Should You Hire a Copywriter? (The answer may not be as easy as you think)

When you’re first getting started in business, putting up your first website, dipping your toe into the vast world of building an audience online and marketing your products and services, creating content and driving traffic to your site, and all the other million and one things you need to do in a day to get your business rolling, you’re most likely in bootstrapping mode and watching every penny.

That’s certainly how it was for me when I first got started.

My Very First Business Investment

I remember the first time I spent $97 on something for my business – a course on how to use Facebook for marketing, I believe it was. It felt like a huge investment at the time. And truth be told, it was, because I hadn’t made any real money yet.

Nervous as my twitchy fingers hovered over the “Buy Now,” button, I felt like I’d jumped off a cliff without a parachute the instant I clicked the button and the $97 wooshed out of my checking account.

I tell you this because in the years since then, I’ve made countless other investments in my business:

:: $2200 for an online business-building program

:: $3600 for a 9-month group coaching program

:: $1200 for a 3-month group coaching program

:: $1200 for a course on course-building

:: $600 on a course about list-building

:: Many other $500 – $1000 investments into various other business-related courses, coaching and programs

:: Plus several one-off purchases of $100 – $500 for books and other resources

But I’ll still never forget that first $97 I spent and the way it made me feel. Like “sh*t just got real – I am really doing this here business thing.”

Which was a very good thing, because it meant I now felt serious about my business; I wasn’t just “playing” at business anymore, and “hoping” it would work. Spending that first $97 created the necessary mindset shift I needed if I was going to move forward and support myself with my copywriting and marketing business.

So, Should You Invest in Your Business by Hiring a Copywriter?

If you’re at the stage where you’ve gotten your business ducks in a row – you’ve launched your website, you have your products and/or services ready to roll, you have at least some idea about who your likely buyers/ideal clients & customers are, and you’re ready to start making some sales, then you may be considering hiring a copywriter or other service provider, and you’re nervous about the investment.

I’ve talked to loads of people over the years who reach out to inquire about my copywriting and/or marketing services. Some are clearly ready to hire a professional copywriter and marketer, and some most definitely are not.

It Can Get Really Confusing, Really Fast

Google “When should I hire a copywriter?” or “Should I hire a copywriter?” or “At what stage of business should I hire a copywriter,” and you’ll find plenty of articles with titles like, “14 Reasons You Should Hire a Copywriter,” “5 Reasons You Should Hire a Copywriter for Your Business,” “Why You Need to Hire a Professional Copywriter,” and so on. [Google returned 10,400,000 results when I did that search. Yikes.]

But the truth is, though these articles make some good points, only you know if you have the dollars to spend, if you’re ready for the kind of services a copywriter provides, and if you have the understanding of what a copywriter actually does.

That last one is really important, because I can tell you that the clients I’ve most regretted taking on over the years are the ones who are confused about what a copywriter does, don’t understand the serious investment of time and expertise a copywriter puts in to get to know your business, your clients, and your business goals so they can write copy that converts web visitors to sales, and who don’t understand that copywriting is a collaborative process that requires time, effort and input from the client side too.

These kind of clients have made my life, if not a living hell, then at the very least, deeply unpleasant during the time I was working with them. Luckily, I have a pretty good spidey sense of who those clients are when they first reach out to me, and steer clear of working with them. But every now and then one slips in, unfortunately.

If I Had to Go Out on a Limb and Say When to Hire a Copywriter . . .

For me the bottom line is, if you have a good idea who your likely buyers/ideal clients & customers are, you’re clear on the benefits your products and/or services provide to your clients, you’ve already proven the need/desire for your products and/or services through the sales you’ve already made, AND – this is important – you understand that hiring a copywriter can be a substantial investment and you understand why that is (i.e., you get that copywriting is about so much more than simply writing), and you have the dollars in your marketing budget to hire a copywriter without creating financial hardship, then by all means, go for it.

These are the minimum required “good-to-haves” before you hire a copywriter, in my book.

Wherein Other People Answer the Question of When Is the Right Time to Hire a Copywriter

One of the best articles I’ve read on whether you should hire a copywriter or write your own copy is Amy Harrison’s  . . . wait for it . . . Should You Hire a Copywriter or Write Your Own Copy?

As Amy points out, if you’ve got more time than money, “you’re already watching your budget, and you have a few hours a week to spare, it’s better you flex your own copywriting muscle.”

Check out the rest of Amy’s article here for six questions you should ask yourself before you hire a copywriter.

Another thing to keep in mind is what kind of copy you need written. For example, I specialize in website copy. I’ve written, and still occasionally write, other forms of marketing communications for clients, but my specialty is website copy.  

What this means is that I have knowledge and expertise in how people interact with online content specifically, what a website must do to move people from browsers, to requests for more info, and to clients and sales, and other web-specific attraction, marketing, and conversion knowledge.  

If it’s website copy you need written and you’re going the DIY route, make sure that you’re learning from someone who specializes in website copy, or if your budget allows, and you meet the other minimum required good-to-haves above, that you hire someone who specializes in writing website copy. There are a lot of us out there.

If you’d like to read one of the most trusted resources online about copywriting and when to hire a copywriter, check out Copyblogger’s 5 Situations That Demand You Hire a Professional Copywriter.

This is one of the best short, wise, and to-the-point articles on when to hire a copywriter I’ve read, and I’ve read A LOT. Also, as I tend to great wordiness in my blog posts (*cough, cough*) I surely can appreciate how much knowledge they pack into this brief blog post.

If you were confused when you first started reading this article about whether or not it’s the right time for you to hire copywriter, but based on what I’ve shared, and what the experts I linked to here have to say, you’ve made your mind up about what you need to do, then good on ya. I’m happy I was able to help.

On the other hand, if you’re even more confused now than when you started reading, leave a comment below, and I’ll reply as soon as I’m able and see if I can help get you on the right track.

Next Up

In Part 2 of this post to be published in March, I’ll share my process of working with copywriting clients in detail, so you can get a sense of what really goes on, learn more about how copywriters work and what they actually do (it’s SO much more than writing), and if you’re wondering, find out why the investment can sometimes seem “high” (which of course is relative).

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If you want immediate feedback from a professional copywriter and marketer on your website copy, customized-for-you answers to your top copywriting challenges, and clear ideas for improving your website copy ASAP to more effectively call in and convert your ideal clients, then check out my Creating Better Copy Personalized Help Session right over here.

Saying “No” to Black Friday & Cyber Monday

It is upon us.

That time of year when, if you’re in the U.S., you’re likely celebrating Thanksgiving.

Which is one of my favorite holidays, because there’s nothing I love better than an excuse to eat until I lapse into a food coma, then lay around in my pj’s all day the next day, reading, chilling, and nursing my food hangover from Thursday’s feast. Ah, sweet, overindulgent, bliss! 

You know what else is upon us?

That’s right, this year, just like every year before it, we’ll get those super-super-special, you-better-jump-on-this-now-or-you’ll-forever-regret-it, buy, BUY, BUY, emails from our favorite marketers.

(Heck, I’ve gotten a dozen of these already, and it’s only Wednesday, fer cryin’ out loud!)

I have never, nor do I plan to ever, do a Black Friday or Cyber Monday special offer of my own, because, A., I really dislike doing what everyone else is doing, and B., I haven’t figured out a way to do it that doesn’t feel hokey, cliché, aggressive, craven or desperate.  

That said, I don’t disagree with Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales on principle, because there are people out there who do them elegantly and authentically, with a minimum of carnival barker histrionics and buy-now-or-the puppy-gets-it fuss. And those people I love to buy from. L-O-V-E, love.

One thing I can tell you for sure, though, is that I will not be shopping in your standard retail venues over the next few days, because I really value my sanity.

Anyway, I’m writing this brief note today to say, buy on Black Friday/Cyber Monday, or not, sell your stuff on Black Friday/Cyber Monday if it feels good to you, or not, or just do what I’m going to do – lounge around and eat yourself silly.

If you’re in the U.S., Happy Thanksgiving; let the gorging begin!

And if you’re not in the U.S., Happy Normal Day of the Week to you!!

XO,

Kimberly

Afraid to Sell

By far, one of the most problematic things I see on websites I’m hired to review or write copy for is an unclear, confused marketing message. The web copy doesn’t resonate with the kind of clients the business owner is trying to attract, so when said client lands on the website, they spend 3-7 seconds looking around, don’t feel any connection to what they read, and leave.

And what compounds the problem in many of these cases is it’s nearly impossible for the web visitor to figure out how to actually make a purchase if they were so inclined.

Now, granted, sometimes the above scenario happens when you’re just starting out, and you don’t know what message your website needs to convey to appeal to your desired audience just yet, or when you’re still trying to figure out how all this marketing and copywriting stuff works to help you do business online successfully.

HOWEVER . . . .

Other times this website confusion (and the resulting poor sales performance) is a result of being afraid to sell, of being fearful of actually letting people know that, #1, you have something awesome for sale, woohoo!, and #2, hey, they can buy it right over here! (On the Work with Me, Products & Programs, or Services page of your website.)

And furthermore (well, don’t I just sound like my Mom when she was getting ready to read me the riot act?), many business owners, despite having an email list of potential clients and customers who might just love to buy something from them, have never actually shared with their subscribers that they have products or services available for purchase.

Bottom line, they’re afraid to sell.

You know, one of the questions I ask on the intake questionnaire I have all new clients fill out is “What are the last 5 things you’ve done to market your business or sell your products/services?” And I’ll tell you, an answer I rarely get is, “I made an offer to my email list/audience/blog readers/etc.”

If you’re not selling anything, let me ask you, are you offering anything? Are you sending an email to your list telling them you have something they can buy? If you’ve been at this online business thing for a while, and you haven’t made an offer to your list yet, my question for you is, why not?

Now, let me just say right here: I GET IT.  I was dreadfully uncomfortable coming right out and making an offer to my email list the first time I did it too, but I will tell you it gets much easier after you “break the seal” and do it the first time.

I actually wrote a blog post about this fear of marketing and selling called, They Want You to Be the One, So Stop Being Afraid to Market Yourself, which essentially says that, when someone lands on your website or signs up for your email list, they know you’re operating a business, so it’s not going to be a surprise to them when every now and then you let them know you have something they can buy.

They expect this.

And furthermore (geez, that word again), they were looking for the solution to a problem or the answer to a question when they landed on your website in the first place, and they’re hope, hope, hoping you will be the one who can help them solve the problem or answer the question.

So do not be afraid to sell.

Notice I didn’t say, don’t be uncomfortable about selling. I’ve been in the marketing/PR/copywriting/sales field my entire adult life and I still sometimes feel uncomfortable making a pitch for my services. That’s normal. I said don’t be afraid. Because at the end of the day, even if you do get rejected, you will survive. Rejection might feel crappy, but it won’t kill you.

And if anyone gives you any grief about selling, that just proves they don’t have the first clue about how real business works, and they’re not your ideal client or customer anyway. So not to worry.

So even though I’m not always comfortable selling either, I do it. And you know what I’ve noticed?

When I sent an email offering something for sale, people bought. I made sales. People participated in actual commerce, money and services changed hands, and we all lived to tell the tale.

And by the way, when you’re selling, you don’t have to behave like a carnival barker or be in your face, sleazy or aggressive about it.  You can do it subtly, the way I’m going to do it at the end of this blog post by letting you know I’ve revamped my service offerings and have a bunch of new services available.

You can do it in the P.S. of your email newsletter.

You can make a subtle mention of your promotion in your latest blog post.

Or you can send a full-fledged “sales message” (again, this can be done with subtlety) to your email list.

So please, please, if you have something awesome for sale, let your audience know about it. The sky will not fall if you do, trust me on this.

And here’s the part where I’m going to let you know about my new services. You can’t check them out right over here on my Work with Me page.

Or check out the abbreviated description of them below.

Happy Selling!

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{If you’re interested in any of the services below and want to find out which one might be a good fit for you, shoot me an email and we’ll set up a 20-minute, no-obligation conversation to explore the possibilities.}

The Irresistible Web Copy VIP Package: The 3 Key Must-Have, Uber-Important, Can’t-Do-Business-Online-Without-‘Em Web Pages {+ a little extra} Every Successful Business Needs

If you’re serious about having a successful website that calls in your ideal clients and sells your programs and services, you need:

  • A compelling Home page that grabs attention and gets your right people eager to find out more about you
  • An About page that conveys your unique personality and bonafides in accessible, client-focused language
  • A Services, Work with Me, or Programs page that demonstrates your singular value and gets your ideal clients dreamily thinking, “she’s/he’s the one I want to work with”

The Irresistible Web Copy VIP Package includes: Learn more here.

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The Copy Brilliance Web Copy Makeover

:: Not everyone needs their website written from scratch. You might have one particular web page that’s just not working for you – and it’s keeping you from calling in your ideal clients or making more sales.

:: In that case, I can apply my copywriter’s “let’s uncover and highlight the sales-inducing benefits in this web copy” brain to one page of your already written web copy to transform it from lackluster to luminous, so it persuasively conveys your value and appeals to your ideal clients.

:: If you already have the key must-have website pages on your site written, but you’d reallllly like some professional copywriting tweaking & fine tuning on one of those pages (or another page of your choice) to make it sparkle and shine to call in your ideal clients, the Copy Brilliance Web Copy Makeover is for you.

How it works: Learn more here.

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Copywriting & Messaging Strategy 60-Minute One-on-One Intensive

Think of this like a rapid-fire website audit from a copywriting, messaging and branding perspective. We’ll work side-by-side in one 60 minute session over the phone, as we look at your website together.

You’ll walk away with at least 5-10 ideas for improving your website copy ASAP to more effectively call in and convert your ideal clients.

 This is for you if:

:: Your website copy is in pretty good shape but you want to pick a professional copywriter’s brain for ideas on polishing it up to a fine “I want to magnetize my ideal clients to me” sheen, get feedback on your messaging, or ask questions about specific elements of your copy

:: You’re just getting starting and want some DIY copywriting advice you can run with on your own to write your own copy

 How it works: Learn more here.

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Strategy Consulting for Creatives

So, what you need doesn’t fit neatly into any of the categories above?

No worries, my creative friend.

You can invest in a pack of strategy consulting hours to discuss any of your web marketing and copywriting conundrums. This is great for things like ongoing web marketing advice, guidance and feedback on a specific marketing campaign or bigger marketing project or initiative, help figuring out who your ideal customers are or what your unique difference in the marketplace is, and so on.

How it works: Learn more here.

 

For Creative Business Builders: A Powerful Yet Painless Way to Market Your Business That Practically Does the Selling for You

Most creatives I’ve worked with or talked to have some level of discomfort around the idea of marketing and selling. Sure, they want to earn a good living from their creative products and services, but they practically writhe in agony at the notion of actually having to market, or even scarier, having to sell. 

Look, I get it. Marketing and selling can bring up all kinds of uneasiness. You don’t want to seem intrusive, pushy, or even worse . . . scammy

But, and this is the truth, authentic marketing isn’t pushy or sleazy, it’s simply deeply connecting with your ideal audience and communicating that you can provide a product or service that is beneficial to them, that they already want, or they wouldn’t be searching for it online and have landed on your website in the first place. For more on this idea, check out a post I wrote called They Want You to Be the One (so stop being afraid to market yourself).

That said, there is a powerful way to market your stuff that feels genuine and easy, and in fact, practically does the selling for you, if done correctly.

What is this thing I speak of?

Client testimonials.

Client and customer testimonials are social proof and third party validation all rolled into one. And because of the third party validation aspect, much more persuasive to would-be clients than anything you say about yourself. Potential clients trust them because they’re essentially a referral from someone who doesn’t benefit directly if a new client signs on with you.   

It’s akin to a lesson I learned when I worked in advertising and PR: any business can pay for advertising, but not any business can get written up in Forbes or Inc. magazine, which is why third party endorsement via good PR was much more valuable to my PR clients back in the day than big, glossy ads in high profile publications. 

It’s the same with client testimonials.  

If you have a page of glowing testimonials on your website that speak to the transformational work you do and the results you get for clients, referring potential clients and customers to this page during the client-getting courtship phase can do a lot of the making-a-sale heavy lifting for you. And in way that doesn’t make you feel like you’re twisting arms or coercing anyone to do anything against their will.  And who doesn’t want that? 

So, how do you get your current and past clients and customers to give you the kind of testimonials that persuade new clients to find out more about working with you? 

Well, I’m going to share some wonderful resources on how to tackle that very thing at the end of this blog post, because it’s been covered very adeptly by other people I admire and respect who can show you how it’s done.

What I want to share with you here are a few patient testimonials I wrote for a medical center client that highlight transformation stories, a very persuasive form of third party validation. You can adapt the same idea for your own business to create client testimonials on steroids. 

Note the powerful impact of storytelling in these three examples: 

NHRMC eased Eileen’s pain so she could get back to her garden . . . and start planning her African safari. 

A fall paralyzed her. The trauma experts at NHRMC helped her get back on her feet. 

Minimally invasive spine surgery helps Dianne get back to active life. 

Now obviously you don’t want to copy the style and layout of these examples. I share them with you strictly to use as idea generators for thinking about how you can have your clients tell the story of their transformation, or the key aha moments they experienced after working with you or buying your products. Then craft this client feedback into compelling stories that speak to what’s possible when clients and customers work with you, as in the examples here.   

:: If you’d like someone experienced at extracting persuasive stories from clients and creating testimonials like the ones above, get in touch with me at: Kimberly [at] kimberlydhouston [dot] com, and let’s talk specifics. I’ll create a custom proposal based on your specific needs.

Resources for Creating Powerful Testimonials

Here’s a brief article by publicity/marketing/business expert Melissa Cassera in which she shares a simple two-step approach to getting testimonials. Love her suggestion here that’s its less stressful for the client and will net better results for you if you ask for “feedback” rather than a “testimonial.”

How To Get Your Customers To Write AMAZING Reviews (Without Begging, Pleading Or Being Pushy + Creepy) 

How to Get Testimonials That Get You Business, wherein business coach Christine Kane share 7 tips for getting great client testimonials that will help increase your sales.

And from the fine folks at Copyblogger, here are 6 Questions to Ask for Powerful Testimonials. Highly recommended. If you only have time to read one of the posts linked up here, please make it this one.

And finally, here business coach and consultant Erica Lyremark shares 3 quick formulas for writing powerful testimonials, in Testimonials Made Easy.

And if you want to understand – and implement – the power of storytelling in your marketing (client testimonials are a great place to do this), read this article:

 Science of storytelling: why and how to use it in your marketing: A look at how humans have always loved stories, and six tips for incorporating them into your digital marketing 

And there you have it. If you have any questions or comments, please share them in the comments section below, and happy testimonials creating!

Tough Love: The Business You’re Really In

“Everybody want to be famous, nobody want to put the work in.”  ~comedian Kevin Hart & friends

 

I love this little video clip, firstly, because I’m a huge Kevin Hart fan. But I also love it because its message can be applied to what many of us are spending so much time online trying to do: create a successful business that will support us financially, and fulfill us creatively.

Yep, everybody want to have a successful business, nobody want to put the work in.

Of course it’s not true that nobody wants to put the work in, because plenty of people have created successful businesses that provide creative fulfillment and a comfortable living. We follow many of these people online, do we not? So we know it can be done.

But when it comes to creating the same thing for ourselves, as creatives we’re often too willing to give up too soon, whine about how challenging the whole thing is, or complain about having to . . . gasp . . . market ourselves. (Fact: I originally titled this blog post “Get Schooled on Marketing or Stay Broke.”)

And it’s the “marketing ourselves” bit that I hear the most complaints about from fellow creatives.

A few short years ago I was in that camp, until I realized I had two choices: either hire someone to do my marketing for me (not possible at the time, and not ideal even if it had been financially viable), or suck it up and do it myself, without complaint or self-consciousness.

Now, as someone who has worked in PR, advertising, and marketing and sales for most of my adult life, you’d think I’d be fine with marketing myself. But you would be wrong. Naturally, it’s much easier, and way less uncomfortable, to sing the praises of others through persuasive marketing communications than it is to step from behind the safety of my laptop and do the same thing for myself.

But it wasn’t until I finally decided to stop window-shopping having a business and actually do the challenging and time-consuming work involved in getting some traction for it (which I wrote about at length here), that everything started to change: more resonance with my ideal audience, more email sign-ups, more inquiries about my services, & more clients.

And then one day as things were starting to improve, I read something on A-list copywriter and brilliant marketer Dan Kennedy’s website that drove home this lesson like a shot to the face, wherein he talks about the “one truth businesses don’t like to hear.”

And that truth is this:

The business you are really in is the business of marketing and the thing you do, for example a dentist, a realtor, and info-marketer, etc., is secondary.

Kennedy goes on to say that being a better doctor, lawyer, carpet cleaner, or maker of stuff will not make you wealthier, but marketing your business better will.

I know many of us are squeamish about this prospect, and I get it, but we simply must get over that if we want to get off the feast-or-famine roller coaster, for one, and stop taking on projects and clients that make us want to drive off a cliff, for another.  And paying the rent and eating 3 squares a day is pretty important too, I might add.

So if you’re dreaming of that day when you’ll be able hire someone to do all your marketing for you so you can decamp to your creative cave and simply make stuff, then you’re going to have to find a way afford that marketing help first.

And that means you have to get good at marketing your business yourself NOW. So find a way to like it, or at the very least, find one way to market your business that you absolutely will do and that you don’t hate, and keep at it until you either see some success from that method or you determine it just ain’t working, in which case you try the next marketing method.  And so on until you find the one that you’re willing to do that does work.

P.S. – Just as I was about to hit “publish” on this post, I read something great over on Itty Biz, one of my favorite go-to places for biz and marketing advice that feels like the perfect companion piece to this one, called 10 Perfectly Good Ways to Market Your Business, and What to Do If You Don’t Like Any Of Them.

You should check that out.

How to Give Excellent Customer Service That Builds Brand Loyalty: One Simple Tip

outstanding customer service

Today I want to share a winning tale of customer service, done right.

(By the way, isn’t it unfortunate that good customer service is so rare that when you do experience it, it’s a big enough deal that you feel the need to sound the trumpets?  Because really, it should be an everyday occurrence.)

So a couple months back, I went to my favorite place for killer pizza here in Wilmington, NC, Slice of Life.  Good times, good times.  And did I mention they have killer pizza?

Anyway, a few weeks later when I got my bank statement, I noticed that there was a $3.00 difference between what I actually spent on the night in question and what was on my receipt, and the amount that I was charged according to my bank statement.  (I’ve worked in plenty of restaurants in my day, by the way, and I know that the end of a long Saturday night when you’re entering the credit card receipts, this can happen.)

So I called up the restaurant to point out the overcharge, and talked to a lovely person named April, I believe.  She was genuinely apologetic and promised to take care of the issue, pronto.  All good, and I’m happy.

What I didn’t expect was to get a phone call from the owner of Slice of Life a few days later, personally apologizing and telling me he was going to:  A, send me a coupon for a free pizza, and B, a check for $20.

I kid you not.  (By the way, thanks Ray.)

I mean, really, I was blown away.  The owner of the restaurant calls to apologize, says “that shouldn’t have happened, that’s unacceptable, and it’s not the way we do business.  I’m going to send you a coupon for a free pizza and a check for $20 to make it up to you.”  Top notch customer service skills, I tell you.

I already loved Slice of Life for their excellent pizza, and I would’ve continued to visit regularly anyway, but this makes me feel ridiculously loyal to the Slice of Life brand.  

Because Ray didn’t have to reach out that way, but he did.  He went above and beyond.  He showed that his customers are important enough to go the extra mile for.  

That, my friends, is an excellent customer service experience.

And believe me, customers remember this, and they tell all their friends about it

So here’s your one simple tip: A simple, easy to implement way to stand out from the crowd and build strong customer loyalty is to do for your clients and customers what other people in your niche don’t do, or won’t do.  Like Ray did.  You know, something unexpected. (Like the flower manhole cover at the beginning of this post. 😉 )

We all get lackluster, even atrocious, customer service on a way too regular basis, so any effort to do better than that, especially if you do waaaaay better than that, will win you loyal and happy customers who can’t wait to spread the word about the kick-ass thing you did – just like I’m doing here.

And word-of-mouth marketing like that just can’t be bought.  (Unless we’re talking $20 and free pizza.  Ha ha, I kid.)

So what about you?  Do you have any tales of excellent customer service to share?  Please share your story in the comments!

How to Write Your Twitter Bio To Get More Followers

Twitter Bio

When you’re on Twitter looking for new people to follow, how do you decide who makes the cut?

Your first step is to check out the person’s bio, right?  Yep, that’s what everyone else does too.

And since the short bio connected to your profile is easily visible and the #1 thing people use to determine whether to follow you or click on the links you tweet out, it makes sense to create the best bio you can.

So, what makes a good Twitter bio? 

The best Twitter bios are interesting, engaging and offer insight into your business and/or your personality, while conveying some benefit to following you.  And since Twitter is less formal than other social media platforms, it’s a good idea to lighten up a little and show some personality here. 

You get 160 characters to summarize your business and what you have to offer, so you’ve got to be strategic about what to include. 

In a nutshell, try to do following:  tell people who you are and why they should follow you, state the benefit of following you while using your best keywords, and include your website or blog URL. 

Keywords in your bio are important because that’s what gets your profile found – Twitter search engines look at these keywords when they recommend profiles for others to follow.  (You can use hashtags for the same purpose.  A hashtag is the symbol # placed before a relevant keyword or phrase in a Tweet, with no spaces, to categorize Tweets and help them show more easily in Twitter Search.)

And here’s a little tip not everyone knows – you can actually have two clickable links in your Twitter bio field.

There are a couple of ways to use this to your benefit:  you can place your website URL in both the Web and Bio fields of your profile so that it’s easily visible and accessible to your followers, or, you can use the second live link to promote something else you want to direct attention to.  For example, you could include the link to your Facebook business page or other social media profile, an email opt-in page, or an opt-in for an upcoming webinar, etc.

Let’s look at a few Twitter bio examples, both the good and the not-so-good, and talk about what makes them that way.  (These are all real examples I pulled from Twitter.) 

 

First we have what I call “The Laundry List”:

Personal Development, Body and Mind Fitness, Life Coaching, NLP, Smart Teaching and Learning, Travel, Yoga and Meditation

This is merely a string of semi-related words that don’t add up to enough strategic information about this person or their business to make folks want to follow.  How do we know which of these phrases relate to this person’s business and which to her personal life?  And what about a website link for more information?  This bio doesn’t pique my interest enough to make me want to click over to her profile for more info.

Next we have the hopelessly vague:

We love to Inspire, Motivate & help others around us to reach Success. Follow & Interact with us now & Please Like Us On Facebook.

This is another kind of Twitter bio that’s all too common.  It’s vague, and the benefit to following is not clearly defined.  More specific info on how they “help others achieve success” and/or what kind of success they mean would improve this bio.  Is it weight loss success?  Small business success?  Financial success?  If I’m going to follow this person, I want to know.

And then we have everybody’s favorite, the “Hashtag Stuffer”:

#Blogger, #entrepreneur, digital marketing #consultant and recording #artist. I make #money online and #teach others how to do the same.

The Hashtag Stuffer places as many keywords in the bio field as possible in hopes of being found through Twitter Search or similar. You want to avoid this, not only because it’s annoying to other Twitter users and considered bad form, but more importantly, Google views the overuse of hashtags much like spam, which means those tweets will be excluded from real time search results.

And then there’s The Deadly Dull, another very common approach to Twitter bios:

As a prominent author, speaker and coach, ______’s expertise is utilized to gain insight and to create change in leadership and communication.

The Deadly Dull bio gives us enough information about who someone is and what they do, but it’s not very compelling.  And the phrase “expertise is utilized to gain insight and to create change” is unwieldy and overly formal. This is Twitter, not a resume.  So please, ok?

And now for a few examples of interesting, engaging and benefit-driven Twitter bios: 

 

I use my punk-rock personality to create super fun tools that help business owners and entrepreneurs assault and trample their technical fears.

This bio works because it’s witty and shows personality, while at the same time clearly outlining the benefit of following her profile.  You get a sense of who she is – “punk-rock personality” – who she helps – “business owners and entrepreneurs” – and how she helps them – “assault and trample technical fears.”

Facebook Marketing expert Amy Porterfield’s Twitter bio is effective because it quickly tells us who she is and what she does, and provides two relevant links:

I’m a social media strategist who specializes in Facebook (http://AmyPorterfield.com/Webinar). Co-author of Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies.

Here’s the bio for Sean Malarkey, an online business professional and Social Media Author and Speaker.

What’s interesting here is that Sean’s LinkedIn bio is much more formal and business-like telling us more about his business, while on Twitter he follows the protocol of less formal and more personal:

Blogger, Chocolate lover, Living a dream by living PT in Argentina, Retired Real Estate Investor. Husband, Dad, Good friend to many.

And last, we have the bio of a photographer who manages to get across in a very succinct and poetic way the benefits of using her service:

@AnnieVaiPhoto  Live the Moment. Inspire the Love. Capture the Memory.  Wilmington, NC http://www.annievaiphotography.com

And there you have it.

Use these guidelines and examples as a starting point to create your own Twitter bio – a compelling, strategic, benefit-driven masterpiece, all in 160 characters or less.

[Hey there, gorgeous. Want more actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now to get my FREE weekly newsletter packed full of marketing goodnessand let’s get you glowing online.]

Your One Line Marketing Message: A Surefire Way to Talk About What You Do Without Sounding Like a Tool

One line marketing message

Would you like to hear about something I did a few months ago that saved me untold hours of networking agony and helped me clearly state what I do to potential clients without sounding like a complete tool?

I thought you might.

See, here’s what was happening.

When I first starting going to networking events a few years ago, it was uphill sledding.  I remember well how painful it was when people would ask me what I did. I fumbled, I hemmed and hawed, I felt wildly uncomfortable.

If you’ve gone to as many networking events I have, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

It wasn’t a matter of not having something of value to offer, it was more a function of being comfortable “selling” myself in a way that seemed authentic and conversational, in a straightforward, non-douchy way that potential clients could relate to.

That’s the part I had a hard time getting right.  Either I was waaaaay too wordy, my new contacts checking out half a paragraph into my spiel, eyes glazed over, planning their escape to a more interesting conversationalist, or I couldn’t get to the nut of what I did quickly enough, which I noticed made people very thirsty, as they couldn’t get to the bar fast enough.

I exaggerate slightly, but that’s what it felt like.

Then I thought, if I could just come up with a one-line marketing message, a succinct core message that describes what I do in a nutshell,  one I could easily change up based on the venue and circumstances of the conversation, I’d be set.

And that’s when I remembered something I came across from Brendon Burchard a few months ago (Google him – he’s the guy who teaches you how to get paid for your advice and expertise.  You’ll find free resources at his site to get you started).

It called a “Create Anything Framework.” It’s a concise 4 part framework for describing what you do, and here’s how it works:

Intro + I Help [your audience] Do [topic/message] so that [benefit to your audience].

I’ll give you an example using myself:

My name is Kimberly Houston, and I help creative small businesses create a persuasive online presence with targeted web copy, content creation and strategy, and social media marketing so they can get their message out into the world and get more clients, customers and sales.

It might take some playing around with this a bit to get your marketing message just like you like it (I tweak mine often), but it’s a great exercise, both for honing in on what you offer and who you serve, and for getting clear on the value your products and/or services provide.

Once you get that one sentence down, it’ll come in handy not only at live networking events, but anywhere else you want network your business.

You can expand on it for your website’s “Work with Me” page, use it to guide your newsletter content or social media updates, or even as the starting point for a sales page highlighting your product or service offerings.

I highly recommend you set aside some time to do this powerful little exercise yourself, then start using the crystal clear marketing message that results at your next networking opportunity.  And beyond.

Let me know how you do.  : )

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]

How High-Quality Content Drives Sales: A 3-Point Primer

Creating High Quality Content

I talk a lot on the blog about creating regular high-value content each week so your business gets noticed online and you get more clients, customers and sales.

Actionable content geared toward helping your audience solve their problems will drive targeted traffic to your site, help you get seen as the go-to person in your niche, get more people on your email list, and get more warm bodies in your bricks-and-mortar business.

How does this happen?

 

In a nutshell:

1.  When you offer unbiased and valuable information on your topic through your blog or website, your newsletter, and your social media outlets, you earn trust with those who interact with your content. Increasing the trustworthiness of your brand helps increase business.

2.  In terms of SEO and search traffic, the more content you create, the more search engine traffic you’ll accumulate because you’ll be increasing your longtail search visibility. Plus, well written content gets linked to, and backlinks are key to better search engine rankings.

3.  Consistently creating compelling content gives people a reason to return to your site again and again to sample your expertise. Which gives you multiple opportunities to potentially sell to them. The more often potential customers engage with your carefully crafted and high-quality content, the more open they will be to a sales message from you at the right time.

Creating amazing content for your site and your newsletter, posting it on a reliable and consistent schedule, and following a strategic plan for sharing it on social media will get more people interested in your products and/or services and increase the number of client and customer inquiries you get.

 

And that’s the down-and-dirty Cliff Notes version of how excellent content, consistently posted, can help you in your small business.

Since I know one of the biggest challenges is coming up with ideas for blog posts and newsletters on a consistent basis, I’ve linked up 3 articles below that outline some dead-simple and effective strategies for coming up with loads of killer ideas.

Check out this post for 3 Killer Resources for Sparking Dozens of Content Ideas.

Go here for 3 More Resources for Easy Idea-Gathering.

And check out this simple but highly effective strategy for creating EXACTLY the kind of content your audience wants to read.

LinkedIn: Quick 3 Step SEO Optimization Tip

 

LinkedIn Logo

Today I want to share a quick little follow-up tip to the post I recently wrote about optimizing your profile on LinkedIn, where I talked about 5 key areas to place keywords in your LinkedIn profile.

In case you weren’t aware, you can add three website hyperlinks of your choice in the “Additional Information” section of your profile and name these links whatever you’d like, provided the copy doesn’t go over the character count.

A lot of folks leave the default hyperlink copy there, which you don’t want to do, unless you want to optimize your site for “My Website,” “My Portfolio” and “My Blog.”  Just a little tip from me to you. ; )

Here’s how you do this:

1. Scroll down to your “Additional Information” section, which is under the “Recommendations” section and click the “edit” link. This is what you’ll see:

LinkedIn Hyperlinks for SEO

2. So here what you want to do, rather than selecting any of the defaults like “personal website,” “company website,” or “blog,” etc., is select “Other.”

3. Enter your custom copy in the fields there, then add your links. You can see what I did above. I entered my blog link, which I called “Get Your Creative Biz Online,” the direct link to my email opt-in page, which I called “Skills to Grow Your Small Biz,” and my Facebook Page, which I called “Join the Community.”

4. Then hit “Save Changes” and when you’re taken back to your profile, you’ll see your live hyperlinks, like this:

LinkedIn Additional Info

These are of course live links that point directly to the web properties you put in the fields there.

Tah-dah, easy-peasy, right?

Resource Alert: If you want to know more about using LinkedIn to grow your business, check out what Lewis Howes is up to – he’s a well-respected LinkedIn marketing expert, and my go-to mentor for all things LinkedIn.  I linked to Lewis in my previous LinkedIn post if you want to check that out.

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]