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LinkedIn Etiquette Mistakes

LinkedIn Etiquette Mistakes: 5 Blunders You Should Never Make

We’ve all done it. Shared the update we immediately regretted. Put up a profile photo that wasn’t quite right. Invited someone to connect without tailoring the invite and got an abrupt “Who are you and why are you trying to connect with me?” response. Classic LinkedIn etiquette mistakes.

While some of these faux pas may not seem all that bad, others can be damaging to your online reputation and career aspirations if you continue to make the same mistakes over and over.

LinkedIn continues to evolve at a rate of knots and it can be tough to keep up with the many updates and modifications. But one thing remains consistent: the basic, common sense principles of old-fashioned etiquette will always apply. LinkedIn is a professional social platform that you should interact on as you would in a real-world, face-to-face setting.

So whether you’re building a personal or business brand, looking for a new job or simply wanting to nurture a burgeoning online network, try to avoid these five etiquette fails that could make you look unprofessional and out of touch.

1. Don’t invite every single person to connect

While it’s tempting to sit on your smartphone and invite everyone on your ‘People You May Know’ list to connect, it will come across as spammy and verging on the socially weird. Of course, reach out and connect with a wide range of people to build your network over time, but do it skillfully, have a reason for doing so, and with something valid to offer that potential connection.

LinkedIn Etiquette Mistakes

It might be that you saw something they wrote and you wanted to connect to take the discussion further. Maybe you work with somebody who recommended a mutual connection. Perhaps you share a past career experience or cherished client.

There’s nothing wrong about connecting with strangers, but try to make sure your requests are targeted and of value – and personalise them as much as possible to make the recipient feel more open to the invitation.

2. Don’t update your entire network with every move you make

When you update your profile, a notification is sent out to your network advising them that a change was made if you leave your network notification setting turned on. This can be a great way of informing people that you’ve changed role or that something significant has happened to your business or career – and it can lead to increased profile views, which is no bad thing.

Where the updates fall apart are when you don’t turn the setting off and start to fill your network’s feed with constant notifications of new positions, new schools, new headlines, new everything.

LinkedIn Etiquette Mistakes

But these things aren’t often new – you might have simply changed a word or phrase here and there, but your network is being bamboozled with the updates. You’ll start receiving endless “Congrats!” from people about some minor change and you could be informing employers of potentially damaging career updates.

3. Don’t be a persistent social media pest

As with any social setting, nobody likes to be pestered. What’s more, nobody likes to be pestered when they have only just met you. To be admired and respected, you need to be authentic in your approach to your network and the actions you take on a regular basis. For a start, don’t ask people to endorse your skills and never tell them that you’ve endorsed their skills so they should now endorse your own. It’s just plain creepy.

When it comes to your network, don’t make connections just to get hold of an email address so you can then bombard them with marketing messages. It’s called permission marketing for a reason and a LinkedIn connection doesn’t equal permission to send marketing emails, ever.

Finally, never, ever, ever send messages confessing your passionate interest or undying love for a new connection. It happens. It horrifies me. It isn’t Tinder. Please stop.

4. Don’t send spammy, generic messages

As LinkedIn grows, so do our inboxes. Sometimes you’ll receive a message that adds value to your life, but often it will be a random series of paragraphs that make little or no sense to your work or life. What’s worse is when you thank someone for connecting with you and they immediately hit you up with a sales spiel right out of the local car dealer sales handbook. It feels plain wrong.

If your goal is to target sales professionals in the textiles industry and you want to reach out to 50+ people in your network then, of course, you’re going to create a message template that you can use for each message. And we get that. But try to personalise each message you send to the extent possible.

LinkedIn Etiquette Mistakes

Study the person’s profile and look for the ways in which you can authentically start a dialogue with them. Include a shared reference, something that brought you to this person, even a comment on an article they may have recently published. Whatever you send, make sure it is tailored, relevant and of value. And never send group sales-focused messages – you’ll enjoy a string of angry responses if you do.

5. Don’t over-share and post little of value

With so much content out there to share, it can be tempting to publish everything and anything. LinkedIn is a social network and we are supposed to be sociable on the platform, but it is a professional network where the etiquette rules are quite different to the likes of Twitter or Facebook – in other words, keep the overly-personal shares out of this space. You also need to watch the frequency of your posts or you’ll run the risk of being seen as a nuisance.

Whether it’s a blog post or news feed update, you should always have a strategy in the back of your mind for posting and a schedule that doesn’t overwhelm or infuriate your audience.

Try to avoid posting more than one newsfeed update per day and carefully consider the kinds of updates being shared – are they relevant, interesting, unique and shareable? Tick these boxes and you’ll be well on your way to influencer status.

Ways to avoid LinkedIn etiquette mistakes

It’s not all bad and there’s hope for us all. LinkedIn doesn’t have a firm set of rules when it comes to good etiquette and much of what I’ve mentioned is common sense.

Rather than run the risk of infuriating your network, connect with people you know, or you can offer value to and build a healthy relationship with.

Ruffle feathers no more by updating your profile on a regular basis, but by selectively switching the notifications on and off as appropriate.

Placate any pet peeves by behaving in a non-pesty kind of way – endorse those you know and respect, never bombard with emails, and look elsewhere for love.

Beat the angry responses by tailoring your messages and connection invitations in a personal yet professional way.

Instead of frustrating, excite and appeal with high-quality content that is shared once per day and is relevant, of interest and doesn’t waste your readers’ time.

LinkedIn is an incredible networking resource so make proper use of it without upsetting your network and hurting your brand.

What have I missed? What other etiquette rules are there or what behavioural annoyances would you include on this list?

Boost Your Online Brand

There’s Still Time to Boost Your Online Brand!

It’s hard to believe the end of the year is already fast approaching. Are you close to achieving your career goals? Are you hitting your numbers and enjoying better business results?

If not, there’s still time to market yourself on LinkedIn and enhance both personal and business brand with a professional LinkedIn makeover.

Wherever you are in the world – whether it’s time for a Spring clean or an Autumn clean-up – The International Writer is offering a 10% discount on our best-selling LinkedIn Profile PREMIUM Package until October 31*.

Just use the promo code – 10percentoff – when you order the LinkedIn Profile PREMIUM package here to take advantage of this offer and work with me, one-on-one, to stand out and drive opportunity.

*includes complete LinkedIn profile rewrite, brand questionnaire, phone interview, one-hour online Review & Strategy session, plus 30 days of email support.

Blog & Content Packages

How to Blog on LinkedIn (When You’re Not a Writer)

If your goal is to improve your online presence, as well as that of your business, and establish yourself online as a thought leader – to show authority and drive influence within your industry – then LinkedIn is an ideal place for promoting your personal brand and networking with your peers.

One of the best ways to showcase knowledge and expertise is by publishing blog posts on LinkedIn’s blogging platform – or Pulse, as it’s now known. A social hub for professionals looking for professional advice, you can use Pulse to drive a focused business readership to your thought leadership efforts.

The advantages of using LinkedIn Pulse are that both your connections and followers get to see your published posts and often the reach is greater than on any business blog – plus you can drive traffic to your business website through web links and calls to action.

Engagement can shoot up through comments on posts, giving you the chance to take the conversation with commenters offline and grow those relationships. Pulse is a great way of showing who you really are and building your profile – you become the trusted advisor who has something useful to say.

But here’s the problem – what if you’re not a writer or blogger and don’t know where or how to start?

We’re all told that we need to write more content to boost our profile, but what if you have a phobia of writing? What if you’ve never published anything online before? How do you know what to write and whether your post will be any good? Our worst fears might be realised if we publish something terrible and end up looking like an idiot rather than expert.

If these sound like your fears and you’re unsure where to begin or what to do, follow these five simple steps to becoming an online influencer through LinkedIn Pulse:

1. Identify your purpose for blogging and make a decision

First, you need to understand why you want to blog – is it to increase brand visibility and promote your business to a much wider audience or do you have something important to say?

While most people share updates and some will have a go at improving their profile, taking that first step to blogging is a whole new ball game. The key is making a commitment to sharing your know-how, then following it through. Once you figure out your purpose for blogging, make that decision to get started.

2. Understand what it is you want to say

What are you going to talk about and how often you going to say it? Are you going to write about an aspect of your industry, which might appeal to a niche market but probably won’t drive significant reach, or are you going to write on broader topics – sharing your many years of business experience on topics such as employee communication, sales excellence and project management hacks?

A combination of both is best – and a focus on quality, insightful writing that will start a conversation. Always repeat the mantra – is it useful, interesting, audience-friendly and unique? Aim to write fortnightly to start with, then adjust based on audience response and your own workload.

3. Know your target audience

There’s nothing worse than writing for the wrong audience – they won’t respond and your post views will tank. Determine your ideal reader (customer, colleague, employee?) and ensure your blog posts are professional and business-focused.

If you plan to write for your peers, show them how they can get better at what they do. If you’re writing for clients, current or potential, don’t give them the hard sell – talk to them about the issues they face and ways to fix them, whether it’s through the work you do or not. Give them business advice and industry updates or insights first.

4. Outsource your writing to a professional

If you’re time poor or inexperienced at blogging, then it makes sense to engage a content writer. A professional will work with you to develop your thought leadership ideas, draft the articles in line with preferred style and voice, while using relevant keywords, catchy headlines and appealing images.

A professional will also edit and proofread the piece, then publish it for you on Pulse. This not only frees up your time for the work of running your business but ensures that someone with digital content skills can get your first few blog posts off the ground.

5. Learn from the professionals then jump in yourself

Once a content writer has published a few posts for you and you’ve been part of the content creation process, seen how it’s done and figured it out, then it might be time to try writing a blog post yourself.

With increased confidence and a growing audience, you can build on the work of your contracted writer and start to write from the heart and with conviction about issues and topics that matter most to you and to your reader.

If you’re ready to promote yourself as a true industry expert and start blogging online, LinkedIn’s Pulse platform could easily be the best way to maximise your online efforts to drive visibility and customer engagement – and all with fairly minimal effort.

If you’re still unsure where to begin, let’s have a conversation about getting you started blogging on LinkedIn today.

The one LinkedIn setting you probably forgot

That LinkedIn Setting You Probably Forgot To Change

The point of being on LinkedIn is to get noticed and make connections, build your network and then choose how you want to work that network – seek a job, do business or build influence, among other things.

Getting noticed requires you to have a powerful, persuasive profile – one that tells a story about who you are, what you do and how you can help me.

Getting noticed also relies on active engagement and, for many of us, this means searching other people’s profiles and company pages for potential business connections or job opportunities.

When you do this, you’ll start to see the number of views to your own profile grow as people return the favour. Before you know it, the connection requests increase and the inbox messages grow – and all because you looked at a bunch of profiles.

I market my own business by exploring contacts I think could become customers. I view their profiles before reaching out to make the connection, either via a request or InMail. That’s the thing about human behaviour – when someone sees that you’ve stopped by, they look back out of curiosity and investigate who you are. It’s a “you looked at my profile, now I’ll look at yours” thing.

And, BOOM, you’ve got them.

Because your profile is of course fully optimised with a killer headline and compelling summary revealing your experience and the ways you can help them – your products and services.

Before you know it, a message or email follows because they like what they’ve seen and they want to know more.

There’s nothing weird about revealing your profile to a person you’ve visited on LinkedIn. It’s how the platform works, otherwise why else would we have public profiles?

Imagine contacting a company about a possible job and you see their CEO looking at your profile only days later? Or sending an email to a potential client then you find one of their staff checking you out? You get a better sense that they’re interested in you and it might drive you to follow up.

But it’s all a waste of time if no-one can see what you’re doing in the first place. If your profile viewing actions go unnoticed. If you’re getting little or no response.

Ever wonder why your profile views stutter? Your profile ranking fails to climb? Ever wonder what you did wrong?

Here’s the thing. You probably made the one LinkedIn setting mistake they never told you about – you forgot to turn on your visibility in the account settings.

You might as well not even exist. You left your profile settings on ‘anonymous’ and nobody knew it was you looking at their profile.

The default on LinkedIn is that your profile information isn’t shared with other people when you look at their profiles unless you want it to be. However most of us are interested in growing our personal brands and actually WANT this information to show when we visit other profiles.

You need to change your visibility settings fast and reveal your photo, name and headline so others can see that you’ve viewed their profile.

It’s easy enough to do.

  1. Go to your Account Settings in the top right corner of your profile.
  2. Select Privacy & Settings: Manage.
  3. Click on ‘Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile’.
  4. Select ‘Your name and headline (recommended)’.
  5. Save changes and you’re done.

You need to ensure your LinkedIn settings fit with your business and personal goals. One way to achieve this is to become more visible on LinkedIn to make you more effective and better positioned for future success.

So change those settings today and don’t make the one LinkedIn mistake that could cost you in the long run.

As part of our LinkedIn Influencer Profile Writing Packages, we check to make sure your settings fit your purpose for being on LinkedIn. We help you show up as an expert or authority in your field – and get noticed fast. Get in touch at [email protected] to learn more.

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.

Standing Out From The Crowd

8 Simple Tricks for Getting Noticed on LinkedIn

With over 300 million members, LinkedIn is a gold mine of job, networking AND business opportunities.

With this number of people online, you need to help others easily find you and attract the right kind of interest in your LinkedIn profile.

Your profile is your digital business card. It is a unique way of promoting yourself to 1st, 2nd and 3rd connections – an almost endless sphere of INFLUENCE. You cannot afford to sit back and hope that others find you and reach out to you. You need to get active and get noticed.

The more you do on LinkedIn, the more people will notice this activity. They might be curious to learn about what you do, they might see commonality in your working worlds, or they might be looking for someone specifically like you. As you make updates and get involved, the views to your profile will increase.

So where do you begin and what should you do? Here are 8 SIMPLE TRICKS for getting noticed on LinkedIn.

1. Update your profile

Get your profile into shape to drive people to you. Update headlines, summaries, experience and more. Add in multimedia and don’t leave any section blank. Regularly update headlines to target new employers or drive new business.

2. Post professional status updates

Post regular updates related to the kind of impression you want to make. See yourself as an industry expert? Share news articles and latest thinking. Want to impress a potential employer? Share completed projects and recent achievements. Inform and engage. Add value and INSPIRE.

3. Publish a blog post

Use LinkedIn’s publisher platform to write posts related to your expertise (as I have done here). Have it seen and shared, liked and commented upon. People often get better results from posting on LinkedIn than they would on a company blog or business website. Draft it in a Word doc, copy and paste, then voila. You have the ability to spread your message far and wide, especially when compared to a regular status update.

4. Join and network in groups

Join relevant LinkedIn groups and actively contribute to the community. Share posts, comment on other discussions, start a conversation and engage with people when they respond. It’s another way to demonstrate your expertise, helpfulness and experience, and will often encourage people to want to learn more about who you REALLY are.

5. Give and request recommendations

Seek recommendations of your work and recommend other people. Their connections (and yours) will see the kind things that have been said and may be curious to find out more about the person who said them.

6. View other profiles

Human behaviour is a wonderful thing – when you look at someone’s profile, there’s a good chance they will look back at yours. Then you connect and then you reach out. Search on the type of people you want to have a working relationship with and check out their profiles. Even better, run a search tool like AutoPilot and let it do the searching for you on a daily basis (up to 1,000 searches). Better still, let someone like me do it all for you and watch the notifications and connection requests FLOOD in.

7. Endorse your connections

If you visit a connection’s profile and the skill endorsement request pops up, go ahead and endorse them. It might seem twee but it’s a great way of showing respect and support for a colleague or contact, it leaves your name on the Skills section of their profile, and it shows them you care – invaluable when it comes to leaving a good impression.

8. Make and accept connection requests

Most people wrongly assume that you’re connected to all 300 million people on LinkedIn, but you’re not. You can ONLY reach out to the people in your first degree network and to those 2nd and 3rd degree connections. It follows that the more people you have in your first degree network, the more people you have access to overall. Therefore make sure you accept all relevant connections requests and don’t be shy in making a few of your own. You’ll find that once your connections grow, so will your profile views.

Overwhelmed? Unsure where to begin?

Check out my LinkedIn Profile Makeover Packages or my LinkedIn Article Marketing Package and bring me onboard to overhaul your profile and drive people to you. You can also reach me at [email protected].

Let me answer your questions and work with you to get ACTIVE and NOTICED on LinkedIn.

Image credit: Standing Out | Shutterstock

Large-Crowd

How to Drive People to Your LinkedIn Profile

The main focus of my content writing business is moving towards LinkedIn profile writing. And the reason why?

More and more people are realising the power of LinkedIn to boost their online profile, be seen as an industry expert, increase leads, drive traffic to websites AND improve search engine ranking.

Where once LinkedIn was a place to host your CV and make a few interesting connections, it has fast become an essential personal branding tool and a place to network, job seek and discover exciting new business opportunities.

It has therefore never been more important to build and maintain a POWERFUL LinkedIn profile.

Most of my business leads now come through my LinkedIn profile so isn’t it about time you gave your profile a much-needed makeover and kicked up a storm about the new YOU?

Here are FOUR STEPS you need to take.

Upload a new photo

Keep it simple, engaging and professional. Nobody wants to see you out drinking with your buddies or dressed up for a night out with your other half.

If possible, have a professional photo taken. Ensure you smile, have your face fill the image dimensions, wear business attire or smart casual, and opt for a plain background so the focus is on you, not the building behind you. A rookie error is not using a profile picture at all, which gives the perception that you’re hiding from something OR someone.

Optimise your headline

Gone are the days of simply posting your job title and the company you work for. LinkedIn has moved on and your headline should too. A BOLD HEADLINE is vital to attracting attention to your profile and it’s the first thing people will see when they find you. It’s a shortened, 120-character version of your overall profile and it needs to rank well in searches on LinkedIn and beyond.

Fill your headline with KEYWORDS. Optimise your profile with the main words that describe your work and what you want to be known for – a headline like this will ensure people find you and connect. Consider using adjectives to describe your position, add bullets or lines to separate the words, include additional activities, accomplishments and experience. Look at my own profile at au.linkedin.com/in/russellvjward for an example of a keyword-packed headline.

Another option is the statement headline where you talk about your value proposition, target audience and unique selling point. For example, Brands and Businesses Turn To This Experienced Creative Producer to Manage Events That Deliver.

Write a powerful summary

Alongside your headline, the summary is one of the MOST IMPORTANT elements of your LinkedIn profile and gives your viewers an outline of who you are. You can either use it as a chance to engage and sell to your target audience or provide summary information about what you do.

The trick to writing a killer summary is to make it visually appealing by breaking the content up into easily scannable chunks, using bullets and capitalised text to draw attention to certain points, and including links and a CALL TO ACTION (contact me, email me, visit my website) at the end.

One way to write your summary is to tell a story so start with a brief background (who you are and what you do) and your mission or purpose in work, then talk about your target audience and their potential pain points. Once the problem is out there, reveal how you will fix this (what you can do for them) and give a quick example to demonstrate credibility (key achievements; high-profile successes). Finally, make sure you give your business website address, email and even a phone number – and watch those leads come rolling in.

Build in some multimedia

LinkedIn now gives you the ability to add photos, presentations, videos, PDFs, links and more immediately beneath your summary and in your experience sections. It’s your chance to BOOST your online presence by including a visual element, rather than rely on plain text.

Simple and effective, consider uploading anything that showcases the work you’ve done, the business you operate and the successes you’ve had to create a visual profile that shows off the creative side to you.

So there you have it!

There are other ways to optimise your LinkedIn profile and increase notifications, connections and messages – I’ll share more on these later.

For now, follow these basic steps and you’ll be well on your way to creating a STUNNING LinkedIn profile that gets you NOTICED, drives more people to you, and even gets you that dream job or lucrative business opportunity.

Have any questions or want to learn more about how we can create a brand new LinkedIn profile for you? Visit our website at http://theinternationalwriter.com/linkedin-profile-makeover-packages/ or get in touch at [email protected]

I would love the opportunity to answer your questions and work with you to drive people to your own POWERFUL LinkedIn profile.

Image credit: Large crowd | Shutterstock

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

Newspaper Headlines

4 Ways to Write Powerful Headlines that Make People Click

The headline is the most important element for getting your business content read.

In a world of online noise and distraction, your article or post headline has the power to grab a reader’s attention and entice them into reading more about your business and your work.

With the ability for everyone to now post on LinkedIn, it’s more important than ever to know how to write a headline that makes people click. These readers could become your next customers so you need to create something that makes an unforgettable, irresistible promise to them.

With this in mind, here are 4 ways to write a headline that rocks.

1. Keep it short and snappy

No-one pays attention to long-winded, over-blown headlines. We don’t have the patience and we’ll lose interest. As a rule of thumb, never use more than 100 characters in a headline, tell your readers exactly what you have planned for them, and make the headline punchy, to-the-point and understandable.

Still, feel free to throw in an interesting adjective or two. Consider “unbelievable”, “incredible”, “essential” or even “free”.

2. Show how you can help but don’t be afraid of negativity

Appeal to your target audience by telling them how your article will solve their problem or fix a growing issue. Promise them something valuable or teach them a new skill that they’ve not known before. Try writing ‘How to…’ or ‘Get started by…’, which often draws the reader into wanting to know more.

Play around with the word order and be creative. Ask questions, demand answers and even employ a little negativity. You’d be surprised at how well ‘The Questions You Should Never Ask Your Mother-in-Law’ might do.

3. Appeal directly to the reader

One way of including the reader in your work is to show them that you understand their needs and that your expertise will assist them. Writing headlines using “you” and “we” appeals much more directly.

Example are, ‘What Would You Do if You Lost Your Job Tomorrow?’ or ‘How We Can All Avoid Making Huge Financial Mistakes’. Speaking in this way to the reader is a powerful tool – it can seem as if you’ve written the piece specifically for them or that you’re standing in solidarity with them.

4. List the benefits but try to be unique

Lists are effective because they tell the reader exactly what to expect from your article or post and can grab them from the start. For example, ‘7 Ideas That Will Change Your Life Forever’ or ‘3 Tips For Becoming a Brain Surgeon’.

If you’re going to write a list, don’t rely too heavily on the use of “Things”. Instead, look at using “Tricks”, “Ways”, “Ideas”, “Lessons” and “Facts” as possible alternatives.

Remember that a headline is your first point of contact with the reader. The type of headline depends on who you’re writing for and what you plan to write about.

By keeping a headline short, punchy, relevant and engaging, you’ll get extra attention, more clicks and hopefully lots of keen new customers.

What have I missed? What other ways are there to write a killer headline?

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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?

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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.

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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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