21 awesome email subject lines that work

Email marketing is not dead!

BUT, given the amount of email that the average person receives each day, it’s hard to make a positive impression on that inbox that gets results.

Email marketing is about one thing: engagement.

It’s hard enough to get people to read your email when it’s in their inbox, but what if it doesn’t even make it past the spam folder? Some email service providers such as Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail, use an ‘engagement score’ to decide whether your email will get beyond the gate keeper or not. Continue reading

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Why sharing your back story is important to your business

Before you can expect anyone to buy from you, particularly if you are in a service based business, it is essential to build trust. The best way to do that is to let your target audience into your world by peeling back the layers and offering a little bit of yourself at each and every contact.

Whether you’re introducing yourself before a keynote speech, conducting a workshop or meeting someone for the first time at a networking event you need to be clear on what your story is and be able to tell it succinctly.  The same goes for when you’re writing your website About page, a bio for a collaboration, or social media posts – you need to share your story in a way that resonates and demonstrates your expertise.

People buy people. It’s plain, it’s simple, it’s true.

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Repurpose your purpose: blogs become posts become tweets

You know those days when you’re sat in front of the computer wringing your hands, or nervously staring at your phone, wondering what to post about next on your Facebook page? And you get that prickly feeling of anxiety in your chest, that bile rising in your throat, that rush of heat to your head because you have abso-frickin-lutely NO idea what to write about next? Well don’t panic, don’t fall apart, we’ve all been there before…and there is a solution! The answer lies in the blog content you have already written.

If you’ve been doing a good job of your blogging – writing articles that answer the questions of your target audience, positioning yourself as an expert in your field, offering valuable ideas – then you already have a plethora of posts for social media just waiting to be extracted. Did you know that???? Look no further than your own backyard and you will find SO much great information that you can simply break apart and repurpose for social media.

Why repurpose your content? Continue reading

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Great results with minimal effort. Really?

If you’re brutally honest with yourself, in the quiet of the middle of the night when your brain is still racing like a wild horse through a fire, and you can’t turn off the twitch in every fibre of your being that is linked to your desire to succeed, and every ounce of your mind body and soul is tired from trying, you’ll admit you wish this was true…..

…That creating and running a successful business really was as easy as those people promise.

You know, THOSE people. The ones with all the ‘luck’. The ones with all the right people in their camp. The ones with supportive parents and partner. The ones with the nannies. The ones with great marketing speak as a natural gift. The ones with money to invest. The ones who make it look easy.

You know that deep down, even though you tell people you love what you do and that you enjoy working hard and figuring things out for yourself, and that you relish the challenge of your solo growth path, that you REALLY wish you could achieve great results with minimal effort.

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A surefire way to find time in your week to write.

Writing is an art form, but it can also be considered a science. When writing for business this is particularly true. There are formulas to follow and disciplines to adhere to in order to create the best communication piece possible.

Knowing your audience, grammar, tenses, purpose, plot development, features-advantages-benefits and that sort of thing, are all incredibly important when communicating your value to potential clients. Crafting a good piece of writing requires technique and is essential to getting cut-through and recall. (Side note: You don’t have to write scientifically, or without feeling or personality, to follow these formulas).  There is another super important writing discipline however, and that is the art of mastering TIME. It’s a bit like making money – you need to invest to get a return. Spending time writing every single day will not only improve your writing, but will improve your mindset toward writing – which will ultimately result in better writing.

I ran a straw poll about 6 months ago, as I was curious about the key frustrations business owners have when it comes to content development. I had my suspicions but I always like to check in and have them confirmed.

77% of respondents said FINDING THE TIME TO WRITE was their biggest challenge.

How many of you have said: “Yup, I need a blog on my website because I have so much to say about what I do…I’m going to write something every week…I’m going to post to Facebook three times per day….” and never do?

Regardless of whether you have lofty ambitions as a novelist, or you have a great idea for an online course, or you just want to be able to keep in touch with your fans by banging out a couple of business blogs and social media posts, you need to structure your week to factor in some quiet writing time.

I know you have ‘reasons’ why you haven’t done this before: I’m too busy; I’m burned out; I’m away too much; I don’t know what to say today; I don’t feel motivated today; I spend too much time in front of the computer already; It never sounds quite right; I should be doing money-making activities; It’s too noisy today; It’s too quiet today…

(I can feel you nodding now….!)

But excuses are just that. Lame reasons for not doing the thing you know you ought to be doing. And whilst writing a novel may be considered an indulgent past time (except if you’re a published author with an agent breathing down your neck for the next book!), writing for your business is not indulgent. It is a requirement.

Writing for your business should not be considered a luxury…it’s a necessity.

I hear business owners constantly talk about wanting respect and recognition in their field of expertise. They want to be considered a ‘person of influence.’  And yet they wonder why their competitors are asked for comments or interviews and not them. time-to-writeWell, it’s because they’re not out there. They’re not spreading their word and knowledge wide enough. They’re not vocal enough. They’re not being seen enough.

There is SOOO much noise out there in business land. Everyone is an entrepreneur. Everyone is fighting for a slice of the pie. The only way to really ‘make it’ is to be bloody good at what you do (that’s a given) and to tell people about how bloody good you are at what you do (with grace and professionalism not arrogance!).

Creating and publishing valuable content is the way to do that. Writing stuff about something that you know about. Making it your own. Then sending it out to the world to add value to someone else’s life. It’s the only way to start being perceived as an authority in your space.

I know that time has been one of my biggest hurdles too, (although I do desperately try to walk my talk on this one), so I developed a method to ensure I made time to write and didn’t view it as a chore, or worse, neglect to do it at all.

There are a lot of organisational processes out there, and plenty of time management tools, but here’s what works for me when it comes to writing for my business.

SCHEDULE WRITING TIME IN EVERY DAY AND MAKE IT NON-NEGOTIABLE.

  1. Choose a time of day where you energy is focused and your workspace is calm. Everyone has different rhythms, different energy burning at various times of the day, different tasks they have to get done in a work week.
  2. Schedule 20 minutes of uninterrupted time into your diary at your chosen time of day.
  3. Before you sit down to write, be clear on what your desired outcome is, or what piece of writing you are going to tackle.
  4. When you sit down, set a timer and write furiously for 20 minutes and then stop, regardless of where you are at. (The reason for this is to train yourself to use the time wisely by throwing everything into it and maximising your output without over-stretching it.)
  5. Follow this process, daily if possible. If that feels unachievable, set yourself 3 days in the week where you follow the process. You may find you actually enjoy it (and become very productive) so you can work up to more writing days in your week.

My time is night time. It’s quiet. The kids are asleep, the cat has settled, my phone has stopped ringing and I’m calm. My imagination is better at night time and my creativity is flowing.

I tried getting up early, when my husband does, to write at dawn, but it just didn’t work for me. My brain was too foggy and I resented not being in bed for those few extra zzzz’s. I spent the rest of the day with tired eyes and a scattered brain. I also tried writing at lunchtime, but I was either too involved in client work and felt like writing for myself was an interruption or I was hungry (and I don’t write well when I’m hungry). I even tried writing for one whole day in my week to knock over large pieces of content…but that was just too taxing and also felt like an interruption of the hours I could be getting paid for.

I really struggled with getting this right in the beginning stages of my business.  I felt guilty about my lack of focus and hated myself for failing at all these techniques. I abhorred my laziness and was pissed off at my easily-distracted nature. But the truth was I was just damn scared to start writing and put myself out there in any kind of regular fashion; I was doomed to fail from the outset. And it was just stupidity. Some crazy blockage. I wrote reams and reams of verbose diatribe in my teens and twenties. I have degrees in Literature. I know how to write, for goodness sake! But for some reason when it came to writing for my own business I just couldn’t do it.

(Sound familiar?)

So here’s the thing. If you follow the above process, I guarantee you, you will get truckloads done.

Why?

Because focusing on one task is completely possible – and probable – for 20 minutes.

Even when you’re tired and busy, 20 minutes is doable. Consider that it’s really only once or twice around the water cooler in corporate days terms. And seriously, if you can’t find 20 minutes in your day, you need to sort your stuff out – there is TOOOO much going on.

The key is to stick to your allotted time and to stop after the timer has gone off. I know that if I kept writing, I’d be overwhelmed, and ultimately this would stop working for me. I may feel great on the days I wrote for an hour but then really crappy on the days I couldn’t manage 10 minutes. So, find the length of time that’s right for you and stick with it. If you find that 20 minutes is too long make it 15 – but commit to it.  The more easily you can fit this time into your schedule, the more successful it will be for you. You’ll get much more achieved and you will reap the benefits big time by expanding your profile through your content.

So whether it’s a blog, social media posts for the week, research papers, case studies, a novel, or marketing materials, think about how much you could achieve it you just gave yourself a calm, happy 20 minutes each day to write….

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The recipe for a tasty media kit

Clients often ask me about producing a media kit for them. Actually, usually the first question is: ‘what is a media kit and do I need one?’ Nine times out of ten the answer is YES. Why? Because over the last few years, media kits have moved from the more traditional worlds of print magazines and corporations to become a key sales and marketing tool for bloggers and small businesses.

If you’re not familiar with a media kit, it’s basically a document that businesses use to promote themselves and sell their services to potential clients. Whilst magazines use media kits to sell spots to advertisers, bloggers and entrepreneurs use media kits to sell themselves as well as advertising on their sites, sponsored posts and brand collaborations. Service-based businesses, such as photographers, use media kits to promote their packages.

On the surface a media kit may seem a little fancy, tricky or open-ended but that’s part of their appeal. There is no set formula. A media kit can promote whatever a business owner feels is their key selling point. They can also be presented in whatever way you wish – as a simple pdf document, a landing page on your website or a fully designed digital flipbook.

As for what to include in your media kit, here are the most common items:

  • An introduction to yourself and your business

This is your chance to explain who you are, what you do and for whom. It’s your chance to demonstrate what purpose your business serves. Whilst you should know this stuff intimately, it is often the hardest part to write about. Writing about and promoting ourselves can be really difficult – we’re often just too close to it to make it read well. Hint: Don’t get caught up wasting time on this step. Hire a copywriter to bang out your professional bio; an outsider can view you objectively and highlight your magic without that layer of self-consciousness. It will be money well spent.

  • Your mission

Sometimes known as a ‘manifesto’, this is your way of differentiating your business from the competition and explaining what it stands for. This step is imperative. Unless you have developed something that is absolutely rare, you need to make yourself stand out from the myriad other choices that customers have. There are a squillion coaches, designers, nutritionists, chiropractors, financial advisors, real estate agents etc etc, so what makes YOU so special? You need to cut through the clutter here. Unique is great – don’t be afraid to be different!

  • Testimonials

Testimonials are an excellent way to let people know how wonderful you are without sounding full of yourself! Use other people’s words. Regardless of whether they’re from clients, suppliers, partners or subscribers, testimonials add a sense of credibility to your business. They also give potential clients a sense of comfort that someone else has invested in you previously and received great results. People want to feel safe and justified in their choices, and testimonials help them do that.

  • Frequently asked questions

If you are repeatedly asked the same questions about what you do or how, stop and take note! By including a FAQ section in your media kit you will greatly reduce the upfront email banter that comes with new enquiries.

  • List of notable clients

As with testimonials, a list of notable clients can help the Nervous-Nellies feel comfortable that you know what you’re doing. Some of your potential clients may have never worked with someone in your industry before so they want to be sure they’re making a sound decision.

  • Services offered

Highlight all of the services you offer, with particular emphasis on the things you really LOVE to do. It’s even better if these things are not run-of-the-mill – you’ll pique interest more quickly that way.

  • Packages and rates

If you’re not great at talking about money, clearly listing your services with base-level pricing (‘starting at’ or ‘from’) can be an excellent way to help people understand what the ballpark investment is to work with you. Be clear about what they receive for that price and what else is on offer as ‘add-ons’. Don’t surprise people when it comes to money – don’t be embarrassed or ashamed of your pricing either. If you can say it out loud in the mirror, and believe in the value you deliver, then you can put it on paper.

  • Statistics

If you offer a service where stats (read: traffic to your website, social media engagement, advertiser results etc) are important, then include these in the media kit.

  • Process

If you have some kind of process you follow when you engage with a client include this. It can help demonstrate the value you offer and the reason you get consistent outcomes. By giving potential customers a glimpse into this behind-the-scenes world, you are helping them understand the work you do and perhaps also helping to justify your rates!

  • Contact information

This is absolutely imperative. Offer all the different ways someone can get in touch with you: social media handles; email address; website address; phone number. Make it as easy as possible to book you!

  • Recent Press publications/articles

Copies of recent press coverage are highly appropriate for a media kit. This may include article reprints, online and offline press, interview transcripts and audio or video files of speeches/performances/interviews.

  • A sample news story

This is your chance to guide the media or your reader. Some editors will even print it verbatim; a ready-to-print article is an easy way to fill up space with little effort.

  • Other items may include:
  • Awards
  • Nonprofit and community-service involvement
  • Logo artwork
  • Photos
  • White papers
  • Schedules of upcoming promotions and events
  • Significant statistics specific to your industry, demographics and target audiences
  • Samples or examples
  • Giveaway information
  • An order form

The Key Ingredients to Being Noticed

If your intention is to be published in a popular publication, you need to really make your media kit stand out. Busy editors may sort through piles of media kits each day! So, to get some action on your kit, by either an editor or your target audience, you’ll need to package your materials in a unique and professional way.

media kit 4 media kit 3 media kit 2 media kit 1

Follow up is also critical to being noticed. You’d be surprised how many media kits get sent out and then nothing is done afterwards. First up, you need to be sure your recipient actually received your media kit. A follow-up call also provides the perfect opportunity to answer any questions or schedule a meeting. Use this opportunity to build relationships with your intended audience – it should be considered part of your marketing strategy.

What next?

The challenge is always just to get started. Do yourself a favour though and don’t reinvent the wheel. You probably have most of this content already written in various places – your website, your quotations, your proposals, your social media accounts – so just collate it and give it a polish.

Typically, the media kit doesn’t have to be as fancy as people think. Those requesting media kits just want information–not necessarily glitz.

If you would like a hand putting together your media kit, you know where I am!

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Create the perfect ending to your story: 5 essential elements

‘Nobody reads a book to get to the middle.’ ~Mickey Spillane (American crime novelist)

Whether you’re writing a book or writing a marketing piece, you need to ensure your ending is rewarding for your reader. After all, they have come on a journey with you through the beginning and middle to get there! It should have the most drama, tie up the loose ends and leave the reader with something memorable.

Here are five tips to ensure your reader will want to finish reading the story AND be excited about reading your next story

  • Narrow your hero’s options.

A sense of the inevitable needs to be present. Your hero (which will be your ideal client in the case of writing a marketing piece) should start to realise that the path to his or her goal lies in only one direction (your service or product) – usually the one he or she has been trying to avoid. Allow them to try other pathways (competitive offerings), but make sure they fail (show them the pitfalls of these options). Typically the hero’s rival (the devil on their shoulder) will rear their head again here, creating obstacles as a test.

  • Make everything worse for your hero.

Keep the reader wondering whether or not your hero will achieve their story goal. Suspense is a great page-turner. The worse the story gets and the fewer pages your reader has left, the more anticipation you can build. The end of your story should contain many more scenes of action than reflection.

  • Resolve all story lines.

Your content piece, whether a full blown novel, blog or eBook, should be written from the beginning with the end in mind. Each ‘scene’ needs to be building and carving out a plot that leads to the end game. And each story line must resolve itself. The most important story line should last the longest, thereby keeping your reader in suspense for longer. Don’t go introducing any new characters or ideas in the last quarter of the story. The most satisfying stories are those where the central conflict is resolved. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a happily-ever-after ending but readers do like to be left with some hope.

  • Tie up loose ends.

Try not to leave your reader wondering what happened to any of the characters or be left with unanswered questions.

  • End on a strong note.

Don’t try to be too tricky here by throwing in a red herring; the most important thing is to create a sense that the story has really ended. Readers like to know that the journey has made sense all along and that the hero has come to the conclusion they have because of choices they made early on in the story. If we’re still there at the end, it’s because we are invested in the outcome. The final impression of your writing should be positive. Trickery can leave a reader feeling cheated and not inclined to come back.

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