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Microsoft to Buy LinkedIn

Microsoft Buys LinkedIn (and What This Means for You)

Earlier this week, Microsoft Corp. announced that it will buy LinkedIn Corp. in a $26.2 billion deal, which led to a 47 percent jump in LinkedIn’s shares and will see Jeff Weiner stay on as LinkedIn CEO.

Read the LinkedIn CEO’s thoughts on the announcement here >> LinkedIn + Microsoft: Changing the Way the World Works Microsoft to buy LinkedIn.

For LinkedIn, this represents a huge opportunity to take the business, which already has some 433 million members, to the next level. According to Microsoft, they will be able to “accelerate the growth of LinkedIn” centred on fully connecting the world’s professionals.

LinkedIn will keep its brand and independence but build on its current offerings by closely integrating with key Microsoft products and services.

A letter from Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, confirmed that the organisation wants to reinvent ways to make professionals more productive while at the same time reinventing selling, marketing and talent management processes. Nadella added that:

“If you’re not on LinkedIn, join up now and start using and learning more.”

So what does this mean for you?

There has never been a better time to build your profile on LinkedIn and get ready for the major changes and improvements heading this way.

To take advantage of LinkedIn and boost your online presence, make sure your profile is correctly set-up and fully optimised for search and new business and networking opportunities.

Nurture your network of connections, get active and get noticed.

Put your best foot forward.

Reap the rewards, both now and when the merger begins to deliver results.

At The International Writer, we can create a powerful new LinkedIn profile for you or overhaul an existing one. If your profile already shines, we can help with enhanced company pages and thought leadership blogging, while we’re about to release a comprehensive suite of online, self-paced LinkedIn training courses.

Discover more about our work here >> LinkedIn Packages.

How to avoid failing at content writing

How to Avoid These 5 Crappy Content Writing Fails

Powerful content can be an incredible tool for your business but it’s not always easy to create. Mastering the technique of content writing requires skill and expertise, often gained through many years of writing for varied audiences and mixed platforms.

The risk of getting it wrong, of drafting copy that is unappealing and ill-conceived, can mean wasted time and effort on something that won’t produce the desired result.

Instead of engaging hundreds of readers, if not thousands, you’ll end up creating a website of unread pages or a stream of blog posts that have little purpose or relevancy, lack consistency and offer no return on your investment.

Your content must be well-written, it must address your target audience and it must serve a purpose by answering the ‘so what’ before inviting the reader to take action and learn more about you.

This might seem over-the-top but it ensures your written words will be read and people will notice you. Done badly and your content transforms from a good idea to a crappy reality. Here are five crappy content writing fails and what you can do to avoid them.

1. A lack of writing skill

It’s one of the most common fails. Everyone thinks they can write, which means everyone is a skilled and qualified writer. Wrong. Entering your most passionate ideas into a blog template won’t get you the results you’re looking for. If the piece isn’t well-written and doesn’t provide meaningful value to the reader, it won’t get an online reaction, search engines won’t recognise it as being of high quality and you’ll wonder why nobody ever reacts or leaves a comment.

It wastes your time and theirs so spend the money and invest in a quality writer who can add value to your team. Play to your strengths and quit pretending you’re a capable online wordsmith.

2. Not enough time allocated

It takes time and effort to create a single piece of content. Think 2-3 hours to write a post from idea generation to review stage, then up to an hour for edits, then another hour for image sourcing, publishing, social shares and responses. And I’m estimating on the low side.

To reap the results of an effective longer-term content strategy, you need a longer-term content creation plan. A great online reaction won’t happen overnight and thought leadership, influence and authority take time to build. To create success, you need to adopt a consistent approach to writing, develop a content plan or calendar for the way ahead, and allocate time to deliver the work.

3. You forgot your audience

It’s a rookie writing error but we’ve all done it before. You have a fantastic idea for a post and you start writing away. Before you know it, you have the makings of a masterpiece and you hit the ‘publish’ button. Then nothing. Viewer numbers fail to materialise, comments never appear and any hope of significant traffic dies a sad and lonely death. So what went wrong?

The answer is you forgot to consider who you were writing for. Did you think about the reader and what they wanted to learn from you? Did you adapt your writing for the platform’s readership? Did you address the burning issues of your organisation’s demographic? If you ignore your target audience, your content won’t resonate, it will fall flat and nobody will take action. Think about your readers’ pain points, how you intend to fix them and the value your written work will bring.

4. Content was not shared

The best part about creating powerful content is that it can be shared far and wide, and generally for free. People won’t suddenly start reading your work and visiting your site without there being a promotion strategy in place. The worst mistake is to spend hours writing something great and then you simply publish it on your site or LinkedIn profile. You have to do more than that.

On LinkedIn, promote it to your groups, schedule interesting status updates with links to the content, include it on your company page and share it with your colleagues. Publicise it across social media – on your Facebook page, Twitter and Google+ accounts. And come back to it in the future. If the post did well, bring it out of the blogging archives and share it again at a later date or rework it into a new piece with a slightly different angle. The possibilities are almost endless.

5. There never was a purpose

Every piece of content you create must have a clear purpose behind it. Are you trying to fix a client’s problem or address a particular need? Do you want to drive traffic to a new campaign or is there a special offer that you need to draw attention to?

Ask why you’re writing the content or risk creating something that is doomed from the start. Ensure the content fits to a part of your business strategy. Take some time to think about why someone would read this piece of work. Create a plan for matching your content to platforms or publications based on the answers to these questions.

Avoid these content writing fails by understanding why you’re creating content and what you want to achieve in the first place. By thinking about each of the points above, you’ll ensure you add value to the content writing process and place a focus on content that is high quality not crappy.

The Secret to Blogging Success

The Secret to Intentional Blogging Success (Hint: It’s Not A Quick Fix)

Much is written about the art of blogging and the ways to achieve blogging success.

From the application of leading SEO techniques to the structure of paragraphs, using dot points and throwing in a couple of links, we’ve all read about those quick tips for becoming an overnight blogging sensation.

But there’s something you need to know.

Because it’s not just about structure, layout and headline. It’s about something more instinctive and naturally grown over the longer-term.

While it’s true that a blog’s readership can be improved by back links, opt-ins to newsletters and exposure on popular sites, tactics and techniques aren’t the be-all and end-all to creating a blog that matters.

The world’s top bloggers don’t reach millions of readers by employing enough white space, a few top ten lists and a daily stream of 400-word posts. The world’s top bloggers create success through time, patience, hard work and inspirational writing. The world’s top bloggers write from the heart with passion and emotion – and this is what is driving loyal readers to their sites over years, not months.

I started writing In Search of a Life Less Ordinary six years ago. After a slow start, the site picked up pace becoming one of Australia’s most popular expat sites and drawing in thousands of readers to its pages every single day. Earlier this month, I wrote a piece for The Huffington Post based on the experiences I share on my blog. The post reached hundreds of thousands of people, with up to 80,000 likes and 13,000 shares on Facebook alone.

And none of this success was achieved through an SEO quick fix or fast trick.

Create a niche

The best blogs have their own distinct, unique identity that comes from an authenticity that cannot be created overnight. The best bloggers do so with a sense of purpose that is obvious the moment you read their blog. They have a clear approach springing from a unique philosophy that they want to communicate. So what will yours be?

What will make your blog different? What experiences and projects make you unique? What authentic purpose can you bring to the table to grow long-term influence?

Stand out

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of competition but there are literally hundreds of thousands of blogs out there. It can be discouraging when nothing you do seems to work. The only way to survive is to focus on creating your own unique, high quality content.

Be the best you can be and the rest will follow. Write with passion and inspire others to share. Be creative, write from the heart, show the world that you really care.

Stick with it

Blogging requires perseverance and long-term dedication. You won’t create overnight success unless you have a radically different idea. And success built over the longer-term will bring a greater respect to your brand. It will also create a stronger blog that comes from posting consistently good content highlighting your voice and authenticity.

Businesses often struggle with the notion of blogging because it requires time and patience to build an audience and drive people to a site. But, as with any decent business, the path to success doesn’t always bring instant recognition or reward. All successful businesses are built one good decision at a time and the same is true of any good blog.

Think long-term

Create a blog for the long haul flight, not the quick domestic option. Don’t burn the blog too early on because it isn’t giving you a fast enough result. Think outside the box and consider the different directions and avenues the blog can take.

Take small steps to achieve bigger goals. By starting small, you’ll make inroads without becoming disheartened by the lack of traction you might see. Invest in your blog to achieve those future dreams. Remove distraction and think about bringing others on board who have a track record of blogging and know how to engage through their writing.

Above all else, remember the secret to blogging success isn’t a quick SEO keyword or a post’s structural fix. The key to creating something exceptional is patience and perseverance… plus a knack for incredible writing.

What are your secrets to blogging success? What have been your experiences in writing a blog?

Image credit: Secrets | Shutterstock

LinkedIn Profile Writing

Why should you care about business content anyway?

Without business content, you’re an organisation with nothing but a name.

Nobody knows what you do, why you do it and who you’ve done it for. Without business content, you’re a ship lost at sea – the words you put out anchor you to your customers, current and potential.

Content is communication. Whether it be a website, a blog post, newsletter or press release, I believe that content is the mouthpiece for your business message and it’s the key thing that brings people to your doors.

Whether it’s online or in traditional print, here’s why I think it matters most:

  1. Content builds and grows customer relationships. Business content is a means to connect with your current clients and reach out to those waiting in the wings. By reading your website or subscribing to your blog, the customer gets to know your product, learn more about you and hopefully come back for more.
  2. You become the trusted advisor. Well-written articles that inform, engage and inspire create a deeper connection with the reader and position you as an expert and advisor. As long as the messaging is authentic and relevant, not full of sales talk and propaganda, you will be known as the trusted, believable source of industry information.
  3. Content drives traffic to websites and blogs. If you write great content, they will follow. And by linking across social media, you’ll drive bigger numbers to your site, which may result in new leads and more sales. Don’t be fixated on numbers but do be sure to write well, share often, and interact with your readers. Often what they like is noticed by others and you should soon see the numbers start to grow.
  4. Your business will appear higher when people search online. Writing regularly and keeping a fresh stream of content flowing on your website and blog is key to beating your competitors in the search engine results page. Include keywords that represent your business and write original, high quality pieces every time.

Business content is arguably one of the most important facets of your business.

Regularly creating and updating the written words on your website and blog are crucial to communicating with your customers and helping you reach new clients and opportunities in the process.

Drafting and developing exciting email newsletters, brochure copy and social media posts tells the world that you’re a professional, committed, informative, interesting service provider.

Whoever said content is king wasn’t messing about. Creating content-based conversation is even better.

Vary-Your-Content

Variety is the Spice of Life! Are You Varying Your Content Enough?

At The International Writer, we’re fortunate to work on any number of diverse and interesting things that come across our desks each week.

It might be a press release or a website page, a social media post or an online article for a leading retailer.

Our latest job was to write a news story for Edelman and General Electric here on wind turbines and the development of a wind farm at Boco Rock in eastern Australia. It’s fascinating stuff being a content writer and no day is ever the same.

We’re creating an incredible mix of content for our clients which tells us one key thing: it’s more important than ever for a business to vary what it puts out – and where it puts it – in order to satisfy an increasingly content-hungry audience.

So what can you do about it?

Use all of the avenues at your disposal

The great thing about the Internet today is that you can be as creative as you like in getting your message out there via a number of recognised (and often free) ways.

First, figure out what works best for you.

Facebook is king for mainstream content sharing but is it the most appropriate venue for highlighting your latest specialised product or service? A LinkedIn company page might be better or consider the ability to reach mass audiences through Google+ and Twitter. And what about using a blog or news page on your website?

Then, once you decide on the methods for varying your content and getting your message across (and try to aim for at least three or four to ensure good variation), start to consistently use them on a regular basis.

Know what your customer likes and wants

Next, look at the type of information you’re sharing (or want to share) and make sure it has enough variety and relevance to ensure your reader remains interested and engaged.

Instead of posting weekly pieces on how to do this or why to do that, share news about your company or industry, let us know where you’ve been and what you’re working on.

Tell us a bit about your people and why they do what they do. Show and tell – we want to see pictures and graphics, not just text and a wooden tone. Incorporate infographics, audio and video, and include longer, more in-depth posts that your reader (and Google) will prefer.

But don’t just rely on the blog post because there are lots of other ways you can connect and engage with people. Think Google hangouts, Twitter chats, Instagram meet-ups and more.

Keep it fresh and original

Whatever platforms you use and the types of content you share, make sure you keep it all fresh, original and compelling.

You’ll need to revisit existing content regularly and update where you can – tidy up web pages and reinvigorate a blog that appears stagnant. Put out a new press release or review your post scheduling calendar.

And if you’re struggling for ideas or motivation, come back next week where we’ll show you how to fill up your writing well of inspiration.

But keep writing, creating, publishing and sharing. Focus on quality and variation, not quantity and low cost.

Follow some of these rules and you’ll be putting some varied content spice back into your business’s life.

Compelling Business Content by Shutterstock

How To Create Business Content That People Will Share: Lessons From Upworthy

Ever dreamed of writing a blog post that strikes a chord with hundreds, if not thousands, of people?

It’s the kind of content that’s instantly shared across social media, snowballing as traffic is driven to your website in even greater numbers, while generating incredible new leads.

I’ve written hundreds of posts – some do well, others less so – and nothing beats seeing the social sharing icons tick over as your audience immediately connects with the topic – and passes the post on.

So what’s the secret to social sharing success?

I recently met Sara Critchfield, Editorial Director of Upworthy, at her Vivid Sydney talk, entitled On Media, Marketing and Making People Care. Upworthy is the world’s fastest growing media company and one that challenges the rules of traditional media to put out content shared by millions of people every week.

Upworthy posts videos only, no text, and focuses on sharing content that “most people” will like.

And it works.

The organisation’s website currently pulls in 50 million unique visitors per month from publishing an average of seven pieces of content per week.

It’s all fascinating stuff but what can your business really learn from Upworthy’s success at putting out business content that people want to share?

Appeal to your audience

Make sure your business content – blog posts, articles, news stories, web pages – is compelling and grabs the reader’s attention.

Sara says this is the only kind of content that Upworthy distributes. Nothing is published that is dry or boring. Upworthy’s aim is to curate content that is meaningful, engaging, inspiring, gripping – and is subsequently shared by millions.

Focus on the packaging

Your online content needs to be packaged the right way. If it isn’t, then it doesn’t matter how good or well-written it is, it simply won’t be shared.

Upworthy places a major emphasis on headlines and images, spending hours tweaking and refining the key things you’ll first see when you jump onto social media. And, once you click it, they’ve got you.

Share on the right networks

Which social networks are the best ones for your business? Is Twitter the right place to announce a new service or should you focus on Instagram as the launchpad for your latest product?

Upworthy optimises everything it does for Facebook, says Sara. If you want to be where most of the people are, this is where it’s at. And, while Facebook isn’t for everyone, she believes that you have to figure out what works best for you.

The final point to take away: remember that if you do want your work to go truly viral, you need to write the kind of content that not only your clients or friends will share, but that their friends – and friends of friends – will also share.

If you’re interesting in learning more about how best to optimise your business content to get it in front of as many people as you can, send me a note via the contact page and let’s talk.

Have you found success in sharing online? What tricks or tips did you employ?

the_international_writer_blog_online_content_writing_truth

The Truth About Online Writing (and Why Quality AND Quantity Matters)

The age of the online piece stuffed with SEO keywords is dead, long live the genuinely well-written article.

For too long, SEO experts the length and breadth of the planet have been filling online content with keywords and phrases to ensure a particular blog post, web page or online story ranks highly on a Google search.

What’s more, content mills have reigned supreme, churning out generic and often average writing with the sole purpose of stuffing a business website with the kind of junk that search engines traditionally feed off. And often at a ridiculously low price that businesses can’t help but be drawn to.

The focus has been on keyword-driven content – and lots of it – with the result being often just what a business is looking for – an appearance near the top of a search query and the loose guarantee of plenty more work.

But those days of keywords and quantity, unimaginative prose and mass-produced content have started to ease with recent changes to Google’s search result algorithms. These algorithms are the critical things which decide how well a business places on a search results list.

The new world is a different beast altogether with Google putting much more emphasis on quality writing in preference to keyword-laden content.

While it will still reward quantity of content, the emphasis will be on quality. Lots of well-written pages will equal lots of reward from Google.

There will no doubt still be a need for the content mill and SEO expert, but Google won’t appreciate it if they stick to past behaviour, so they – and the rest of the world – will need to change.

Quality and quantity will define the new online writing world. And that should be a welcome scenario for any credible business and its talented content writers.

Do you agree that quality should come before quantity? Or should there be exceptions to this rule? Let us know in the comments below.

the_international_writer_blog_great_content_writing

5 Ways to Ensure Your Content is Great

What exactly makes epic, compelling written content? How can you tell if what you have on the page is exceptional or just plain average?

For a start, your content has to be well-written. It has to be written professionally with a focus on engagement and interaction.

In other words, it should consist of sentences that are carefully constructed with a view to informing and educating the reader, encouraging their reaction to the piece and, in simple terms, stimulating a conversation, be it by their commenting and sharing of the post.

Links and social sharing (like Tweets and Facebook shares) are both activities that Google calls “signals” of high-quality content. In other words, content that will sit at the top of their search pages.

And content that gets shared often is content that is:

  1. useful (solving the reader’s problem)
  2. interesting (relevant and catches their attention)
  3. audience-friendly (readable and well-constructed)
  4. sticky (the reader wants to settle in, learn more, take the relationship further)
  5. unique (a time poor reader wants to discover new material, not re-runs).

It all sounds relatively straightforward but, for too long, business content writers have been writing for search engines instead of people – in effect, they’re writing spam rather than meaningful words that benefit your business.

It’s wasting their time, your time and generally annoying the people you do manage to get your message in front of.

At the end of the day, high quality content will naturally bring more traffic and greater popularity to your site. Search engines intuitively prefer sites with quality content. For example, a website with content on one page that informs while, on the next page, content that engages.

Simply having a great website design or posting frequently on your blog is no longer enough.

The online content you put out as a business is one of the most important tools for providing information to showcase and sell your services and products.

So when it comes to writing for your business, if you can’t do it yourself, then hire someone to write epic, can’t-put-down-able content, which will drive customers to your site and persuade them to do business with you.

Have we missed anything in the list above? What else do you think makes great content? Share with us below.

the_international_writer_blog_launch_international_writer

Introducing The International Writer: Business Writing that Puts Words to Work

It’s official.

The International Writer has launched and we’re proud to reveal our brand spanking new website, tell you more about who we are and reveal exactly what we do.

On this website and across our social media platforms, you’ll see us talk a lot about content – exceptional, engaging, authentic, inspiring, high quality and meaningful content.

Content is everything you and your business put out for the world to see. It can be online only and include website content, blog post content, industry news content, social media post content, and even an eBook or three. But content can also be more traditional – reports, submissions, press releases and policy documents.

Think of content as every written word you use to market, sell or inform others about your business and brand, whatever medium you might use to get the message across.

And this is where we come in. We help you get your message across. We write your business content.

But we don’t just write any old content. We rely on our background in business, government and the online world to write exciting, engaging words that deliver your message, strike a chord with your readers and bring them back for more.

Our founder is Russell Ward, one of Australia’s most exciting lifestyle and travel bloggers, responsible for the successful website, In Search of a Life Less Ordinary.

For the past three years, he’s been writing online for thousands of readers, steadily growing his following across social media, and learning the value of high quality, engaging and inspirational content. He’s also an experienced business writer and has a history with professional services firms and government.

The International Writer is a culmination of his blogging experiences, former careers in communications and policy, and passion for content writing aimed at the international and travel and tourism fields.

We mainly work with small and medium enterprises. It’s rewarding to see the results of our efforts when we help a small company with its writing needs – we might write their website copy or draft a series of online articles for their blog subscribers, lead a Twitter chat or article write for their magazine. Whatever it is, we write to ensure that particular organisation meets its business goals.

Our specialty is international trade. With a background in online and careers spread across different continents, the international arena is where we want to be. We’ve worked with small business, medium enterprises, international brands, start-ups, government and not for profits in Australia, Germany, the UK, US, and even Romania.

In 2014, our focus will be on the emerging economies of South America – primarily Brazil and Colombia. It’s a region we’re passionate about and two countries where we want to do more.

We’re excited about the future, keen to get to know you better, and looking forward to sharing news, commentary and thoughts here on this blog.

Talk to us today.

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