Blogging for Business: Making It Stick with an Effective Editorial Calendar

Maintaining a business blog has become a valuable and widely-used tool that can allow you to connect with your customers and personalize their experience to build brand loyalty and adapt your products, services, and marketing to your target audience. In fact, studies have indicated that businesses and companies with consistently updated blogs are better able to acquire and keep new customers by building a positive two-way relationship. However, there are many ways to blog for your business, and not all of them are effective. Whether you are new to blogging, have tried it only once before, or are a regular blogger, there are many ways you can improve your business blog to reach a broader audience while sending more purposeful messages.

Understanding the Need for an Editorial Calendar
The key to successful business blogging is not only creating an online blog for your business, but maintaining that blog and delivering consistently high-quality and relevant content. Looking at these requirements alone, you may already feel overwhelmed. While it’s easy to decide you’ll make posts regularly, how do you ensure this happens? Conversely, it’s also important to spread out your blog posts to prevent new articles from becoming lost in a never-ending flood of information. Developing an editorial calendar that guides your posting practices offers numerous benefits in terms of both organization and content quality. First, you’ll know exactly when blog articles should be posted and can prepare accordingly if editing or rewriting is needed. Second, keeping upcoming deadlines in mind gives you and your staff time and motivation to develop high-quality blog topics. While deadlines that are too close together can hurt blog content, the right spacing will give your team members the deadlines they need to focus and produce the type of content you want.

Developing Your Posting Schedule
There are numerous articles and suggestions already available on the web to guide you toward a content posting schedule for various social media sites. However, posting to your own business blog is a slightly more flexible process, allowing you to factor in your business’ size, goals, and content generation capabilities to determine the best schedule for your blog posts. Other considerations that may govern your posting schedule include special events and holidays, as well as sales and other business-specific information you may want to include on your blog. You may want to ramp up the release of content as an important date approaches, or maintain a steady stream of posts and information throughout the year. Regardless of your approach, it’s important to keep a few strategies in mind. Consistency is the major goal of editorial calendar creation—you will be putting your content goals and deadlines in writing to ensure they are met and your blog is updated regularly, rather than becoming a wasteland of occasional updates and irrelevant information. Additionally, your goals will drive your schedule—if you simply want to increase customer awareness of your services, you’ll want to devise a very different schedule than if you are pushing a large sale or event with a specific end date in mind.

Creating and Maintaining Your Calendar
There are many ways to create and maintain an editorial marketing calendar. While a pen and paper approach may work for a single writer, there are a variety of online tools available today to help you create, share, and manage calendars among many individuals. This type of approach is particularly effective if you employ more than one writer or offsite writers that may contribute to the blog. Making sure that everyone is on the same page in terms of topics and deadlines will eliminate confusion and improve content delivery so you can be sure you’re updating your site consistently. The ability to look at your calendar and instantly see not only the content you have planned for this week, but for upcoming weeks and months as well, will help you stay on track when it comes to creating new and informative content in keeping with your goals.

Generating consistent, high-quality, and relevant content is the key to optimizing your business blog. Student Experts can help you boost your blog content and social media sharing with our SEO optimization and content creation services. You can learn more about what we do and how we can fit into your plans for online growth when you visit our website or give us a call at (520) 344-4672.

An Inside Look at Our Blog Editing Process

We think this is a great hairstyle for an editor.

Each month, our in-house team of writers and editors creates thousands of  business blogs for  SMBs nationwide. In addition to business blogs, we also create guest posts, website copy, interactive social media content, and custom projects.

While our production volume is very high and our turnaround times fast, our clients tell us that our work is better researched, of a higher quality, and more grammatically sound than the work of other freelance writers and services they have contracted with in the past.

So how do we consistently generate the kind of high-quality content that SEO and internet marketing firms are looking for? Aside from sentence-level changes, grammar, and spelling, the experienced editors at Student Experts look for the following when editing blog content:

1. Readability

When reviewing a business blog, our editors might ask, “Is it clear, cohesive, and fun to read?” Successful blogs will start off with an engaging statistic, or a journalistic lede that hooks readers right away. Here’s a quick comparison of a boring and a fun introduction for an optician’s blog about eye diseases:

    • Boring: “Many people are nearsighted and need to wear glasses.”
    • Engaging: “According to the American Optometric Association, more than a quarter of the United States population suffers from myopia, or nearsightedness.”

Not only is the second example more interesting, but it adds the clout of a respected industry organization and an authoritative outbound link to the blog. From the introduction, editors will ensure that the blog flows into a well-organized body, broken up into logical bullets, lists, or subheadings for easy consumption. As an example, you’ll notice that this blog offers a very readable layout. It starts with a direct introduction, then is followed by a numbered list of parallel points and a brief conclusion.

2. Links and Anchor Text

Building up SEO authority by linking out from your blog posts to authoritative third-party sites is one of the main benefits of business blogging. That’s why our editors check outbound blog links for domain authority, quality, and relevance. Ultimately, we strive to link to content that is appropriate to the client and that readers will find useful. Editors also pay special attention to the link anchor text used throughout blog posts. We vary anchor text between posts, using business- and location-based keywords whenever possible. For example, in a blog post for an HVAC company about repairing home heating systems in time for winter, we would use anchor text such as “Fall heating tune-up” or “heating system maintenance.” The HVAC business may also focus on keywords for its air conditioning and duct cleaning services, but since those services are not relevant to this particular blog post, we would not use those phrases in the link anchor text.

3. Client Parameters

We use a streamlined content management system to keep client’s keyword strategies and special requests up-to-date and organized.  An editor will check all blog content against a client’s parameters to be sure the writing is furthering that client’s marketing goals.  Maybe a business always wants to use a trackable toll-free number in the call-to-action? Or, perhaps a client has discontinued a product and no longer wants to mention it in their content. Our CMS, combined with our editorial quality assurance, keeps clients happy and greatly reduces the need for revisions.

This is just a quick snap-shot of our writing and editing process.  Get in touch with us today to learn more about how Student Experts delivers high-quality, white-labeled content to internet marketing and SEO firms.

 

Photo credit: Evil Erin

Avoid These 5 Resume and Job Application Mistakes

resume tipsBefore the recruiter opens your resume, she queues up classical music in the background, sits down in a cozy armchair, puts her feet up on an ottoman, and reaches for her cup of soothing herbal tea.

Wouldn’t that be nice? In reality, the recruiter is most likely sitting at a brightly lit desk with hundreds of resumes in her database and not enough time to even read most of her emails.

Due to the competitive and fast-paced nature of recruiting, there are a few missteps that can get even the most impressive candidate’s resume tossed in the trash. To increase the chances that your resume is actually read by recruiters and employers, avoid these five common mistakes :

1.     Typos
If anything is misspelled or grammatically incorrect in your cover letter or resume, it will immediately take away any credibility you have as a job candidate.  Check also for the correct spelling of the company you are applying to, because many businesses today use unconventional spellings, such as LinkedIn.

2.     Unprofessional Email Address
It is fine if your friends know you as softballbaby89@gmail.com, but do you really want to use that same email address when applying to jobs? Sign up for a more professional email account that uses your name and simple numbers or professional keywords if necessary. You can then use the professional account to send and receive job correspondence without worrying that a recruiter might accidentally see your strange Gmail chat status.

3.     Inability to Follow Directions
Pay attention to the application instructions. If a company asks for a Word document and you usually send PDFs, then take the time to convert and send a Word file instead. Also pay attention to any requests for specific information such as salary requirements, work samples, or references. If you don’t follow the recruiter’s exact instructions, then the recruiter will likely skip over your resume and move on to the hundreds of other candidates who did follow directions.

4.     Boring Cover Letter or No Cover Letter
A cover letter lets employers know that you are that you are a genuinely interested applicant  and not just hitting “send” a million times on Career Builder. Take advantage of the cover letter to market your skills, personality and intelligence.  Unless the recruiter requests “no cover letters,” you should always include one.

5.     Missing Keywords
If you see keywords or skills in the job description, then take the time to thoughtfully include those words in your resume and cover letter. The first thing that many recruiters will do is search your cover letter and resume text for the keywords and skills they need.  If you submit a PDF resume, then be sure that it is saved in a searchable format.

Have you ever sent a resume out only to realize later that you made a terrible mistake on it? Feel free to vent or share your resume “learning experience” with the rest of us in the comments! Students, recent graduates and not-so-recent graduates looking for writing opportunities in Tucson can check out our current job openings.

 

Photo Credit: Dita Margarita

Up To Date Media Terms Need To Be A Part Of Your On-Site Content Strategy

When was the last time you suggested to a client that they update the content on their website?  Did they actually follow through and take your advice?  In this post, I’ll discuss why industry specific, up to date media terms are a good idea to incorporate into on-site content.

Sure, fresh content can influence search rankings.  And that’s important.  However, once visitors get to the site, will they see updated industry terms they hear in the media and want to know more about?  Or will they see content with lots of generalities and terms from years ago?

Here are a few examples of up to date media terms:

Healthcare – single-payer medical insurance, health reform

Auto Sales – hybrids, electric vehicles, 40mpg

Dentistry – same day dentures

Implementing new language is not an attempt to take advantage of “buzz-terms.” Americans genuinely absorb what our mainstream media broadcasts.  Proof?  You can match anything being talked about on television with the top searches on Google Trends.  If a client’s website doesn’t fall into a definite niche, use Google Trends to find current industry language.

If you’ve been trying to get a client to understand this, then show them this article to prove you’re not the only one saying  it’s a smart investment to update their on-site content.

What updated industry terms do you know that your clients would benefit from having on their websites?

photo credit: stevendepolo

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What We Look For in Our Writers

content writingWe are always looking for new writers and editors to join our growing ranks. Working for Student Experts entails crafting blog content, guest posts, web copy, and PPC ad headlines for small and medium-sized business clients.

Here are three traits that we look for in potential content writers during the recruiting process:

1. A Writing Background

The best content writers tend to have backgrounds in English literature, creative writing, linguistics, journalism, philosophy, and other writing-intensive areas of study. When an applicant has excelled throughout years of reading difficult texts and writing grueling papers, he or she will likely be a good fit for a job that involves researching, writing, and thinking critically all day long. As much as we love English and journalism majors, we do hire outside of these areas of study—especially when we see a pre-law or pre-med candidate who has a real way with words.

2. A Marketing Mindset

A content writer’s main function is to create engaging copy that ultimately “sells” or “markets” a business’ products and services. Even though a blog or guest post is not overt advertising copy, it should leave the reader with a positive feeling about the company. When we read writers’ applications, we gravitate toward the candidates who do a wonderful job of marketing themselves. If you can’t convince us of why we should hire you, then how are you going to write blogs that convince customers to work with one of our small business clients?

3. A Confident Voice

A confident writer uses active sentences and incorporates facts and information with gusto! When reading an applicant’s writing sample, we look for red flags such as vague sentences, overuse of a particular structure (like the em dash), or redundancy. Overall, we’re looking for applicants who can write with the utmost clarity and efficiency.

If you think you might be a good fit for one of our open positions, then apply today. We’re always looking for talented wordsmiths to join the Student Experts team.

Photo credit: Photosteve101