What have I learned?
The internet’s vast resources of words, searches, and knowledge have resulted in an unprecedented access to information. It’s easy to get (and be lost) within a sea of overwhelming data, links, and images; however, here are a few of my experiences in writing editorials and blogs over the past 18 months.
Writing style varies by individual, which is a great thing – insight provided by personal experience lets your audience know ‘where you’re coming for.’ Consider though, that your use of the English language in written form, will be your first impression to a perspective customer or client, so weave it into a ‘fabric of you,’ providing your take on an issue. Catch grammatical errors, before they’re published – nothing looks worse than “their” when “they’re” should be used. Make a good first impression by getting to the point, being concise, and above all, editing your work (tough, to do on your own, but necessary, to be sure) – I typically write, move on to something else, and re-read at a later date, prior to posting, to provide a ‘fresh eyes’ approach.
Anyone who writes can be perceived as an expert – excellent grammar, a vast vocabulary, and informal styles can result in the perception that an individual or company is at the top – caution here: find multiple sources of the same keywords and read, read, read – the better informed you are, as a potential customer or client, the better prepared you will be when paying for services or products and verifying that claims and data can be validated. Don’t overstate your ability, through blogging, and don’t underestimate yourself, as a paying customer.
We are in the ‘Age of the Payer,’ providing you, the customer, the best possible advantage, when seeking services or considering a product – ‘they’ should cater to you; after all, competition is fierce, and the battle for your business, rages on…check out recommendations, both recent and from long ago, and ask to speak directly to someone’s customers. We should be ‘walking the walk, after talking the talk.’ Most definitely, ponder ‘why,’ if someone does not have customers willing to speak on their behalf.
A reciprocal, business perspective is that any business/individual should be able to say no to work, whether over fees or services that are outside a contract under negotiation (without an adequate compensation discussion). Specific blogging about base services versus a ‘premier’ line or product should aid you in that regard...even if this is approached through an ‘upgrade’ that is adequately-detailed, to convey a final benefit or value. Evaluate the Homeowner’s perspective, relay your Professional experience, and communicate effectively – sometimes false or grandiose expectations can be unrealistic!
What makes you different? A service, practice, business model? This must come through in your blog, keywords, and ultimately, your writing style. Build on it, while maintaining a degree of ‘with-holding,’ after all, your competition may be checking you out! Tried-and-true recommendations from previous customers reinforce what you’ve done differently, the success you’ve achieved, or the money you have saved them.
On topic, on you.
Allow people to get a sense of you, as an individual – we’re in a different world now, where the previous mold of a Professional is shaped with a ‘touch of persona.’ While rather on-topic blogs are effective, you may choose to incorporate what I’ve effectively termed ‘ramblings’…So keep content Professional but don’t be afraid to provide insight that informs someone of who you ‘really are.’ The value system of generations past is still here – allow folks to ‘see them’ – do you work late AND meet deadlines? Been on-site or on the phone within minutes addressing a problem? Juggle commitments of family with work? These are natural fits with a stable company or individual who has deep-rooted values and can cue someone ‘in’ to what makes ‘you, you.’ Or better, how you would treat them…
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn provide excellent ‘conduits;’ however, keep in mind that Likers, Followers, and Connections may come-and-go – don’t take it personally. Many times, these people have ‘landed’ on your page due to keyword searches. For example, ‘landscape’ can be both literal and ethereal, consider that a “landscape of the mind” or “the political landscape” have vastly different meanings than “Landscape Architecture.” So folks may have ‘dropped in,’ unintentionally. Don’t be offended to watch page views drop and users fall away –
Blogging can produce results – be sure to check your data, relative to hits that spike after a popular post – go back and check for content, attempting to find what pulled in the audience. This can be ‘nerve-racking’ and rewarding, all at the same time – you are forced to ‘put it out there,’ but remain confident in doing so…absorbing negative comments for what they are and creating a dialog (i.e., lemonade from lemons). You will have an experience one day when someone who is a ‘perfect stranger’ knows a bit about you and your business, creating a wonderful dialog that is front-loaded about your business!