Are you considering blogging for your business, but don’t really see the point? Or have you written a few posts, then not seen any return?
You’ve heard that successful businesses should be blogging, but why? And how?
The biggest “why” is connecting with customers and clients. Businesses can blog about the problems their customers face, success stories, how to best use their latest product, or a “peek behind the curtain” with an employee interview.
In every one of these cases, the business is conveying their message while giving the customers some real value.
And while blogging like a boss might not come naturally at first, with a little knowledge and a few posts under your belt, you will be connecting and sharing like the best of ‘em. And seeing the loyalty and sales boosts that come with it!
Five Simple Steps To Start Blogging Like a Boss
“Engagement” is certainly the buzz word of the online world these days. But, every is talking about it because it is incredibly important.
Being engaging doesn’t necessarily mean conversational. It simply means having the ability to capture the reader’s attention. Try a question at the beginning of the article (like the one at the beginning of this article!) to make readers think, relate, and, most importantly, read on!
Questions don’t just have to be at the beginning of the article either. Add a question at the end and encourage people to comment with their opinions on the subject.
If you’re not sure if you’re engaging enough, think of your blog post as a form of social media (which it is). Would your post make someone want to dive in and connect?
Have you ever come across a blog post that appeared to be a never-ending wall of text? Did you make it to the end of that article? Didn’t think so.
Break up your words with some eye-catching images. Add a photo, a text-based graphic, a video, or an infographic that relates to the topic while staying in your brand’s image.
People will be more willing to stay with you through your entire thought when you accompany your words with something interesting to look at.
How long should your blog post be? Well, that’s really up to you. But, whether 300 or 1200 words, you want to keep it straight to the point.
Get your whole idea across without losing your audience by being incredibly focused.
If you have hit 1500 words and feel that you could go on for another 2000, consider breaking up your thought into two or three easily-digestible and hyper-focused posts.
Remember when your mom told you to “just be yourself”? Nothing could be more true as you blog.
Remember that people are reading your blog because they love your writing style, your ideas, and your message. They want to hear from YOU, not who you think you should pretend to be. Be sassy, or silly, or intricate, or grand…just as long as it’s absolutely you and your brand.
In the age of digital marketing, authenticity is the name of the game.
Can you imagine if I started off this post with one point, then drifted to the next, then went back, then threw in a brand new idea in the last sentence? You would rightfully be reading it thinking, “Huh?”
Your thoughts need flow cohesively in an organized way. If they don’t, your audience won’t be able to understand the message you’re trying to convey…and your message is everything.
Now, you don’t have to dig up the notes from your college composition course and start diagraming your blog post.
There are simple tricks to keep everything organized.
• Use clear, simple headings to help your blog posts flow together.
• Leave plenty of white space in your articles, with paragraphs being 3 sentences, max.
• Bold main sentences so that the reader can skim through and pull out highlights before committing to reading.
• Use lists or bullet points (like these) to break up each thought.
Each of these organizational tips encourages comprehension and helps the readers come away with a greater understanding of who you are as a business and, perhaps more importantly, a person.
It’s time to lose the blogging procrastination and frustration, and start putting your message out for all to see. Start blogging like a boss, then tell us all about it in the comments below!
As a freelancer, solopreneur or small business owner, perhaps you’ve just made your first sale. Congratulations! Now what? How are you going to collect that money you worked so hard to get?
Maybe this ISN’T your first sale, but you’ve been struggling for some time to find the right bookkeeping system that fits your work style and budget.
In the past, you had to download software and there was a learning curve to using the software. But with more evolved invoicing tools today, you have all of your bookkeeping information at your fingertips merely by logging in.
If you’re not quite ready to turn your invoicing over to a professional, here are some tools for invoicing that leave the rest in their dust:
Features: With this tool, online invoicing for freelancers and small business has never been easier. Not only that, but you can manage expenses for any employees you may have. For the mobile user, there is an app available for Android, BlackBerry and iPhone.
Freshbooks includes a time tracker that you can set up so that you track the number of hours you worked on a particular project, or the number of hours you worked for a particular client. When you log your time, it is automatically transferred to your time sheet for the week.
A generated invoice will automatically populate with the amount of time spent on each task and the hourly rate, and will calculate a total. You can email the invoice with just a click of the button, and can see when the client has logged in to view and pay the invoice.
The reporting feature is also pretty neat. Simply pick any number of invoicing periods and find out immediately how much revenue was invoiced in that period.
Pricing: Free for one client. With more than one client, you have to upgrade to the Pro version, which is only $19.95 a month.
Features: What differentiates this tool from others is its project management capability. If your company doesn’t already use a project management tool, this may be a good way to kill two birds with one stone.
There’s also a nice little client organization system built in, so it’s almost a mini CRM. It is also able to integrate with many e-commerce stores.
Pricing: Free for up to three clients. $19.95 a month for the next lowest cost plan (up to 100 clients). So the free plan would be great for beginning freelancers, and the $19.95 plan would work the best for a small business.
Features: Zoho has become a well-known name in social and CRM. It has dozens of integrations, including eight different payment gateways, all the other Zoho products, and several document sharing services.
It also has some of the best customer support of all the invoicing tools. For those interested in adding artistic flair to their invoices, this is surely one to try.
Pricing: Free for up to five customers. $15 a month for those small businesses needing up to 500 invoices a month.
Features: Nutcache is extremely popular with freelancers and small businesses because of the ease of changing the logo and color scheme for your invoices.
This invoicing solution is the hands-down winner for small businesses, as it has a VERY strong project management component integrated in the tool. Project dashboards give you up-to-date statuses in nine different metrics – see real versus estimated results on your current projects. The collaborative boards is a colorful, organized way for the team to share ideas.
Pricing: Free for two users, for two companies. The next Pro level is $14/month, which includes two users and unlimited companies.
Features: Ronin is a tech savvy person’s dream. You can customize your invoices with your own HTML or CSS. You can send an estimate to your client, and compare how close you are to the estimate at each stage of your project. Ronin also has a built-in CRM, allowing detailed contact information for each client.
Pricing: Free for two companies, one staff user. Next plan is at $15/month for 30 clients and one staff user.
Stop spinning your wheels for several hours trying to make a professional invoice. Use these tools that meet our Gold Standard to bring balance back into your business.
With mixed emotions I read the recent Crain’s Chicago Business article about WeWork coworking coming to Chicago. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge advocate of small business, and of coworking specifically. I love to see coworking spread locally, nationally, and globally. It’s a boon to small business growth and success.
However, Chicago media coverage may lead you to believe that not a lot of business startups or thriving small businesses exist beyond the city limits. Apparently, coworking doesn’t either. Really?
Consider this an open invitation to our friends at Crain’s to come to Suite Spotte Coworking in downtown La Grange and meet our savvy, energetic, driven, coworking business owners and distributed workers. All of whom live and work locally, and have put tremendous skin in the game because they believe in what they offer.
What sets them apart from their city-bound counterparts? They decided to skip the commute to Chicago while still making incredible things happen every day.
There’s an exciting entrepreneurial world just 13 miles beyond the city limits here in La Grange. Check us out!
Whether your product or service sells depends on one factor, value. Price is really just the monetization of value. For me to be willing to buy what you have to offer, the price has to align with the value I place on it.
Any real estate broker knows that the value of a home is based on what buyers are willing to pay for it, not how much the current owner loves their home, has invested in it, or even how much they originally paid for it.
As business owners, we get caught up in the blood, sweat, and tears we put into bringing our product to market. We allow our BS&T to drive the price. In reality, perceived value is what determines the right price. Before you make the leap to investing a lot of BS&T, find out if the market will reward you for doing so at the level you expect.
Here at Suite Spotte, we know that there are alternatives to the coworking we offer. Prospective members may choose to work at home because in their minds, it’s free. Or they may work at the local library or coffee shop for the price of a fancy coffee. Others may choose to use a coworking space. Those who choose one alternative over another weigh what each has to offer, the investment required, and decide if the return is worth it.
So why pay for coworking if you can work for free at home? Suite Spotte members tell us that the value of coworking exceeds the space we provide (although it’s pretty awesome). The value extends to the business owner members who become part of a collaborative community. The sharing, supporting, creativity, and connecting experienced at Suite Spotte is what differentiates coworking from office-sharing, the coffee shop, or the kitchen table; and therefore, equates to greater value.
How does your pricing compare to the value you offer? Step into your potential buyer’s shoes and take an honest look at the value you offer from their eyes. You’ll find that when you do, your customers will be more responsive to what you have to offer without squabbling about price.
I’ve added solo to my list of four letter words.
Many of us proudly proclaim that we are solopreneurs. We boast about being the sole owner of our business, have no employees, and are doing it on our own. Whether we are financially making it or not is rarely disclosed. We’re out there anyway — the proud party-of-one.
But just how proud are we? Are we meeting the expectations we had for our business? Are we being honest with ourselves? Is it really possible to do it on your own?
If you are doing everything on your own to run your business, you are no doubt leaving money on the table. I’ve never met a business owner who had all the skills required to successfully run a business. Sure maybe you are getting by, but you’re not playing to your strengths, and that’s where real growth comes from.
You say you’re not a solopreneur because you have employees that work for you? If you draw on their strengths and allow them to do their jobs without jumping in and micromanaging them, then you’re right. Kudos to you!
But if you are constantly stepping in and telling them how to do their job your way, even though their way works (or may even be better), then you are still operating solo my friend.
I’ve ripped off the solopreneur badge, and I’m actively building collaborations with other business owners. Join me. Soaring collectively is superior to flying solo.
Interested in learning more about playing to your strengths and building collaborative relationships to make real money in your business? Check out my new book, Rocka Million, A Manifesto for the Gutsy Micropreneur. Available on Amazon in paperback or ebook. It would make a great holiday gift too ☺.