5 Reasons Why Businesses Need to Start a Blog

Business owners might be surprised that the number one method to boost your online presence recommended by SEO experts is starting a blog. Having a blog attached to your domain adds numerous benefits to your content marketing strategy, making your online presence more appealing to potential customers. It also makes you easier to find by improving your ranking on the SERPs. Here are the top five reasons why your business needs its own blog today:

  1. It boosts your SEO. A blog is another area on your website where you can insert keywords while avoiding keyword stuffing. You can write posts about your local area to help you optimize for local search, or write about your product so that your website will be found more easily for that specific item.
  2. It can help raise your conversion rates. There are lots of reasons why good blog posts can appeal to potential customers: it can put their minds at ease about products; it can demonstrate exactly how products might be useful in their personal circumstances; and it can humanize you and your company.
  3. It adds value to your social media posting. Posting consistent content to your various social media platforms is the best strategy – posting content that is valuable specifically to your audience is even better. Cut down on your marketing pleas and post some of your blog publications instead.
  4. It establishes your expertise. When your website has all the answers to your customer base’s questions, you come out looking like the ultimate expert in your field. Being able to answer all of your customer’s questions establishes trust in your product and services, which leads to increased revenue.
  5. It reaches customers where they are. Your audience is faced with advertisements on every corner of the Internet. They’ve learned how to ignore them. However, people have never been more open to reading blog posts as they are now. In fact, reading blogs has become a mini version of reading a novel before bed. Original, valuable content slips past your audience’s defenses against ads, making them more interested in your company and your product than through any other form of marketing.

For more tips on optimizing your business blog for specific keywords, read our post “Finding the Perfect Keywords to Optimize Your Blog.”


Stuart, Ellen. “Why Your Business Needs a Blog . . . Now.” http://www.vtldesign.com/inbound-marketing/blogs/why-your-business-needs-a-blog-now/. (6 May 2014).

Rowse, Darren. “6 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Blog.”http://www.problogger.net/archives/2012/10/31/6-reasons-why-your-business-needs-a-blog/. (6 May 2014).

6 Habits of Online Readers and How to Write for Them

Every writer knows that in order to create effective copy, you need to understand your audience. What makes your target audience tick? What’s important to them? And how do they read?

Well, that last part depends entirely on the medium. A novel reader is going to approach the content of a new book differently than a blog follower will tackle the content of a blog they’ve just discovered. We scour magazines differently than we read newspapers, and so on.

A lot of it has to do with the layout, but one thing is common throughout: when we’re investigating a new piece of content, our eyes move quickly and linger on specific areas before committing to the full piece.

Here are seven habits of online readers that online writers should remember.

1. Online Readers Are Online Scanners

Like all investigative readers, online readers’ eyes will trace the page quickly, catching onto specific points of entry that they’ve learned will offer the best summary of information:

  • Headlines
  • Subheadings
  • Bulleted lists
  • Captions
  • Short, concise sentences and paragraphs
  • Bolded and italicized phrases

It’s important to include your most valuable information in these elements of your web copy. If your readers were to summarize your content in a few words, what would you want them to say? These phrases should stand out so that they’re easily consumed by your visitors.

2.    Online Readers Are Niche Readers

By fully understanding the appeal of your blog—what brings people back again and again—you can more accurately cater to your specific audience. Whether your appeal is humor, valuable product reviews, organic recipes, DIY tips, etc., you need to understand who you’re writing for and refrain from deviating from that niche topic of interest. Remember that you can always create another blog if you want to try your hand at other topics.

3.    Online Readers Respond Well to Visuals

Whenever possible and applicable, complement your written copy with other forms of media, videos, images, and infographics. Make sure the layout of your copy flows in a natural way, and that your color palette is also natural. Avoid anything that looks gimmicky or cheap (i.e. flashing text). Your visuals should be tasteful and understated. It should never distract from your message or copy, but add an element of interest. Blog posts with images tend to do much better than those without.

4.    Online Readers Want You to Get to the Point

Online readers have especially short attention spans and they want their content to cut to the chase as much as possible. There’s not time for a story arc, only for the basics, which includes the 5 Ws: who, what, where, why, and when.

5.    Online Readers Want to Laugh When It’s Appropriate

Humor is a good idea when used appropriately, but you need to keep in mind the object of your copy so that your creative liberties don’t distract from or confuse your message. You want your brand and copy to have a personality that readers can relate to, but don’t overdo it. Unless your blog is specifically categorized as humor, it may end up being off-putting to readers who are just looking for specific information.

6.    Online Readers Will Click on Links

Make sure any links you include in your copy open up in a new tab so that your original page will always remain open for them to return to, but certainly don’t neglect linking out to your sources. Not only will this ensure giving credit where it’s due, but it will show your readers that you’re well-versed with online etiquette and are genuinely interested in their education on the topic.

What have you noticed about the way online readers behave as opposed to readers of print material?


Nichol, Mark. “7 Tips for Writing for Online Readers.” http://www.dailywritingtips.com/7-tips-for-writing-for-online-readers/. (December 24, 2014.)

Staying Organized When You’re Working Anywhere

With great freedom comes great responsibility. And great risk. When you’re working on your own time, in your own environment, it’s not hard to succumb to your worst propensities towards disorganization and laziness.

It’s not uncommon for freelancers to have multiple employers and projects on their plates—all while working from a home office. With crisscrossing deadlines and obligations to keep track of, learning tricks to staying on top of it all is absolutely critical to completing your tasks, maintaining a reputation of reliability with your employers, and ultimately paying your bills.

Here are a few critical pointers to include in your strategy right from the bat if you’re new to freelancing, or to incorporate into your existing habits if you’re a seasoned freelancer in need of revamping.

Must-haves for Every Freelancer

  • Regular daily schedule
  • Realistic workload
  • Localized note repository
  • Prioritized personal time
  • Healthy email habits
  • Intuitive financial tracking software
  • Reliable, go-to gigs

The Breakdown

Regular Daily Schedule & Prioritized Personal Time

If your schedule is up in the air, everything else goes out the window right along with it. Alternatively, by blocking out portions of your day just for work, you’ll have a set schedule to share with your family and loved ones so that they’ll know not to bother you during those predetermined timeframes.

A set schedule also allows you to define the distinction between your work life and your home life, which can get blurred when you’re working from home. It may start to feel like you don’t have a life outside of work at all if you haven’t made it clear with yourself when you’re allowed to live it. Conversely, “work time” can blur into “personal time” and become less productive than a scenario where the lines were boldly drawn.

That being said, make sure that you are also prioritizing your personal time, now that you’ve distinguished it from your work time, so that you don’t burn yourself out.

Realistic Workload

Defining “realistic” for your unique situation is going to take some experience as you get to know your skillsets and turnaround speed. Once you have an understanding of how long it takes you to do certain projects, you can accumulate a realistic amount of projects that won’t overwhelm you or impair your ability to produce quality content. It’s okay to be picky about what you take on, and to say no to work that you simply won’t be able to complete to your satisfaction within the determined timeframe.

Localized Note Repository

This will depend on your preferences. Do you like physical notepads or digital programs like Evernote? Which is going to be the most feasible for you? Which will you be most likely to use consistently? The main point is this: always, always write down your creative ideas for topics and projects, and keep it all in one place.

Healthy Email Habits

While keeping separate folders for all of your contacts and subcategories for your projects is a fantastic idea, remember that organizing your daily influx of emails into these folders is going to take a significant chunk out of your allotted work time. Leave that for after you’ve replied to important emails from your clients and employers. You never want to keep them waiting and it will help to strengthen your reputation of reliability.

Intuitive Tracking Software for Your Finances

As a freelancer, you are your own HR team and Accounts Payable. In order to keep a set daily schedule, you should keep a standing appointment with yourself every week to review your finances. Using a paid bookkeeping service instead of an Excel sheet will provide you with hugely valuable tools and features come tax season.

Reliable, Go-to Gigs

In the course of your experiences as a freelancer, work extra hard to maintain those relationships that you like. Prioritize the projects that promise additional work for the future. Securing those concrete gigs, including—if necessary—a part time job on the side, will provide you with some security in a characteristically insecure profession.


Feloni, Richard. “7 Tips for Freelancers To Stay Organized.” http://www.businessinsider.com/how-freelancers-can-stay-organized-2014-3. (December 12, 2014.)

Online Writing Tips for the Cool and Adventurous

There are many types of online writing because—even online—there are many types of readers. There are still readers who will read for pleasure (blogs, ebooks, etc.) and for them, long, prosey text is appropriate. But for marketing/sales text, there are a few guidelines you will be wise to follow as you write.

Follow these guidelines to avoid repelling your online browsers and up your chances of converting your readers into buyers of your product or message (this doesn’t just mean spending actual money, but it means persuading your readers to your cause or point of view).

9 Tips to Write Compellingly Online

  1. Pay special attention to headlines
  2. State your main point first
  3. Keep paragraphs short
  4. Convert any type of series into a list, bulleted or numbered
  5. Parallel lists only
  6. Online copy can be personal; use I, you, and we
  7. Use active, not passive, voice
  8. To exude authority, use the imperative
  9. Use hyperlinks, bolded text, and italics to highlight important keywords and phrases.


Your readers will scan this first before reading anything else, so pretending that the headline is all they’ll read, what information do you want them to walk away with? This information should be in the headline.

Give Your Main Point Priority

Don’t lollygag when you’re getting to your main point. Your readers won’t have the patience to wait. Jump right into the meat of your post and starting talking about what’s important.

No Long Paragraphs

You want your page to be both scannable and welcoming. Blocky paragraphs are intimidating and unattractive to your busy readers. If you keep your paragraphs short and palatable, you won’t go wrong.

Use Lists!

If you find yourself list out anything in a sentence, convert to an actual list to make it more scannable. The eyes love consuming lists so give your readers what they like to look at. Keep your lists parallel.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Personal

You only want to avoid informally addressing your readers if you’re writing something official or academic, and even then there may be exceptions. Think about what’s appropriate for your audience and make the call on your own. They are after all, your audience.

Be Active

The passive voice is a drag and has a tendency to get boring. Don’t get stuck using phrases like “Mistakes were made” or “a fire was started.” What this does is remove the subject of the sentence and introduces ambiguity. Keep your text direct.

Exude Authority

Use the imperative to create an impression of authority and action. This means giving commands and writing with confidence.

Highlight Important Text

Italicize, bold, or better yet, hyperlink your keywords and other important phrases that you want to stick out to your readers. The hyperlinks should go to related posts on content on your site or blog.


Questions or comments? Drop a line in the comments below!


Nordquist, Richard. “Twelve Tips for Improving Online Writing.”http://grammar.about.com/od/improveyourwriting/a/OnlineWriting.htm. (January 30, 2015.)

Choosing the Perfect WordPress Theme: 3 Questions You Should Ask First

So you have a stellar idea for a website, your domain name is secured and all that’s left for you to do is to find the perfect WordPress theme. Just being “pretty” isn’t going to cut it. There are thousands of themes to sift through, so you’ll need to know the right features to look for to drive traffic and grow your audience.

If you’re hosting your own website, you won’t be able to choose from the premium themes WordPress has to offer. Other business owners and bloggers have spent thousands on paying a designer to build them a custom site, but there is a different route. You have the opportunity to find a theme with a unique design that will set your website apart from the competition – without breaking the bank.

You don’t have to settle for a theme that isn’t perfect. In this post, we’ll show you how to choose a theme that’s budget-friendly and right for your audience.

1. Does this theme relate to my business or industry?

Not all themes were created equally, so it’s important to understand what type of theme matches your industry before sorting through results. Take the two themes below for example. Though they both are visually appealing, the theme on the right focuses more on graphics rather than text, so it would be a much better fit for a photographer.


You can save yourself a lot of time by searching for themes created for designated industries. For instance, let’s say you just started an online store. ThemeForest has more than 350 WordPress themes designed specifically for eCommerce sites. With these results, you’ll have an easier time finding themes with design features and page elements that suit your needs.

2. Is the design simple, responsive, and user-friendly?

Google’s recent algorithm change, also known as “Mobilegeddon”, caused a responsive web design revolution. Google’s mobile search now favors sites that adapt to smaller screens, so websites with responsive themes will display higher on search results. Businesses and blog owners are still scrambling to piece together their old websites into a mobile-friendly version, so it’s worth your while to invest in a responsive theme now.

Responsive-Theme-ExampleAnother aspect to consider would be simple vs. complex themes. The example below shows the difference between a clean, slick template compared to a “messier” or more complex theme. Generally, the cleaner the template – the less work you’ll have to do to maintain it and keep its features running, but there are exceptions:


This website’s blog started making millions after they redesigned their template (along with a few other major changes) and surprisingly, the complex theme on the right was much more successful in driving traffic. Even though the minimalistic theme on the left looks cleaner and easier to read, visitors spent more time on the redesigned page and social media engagement increased as well.

According to Ryan Deiss, founder and CEO of Digital Marketer:

“Our research suggests that a slick, minimalist site layout – like the ones virtually all major ad firms recommend – can drive engagement down and cause your readers to devalue your content and site as a whole. Would you rather have a high-traffic, high profit site or would you rather be ‘cool’ and win design awards?”

When it comes to the design of your template, don’t rule out the more complex themes. If you’re still not sure whether you need a simple or complex theme, consider buying from ElegantThemes. ElegantThemes lets you choose from their entire list of themes for less than $100 per year, so you can change your design as much as you want to find one that works for you.

3. Is this theme worth the cost?


Free themes may be appealing at first, but unless you’re a blogger who does not rely on traffic, there are many disadvantages. Free themes found from Google searches often contain malicious code and “spammy” links that will prevent visitors from finding your site. They are also rarely updated, making it difficult to avoid bugs and keep up with evolving search engine algorithms.

Premium WordPress themes are also more affordable than having a designer build a custom theme for your website. Custom blog designs can cost upwards of $1,000, while paid WordPress theme prices range from $30 – $100. They also offer plugins and features that you won’t find on free themes, with quality coding that won’t disrupt the performance of your website.

Where to Buy WordPress Themes

Searching for WordPress themes on Google yields hundreds of results, so it’s understandable if you are unsure of where to buy from. SmallBizTrends has this great list of websites that offer WordPress themes, sorted by the level of experience you’ll need to use them. Just make sure to read the reviews of the themes before you buy them – you can learn a lot more about the theme’s usability by reading other users’ experiences.

Which website do you use the most to find themes? Let us know in the comment section and thanks for reading!

Top Ten Best Places To Find Writing Inspiration This Summer

We’re all guilty of sitting in a room with our eyes fixated to the laptop while our fingers relentlessly tap away at keys, but is that really the best situation for writing great content?

There’s nothing inspiring about writing in the same place all the time, so one common method authors use to revamp their creativity is by simply changing their environment. New York Times columnist Carol Kaufmann wrote this piece back in 2013 on how writing outdoors can stimulate the senses and enhance creativity.

If you want to improve the quality of your content and find writing inspiration, try changing your environment. Not sure where to go? Here are our top ten best places to find writing inspiration for you to try out while you craft your latest blog post.

Where To Go To Find Writing Inspiration


Local Parks
This is one of the most relaxing and inspirational locations for writers. With a fully charged laptop, spend a few hours writing at a nearby park. As you observe all the activities and life happening around you, you’re bound to strike inspiration. Just make sure to leave your cell phone at home and be free of all technological distractions.



We all know libraries are a great place to write because they’re quiet and full of resources, so why don’t we write there more often? Pack up your laptop and head to your local library but this time, picture your work on the self. Is it enticing enough for you to pick it up and check it out? Bounce ideas off of librarians, more often than not they’ll be excited to help you find inspiration too.


Up In The Mountains
If you find it hard to resist the temptations of technology, next time you write try taking your computer up to your favorite hiking spot. The fresh air is guaranteed to inspire you and the workout you’ll get reaching your destination will help clear your mind. Take some water, bug spray, a chair, and whatever else you need to be distraction-free and in the perfect zone for creativity.


Public Transit

Many people find inspiration while writing on the bus or train, being surrounded by strangers picking up intercepted conversations may have something to do with it. The next time you find yourself riding public transit, treat it as an opportunity to find inspiration and get your thoughts down in writing.


The Mall

It’s crowded, busy, and smells like pretzels, but it’s also a place to be inspired. There are hundreds of people who traverse through the mall every week, put yourself in the middle of that and contemplate. Among hundreds of very different people, what makes you the most different and unique? What do you stand for? Think about what you want to project in this world and find creative gold.


Waiting Rooms
When it’s nothing but you, your thoughts, and a couple complementary magazines, there’s nothing else you should do but find inspiration to write. Take whatever is around you and brainstorm for story ideas. See a woman trying to quiet her rambunctious child? That’s a blog post waiting to happen! Take your creative expertise and put it to the test the next time you’re stuck in a waiting room, it’ll pass the time faster than Candy Crush we promise.


At A Market

Whether it’s a market for farmers, crafters, or fleas, you’ll meet some talented people with stories that will help you find inspiration. Every vendor at these fairs has a story and will enjoy the opportunity to tell it to someone. It’s a great opportunity to take photos and connect with the community – thus inspiration is bound to be found.



It may sound crazy, but where else can you go to find creative inspiration that you can (1) be distraction-free and (2) be in a comfortable, new environment? If you can’t escape the distractions of everyday life, the best thing you could do is to invest in your idea and spend a night in a hotel room immersed in thought. If you’re not getting work done anywhere else, it could be a good way to force yourself to catch up.


Historic Districts

What better way to find inspiration is there other than traversing through history? Visit your town’s historic districts and think about how much has changed. Think about the stories there are to learn and the stories that were lost. What does it take to stand the test of time? Is your writing timeless and unforgettable, or is it something that will be remade into something better in a few years?


Headlines, Billboards, and Advertisements

Okay, so maybe this one isn’t a place – but still a good way to find inspiration nonetheless. Headlines, billboards, and advertisements show us things that are emotional, trending, or newsworthy. These are all core components of a quality blog post, so rather than ignoring them, look for an opportunity to write something great.


We hope our list helps you find a perfect place for inspiration to strike! Where is the strangest place you’ve found inspiration? Let us know in the comments and thank you for reading!