Survivial Skills for Freelancers

A Trump-free Twitter rant: and how brevity improves writing

Ever since I attended Jonathan Pollinger’s Twitter for beginners workshop, way back in 2012, I’ve had a soft spot for the previously pithy, fabulously witty, micro-blogging platform.

This week, Twitter tumbled from the top of the tree – for me, at least.

Yesterday (8 November 2017) the social network announced that its trial of a 280-character tweet limit – double the previous 140-character count – will be universally expanded.

According to Twitter’s Product Manager, Aliza Rosen, this is why they did it:

The platform’s user numbers had been steadily dropping, and they needed to do something to reignite the love for the network – an edit button, perhaps? – but not that!

Anything but that.

By doubling the character count they’ve removed their greatest USP. Without the limit, they may as well be Facebook.

Size matters

Brevity was the one thing Twitter had that no other social network offered. And it was better for it. You could scroll through your timeline and efficiently extract chunklets* of insight, bite-sized news updates, thought-provoking quotes and interesting soundbites.

There isn’t a writer out there who doesn’t benefit from the discipline of the old-school – I can call it that, right? – Twitter mentality.

Make every word count

When competition for readers’ attention is fierce, tight word counts keep our writing lean.

Get in the habit of cutting the fluff and stuffing from your writing, and your message will benefit.

Lose the jargon and meaningless filler words** and your writing will be punchier, pacier and easier to read.

If there’s one thing we can learn from pre-280 Twitter, it’s that.

*Yes, I made that one up. Deal with it.

**Words such as THAT, JUST, REALLY and VERY rarely add to your writing. Edit fearlessly.

6 devilishly good tips for brilliant blogs

According to a HubSpot survey, 60% of marketers say creating blog content is top of their marketing to-do list.

Whatever business you’re in, blogging should be a vital part of your marketing strategy. Perhaps you’ve vowed that this will be the year you start a blog, or begin to post more regularly. These tips and tactics will help you do it well.

1)   Tell, don’t sell

A well-written, thought-provoking blog is your chance to share your expertise, answer potential customers’ questions, and position yourself as an expert in your field.

Your blog should be thought-provoking, knowledgeable – even entertaining. It shouldn’t be a thinly veiled sales pitch. You don’t like being sold to, and neither does your reader – and they’ll quickly switch off and go elsewhere.

Sure, sign off with a line or two about how your product or service solves the problem you’re writing about, but don’t make your sales message the purpose of the article.

2)   Stay on topic

Your posts should always be relevant to your market. For example, a recruitment agency could share top interview techniques, ways to motivate staff, to improve retention, or share their take on the latest changes to employment law.

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t be posting the latest movie news if you’re a firm of accountants… however much of a Marvel nerd your marketing assistant is.

Brainstorm ideas for relevant posts with your team, and use the resulting list to create a content schedule. Commit to posting regularly, but don’t set unrealistic goals – one quality post a month is a great start.

3)   Keep it fresh

Quality blog posts boost SEO and can help drive traffic to your website.

Every blog you add to your site is another page of fresh content for the search engines to index – that’s another chance for you to show up in potential customers’ Google searches. Keep working those keywords in.

By using your company’s Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn feeds to share links to your latest blog, you’re creating shareable content that’ll raise awareness of your business, and help to position you as a trusted authority in your field.

4)   Hello, new customer!

Chances are your target audience will stumble upon your blog because they want advice, information, or answers to a problem that’s bugging them. Blogging gives you the chance to educate readers and present your expert opinion on the issues that matter to them.

Once they’ve established that you know what you’re talking about – and that your business has the knowledge, skills and solutions to solve their problem – you’re on their radar when they’re ready to make a purchase.

To increase the chances of taking the next step and converting your readers to customers, make sure every post contains up-to-date contact details so they can get in touch if they need to.

5)   Create a conversation

Regular blogging gives your business a voice – creating a dialogue around current topics that are relevant to your industry, and your customers.

Thought-provoking, informative articles encourage comments and feedback from readers, many of whom will be potential customers. Welcome any interaction as a chance to find out more about the problems faced by your target audience, and always respond to comments. Remember – dialogue is the first step in converting prospects to customers.

6)   Finally – in the immortal words of Wham! – if you’re gonna do it, do it right

Your blog represents your business. Think of it as your shop window. Having a badly written, error-filled blog – or posting for the sake of posting – is worse than not posting at all. Make sure your thinking is eloquent, well-structured, and well written… and that it supports your brand.

Always read your blog carefully before posting – or get a colleague to do it for you – to catch spelling and grammar mistakes and iron out clumsy language. Mistakes in your posts show a lack of professionalism and care, and you risk driving your target customers into the open arms of your competitors.

If you don’t have the time – or the skills – to write great blog posts yourself, hire a professional copywriter to ghost-write them for you.

I originally wrote this post for digital marketing agency, Kandekore, and have adapted it for my own website with their permission.