How to write a killer blog headline

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Newspaper headline writing is an art, taught to sub-editors over many years. A great headline can make you smile, think, stop in your tracks.

Your headline is the thing which will be shared on social media. Get it right, and it could be the reason hundreds, or thousands, of people read on.

The reason news media do headlines so well is simple: they write it at the end of the process, not the beginning. They know the story.

In the same vein, your blog headline should never be written until you have typed the last full stop on your post. It should not be written until you have re-read that post at least three times.

Here are the basic rules:

Use short, active words – A punchy headline grabs the attention. Cut out unnecessary words, especially adverbs, in a headline.

It must contain a verb – Making the headline active means using a verb, even if that verb’s ‘is’, or ‘are’.

Use figures – Don’t write them out as words. Studies have also shown that using figures in a headline makes it more attractive to the reader. Round monetary figures up, or down, to the nearest hundred, thousand, ten thousand, hundred thousand, half million.

Make it accurate – Don’t write a sensational but inaccurate headline to suck readers into the post. They’ll feel cheated.

Reflect your content – Throwing in a celebrity name to the headline, for example, without backing that up in the post will backfire on you. Again, your readers will feel cheated.

Don’t use tortuous puns – No matter how tempted you feel, just don’t do it. This isn’t about showing how cleverly you can write, it’s about communicating with your target audience. That kind of pun can be a real turn-off to some readers.

Don’t over-use exclamation marks – In newspapers, we call them ‘screamers’ because they are often over-used to scream out content to the reader. Most of the time, the content really doesn’t deserve an exclamation mark.

Read it aloud – If it sounds convoluted, or ridiculous, delete and start again. If it can’t be said easily, it can’t be read easily.

Will it appeal to your target audience? – Ask yourself how, and why they would read on. Think about their problems, how they like to spend their time when you’re making this decision.

You’ve probably seen a thousand social media posts offering you the perfect formula for blog headline writing. Some of them offer useful tips.

However, beware.

If you’re seeing these social media posts, so are a million other bloggers. It’s all too easy to spot a formula headline.

While those tips are great, don’t follow them slavishly. The other thing to remember is that those formula headlines weren’t written with your target audience in mind. They’re written to appeal to the widest audience possible.

For you, that’s not the aim. Your aim is to speak directly to your ideal customers.

Think about this: your ideal customer is Yvonne, a married small business owner in her 50s whose time is precious, who has two grandchildren and cares about their future. She has an income of between £35,000 and £45,000 a year, likes to travel to Italy and eat out regularly.

Is this headline going to speak to her?: “Discover 50 awesome nightclubs within 50 miles of you”.

You already know the answer, don’t you?

Don’t forget SEO: Search engine optimisation is still very important when it comes to writing blog headlines. Your keyword research should help you – which words appeal to your ideal customers? How can you incorporate them in an organic way?

Some headline power words: There are some words which people find innately attractive. “Discover”, “Find”, and “Secrets” arouse our curiosity and make us want to find out more.

“Powerful”, “effective”, and “hacks” make us feel the content we’re about to read is hitting our usefulness sweet spot. So does the word “useful”.

If you have great images, don’t be afraid to use “beautiful”, “gorgeous”, and “stunning”.

If you’re writing in the first person, use “my” to make that clear in the headline – people like personal content.

Too busy to blog yourself? Drop me an email on maria@wordsyoucanuse.co.uk.

 

 

Why businesses need to search for Mr and Ms Right

 

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Sometimes, we feel like there’s a deluge of information on the internet. It can be off-putting, confusing.

There’s so much content out there right now. The thing you have to remember is that most of it isn’t useful to your target audience.

You need to be different. You need to speak directly to them.

You need to find your Mr and Ms Right.

Building a profile of your ideal customer/s is the starting point.

It all starts with data.

Your data will show you who is buying your products or services, and who is interacting with your social media posts. That’s not to say all of them are your ideal customers, but it must be your starting point.

Here are your sources of data:

Google Analytics – if you haven’t got this activated on your website, activate it now. It’s still the gold standard when it comes to seeing website visitor numbers and the levels of engagement. Its demographics function also gives you a great deal of information about your website visitors. Please be aware, though, that a cookies warning may well be necessary for those activating the demographics part of the service.

Twitter Analytics – Twitter gives you a great deal of information about those who view and interact with your posts. It tells you what interests your followers (business, news, sport, comedy, etc), the age range and gender breakdown, what sort of devices they use, and even which mobile phone/broadband service they use. Twitter has shown me that a growing number of people are viewing my tweets via iPhones and iPads, and Android phones, continuing the trend towards mobile.

Facebook and other social media – Facebook can show you a great deal about those who engage with your posts including locality, age range, friendship networks, interests (via your followers’ likes), and other social media you use regularly can also give you good insights into who is interacting with you.

Your sales records – It’s amazing how many people overlook this. Your own records have great insights into who is buying your products or services, and how they are using them. It’s an excellent starting point. If you don’t know how old they are, what brought them to you, etc, why not consider a customer questionnaire to help you improve your service?

Take a few days to plough through all of this information. Pick out the age range, gender balance, locality, their interests, where they ‘hang out’ on social media, whether they are professionals.

Now, you have a basic profile. You should know whether you are targeting women in their 40s or professional 20-somethings.

Most people would stop there. Don’t. Your ideal customer profile has to be very detailed. Now, you have to take a look at marketing data about your specific age range and gender group.

A good place to start would be marketing studies carried out by academics, professional bodies, or marketing media.

It’s as simple as Googling “marketing to women in their 40s”, for example, and seeing what comes up. You’ll soon find information which is highly useful. Did you know that 96 per cent of women in their 40s make all or most of the major spending decisions for their households? Neither did I until I started profiling a customer’s ideal clients.

From all of this data and information you’ve gathered, you should now have a feel for where you’re going with your profile. At some point, the data has to be supplemented by your intuition about those who will buy from your business, and why.

How will your target audience find you on the web?

What kind of keywords could you use? There are a number of keyword finder tools – both paid for and free – which you could use in your research.

Google has shut down its free keyword search tool and now you have to access its keyword searcher via Adwords here: https://adwords.google.co.uk/KeywordPlanner.

There are plenty of other keyword research tools you could use, including these:

http://keywordtool.io/

http://www.wordstream.com/keyword-tools

http://www.internetmarketingninjas.com/search/

http://tools.seobook.com/keyword-tools/seobook/

http://www.keyworddiscovery.com/search.html

http://ubersuggest.org/

http://www.bing.com/toolbox/webmaster/

Need help with blogging for your business? Email maria@wordsyoucanuse.co.uk. Check out what my company does here

 

3 reasons to join the blogging revolution

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Are you wondering why so many small business owners are blogging? Don’t really understand the benefits?

Here are three great reasons why you should join the blogging revolution:

  1. Blogs help you convert your page viewers into customers.

They educate your potential customers about your products or services and how you answer their problems.

If your ideal customers are time-poor, cash-rich small business owners, you need to show them how you can alleviate their pain and take away some of their burdens.

Notice the word used – show. You can tell someone you’re what they need until you’re blue in the face, it won’t make half the impact of someone else in a similar position to them saying the same thing.

Case studies are king. Testimonials from real people – preferably with pictures – give you gravitas.

Educate your potential customers in a fun way, engage them, and they become part of your team.

Be authentic, and they’ll choose to stay within that team and you’ll build goodwill.

Once they’re in your tribe, they’re more likely to make the leap towards purchasing what you offer.

  1. They help your SEO.

Regular blogging on your website, and sharing on social media, drives more people to your site.

That helps your SEO and the way you rank in search engine results.

It becomes a virtuous circle.

Use clever links between your blog and key, relevant pages on your site and you’ll help keep your bounce rate (the number of visitors who go to one page and ‘bounce’ straight back off the site) down to a healthy level too.

  1. They build your brand.

Being visible on social media helps you to spread your brand values. Blogs give you content which you can sculpt to those values to share regularly on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Pinterest.

You can embed video, images, or audio to make your blogs a rich experience.

Blogs are useful as part of your overall brand marketing including promotional products, visual branding like logos, your website, and even branded car wraps.

Too busy to blog?

If you need help with your blogging, give us a call on 07790 654274 or email maria@wordsyoucanuse.co.uk

How the Pokémon Go phenomenon could work for you

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There’s no doubt that Pokémon Go is the world’s most successful mobile app.

In Germany, it hit the number one spot on the iPhone chart which measures app revenue within three hours of its launch in the country.

It took just 13 hours to reach the top of the US sales chart last week.Industry experts are saying it’s making $2 million a day in the USA. Its launch in the UK today mean thousands and thousands of UK players are about to follow in the footsteps of people around the world.

The augmented reality (AR) app shows Pokémon characters in cartoon versions of real-world locations. Players have to use the app to throw balls at them and catch them. Some Pokémon characters are much rarer – and more valuable in the game – than others.

This isn’t just for children. People in their twenties have grown up with Pokémon characters and many are playing the game.

Why am I telling you all this?

The answer’s simple – savvy business people in the retail and leisure industries can use this phenomenon to drive sales.

Find out where the Pokémon characters are near your shop, cafe, bar, restaurant, or leisure outlet, and tell your potential customers on social media. Encourage them to visit your place with special offers. You could even encourage group ‘hang-outs’ for people searching for characters to collect – to swap ideas and suggestions.

Players will be looking to collect different characters and hunting for the rarer ones – you will be building your brand on social media by helping them. You could also be driving up the footfall at your premises.

Pikachu and his pals could end up helping your sales – if you make the most of the opportunity.

MARIA WILLIAMS IS A PR, COPYWRITER, AND BLOGGER FOR SMALL BUSINESS. VISIT www.wordsyoucanuse.co.uk.

 

 

 

4 of the best on Brexit, Euro 2016, and small businesses

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Brexit, Euro 2016, and the day-to-day challenges of running a small business have been on the minds of our blogging customers this summer.

In case you missed them, here are four  of the blogs we’ve written for some of our clients in the past few weeks:

3 compelling reasons you should buy silver now – read more.

The 10 commandments of business networking – read more.

7 ways to find the right finance for your business – read more.

How your business can survive a summer of sport – read more.

Need someone to bring expertise and creativity to your blog? Call us on 07790 654274. Check out our affordable blogging packages here.

Time for your 60-second make-over

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Some people love them. Some people hate them. Those 60-second slots  to introduce ourselves at networking sessions are business Marmite.
However you feel about them, they can be important when it comes to making the right impression on would-be customers.
Do well, and you might make a lasting business-client relationship.
Do badly, and you pass up a chance to impress.
Here are my top 5 tips to ensure you make the right impression:

1. Say who you are and what you do.
You’d be amazed how many people forget this. It’s worth saying it up front, and reminding people quickly at the end.

2. Talk about what you can do for potential customers.
So many people talk about themselves and list their products. Would-be customers want to know how you can help them – sell the benefits.

3. Create a way to be remembered.
Taking something visual along is a good tip. Will you be the bloke with the hi-vis vest or the woman with the hula hoop? You’ll stand out from the crowd.
Creating a verbal hook for the end of your speech is also a good technique – something which plays on words in your industry always goes down well.

4. Write it down.
If you don’t want to write down the whole 60-second speech, write bullet points. You will forget things, otherwise. It’s useful to have something to pull you back into the flow if you feel yourself getting lost.

5. React to things around you.
Think about the audience, the location, or if something funny has just happened. Don’t be afraid to work a little of that in at the last minute – it’ll make your 60 seconds seem fresh.

Don’t worry if it feels daunting – most of us felt like that until we became used to doing it. I certainly did!
Practise makes perfect. So even if you have a few stumbles on the first few occasions you speak, you will improve.
Remember, there’s always someone new at these events who won’t have seen your 60 seconds before.
You can make a great first impression on them, and change the way the rest of the group sees you, too.
It’s time for your 60-second make-over!

Maria Williams is a copywriter, professional blogger, and PR for small business. Visit www.wordsyoucanuse.co.uk.

Lies, damned lies, statistics, and spin

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The latest opinion polls suggest that small business owners are evenly spilt on whether to vote for or against Brexit.

Deciding whether to trust either narrative has been extremely difficult, and there has been an interesting development during the EU referendum debate – the rise of fact checkers.

Many people say they are so tired of spin and skewed statistics that they no longer believe claims from either side. A number of media organisations and independent groups like 38 Degrees are now employing fact checkers to cut through the spin and give the public a clearer idea of the facts.

Spin over facts is a criticism which can be aimed at both sides right now. Boris Johnson continues to use the figure of £350m a week as the cost of EU membership to the UK. Yet, as the UK Statistics Authority has pointed out on a number of occasions, this is a GROSS figure before money which the UK receives back from the EU in rebate is deducted from it.

The chairman of the UKSA Sir Andrew Dilnot has spoken of his disappointment that the Brexit camaigners are continuing to use this figure – even on adverts on the side of their buses. He said its use misleads because its context is never presented, leading people to assume it’s a NET figure.

He said the £350m figure is “misleading and undermines trust in official statistics.”

On the Remain camaign side, Stuart Rose, chairman of Britain Stronger In Europe, refused to withdraw a claim that every UK household benefits from EU membership to the tune of £3.000 a year despite that figure’s debunking.

If you’re looking for an independent view, beware fact checking from media organisations which have decided to take a view on whether to leave or remain in the EU. Instead, look for independent sites.

Here are two authoritative fact-checking sites where you can go to avoid the spin:

Charity Full Fact gives you an unbiased view on a number of issues, and has checked many facts on the EU in the past few months. Read about them here.

The UK and EU was set up to give business people, journalists, politicians, and the public facts about out relationship with the EU. See its work here.

Maria Williams is a journalist, copywriter, and professional blogger. Visit www.wordsyoucanuse.co.uk