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How you can use your blog in your email marketing

A woman being happy because she's using her blog in her email marketing.
Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels

When you’ve gone to the effort of writing a blog, I’m willing to bet that you don’t want it to just sit there on your website. You want it to be out in the world, being read by your ideal customers. At least, I hope you do. If you’re just writing for fun and a creative outlet, I salute you, but this blog isn’t really for you. (If you haven’t started a blog because you don’t know where to start, read this.) If you’ve spent time on writing a brilliant blog post and are wondering what else you can do with it, I have two words for you. Email marketing. It’s a wonderful thing to send to your list if you have one. Your blog can also help you to build a list if you need to. Here are my top 5 tips to get you started.

Create a calendar

A content calendar helps you to get organised. It also makes your marketing more coherent overall. When you choose a focus for each month you can plan all your blogs, emails and social media posts around that one topic. It makes things easier for you because you can repurpose your content by sharing your blog in your emails and breaking it down for social media posts. It also makes things clearer for your customers.

Use your blog in your email marketing

Have you ever stopped sending emails to your list because something had to give? We’ve all been there. It’s more likely to happen if you’re creating fresh content for every marketing channel. If you use your blog as a central part of your emails, you make everything quicker and easier. Then all you need to do is top and tail the email with a bit of news and your latest offers and you’ve saved yourself loads of time.

Add a sign-up form

If you don’t have an email marketing list, or you want to attract more subscribers, add a sign-up form to the bottom of your posts. (I have a widget from Thrive Themes that does mine.) It’s the perfect way to attract the right audience because people only sign up if they’re interested in what you have to say. It’s a good idea to offer people something useful as a thank you for signing up. Which brings me to…

Use older blogs as lead magnets

Firstly, a note of caution. GDPR includes rules about offering freebies to new subscribers. Please make sure you’re up to speed before you follow this tip. If you’ve already written a whole load of useful blogs, you can repurpose them to send out to your subscribers. Tips posts are particularly good if they have advice readers can put into action straight away. Just format the post as a PDF with images and you’re ready to go.

Blog series = email marketing sequence

If you’re new to blogging this is a good one to bear in mind for the future. A blog series works well for topics that are too big to cover in one post. For example, I wrote a series on how to start writing a blog. You can read it on my website or get it straight to your inbox. (Just complete the form below – see what I did there?!) What topics could you write a series about?

Are you ready to start writing a blog that you can use throughout your marketing? I can help with that. Click here to book a chat with me and find out more about your options. Or sign up to receive my series on how to start your business blog using the form below.

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How storytelling can make your email marketing better

Typewriter showing that stories matter in your email marketing.
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

Once upon time, there was a brave warrior princess who decided to start a business. She told lots of stories in her email marketing so her customers would love her and her business was a great success. The end.

Don’t worry, I haven’t lost the plot. I’m just telling you a story. What sprang to mind when you read ‘once upon a time’? Did it feel familiar and maybe a bit comforting? That’s what stories do. They don’t all have to start like a fairytale though. Telling a story is a really effective way to market your business, especially when you use it in your email marketing. Here’s why it works and how you can use it for yourself.

Why storytelling works

When a story comes in a format you recognise it feels comforting. You know what to expect and feel as if you’re in safe hands. A story doesn’t have to be a fairytale. It could sound like a chat you’d have with a friend. The point is, it doesn’t feel as if you’re being sold something. You’re just listening to someone else’s experience. When you use this in your marketing, it builds trust and helps you to connect with your audience. Simple.

When to use it in your email marketing

Storytelling works particularly well in email marketing. You’ve come straight to your reader’s inbox and now you’re going to share a story with them. There are, as you might expect, a few different ways to do this. You could tell one long story and relate it to your business at the end, or you could drop in snippets of story here and there. Here are a few ways that you can start using storytelling in your email marketing.

Nurture sequences

Nurture sequences are those emails that you send to new subscribers. They let new people know what to expect. It’s also your opportunity to introduce yourself. You can use a sequence to show your subscribers who you are and how you help. Let them see the person behind the business and you’ll build trust. You can also share useful stuff, like links to your best blog posts and handy tips.

Case studies

You might not think of a case study as a story, but it is. It starts out with someone facing a challenge, looking for a solution and ending up in a better place than they were before. It’s the real-life equivalent of a hero going on a quest. The only differences are that there aren’t any dragons and the princess saves herself. Case studies are also brilliant because they show your audience that you know what you’re doing and have got results for other people.

Email marketing introductions

If nurture sequences and case studies sound a bit long winded, don’t panic. There are simpler ways to use storytelling in your emails. You can start with your opening paragraph. That bit where you say hello before you share your latest blog post and current offers. You might decide to share your latest business news, but you can also tell a personal story. I work with lots of business owning mums so will often talk about the school holidays or something funny my kids have said. It’s a small thing that reminds my readers that we’re all dealing with the same stuff.

Do you want to start using storytelling in your marketing? I can help with that. Click here to book a chat with me and find out more about your options.

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How editing can help you create good marketing content

Typewriter emphasising the importance of editing and rewriting.
Photo by Suzy Hazlewood via Pexels

Have you ever sat down, ready to create new marketing content and found yourself grinding to a complete halt? You either can’t get going or you write a few sentences and delete them again because they sound rubbish. We’ve all been there (even me). The trouble is that we think we have to write something amazing first time. The truth is, we don’t. No-one has to read your first draft of anything. You can write the scrappiest sentences you like because editing is your friend. As long as the stuff you write gives you something to work with, you can go back and edit it later. So, set yourself free and write whatever you want. Then follow my five editing tips to help you make it better.

1.      Use your spelling and grammar checker

Yes, it’s really that simple. If you write using Word or Google docs, they have inbuilt spelling and grammar checker. You don’t have to follow every grammar recommendation – sometimes sticking to your original phrasing makes it sound more like you.

If you have a WordPress website and use Yoast’s plugin for SEO, it also has a readability checker. In my experience it’s not 100% reliable but it has some useful tips for editing sentences that makes them easier to read.

2.      Have you stuck to the point?

I mentioned this in my last blog (which you can read here). There’s no faster way to lose your readers than by wandering off on constant tangents. Read through your blog and ask yourself whether every paragraph talks about the original topic. If it doesn’t, take it out, but save it somewhere else. It could be useful for a future post. (Can you tell I love recycling?)

3.      Does it make sense?

This can be a tricky one to gauge. Your content might make sense to you but be bewildering to someone else. You’re an expert but maybe your readers aren’t. The first thing to check for is jargon. If you’re using phrases that only people in your industry understand, take them out.

Getting a second opinion is often a good idea. Tidy up your content then ask someone outside your industry to read it and see if they understand what you mean.

4.      Check your sentence length

This is supremely geeky, but it will help you to write better content. Using a variety of different sentence lengths makes things easier to read. It’s mainly because it makes your writing closer to normal speech.

You don’t have to count every sentence (I can hear the sigh of relief from here), but if a paragraph sounds a bit monotonous when you read it, have a quick count. You might find that all your sentences are the same length.

5.      Are there superfluous words?

Your writing will be clearer if you keep things simple. Words like ‘really’ or ‘very’ can add emphasis, but not if you use them in every sentence. Stephen King famously said that you should never use adverbs. Why say that someone shouted loudly? If it was quiet, it wouldn’t be shouting. (My grammar checker suggested that I take ‘loudly’ out of that sentence, which probably means that you don’t need to worry about it too much if you follow tip #1!)

Would you like a second pair of eyes on your content? Or would you rather hand it over altogether? Book a call here and let’s have a chat to see how I can help you.

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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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Your marketing: do you know who’s watching?

Someone who's watching your marketing without you noticing.
Image by Daria Shevtsova via Pexels

That sounds a bit creepy, doesn’t it? Like you might have a stalker. In a sense, you probably have, just in a good way. I’ve been in business for over 5 years now* and it’s taught me a lot about the way people respond to marketing. Here are 5 types of people that are watching your marketing – whether you know it or not…

*I celebrated the anniversary in January, with home school and weeping.

The ones that make a lot of noise

There are two kinds of noisy person on social media. There are the ones that comment on your posts without really saying anything useful.  Then there are the ones who share your posts, offer insightful comments, or say thanks for a helpful tip. Both will potentially increase your reach, but I prefer the latter. They don’t just help me; they often add something for my other followers (or their own). Some of them even turn into customers.

The ones that act on your marketing

I’ve got to admit, this is a relatively rare experience. Everyone has followers who never really engage with anything. Then suddenly, something hits the mark and they become a customer. Even more rarely, you might get someone that hasn’t even followed you, but they respond to a post and turn into an instant customer. I have no idea how this works unless they’ve been lurking so stealthily that you haven’t noticed them at all.

The ones you meet networking

I love networking and it has helped my business to survive lockdown. I’m not exaggerating – every customer I’ve had over the past 15 months has been someone I met networking. That doesn’t mean I stop marketing online. When I meet someone networking, I still go and check them out online. It helps me to learn more about their business and whether my first impression was the right one. The same is almost certainly true of your networking contacts too.

The lurkers

Lurkers are the people you get rid of when you have a follower cull. They don’t leave a like or comment. Maybe they don’t even see your posts. Yet I’ve heard tales of people who lurk on other business owners’ pages because they want to know what they’re doing without supporting them. That bothers me. None of us are a good fit for every customer and if I can send someone to a writer that will do a better job for them, I’ll do it.

The quiet ones

I love the quiet ones. I still see you, reacting to my posts (but hardly ever commenting) and I’m so glad you’re there. Sometimes you’re the ones who tell me face to face that you enjoy my blog.  My favourite thing about you is that you’re the people who turn up just when I need you. I’ve had plenty of those moments where I wonder why I bother marketing because everything’s gone quiet. Then one of you appears out of the woodwork because you’re ready to work with me. It’s like a little bit of magic.

If you’re worried your marketing isn’t working, keep going. Get help if you need to, but don’t give up. If you’re one of my quiet ones, thank you. I hope I’m helping you. If you’d like to stick your head above the parapet and let me have your email address, I send helpful hints and tips out once a month. If you’ve been biding your time and are ready for a chat, here’s the link to book a Zoom chat. I’d love to see your face!

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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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Want more website visitors? You need to speak your customers’ language

Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA from Pexels

You’ve probably gone to a lot of time and effort creating a great looking website for your business. There’s a lot of technical work you can do if you want more website visitors but one of the most important bits is the one that’s overlooked most often. The words. If your website copy (the technical term for the words) doesn’t tell your visitors that they’re in the right place within a few seconds they’ll bounce off to another site and you might have lost them forever. Then you have to work on attracting more website visitors rather than deepening the relationship with the ones you already have. The great news is that the words you use can help you to attract more visitors and impress them when they get there. How do you do it? I’m glad you asked…

Know your customer

When someone lands on your website, it’s because they were looking for something. You need to show them that they’ve found it. Say they’ve found your shop by typing ‘gifts for Mother’s Day’ into Google. The page they land on should tell them what gifts you’re offering, whether it’s jewellery, chocolates, or something else. If you offer a service, sum it up in a couple of sentences, or with a question they’ll answer yes to if they’re in the right place.

Apply the ‘so what’ test

It’s important to remember that your visitors don’t really care about you. Your credentials are important in that they help you to build trust, but your customer is only really interested in what you can do for them. If you’re an accountant helping small businesses with their tax returns, make it obvious. This can just be something like ‘Want to make your next tax return quick and easy? We can help.’ Yes, it’s really that simple.

What if your visitor isn’t ready to buy?

Sometimes you’ll get a new visitor, but they’re not ready to make a decision yet. They might just be doing some research or perhaps they need to talk to someone else before they decide. Inviting them to sign up to your mailing list or follow you on social media gives you the chance to stay in touch and remind them why they were looking for you in the first place. Then when they’re ready to buy, they’ll remember you.

Are you making it easy to buy?

If you’ve got a website visitor who’s ready to give you their money, make it easy for them. If you sell products online, you know that good photos and clear pricing are both essential, along with a quick and easy checkout. If you offer a service and need to talk to the customer before they buy, show people how to make an enquiry or book a call. Give them a button to click or a form to fill in so they don’t have to go searching.

What do you want to be found for?

If you’ve done any work on your SEO, you’ll know how important key words are. Yours might be easy to identify, particularly if you offer a service in a particular location. It’s worth thinking about the kind of terms your customers will understand. Most people know what a hairdresser does, but a copywriter like me? Not so much. My customers are more likely to look for advice on how to write a blog so I talk about that.

If you want to attract more website visitors and you think your website copy needs an update, let’s have a chat. 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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