Category Archives: Content Writing Tips

Grammar Rules You Still Have to Use in Modern English

English Grammar Rules

Everyone has seen one of the “If you can read this” memes about how we can read so many different things, or the phonetic tropes like, “hukt on fonics.” But, how you use language, grammar and vocabulary matters. Especially if you are selling something, even if it is just a book.

That said, there are few rules that are universally applicable in what grammar or style of language you should use in marketing content, blogging, or even writing a book. Because every piece of written material has an author and an audience. Even if the author is just journaling for their own enjoyment or record keeping, this is still an audience.

Because there are educational forms of content, entertaining, inspiring, and more that combine with different dialects and cultural groups, take anything I am about to say with a grain of salt.

3 English Grammar Rules

  1. Don’t Use Taboo Words in the Wrong Place – While many sales people and coaches drop an F-bomb or describe the stinkin’ stench o’ sh…, understand that this might turn certain audiences off. And also understand that what is one person’s swear word is another person’s term of endearment. In most languages, a taboo word will either be around politics, bodily functions, religion, or a person’s identity. Use these words with caution.
  2. Understand The Determiner – If you learned grammar in classical schooling, they call this the article. But, we often don’t use article when we can use null determiner (See what I did there?). While your grammar check may tell you to always add the or an, sometimes dropping them and using what linguists call the null determiner makes a stronger point or makes the sentence stand out. (You might also think I just wrote a poor sentence, but whatever.) Other determiners include numbers, possessives, and words that come before a noun and determine its function and relationships.
  3. No, Abbreviations Are Not Great Marketing – Most hip marketing lingo does not age well. Current abbreviations will age just as well as a picture of a Motorola phone with a text following the abbreviations of the early 2000’s did in my old youth group room. Lol has been around a long time, and it might have crossed from the world of punctuated writing into real communication. But, brb, ttyl, roflmfao, op, ty, gg, and many other abbreviations will not create marketing that lasts and engages people. It might be catchy.

These are just some thoughts on grammar and English use. From my tired brain to yours.

~N Paul Davis

List Building Challenge

Do you use WordPress? Whether for a business site, a personal blog, or a business blog, WordPress is a powerful system for building leads and managing a site. Do you use another CMS? If you do, the list building challenge I am talking about can be helpful, but much of the software in it is geared towards WordPress.

Do you want to grow your mailing list? Many people do not understand the power of a mailing lit for driving leads and traffic. It is huge to be able to build relationships with your target market. I joined a membership group that I had been following for 3 years two months ago because of their great email marketing.

If you answer yes to either of those questions, I want to invite you to a list building challenge. Starting June 1, I am participating in a live challenge called the 30 Day List – Building Challenge and I wanted to extend you an invitation to join me in this challenge.

Some things I love about the list-building challenge include the software tutorials (ever wonder how to do Google Analytics on your site?), the actual software (Popup Ally is a free popup and embedded lead capture plugin for WordPress that you will be introduced to), and the fellowship in the free Facebook group (prizes will be included for taking part, including a free one year license to PopupAlly Pro).

Yes, these are affiliate links, but I have been a user of PopupAlly and a follower of Nathalie Lussier, the co-creator of Popup Ally for several years and use their software on this site and for several of my customers already. Any affiliate link I recommend is to a product that I am willing to buy for myself.

So, if you want a free list-building challenge where you learn how to launch or grow your email list, sign up for the 30 day list building challenge here.

And if you do sign up for your list-building challenge, join me in www.mybloggingcommunity.com, my private Facebook group for bloggers and let me know that you signed up!

Open For Guest Posters 

Guest blog for The Writers Cue
You! Guest write for Paul Davis Solutions!

Do you have a marketing or art story to share? Do you think your business experience would make a great story for The Art of Marketing?

If so,  we are interested in guest proposals for the following types of content:

  • Vlogs – embed your story, tips, or tutorial in a post.
  • Blogs – write a blog with custom CTAs and three links to your site.
  • Podcasts – podcast will need to be in an embeddable player.

The Writer’s Cue is looking for proposals for content rich guest posting.

If you want to write with us,  please contact Paul to find out if your content will fit in The Writer’s Cue’s content schedule.

How Do You Establish Yourself as a Thought Leader Through Content Marketing?

Other than blogging, I can’t think of any other ways to establish myself as an [industry]thought leader through content marketing. If you could give me some ideas on ways that I can really brand myself through my content that would be great. I think my biggest issue is not knowing where to begin. I know how to blog already but would like some other ideas that could really get my name out there to my particular market.

I’d love to help!

Thought Leader Through Content

They say content is king, but that is such a vague statement, what does it really mean? How are you, as a business owner, going to use content to establish yourself as someone others should take seriously?

To keep this as simple as possible, great business-focused content addresses a pain point in your customer’s lives.

Types of Content

thought leadership through content marketing

Still following the simple rule, there are three basic types of content you can produce online: visual, audio, and audio/visual. Visual content includes blogs, white papers, infographics, pictures, and brochures. Audio includes podcasts, live audio streaming, and radio spots repurposed online. Audio/visual includes live videos, advertisements, longer documentary segments, how to videos and other vlog formats.

Which one of these content types will establish you as an industry leader? Eventually, all of them. If you are just starting out, then there are two questions to ask about the type of content you should use: what are you comfortable with? and what does your audience use?

The comfort question is easiest, but understanding your audience can be more difficult. It can help if you ask your customers where they find business related questions. If you currently do not have a large client list, ask yourself three questions:

  • When does my customer research their business? Some people may do podcasts in the car during a commute, other people watch videos in the evenings or on weekends, others read blogs during their workday. Do you know what your target market does?
  • Where does my target customer access information? For example, a small healthcare provider may be researching issues on the fly all day via their phone. For this type of researcher, short and focused written content may be all they have time to read before they have to move on to the next patient. On the other hand, a contractor may be busy with tools all day and take specific times during the week to do research and online networking. For these, video might be a good format as they have to set aside time to interact with content anyways.
  • How can I get that information in front of the target customers? While you need to have your own channel for information (website, social pages, etc), you also need to get your brand on industry leader’s channels as well.

Places to Post Your Content

There is a tremendous amount of platforms available for getting your content out there. The following is a very partial list of places you can work your content magic:

  • On-Site Blogging – Yes, you need a website to post your own slides, videos, blogs, articles, and more on. This gives you control over your lead funnels and eases the creation of evergreen content. See my slideshare, Why Aren’t Ya Blogging?, for more information on creating a blog.
  • Guest Blogging – A guest blog is where you find someone in your industry and pitch them a story that you can write (or have a ghostwriter like myself write for you). Jill Stanton of Screw the Nine to Five has a great blog on guest-posting and if you want a place to practice your pitches, head on over to MyBloggingCommunity.com, a free Facebook group and throw us a pitch. We’ll give you some pointers on how to improve it.
  • Answering Questions on Quora  – I have not used this one, yet. But, Torchlite (Yes, I did just link to a competitor) has a great blog on how to use Quora to establish thought leadership.
  • Guest Interviewing on Relevant Webinars – This follows much of the same principles behind guest blogging, but with a focus on audio content.
  • Podcasting – Rather than writing out your story or your how-to, you can tell it to your audience via a voice recorder and upload it to a variety of sites including ITunes, Spreaker, SoundCloud, or a platform of your choice.
  • Facebook Live – This one just started taking off, but it is currently all the rage in Facebook’s ever changing algorithm ( as of March 2017). If you want to get good engagement on Facebook and increase your organic reach, plan to spend some time in front of a video camera broadcasting live to Facebook. Informal totally goes here, so don’t worry too much about what it looks like as what you want to say to your target client.
  • YouTube Videos – You can create these as live shots, even go live, but YouTube is a great resource for creating a unique video that showcases who you are, and what your business is about.
  • Twitter Authority – Twitter favors fast-paced engagement with your audience. With integrated photo and video sharing, it is also a great place to engage with more artistic forms of communication.
  • LinkedIn Authority – For many B2B marketers, LinkedIn is a great tool for publishing your content. You can create the posts on LinkedIn’s platform and link out to your site or just share your posts with others.
  • Facebook Groups – Be very careful about how to share your content in Facebook Groups (My mentor Wendy Maynard has a great resource for finding groups that have share rules)

These are just some of the resources that a savvy business leader like yourself can use to establish industry leadership with your content.

Have you found any content marketing platforms that work better than others? Ones that don’t work?

7 Tips on How to Regularly Finish Your Business Blog

During my workshop, “Why Aren’t Ya Blogging?” one of the more common issues that small business owners face in crafting a quality business blog is the fact that they are so dang hard to finish. We business owners are a flighty lot: we have to balance sales calls, serving our customers, crafting content on our site, strategic planning, accounting, technology sourcing, artistic creation and strategic direction. Among other things. That is why I am sharing these tips on how to finish your business blog, learned from finishing my over 700 published blogs.Finish Your Business Blog

Writing A Blog is Hard

I get it, but there are some great resources for figuring out how to effectively plan and write a blog so that it is finished and published.

  1. Use a Numbered List – Someone asked my about why I always talk about “7 reasons,” “4 tips,” and similar numbers of lists. There are two reasons: one is that your readers like knowing what they are getting beforehand. The second reason is that you only have to write a little bit on each point. Only have time for a short post? Give people 3 simple tips? Want to write a long-form article that people will bookmark and read later? Write a list of the 15 best apps for running a blog.
  2. Outline and Draft – If you have the number of points you want to make, outline the intro, points, and conclusion and then draft it.
  3. Don’t Push It – If you find yourself staring at a blogand quickly clicking away to Facebook or some other equally amazing procrastination tool, don’t keep pushing. Get up, go for a walk, shoot some hoops, or play some hockey. When you have had a moment to breathe, sit back down and use the next few tips and the checklist linked to below to hammer out your blog!
  4. Use Music or White Noise to Filter Out Distractions – I use the Spotify Web App, and when I really need to focus, I listen to one of the many Latino and Latina stations…. If you cannot listen to any forms of music, get a fan or a white noise app.
  5. Understand Your Learning Styles – People think and learn differently. If you have never taken some time to understand your learning styles, you might want to research that a little more if you struggle with writing a blog. Maybe you are a kinesthetic learner and you need to write your blogs from your phone while jogging down a road at sunset.
  6. You Talkin’ To Me? – Understand the buyer’s persona or avatar you are writing to and you will be able to plan your blog better. Know your audience is always a key part of any writing journey, and a blog is no different from every other form of content.
  7. Single Task – Once you know what you are writing about and have an outline in place, take some time where you will not read any other article or go to any other sites. If you need to, close all tabs and programs except for the one you have open.

Finally, I have prepared a checklist to help you finish your business blog every time!

Get “My Blogging Checklist”Now!

 

4 Reasons Why You Should Not Worry About SEO

I have been busy preparing for a local business lunch and learn on Thursday,  and one major item small business owners sometimes don’t understand is search engine optimization  (SEO). 

Don’t get me wrong, getting found on search engines is more important than ever, but search engines are better than ever at finding you! 

1. Search engines don’t buy your product. 

None of the small business owners I know have ever had Google or Microsoft contact them for their services or products.  And even if they did, a person from the corporation would be buying it,  not the search software.  

People buy your product, algorithms don’t. 

2. Google has not found a trick it likes. 

I remember building my first website in 2001 or 02. I loved the exploration of technology and the idea that I could build virtual community. Then I learned about how you needed to get links (they could be purchased), put keywords in all the right places (like,  every other word), and I could be rich and successful. 

I didn’t build another website for ten years.  Yeah,  I  managed some sites,  blogged a bit,  and joined the social media revolution,  but the tricks of SEO turned me off the internet. 

Fast forward to today: 

  • If you write stilted jargon in order to be found by a search engine,  your website gets penalized. 
  • If you purchase links from a link network,  your position on Google drops.
  • If your site solely exists as a sales page, your Page rank goes down. 

How do you rank on Google today?  You provide relevant and fresh content that engages your audience so they organically provide links to your site. 

How refreshing. 

3. There’s More Than One Way To Get  Found Online

Search is incredibly important,  but it’s not the only way to find people. 

Maps,  apps,  social networks,  review sites,  and offline activity are all relevant and important ways to build relationships. 

4. Relationships, Relationships,  Relationships

As we continue down the fast path of modern technology (hence my photo for this post), the faster we realize that people are our customers, the better. 

SEO matters,  but it is not all that matters. Your amazing customers,  friends, family, neighbors,  and awesome people you have not met yet are the reason to run a business,  and the reason to build a great, content- rich website. 

15 Great Resources for Managing a Content Marketing Campaign

In honor of Day 13 in the 30 Day Blogging challenge, I am going to show you the tools I use to manage and research content marketing and increase quality for myself and my clients. Because I want to provide the highest value, I am not using any affiliate links on this post. These are sites, resources, and tools I use and would recommend to anyone, free of charge.

Outsource Sites

  • Blogmutt.com – I am not going to recommend any other sites to outsource your content here. In full disclosure, BlogMutt was the kickstart to my career as a content writer and I happen to own writer’s stock in the company. But, if you want somewhere to get lots of content affordably with no contract and limited hassle, go on over there and use their product.

Information Sites

  • Neil Patel – Neil Patel writes some of the longest and information filled blogs on content marketing on the internet, or at least the little bit of the internet I read on a daily basis. Always a good place to find out information about the technical side of content marketing. Also, he reminded me I need to smile in profile shots.
  • Sark eMedia – I always shout out to Sarah and Kevin Arrow in giving a list of resources. They have great resources on their site, their email list is phenomenal, and their Facebook group is tremendous. If you go over to the link I included, you can access all of their resources as well as read an amazing blog on all the tools for getting legal and high-quality pictures online.
  • Screw the Nine-to-Five – Josh and Jill Stanton are hilarious and Jill is one of the best copywriters I know for crafting content in her own voice. I have been reading their blogs and newsletter since 2013 and the copywriting has been consistently good and had a unique voice across all platforms (blog, newsletter, FB Live, podcasts).

Tools

  • Nathalie Lussier and Robin Li – I honestly never know whether to include the Ally brand of products and consulting in a tool list or information site list. Since I am going to move my pop-up management back to PopupAlly from SumoMe this week, I decided to include them in the tools list at this point in time. Their email list-building challenge is amazingly informative, their products are top of the line, and their philosophy is right up my alley.
  • Buffer – This is pure tool. If you want a platform to schedule Facebook posts on personal and business pages, Twitter accounts, LinkedIn and more, check it out! My first Buffer posts were on the free version to read books to my children while I was away at a conference. Loved it ever since.
  • BuzzSumo– This tool helps you find out how people are sharing your content, what content is trending in your industry, and keeping tabs on other content information.
  • Canva – This is a great tool for quick editing of photos and access to free or cheap graphics to include in your photos.
  • Pixabay – Great resource for downloading high quality, royalty free images. If you sign in and upload some of your own photos the site is completely free and free of advertisements.
  • Grammarly – This checker is great for grammar checking your work as you type. The browser extension  for Chrome is a gift to writers everywhere.
  • DropBox – I would not be anywhere without Drop Box. I use it to organize, backup files, and do collaborative projects with clients in North and South Carolina, Idaho, and Egypt. Dropbox is one type of cloud storage and file management software. For a more complete list, check out this comprehensive review from Cloudwards.net
  • Gmail and Associated Products – This is worth a post in and of itself. I will update that link when I have created the post on all the ways you can use Gmail and other Google tools to manage content online.

Offline Resources

  • Coworking Locations – Really, besides giving me a place to write away from the bustle and hustle of a seminary-student wife and two preschool age children, my coworking location was my best source for leads in 2016. Skip the coffee shops, get better chairs, and do better work. Just google “coworking spot near me” to find one for yourself.
  • Networking Events – I have gotten clients from a BNI event and from a Chamber of Commerce event, as well as connected with other marketers. Meetup is actually a great way to find networking events in your local community.
  • Community Colleges – These will change depending on your location, but I always find interesting resources from small, local colleges for business people.

I could keep writing all day, but have other work to do. What are some of your favorite resources for writing, marketing, or networking as a business person?

Leave a comment below, and as always, email me if you want some help with your content marketing.

7 Tips for Planning Content Creation

If marketing is an art like conducting, content creation and promotion is the ability to count. In something this basic to your online business, content creation is a tremendous part of your marketing process.  These content creation tips will ensure that you are ready and able to go when life throws you a marketing cue.

The Art of Content Creation - Business Tips

Marketing focuses on your target market, understands them and their needs and delivers products and services to them in the best possible way. In the information and social environment we now live, content is the key delivery platform for getting your product or service in front of your target market.

That said, creating content that is meaningful, engaging, and speaks to your potential and current customers is difficult.

No worries, here are some tips on finding ways to reach your audience with the right content.

1. Repurpose Content. 

Simpy put, repurposed content takes one piece of content and publishes it on another platform or a different location. A blog on principles in business can be a good video, a video on opening a drone can be a great blog.

For example, I am not the best visual artist in the world, or even in my house. I would say my 4 year old just surpassed me in many visual arts. That said, visual art is an important and integral part of content marketing. We need images in blogs so that they share on Facebook, linked images get more engagement on Twitter, etc. As I was writing the beginning line to this blog, I thought, “That would make a good meme.”

Five minutes later on Canva and Voila! I have a meme and a photo for this blog: that is repurposed content.

2. Understand Your Why

I am reading EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches by Dave Ramsey, and he talks about how customers buy from brands because of the brands why: what makes you want to be in business. For me, my business is about helping small businesses who are struggling with getting their identity in front of their customers.

This is my passion and a very big why.

I also have embraced the creative lifestyle required to become an excellent marketer.

What is your why? What are you doing for your customers that makes you get out of bed in the morning?

Understand that and you will have an easy time planning content.

3. Use a Calendar

I could write in detail on this, but why not just tell you to do it and send you to an excellent post by Sarah Arrow.

4. Write Often

I stopped writing at The Writer’s Cue for several months; I was busy with other clients and I did not know where I wanted to go with it. I was writing for solopreneurs and home-based business people, but was landing clients who were more on the small business side of things.

Now that I understand a little more about my client and my art, I am kicking off my marketing campaign with a one-month blogging challenge: a blog a day. After I successfully achieve that goal, I will back it down to probably 2 blogs a week.

Does it take that much writing to get the hang of content? Yes, yes it does.

5. Learn Grammar and Vocabulary Rules

Listen, you can have an informal voice and even drop swear words here and there. But, if your writing cannot be understood, you will not be able to interact with your customers.

The sentence, you which our reading, might could be ignorant to there understanding when your reaching out too ur customers

If that sentence looks normal, you need to take some writing tutoring before you try to manage your own content plan. Also, why are you reading a post on content creation tips? Go find a good book, read that. Then find another. Read it, too.

6. Use the Right Software

Ever heard of Grammarly? It is a great tool for managing grammar and vocabulary. Workflowy is a great tool for taking notes. Research some other software options for calendars, grammar, note taking, reading text back to you, and more.

7. Do, Be, Do, Be, Do

A comical quote from the 60’s is a good way to end this list and remind you that practice makes perfect. But, you need to do your writing, take time to watch how people interact with it, find out what pain points it answers, which ones it doesn’t and then do another practice round.

DO be DO be DO

What are some important content creation tips you use in your business writing?

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on some of the product/service links, I will earn a referral fee. 

7 Grammar Rules You Should Follow If You Are Going To Scam People

So, I got hit with a classic scam again today.

The I want to do business with you, here is a check for more than you asked, please forward the extra to my associate scam. I loved it, because it started with a text from a random number (my phone number is available online, see bottom of the page). Now, I do not start by assuming any request for my business is a scam. After all, that is why I have a website with my phone number on it, so people will call.

But, after reading “i have small scale business” and other generically poor English skills, I thought there was no way this could be true.

And sure enough, it was a classic scam.

But, for your reading enjoyment (and information on how to not sound like a scammer or do sound like one, whatever floats your boat), here are 7 rules you should follow:

  1. Consistency – One of my customers never capitalizes anything. Not I, not the beginning of the sentence, and not proper names. Guess what? I know there is a real business owner at the end of that email: he loves numbers and thinks proper grammar is not for emails. Consistency in grammar usage builds trust with people who are reading your writing. I try to use proper grammar as much as possible (but obviously I love to use parenthetical asides to the point they caused some lower grades in university, oh well).
  2. Understand Determiners – For a classical English lover, a determiner is a type of adjective, for an ESL teacher a determiner is one of the types of speech, it includes numbers, articles, and the ubiquitous null determiner. My scammer today used the wrong determiner several times including “i have small scale business” (missing a or this) and ” turn into large scale business” (missing a). While I commend the copywriter of this canned email for trying to use null determiners, I must give them a fail grade and require them to rewrite it.
  3. Use Punctuation – I don’t care whether you never write in complete sentences. Punctuate. You can overuse many forms of punctuation (parentheses are some of mine)… including the proverbial ellipses… used for any and all punctuation when  you want to show a pause in thought, but not necessarily in grammar. My beautifully crafted email has two periods in the body of the text. It is 12 sentences long.
  4. Cut, Cut, Cut – My spammer happened to say “the site I gave you to check out” four times in the original email. This was an email with less than 500 words, which means that nearly 10% of the words in the document were one phrase, repeated. Whether you are scamming, or just trying to sound somewhat professional, you need to cut the fluff, especially copy/pasted phrases.
  5. Communicate – You send me one email and ask for an estimate, I reply with one sentence: “I think I can do that site for $8,562.” This is a significant amount of money; no one should say yes, in writing, to an amount that large without asking some questions. Additionally, I made it oddly specific, no ball-park estimate or rounded figure. If you are going to communicate with someone, communicate. A single sentence will never be enough information to decide a business relationship on, especially when you are online. The only opportunity I have to connect with you online is the content I write. Yes, if we meet person-to-person, you may look at me, ask what I charge and then say, “I can do that,” but even then, we will have to follow up and iron out the details later.
  6. Don’t Bury The Lead – Scammers need to bury their lead, because they commonly use bait-and-switch to deliver a lead that you don’t want on top of one you do. In this case, the lead should have been: “I’ll give you money from a stolen card if you send me some back.” But, then who would do that? In good content writing, you need to make certain that the important information (the lead) is right up front.
  7. Check Your Information – A Google phone number from Michigan texted me and asked for my email. The email I received said he lived in Ohio, and was a generic address from Outlook.com. Needless to say, as soon as I realized the different states, I started to be suspicious. Now, I understand that sometimes this is unavoidable, I actually ran into this with the business name Paul Davis Solutions; the fact that I had multiple email addresses, websites, and addresses got my business Google + page unlisted. Now I have to find and cut information across the web and make certain that everything lines up. Whether you are legitimately confused (me) or illegitimately trying to scam someone, you need to have consistent information across all platforms.