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Case study – creating new content ideas for Birkett Consulting

Case study about coming up with new blog topics.

I first met Ros Birkett via a networking group (which is pretty much how I meet everyone these days). She’s utterly lovely and a brilliant person to have a coffee and a natter with. When it comes to branding and marketing, what Ros doesn’t know frankly isn’t worth knowing. She’s the owner of Birkett Consulting, working with a range of clients to deliver adverting and marketing that gets results. In a nutshell, she knows her marketing onions, which is why it came as a bit of a surprise to get an email asking if I could help her to come up with some topics for her blog.

The challenge

When Ros got in touch, Birkett Consulting was in the midst of a website makeover. All of this was happening alongside the day-to-day work involved in running a busy agency and serving clients. There was also the small matter of getting to grips with an in-depth SEO analysis report for a client that ran to over 100 pages. Ros was faced with two main challenges. Firstly, that she was struggling to find blocks of time that would allow her to focus on website tasks. Secondly, all the topics she was reading about seemed a bit predictable. She wanted some fresh ideas that would help her to get the messaging right as we emerged from lockdown.

The solution

To start the process, Ros and I arranged a Zoom call to talk through Birkett Consulting’s marketing basics. She described her customers and the services that she wanted to focus on in the blog. Ros’ awareness of her customer base meant that I could focus on the topics that would have most impact. We also talked about bringing a bit of humour back into marketing to lighten things up after lockdown.

After our chat, I went away and came up with four possible topics using a combination of tools, including my own random marketing thoughts. I’m looking forward to seeing the results when the new website launches.

Could a fresh pair of eyes on your business help you to speak more effectively to your audience? Get in touch and let’s have a chat.

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5 ways you can find new things to blog about

Woman making notes about new things to blog about
Photo by Judit Peter via Pexels

Finding new things to blog about can feel a bit relentless. You create a plan then before you know it you have to start all over again. I’d say it’s like painting the Forth Bridge, but even they’ve stopped. Then there’s the monotony of the whole thing. You might have your own favourite methods but you’re just bored of them. What you need are some fresh new ways to help you find topics to blog about. As if by magic, here are a few of my favourites.

Ask the audience

One of the simplest things you can do to find new things to blog about is to ask your customers. I suspect that if you took to social media and said, “what should I blog about?” you’d get tumbleweed, but if you ask, “what are you struggling with right now?” you’ll get some useful answers. You could also try a poll with a few suggestions to get them started.

This method helps you offer timely and useful information as well as boosting engagement on social.

Write a case study

Case studies are brilliant for two main reasons. Firstly, they offer social proof. It’s not just a nebulous statement that you can help with something. You can show your audience that you’ve actually helped someone. Secondly, it lets them imagine themselves in an existing customer’s shoes. Your case study could be describing someone just like them, with the same challenges. If you’ve helped someone else, you can do it for them too. A case study can also help them to understand the process or how you deal with potential problems.

Update an old post

If you’ve been blogging for a while, you should already have data to show what your audience liked. Use your analytics to find your most popular posts. Then update them. Are there new things that you’d like to add? Has your advice changed? This post from last week is an update of one I wrote a couple of years ago. I’ve changed the structure but also added some new ideas. Finding new things to blog about is a perennial topic so it’s always going to be useful.

Find things to blog about with autocomplete

This is a bit of a blunt tool, but it’s useful if you need inspiration. Head to Google and start typing a question that’s relevant to your business. Here’s what I got when I started typing ‘content writing tips’.

As you can see, it gives me a whole list of potential things to focus on, including key phrases that I can target to help with my SEO. Some are useful, some not so much, but it helps me to learn what people are looking for advice about.

Collect useful resources

It’s tempting to believe that absolutely everything you write has to be fresh and original. It doesn’t. Your content just needs to be useful. If you can bring together resources that have helped you (or that will help your customers), that’s incredibly useful. It saves them a heap of research time and offers them solutions that are already tried and tested. By supporting your audience you’re also building trust in your own brand, so it’s a win-win.

Do you need to come up with new topics? I can help with that. We’ll have a 30-minute chat then I’ll come up with some fresh new ideas that you can take away and write about. Just book your slot here.

You could also sign up for my mailing list for hints and tips straight to your inbox every month. I don’t do spam and will never share your information with anyone else.

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How you can find fascinating blog topics

A woman at a laptop reading about fascinating blog topics
Image by Ekaterina Bolovtsova via Pexels

When you start coming up with blog topics, there’s one very important thing to keep at the front of your mind. Your customer. Whatever you write about, ask yourself – “will my customers care about this?” If they won’t, don’t write about it.

Knowing your customer should be one of the foundation stones of your marketing. When you know who’s most likely to need your services you can start talking just to them. A good blog can create that moment of recognition that makes your reader feel seen and understood.

Before you start working on a list of blog topics, think about who they’re for. Are they cash rich but time poor or the complete opposite? Will your products only suit people who are at a particular stage in their lives, like new parents or people who’ve just retired? Think about the problems you solve or the ways you make your customers’ lives better. Then we can get started.

The story so far

Sharing your story with your audience helps you to understand each other. People get to know you, like what you say and ultimately come to trust you enough to buy from you. The key is to talk about your experience and link it to the ways that helps your customers.

As an example, if you’re a parent selling clothes for babies and children, talking about your family shows your customers that you’ve been through it all and know how to make clothes that will last. 

What has my personal life taught me?

You might have a personal story that isn’t obviously related to your business, but that’s made you who you are.

For example, when you’re building a business, you need to be a bit brave sometimes. If you’ve found a way to be brave, share it! Maybe something in your past has helped you to build skills that you use now. Tell your customers because they might just recognise themselves.

FAQs

Answering an FAQ is a quick and easy way to create a new blog post. What are you asked most often? What do your customers ask you in emails or face to face? If they’re asking, people who are looking for you online will be too. It’s an easy way to start building your search rankings.

Create a list of the questions you’re asked all the time and start answering them in your blog.

What’s in the news?

You have to move fairly fast for this one, but if you can relate a news story to your business, people are more likely to find you. Lots of businesses offered advice about GDPR when it was on everyone’s minds. You can talk about current topics, but it’s also worth thinking ahead. Look out for topics you can talk about that your customers will need to deal with in the future.

What’s next?

Hopefully that’s got you off to a good start, but what else can you do? As always, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Think about what questions they’re typing into Google that will help them to find you. I’ve found that small business owners won’t necessarily search for a writer. But they will ask how they can attract more customers or improve their marketing. It’s my job to make sure that I talk about the answers to those questions.

If you’d like some more inspiration in book form, I can help.

‘50 blog topics for your business’ does exactly what it says on the tin. It gives you 50 topics that you can use straight away – if you write one a month that’s over four years’ worth of ideas for less than the cost of a family takeaway.

Does that sound good? Get your copy by clicking on the image below.

book with 50 blog topic ideas for your business

Some useful resources

Answer the Public – type in a key word and it’ll tell you what people have searched for.

Google Trends – what searches are most popular when.

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Want to help new customers find you? Use your blog.

Woman working on her blog to find new customers
Photo by Ivan Samkov from Pexels

Have you started a blog and are wondering how long it will be before it brings those lovely new customers to your (virtual) door? Maybe you’re just thinking of starting one but are hesitating because you don’t know whether the time and effort is worth it. Whilst a good, helpful blog that’s relevant to your customer base is a wonderful thing, there are still a few things you can do to give it a better chance of being found and read. Here are my top 5.

Optimise your blog for keywords

You might already have your SEO strategy sorted, or you might not. Whatever your situation, one of the simplest things you can do is to optimize each blog post for relevant keywords. If you’re a hairdresser with a blog post about elegant wedding hairstyles, use that as your keyword phrase. Using the right tech will really help you with this. If you have a WordPress website, Yoast have an excellent plugin that will help you to use your keywords in the right way.

Share on social media

Yes, I know this seems blindingly obvious, but it’s worth including for completeness. There are loads of ways to do this, like creating a short video summarizing the main points with a link in the comments. You can also post snippets with an image and add a link to those. Don’t be afraid to share multiple times and add a link to your Instagram bio if there’s space. You can find more ideas here.

Reuse your blog in your emails

Email marketing is a great tool for making sales, as your readers already like you enough to have signed up for your emails. If you’ve written a blog with gift ideas for an upcoming occasion, or services that will support them with a current challenge, you’re already being helpful. Add links to buy or book and they’re more likely to click through because you’ve just made their life a whole lot easier.

Write good headlines

A great headline can make the difference between someone clicking through to read your blog and scrolling on to find something more interesting. The important things to remember about headlines are that they need to be relevant to the post and your customers. Basically, avoid clickbait (it’s annoying) and show people that you understand what they need. Headlines that feel personal are more likely to be read, so using words like ‘you’ and ‘your’ work really well.

Track what’s popular

If you’ve got website analytics set up, review them once a month to see which of your blog posts got the highest number of visitors. You can also check what followers engaged with on social media. Is there a pattern in terms of the headlines you’ve written, or the type of content you’re covering? You might also have a post that didn’t get lots of readers, but which prompted people to get in touch. By working out which posts get the best results you can do more of the same.

If you want to attract more new customers by starting a blog, let’s have a chat. I offer a range of options to support you, from topic suggestions to writing it all for you. Email me or book your free discovery call here.

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Case study: a Christmas blog for a non-Christmassy business

A Christmas blog for a locksmith - case study
Photo by Katrien Grevendonck from Pexels

How do you market your business at Christmas when your service isn’t seasonal? A Christmas blog sounds like a great idea but what on earth do you talk about? If the problem you solve could come up at any time of year, you might find yourself struggling to make it festive.

The good news is you just need a bit of lateral thinking. You might also need a writer who doesn’t work in your business every day.

The client

The client came to me through an SEO expert they’d been working with to improve their search rankings. They’re expert locksmiths based in Scotland and serving a clear geographical area, so their SEO campaign was helping them to build their local reputation. They wanted to let local people know about their employee credentials and show why their service was better than the competition.

They were already starting to see results and then came the question of the Christmas blog.

The challenge

The great thing about being a locksmith is that people could need your services all year round. This is good for business but not so great for your Christmas marketing. Do you ignore Christmas altogether or try to include it? The client had only just started blogging and didn’t want to lose momentum. They also realised that a Christmas blog would be more likely to attract readers. The question is, how do you make it interesting and relevant to your audience?

The Christmas blog solution

Luckily for the locksmiths, they were working with me, a writer with a strong lateral thinking streak. It turns out that people lock themselves out of their houses much more often at Christmas, simply because they’re distracted or out of their normal routine. There’s also the increased risk of burglary when your house is full of presents. We talked about simple solutions and included details of what a locksmith could help with. It was helpful and sent a clear message.

So, there you have it – a Christmas blog for a non-Christmassy business. If I can help you to create one of your own, email me or book your no-obligation discovery call here.

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Are you ready to start planning your Christmas marketing?

A woman with hot chocolate getting ready to plan her Christmas marketing
Photo by Brigitte Tohm from Pexels

Yes, I’m publishing this blog in May. No, I haven’t lost my mind. If you’re still scarred by the ghosts of 2020, I wouldn’t blame you if you’re leaving your Christmas marketing until the last possible minute. Even the organized people who were sorted by April had to change everything in the autumn. I’m giving myself the gift of optimism this year and daring to hope that we might have a relatively normal Christmas. Even if we don’t, we’ve learned to adapt so we can still plan.

I’m not suggesting that you jump into content creation right now (unless you really want to). All the same, a bit of thought and planning now will make things much easier further down the line, plus you’ll have plenty of ideas if you need to get someone else (like me) to do the creating for you. So, here are a few things to think about for your Christmas marketing.

Start with a blog

You won’t be surprised to hear me suggest this. Even if Christmas isn’t peak season for you, a blog can be reused and shared throughout your marketing, so you build awareness. If it’s your busiest time, a blog gives you a central piece of content that you can break down and share as individual posts. It means you’re more likely to be found by people buying gifts, looking for inspiration or just trying to survive the Christmas stress.

Be helpful

I know that for most of you Christmas marketing is about making sales. That’s OK. The important thing to remember is that you’re more likely to make a sale if you’re being helpful. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Offer them a solution to a problem. That solution might end up with them buying something. Even if it doesn’t, you’ll have created a good impression and started to build a relationship that’s based on trust.

Ideas for product-based businesses

Need some ideas? No problem. If you’re a gift-based business, start by making gift recommendations alongside some lovely pictures and links to buy. You could create a whole series of blogs with gifts for mums, dads, aunties, little kids – you get the idea. If you have gifts for the person who has everything or is difficult to buy for, talk about that. You could even do a round up of Secret Santa gifts if you have lots of stocking fillers to share.

Ideas for business that create the perfect day

If you help to make Christmas easier or more enjoyable, talk about it in your Christmas marketing. Do you do home delivery, help with meal prep or offer gift wrapping? Can you suggest 5 ways to keep the family entertained when they’re full of turkey or sick of the sight of each other? Talk about ways to survive Christmas without getting frazzled or share expert tips for busy people. If you can make the whole thing less stressful, your customers will love you.

What if your business isn’t Christmassy?

Writing a Christmas blog for a non-Christmassy business takes a bit of lateral thinking. It starts with putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. Can you offer tips to make extra family time less stressful? Could you help them avoid a Christmas Day emergency? Quick self-care tips are perfect for this time of year. You could just focus on fun – share some Christmas jokes or write a funny blog. My personal favourite is still this one I wrote for an insurance broker about insuring Santa.

Have I got you thinking? If you’d like to talk over some ideas and find out how I could write your blog for you at any time of year, you can book your free discovery call here.

Further reading

If you’d like to go a bit more in depth on the Christmas blog ideas, I’ve got a whole load of them here:

This is for you if your business sells gifts

If you help to create the perfect day

Or if your business isn’t Christmassy at all

You can also sign up to my mailing list for hints and tips straight to your inbox every month. You can unsubscribe whenever you like and I won’t share your information with anyone else.

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Are you getting back into work mode?

Getting back to work mode
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Like a lot of you, I’m a Mum who has had her kids at home for the last couple of months. The last period of home school (if you can really call it that) taught me a lot. It meant that I felt a bit more prepared for the day-to-day reality. I’m not going to say that it was easy, because it wasn’t. There were a whole lot of days where the kids cried and I joined in. Sometimes it was even the other way round. Or I cried and they wandered off to play because they hate handwriting practice and geography is some form of torture. We got through it. What’s surprised me is how much I’m struggling with the back to school bit. Not because I don’t think they should be there, I do. It’s just been different and that’s what’s inspired this blog. If any of this resonates (or if you’ve got any advice) please leave a comment and let me know.

The schedule shift

Home learning meant that my working day started at 3.30ish and had shrunk down to a couple of hours. I thought that shifting back to my previous work pattern would be easy. The start of the day was fine. I made a cup of tea and turned on my laptop as I always have. That wasn’t the issue. It was the afternoons. A full working day suddenly felt too much. It was as if my brain had turned into a sulky teenager. I couldn’t work out why it had been easy to readjust last time but not now. Then it clicked.

I’ve been thrown in at the deep end

Last time the kids went back to school it was much more gradual. The phased return that applied to younger kids first meant that my youngest was the only one who went back before the summer holidays. It wasn’t an all or nothing situation where everything had gone back to normal. Then the summer holidays started as usual. By the time that school fully reopened for the Autumn term, it felt more like normal school. Somehow it meant that I could get back to work more easily. It made the difference between then and now so much harder to understand.

Procrastination

The strange this about this return to school is the sense of anticipation that came with it. I kept hearing that this would be it. There was no way they’d close the schools again (although I heard plenty of muttering to the contrary). It was a sign that life was getting back to normal. I don’t know why, but I felt as if I’d be able to leap back into work and everything would be as it was before. It wasn’t. Having shorter day had focused my mind. A full day found me procrastinating, unable to decide what needed to happen first.

How I’m dealing with it

I wish I could tell you that I’m back to full strength and have turned into a goal hitting dynamo. I haven’t. As I write this, I’ve just completed a bit of planning that would normally have taken me an hour. My lack of focus turned it into three afternoons of dragging myself back to my notebook. I’m getting there though. There’s a plan and my priorities are putting themselves into order. I’m gradually building my work muscles back up (just in time for the Easter holidays!). Plus, if I need a break, I take one. Even if it means a two-hour lunch break.

Are you getting back into work mode? How’s it going? Let me know in the comments!

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How to break your blog writing into 5 easy steps

Break your blog writing down into easy steps

There are loads of reasons why you might have put off starting writing a business blog. One of the ones I hear a lot is the fact that it seems like a load of work for one piece of content. (Actually, it doesn’t have to be one piece of content – read this to find out how you can make it go further.) I won’t lie, writing a blog can take ages. The sight of a blank screen can make even my writing brain turn to fudge sometimes. If you tackle writing a blog as one big task it can be incredibly daunting. Breaking it down into manageable chunks makes the whole thing much less scary and more likely to happen. Here’s my plan for creating a great blog post.

Make a plan

Once you’ve chosen a topic (more on how to do that here), think about what information you need to share. Can you structure it as a list of tips, questions or is it more like a story? Think about what the central point of the post is going to be and write down the points that are essential for covering it properly. For a blog of around 500 words 4 or 5 points is ideal. Any more than that and you’ve got an epic post – or a whole new topic.

Talk through your topic

When I say talk, I mean it literally. This works really well if you freeze in front of a blank page but can explain yourself perfectly when you talk. You can record notes on your phone or use Word’s dictation feature for voice to text. It won’t give you the perfect blog post first time but it helps you capture your voice. You can see which phrases you naturally use and include them in your blog.

Create a first draft

This can be the scary bit, but if you’ve followed the steps so far it needn’t be. You can use your key phrases to create sentences. The points you set out in your plan are your subheadings – just write a few sentences under each. If you’ve talked a good game you might have more than you thought. The important thing to remember is that no-one has to read the first draft but you. Don’t worry about your grammar, just get everything on paper.

Edit your blog

Editing is your friend. Your first draft just gives you something to work with. Remember, you can’t edit a blank page. Use the spelling and grammar check tools that come with your Word document or Google doc as a first step. Then go through and read what you’ve written, preferably at least a day after you wrote it. Does it still make sense? Does everything relate back to your central topic? If not, take it out. You can also ask someone you trust to sense check it for you.

The finishing touches

The final touches are really a set of micro tasks. The key one from a writing perspective is your headline. There’s a whole load of headline theory out there, but when you’re starting out the main thing to remember is that it needs to tell the reader what to expect. Basically, think of a clickbait headline and do the opposite. Then you just need a good picture and remember to use your website’s SEO tool if you have one.

I hope this has inspired you to give blog writing a go. If you really can’t face it and just want to hand the whole thing over, get in touch and let’s see if I can help. Otherwise you can sign up to my mailing list for blogging and writing hints and tips to your inbox every month.

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How you can add value to your customers with a blog

Add value with your blog
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Firstly, forgive me. I know that you’ve probably had people telling you to ‘add value’ left, right and sideways. If you’ve escaped this so far, well done. Over on my social media pages I highlight a business buzzword every month. I ask people whether they love or hate it or whether it’s just overused. This nearly made it onto the list so I’m a bit surprised to be talking about ways to add value here.

The truth is, I couldn’t think of a better phrase to sum it up. Adding value isn’t just a buzzword. It’s incredibly important, not just in attracting new customers but in looking after the ones you have. Writing a blog can be the perfect way to add value. Here’s why I love it and how you can do it for yourself.

Enrich the experience for existing customers

We put loads of effort into attracting new followers, but your existing customers have already been won over. Putting some time and thought into looking after them will encourage them to come back. One way to do this is by writing a blog that helps them to enjoy the thing they already bought. For example, if they’ve booked a holiday with you, share the top 5 must see sights wherever they’re going. It shows you care about them having a good time, not just about the cash.

Solve a problem

I’ve seen plenty of advice saying that you shouldn’t share too much of the ‘how’ in your content. After all, why should someone become a customer if they can do it themselves? I take the view that if you can help someone to solve a problem quickly they’re more likely to trust you. Help your audience with an easy way to solve a problem. Then when they have less time or need better results, they’ll remember that you gave them a quick win when they needed it.

Provide a reference guide

You don’t have to offer a quick win to add value. You could provide a longer, step by step guide to something more complex. You’ve probably seen the type of thing I mean. A guide to creating your first website or 50 ways to come up with new content ideas. Your customers could read it all at once, but they’re more likely to return to it when they need something new. It means you’re helpful long term and they’ll remember your name every time they refer back.

Talk about something current

Most of the suggestions I’ve made so far are evergreen content. It’s information that will stay broadly the same for years on end and that you’ll only have to tweak to reflect small changes. Sometimes you can add value by responding to something current and time sensitive. At the moment that could be 5 things to help stressed parents and children cope with home school. You might be sharing techniques that will support people’s mental health at other times. By offering help in a crisis you’ll build trust.

Add value by being a signpost

Adding value often means giving your audience something useful without any expectation of reward. They could take your solution and use it without you even knowing. If you’ve ever written a blog with questions to ask a professional they’re thinking of hiring, you may have helped them to choose someone else. A great way of acting as a signpost is by sharing your favourite third party resources. It sounds counterintuitive but by sharing the things you value, you’re helping your audience to get great results themselves.

Do you need to create a blog that adds value? Book your no obligation discovery call to find out how I can help you or sign up for monthly hints and tips straight to your inbox using the form below.

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What can creating a blog do for your business?

The benefits of writing a business blog

When it comes to business marketing there’s always a lot of chat about blogging. Some people will tell you that writing a blog is pointless because no-one reads them anymore and others will tell you it’s essential. It won’t surprise you to hear that I recommend blogging to most people. (There are a few exceptions.) Writing a blog is only pointless if the customers you’re trying to talk to won’t read one. I’d be hard pushed to find an audience that would never read a blog. But when you’re a busy business owner who’s short on time, there might be better methods depending on who you’re trying to reach. There are lots of reasons why blogging is an effective marketing tool. Here are just a few of them.

It can bring you more website traffic

You might do most of your marketing on social media, but ultimately you want to attract people to your website. A link to your blog post is a great way to do that, mostly because it’s offering useful information and not just trying to sell something. When visitors arrive on your website you can engage their attention with more information about the ways you can help them. Social media is full of posts from their friends and other businesses which will all make them wander off and get distracted. That won’t happen on your website.

It helps you turn traffic into leads

Building a following can be incredibly difficult. Social media algorithms make it easy for your posts to disappear from followers’ newsfeeds if they don’t engage frequently. When you write a blog you can use it to encourage readers to stay in touch with you. That could be by including something as simple as a sign up form for your mailing list so you can email them. I know you still run the risk of vanishing into an overstuffed inbox but it’s still an improvement. If you talk about specific products or services you can also direct visitors to your shop or a contact form if they’re ready to talk.

Your blog can be evergreen

Unless you have followers who are in the habit of scrolling through all of your page content, social media posts have a fairly short shelf life. Of course, the advantage of this is that you can reuse old posts as long as they’re still relevant. The downside is that those posts aren’t going to show up when someone asks Google a question. With good SEO a blog on a topic that’s relevant to your audience could still be found in a search years from now. If there are key questions that your audience always ask, write a blog and it could keep bringing you a new audience in the future.

You can recycle your blog

I’ve talked about reusing your blog before but you can go beyond recycling it for social media. You can use it as a lead magnet (also known as a freebie) to encourage people to sign up for your mailing list. That could be a tips post that helps them achieve something, or even a list of your favourite resources. If you’ve got a series of posts that you can put together to make something more substantial, you could even turn it into a paid product. When you’ve put time and effort into creating a blog it’s worth considering what else you could use it for.

If you’re ready to start a business blog but would rather hand it over, I’m here to help. Click here to find out more about my blogging packages. If you’d rather just have a chat, you can book your no obligation discovery call here. Or, you could just sign up for writing and marketing tips straight to your inbox every month, using the form below.