own that you didn’t write. If you are unsure whether you should post someone else’s content, call or email them asking for permission.

Content does not have to be difficult to generate. All you really have to do is sit down and make a list of the types of information you would want to know about if you were the consumer. Once you have the idea down, half the battle is complete.

 

Photo Credits

Laptop – >Image: Gregory Szarkiewicz / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Microphone – Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Video – Image: Francesco Marino / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Camera –Image: Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

#Blogging for #Business – Parts of a #Blog


JLC Writing ServicesEvery blog has basic components that will help you inform your readers about both your expertise and the topic at hand. Here are the parts you will want to include in your blog to help add credibility to your site.

Headline/Title

It is pretty obvious that any blog post will need to have a title. Most blogging sites don’t allow you to even post a blog without one. Make sure to keep the headline on-topic to what you are writing about and include keywords that others would seek out.

If you are the creative type, try writing the headline so that it makes your reader want to keep reading. If your topic is interesting, you shouldn’t have a problem getting your audience to read, but having a good headline may draw more people to your blog who wouldn’t necessarily view it otherwise.

Content

I will talk about the type of content in my next post, so I won’t go into too much detail. Just remember to write about information that your audience would find interesting. And of course, you should find the content interesting as well. If you don’t really care about a specific blog post, it will come across in your writing.

Don’t forget that photos, videos, audio, etc. are all good options to add into your posts to give your readers a full experience. Also, break up your posts into several paragraphs. No one likes reading one long continuous paragraph, or run-on sentences for that matter. Spell-check and grammar check are your friends. While they aren’t always correct in their suggestions, you shouldn’t have misspelled words or poor grammar. Your credibility goes down when easy mistakes are overlooked.

Comments

One of your goals with a blog is to create a community and dialogue with your readers. Many times, after someone reads your post, they may have comments or questions about what you had to say. You should enable comments to be left on your posts, and remember to respond when someone does leave a comment.

Many blogging services allow you to control who can leave comments. Make it a requirement that anyone who wants to leave a comment must, at the very least, include their name and email address. A minimum requirement like name and email will help cut down on the amount of spam you receive. Also consider approving comments before they can be published.

Contact Information

Somewhere on the side of your blog, should be all your relevant contact information. You are, of course, hoping to generate some business out of your blog. If someone is looking for a home in your city and happens to come across a great blog post that you wrote, make it easy for them to get in touch with you.

Some Contact info to include would be:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Fax
  • Website
  • Link to Twitter
  • Link to LinkedIn

Subscribe Button/Link

If you are providing great content and your audience is continuing to read your posts, it is important to give them the ability to subscribe to your blog through an RSS feed. I will write more specifics about an RSS feed in a later post, but the feed in short, is delivered to anyone who subscribes to your blog and is updated whenever you add a new post. Services like Google and Yahoo allow users to have one central location where they can read all their RSS feeds that they are subscribed to, rather than going to each blog and seeing if anything new has been posted.

There is some other information that you may want to include in your blog. It really is up to you what you offer your audience, but the above information is a good start. As you become familiar with your blog, you will no doubt start generating and creating more information to include in your blog. Please leave me some questions or comments if you have them…Happy Blogging!

Is Blogging Important for Business?


Over the next few days, I am going to discuss the basics of blogging and how it can benefit you as a small business owner. I would love to hear feedback and please send me any questions!

Importance of Blogging

by Jason Curts – JLC Writing Services

Does it seem like every week you are being told about some new online application that will help grow your business? You probably hear about the usual suspects – Facebook, Twitter, Ning, etc. But where do you begin? Before you go signing up for any of these accounts you should have two things in place – a website and a blog. 

The website is a no-brainer. Without one, you will really struggle to have an online presence. If customers and business contacts cannot find you online, they will not take you serious. 

The blog may not be such an obvious choice, but it is equally important. What’s the difference between a blog and website you ask? Think of your online presence as a short movie starring you (Sorry…Denzel or Angelina will not be playing the part of you).

Everything you do online interacts and tells a story while you hopefully captivate an audience enough to keep them coming back for more. Ultimately, the online community becomes a fan and is always checking out your work and finding ways it can work with you.

 Your website is like the back-story of a movie that gives a lot of detail about you including:

 ■Who you are 

■What you do

 ■What services you offer 

■Where you can be contacted 

■Why you do what you do

Your blog is the actual storyline that keeps the movie going and keeps people engaged and wanting to know more about you and your services. Like a storyline, your blog keeps changing and providing new information to your readers. If you don’t keep the story going, you start to lose your audience and they move on to a better film – or in your case…to another business.

We are a society obsessed with information. The internet has only further fueled that obsession. If you cannot offer fresh content to your readers and potential customers, you will likely lose them to someone who does.

The blog is something you can expect to update regularly, while your website generally has the same static information without a lot of change from month to month. The blog is really an opportunity to keep your name in front of potential business by becoming an expert about your industry. Eventually you should get business from loyal readers, who you’ve worked so hard to gain trust, by putting out your blog.

Who knew I would like Steinbrenner?


Steinbrenner

Yankee owner didn't just spend on his baseball team.

Isn’t it funny how you can go through life and have one narrow-minded view of an individual, and then later find out he or she is very different than you thought? I’m guilty of that with George Steinbrenner. I think a lot of people are waking up today with that same thought.

I blame the Yankees for all that hatred I had for Steinbrenner. Yes…old George put his money where is mouth was. Over $2 billion was spent by him during his tenure as the Yankees owner in trying to put together championship teams. And he was not an easy owner to work for. Steinbrenner was quick to fire anyone that wasn’t winning. Can you blame him? If you spend that kind of money on a team, you don’t want to lose.

“Winning means everything,” Steinbrenner said in 1990. “You show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.”

It is his fiery attitude and short fuse that helped shape what I thought Steibrenner was as a human being. And yes, while he did make the Yankees the most recognizable franchise in all of sports, he did so much more in the community.

Here’s just a sample of his philanthropic efforts:

  • 2007 – Steibrenner donated $1 million to the “Hokies Spirit Memorial Fund” and sent the Yankees to Blacksburg, Va., for an exhibition game.
  • A graduate of Williams College, Steinbrenner, nonetheless, funded the Ohio State marching band for years — his name is on a campus building.
  • He donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Tampa  area schools. He has provided a quarter million dollars to Tampa Catholic to upgrade their football facility. He donated enough to the Academy of Holy Names to build an aquatic center. He paid for several high school bands to travel to various events – Gaither High School once got $25,000 for a trip to Washington for a presidential inauguration. He hosted an annual banquet to recognize high school coaches. He sponsored an annual high school football tournament at Raymond James Stadium.
  • He and his family help support the Boys & Girls Clubs, The Salvation Army, the Warrior Foundation and Feeding America. For years he sponsored a children’s holiday concert at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. He has sent Yankees players to a camp for terminally ill children. And the list goes on and on.
  • The Steinbrenner Band Building on the University of Florida campus, funded in part by a gift from the Yankees owner, is perhaps the most prominent example. Steinbrenner also was a longtime Bull Gator, the highest level of contributors to the UF athletic program, and over the years made donations to the athletic program ranging from television sets to stadium lights.
  • George Steinbrenner made other major donations to UF. He gave $260,000 in 1989 for the construction of the College of Veterinary Medicine’s large animal hospital and $400,000 in 2005 for an equine imaging machine.

Thinking back, I guess I’m more against the Yankees because of the “bandwagon” aspect of fans across the world (not to mention their cocky attitude that no one is better) than I am against Steinbrenner. A large portion of these so-called “fans” have no tie to NY and simply follow them because they win. I’m a big believer you should have some kind of connection to the teams you cheer for. Maybe growing up, your favorite player was on the Yankees. Many in the south are Braves fans because they were one of the few baseball teams on television – I get that. But to cheer for a team simply because they are considered to be at the top of their league drives me crazy.

In an age where media can wake up and write non-stop about all the bad things going on in sports, it is nice to see the positive side of a prominent figure making a difference in his community. Here’s to  hoping others will follow in Steinbrenner’s footsteps…something I never thought I would be saying.

Atherton Market has a lot of potential


After checking out a preview of Atherton Market in Southend on CLT Blog the other day, my wife Christy and I took the trip ourselves on Saturday morning. We have to say we were quite pleased with the purchases we got. We walked in and immediately sampled a carrot cake cookie, which was our first buy of the day (from Crumbs – NY Style Baked Goods).

Next booth down we got some sugar snap peas from Cold Water Creek Farms – a 100% organic farm. Looking forward to putting them in a tasty asian dish this week.

While we didn’t buy anything at Savory Moments, we did sample their pimento cheese. They had fresh salads for sale that looked excellent.

Our third purchase of the day was at Pickleville, where we got..yeah you guessed it…pickles! $5 for a big tub of garlic pickles. We also sampled pickled hot peppers – tasty but hot!

$3 got us a parsley plant at Jean’s Beans and $4 or $5 for a loaf of rosemary bread at Duke’s Bread rounded out the trip.

It’s nice to go to a place where it feels like a community. There are a lot of farmer’s markets in the area, but most have vendors who all offer the same produce and not much else. At Atherton, you can purchase seafood, meat, vegetarian, fresh herbs, jewelry, baked goods and I’m sure much more that I’m forgetting to mention. We look forward to seeing what else is added.

If you want to visit Atherton Market – hours are currently Tuesday 11:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. As the market grows, Lynn Caldwell, market manager, plans to add more days.

We live in Union County – a good 25 minute drive from the market, but know we’ll be back. Check ’em out on Facebook!