Spring Cleaning? Don’t Forget Your Business

Spring is in the air! Maybe it’s the rising temperatures or longer days, but optimism abounds this time of year.

Spring is in the air! CCC can add a breath of fresh air to your communications.

Spring cleaning? Don’t forget your business! CCC would love to help you freshen up your communications.

If spring cleaning is on your to-do list, don’t forget about your business! How can you spring clean your business? Try these tips:

  • Get Organized — Go through your paper and electronic files and form a system. The point is for you to be able to find what you’re looking for quickly and efficiently. Try alphabetizing file folders or creating sub-folders to further corral all of your pictures and electronic documents. Don’t forget to back up your electronic files!
  • Review Your Online Home — Take a fresh look at your website or blog, or ask an unbiased third party to help out. What catches your eye? Is your site easy to navigate? Does the look and feel still work or is it time for a change? If you don’t have a blog, now’s a great time to start one.

Related reading: A Simple Step-By-Step Guide to SEO // Do You Mow Your Blog? // To Blog, or Not To Blog: That Is the Question

  • Get Social with a Strategy — Review your social media presences. Do you like what you see? Be honest — are you providing your community with value? Are your efforts producing the results you want? If not, step back and think about what you want to accomplish.
  • The Right Fit — While we all want to grow our businesses, sometimes downsizing can help spur growth. Are you stretched too thin on social media? All platforms aren’t the right fit for all businesses. Choose your platforms wisely to get the highest return on investment. Remember, social media isn’t free!
  • First Impressions Matter on Social Too — Your profile, profile picture and cover photo are often the first impressions that a visitor — potential customer? — has of you on social media. Make a favorable first impression! Refresh any profiles, profile pics or cover photos that need it. Note that some platforms have changed dimensions for 2015.

Related reading: Have you found your social media voice? // Should You Slim Down (on Social Media)? // What’s in a social media profile? Everything.

  • Revisit Your Customers — Take a fresh look at your customers. Are you providing the right products or services to help them achieve their objectives? Do plans or strategies need a fresh look? Is your customer still a good fit for your business? Companies and brands change, so you need to be fluid too.
  • Look in the Mirror — Look at your brand: your logo, colors, font(s), name, reason for being… everything that makes you who you are. Does it still fit? Has your brand evolved but your look and feel stayed the same? It may be time to rebrand or just refresh.
  • Freshen up Your Communications — Has your message grown stale? Are you having trouble reaching your target audience(s)? Are you sending out the same emails, newsletters and blog posts? Freshen up your content to re-energize your brand and re-engage with your customers, prospects and employees.

Related reading: Why You Should Think Like The B.A.U. // Branding Is A Feeling, Not A Noun // The Power of the (Red) Pen

We hope that you enjoy the related reading links, which should help you tackle some of the aforementioned business spring cleaning tasks. Or you can search the CCC blog in 3 ways: search box (upper right-hand corner), Categories and Tags (scroll down the right-hand sidebar). If you have a question about your particular project or a subject in general, just ask! We’re here to help. Not sure how we can help you? Check out a sampling of the marketing, writing and social media services we offer.

“I always find something I’ve lost when I do my spring cleaning. This year it was my mind.”  -Maxine, Hallmark character

What part of your business are you going to spring clean?

Whistling while I work,
Jaime

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Step 2: Now It’s Time To Write

If prewriting is the pregame strategy session, step two of the writing process — drafting or writing — is the mad rush onto the field. After all of the film watching and play designing and planning, it’s time to let it all out.

Wildcat Willie leads the Kansas State football team onto the field!

Step two of the writing process is a rush of adrenaline!
Photo by The U.S. Army via CC BY 2.0 // effects added by the author

draft·ing (verb): the second stage of the writing process during which a writer organizes information and ideas into sentences and paragraphs

You may be wondering why I’m using the term drafting instead of writing. I thought it would help avoid confusion because we’re discussing the entire writing process. But rest assured, we’re talking about the same thing. This is the phase where you try to type or write as fast as the words pour out of you, if you’ve done a good job of prewriting.

Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down.”  -John Steinbeck

This is the fun part, or at least the part where you start to see results. It’s like rolling that first stripe of paint on the wall after hours of prep work or taking the plunge out of an airplane after going through all of the pre-jump requirements. (I prefer the latter but I’m sure painting is just as exciting to some people!) This is the time to introduce your characters or describe the situation or state your points clearly.

This is not the time to worry about spelling, grammar, punctuation or overall structure. I’m not saying that you should leave them out on purpose, but these items will be addressed during the next two steps (revising and editing). If you tend to correct grammatical errors or typos without thinking about it, don’t worry. Some of us are just hardwired that way (including yours truly). It will slow you down if you attempt to not correct these errors at this time.

One of the reasons that I love writing is that you can do it almost anywhere. All you need is a computer, typewriter or pen and paper AND some privacy. How much privacy? That depends on you. Some people want a room with a door they can shut. Others don’t mind light background noise: quiet conversations on a cafe patio, the soothing tones of the ocean or the peaceful sounds of nature.

“Like your bedroom, your writing room should be private, a place where you go to dream… The space can be humble, and it really needs only one thing: a door you are willing to shut.”  -Stephen King

Privacy can be hard to find in today’s corporate America environments. If you’re sitting in a cubicle in the middle of an open concept floor plan, surrounded by talking co-workers, music piped through overhead speakers and other office noises, it can be tough to write — for anyone. Don’t discredit your ability to write if you have issues in this type of environment. Try to find anywhere quiet — an open conference room, a forgotten nook or a local park during your lunch break. It’s frustrating, but you may have to take your writing assignments home in order to produce quality work.

And if you’re into writing by hand (like a certain author of this blog)? Don’t be embarrassed or feel old-fashioned. It turns out that it’s good for your brain.

FREE Download –> The Power of the Pen: 5 Steps to Writing That Produces Results

Feedback on This Draft

Where’s your favorite place to write?

Who’s your favorite writer?

What’s your favorite written piece — by you or someone else?

Chime in with any other thoughts on the drafting (or writing) phase of the writing process.

If you have any writing-related questions, please ask. Or we can handle all of your writing needs so you can focus on saving the world before bedtime (or the big game).

Cheers,
Jaime

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Auld Lang Syne & Happy New Year!

The time has come to say goodbye to 2014.

Happy New Year from CCC!

Before we watch the ball drop to kick off 2015, let’s take a quick look back at the year that was. My helper monkeys, Mojo and Penelope, have prepared an end-of-year report for the CCC blog. Thanks to you, what a year it’s been!

Consider this:

 A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,500 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

We shared 69 new posts this past year, usually sticking to our Tuesday and Thursday schedule. You came early and often, culminating on November 20th (Mexican Revolution Day?!), our most popular day with 54 views.

What posts tickled your fancy the most?

  1. Promotional Products as Effective Marketing Tools
  2. 50 Things I’m Grateful For… Summer 2014 Edition
  3. A Simple Step-by-Step Guide to Search Engine Optimization
  4. Kindness in the Workplace: A Guide for Your Organization
  5. To Give or Not To Give…

Along the way, we hit two notable milestones: 200 followers and 500 likes. Thank you!

CCC hits 200 likes! 11.25.14CCC hits 500 likes! 11.21.14

Loyal readers, you came from near and far. The United States, India and Brazil were our most represented countries, and we had visitors from 91 countries around the world. Some of you found us through Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, our top referrers.

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.  -Dr. Seuss

OK, now you can sing “Auld Lang Syne.”

Cheers to peace and prosperity in 2015!

The CCC crew,
Jaime, Mojo and Penelope

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Writer’s Block: 4 Ways You Can Break Through the Wall

You sit down at your computer to write an inspiring blog post and you get nothing. Maybe it takes the form of a brick wall or just an expansive black void. Everyone suffers from writer’s block from time to time, but how do you break through it to produce meaningful content?

Current Events: What’s going on in the world right now? It’s so important to be up on current events, not only to make small talk with potential customers and partners, but also so you can tap the pulse of the world, your country, your industry or your city in your blog. It may surprise you how often there’s a connection between what’s going on in the outside world and what you do. For example: Where Has All of the Good Journalism Gone? | The Olympics: A Global Brand (Kind Of)

Your Story: Your journey on the road of owning a business (or excelling in your industry) shouldn’t be shared only during networking events and hostage situations (kidding on that last one). Talk about memorable moments or how you handled difficult situations. People want to hear from people who have lived through similar experiences. Your personal observations can help others navigate through chaotic moments. For example: Jumping Off A Cliff: My 1st Year As An Entrepreneur | An Omnipresent View? The Life of a Small Business Owner

Your Customers: While you’re answering your customers’ questions, jot them down. Chances are that other people have the same questions. Sometimes when a client asks me a question, I actually think, ‘there’s a blog post in there!’ Don’t be afraid to talk about successful case studies either, especially unique ones. Of course, you should make sure your client’s comfortable with using its name or just talk in generalities if you’re not comfortable doing that. For example: Get Social: 4 Easy Ways to Join the Conversation | Should You Slim Down (on Social Media)?

Your Interests: Have you watched an intriguing movie lately? Attended a thought-provoking lecture? Read an inspiring book? Talk about it. Tell your audience why it affected you and how you’re using the experience in your professional life. You may be surprised at how your everyday life spills over into your business. Trust me, I didn’t set out making leg lamp cookies to learn about my business, but I did.

Your Inspiration: I wanted to be two people when I grew up: MacGyver and Ricardo Tubbs. Either that, or join the A-Team. What does that have to do with your business? Everything. I shared with my readers how MacGyver can inspire their marketing efforts and how to model your team after the best there ever was, the A-Team. Oh, and don’t forget about how Elvis can inspire your success. Big fan here! Use your inspirations to inspire others. You never know what will cause that ‘ah ha’ moment in someone else.

Your Turn

How do you beat writer’s block?

What other writing prompts have you used to break through the wall?

What’s your favorite blog post where someone tied in an unexpected subject to business?

Black belt (in beating writer’s block),
Jaime

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Where else can you read about MacGyver, Marketing and Leg Lamp Cookies?

As we approach the 200 follower mark, it seemed like a good time to officially welcome (or re-welcome) everyone to the blog and answer some frequently asked questions.

The doors open... come on in!

What’s this blog about? 

In a nutshell, posts typically fall into 4 main categories: marketing, writing, social media and personal reflection. As loyal readers will tell you though, we may take any number of roads to arrive at the destination. Elvis? Check. MacGyver? Yes. Leg lamp cookies. What else would you expect?

How can I check out previous posts? 

The categories and tags balloons on the right hand side of the page are great for delving into posts on specific topics — booksbranding, paying it forward, etc. If you’re looking for what others are reading, check out the popular content section on the right hand side. It changes daily based on what people are reading that particular day. The archives heading, again on the right side, is a great way to find a past post from a specific time period, say September 2013. Looking for different voices? Scroll down to the Contributors to the CCC Blog section on the right sidebar to enjoy business insight, thoughts on branding and even original poetry.

Do you host guest bloggers? 

Yes! We’ve been blessed to host some wonderful guest bloggers, including those referenced in the aforementioned Contributors to the CCC Blog section (on the right hand side). You can browse all of our guest posts here.

Are you interested in being published on the CCC blog? Click here for more information.

What’s CCC stand for anyway?

Clearly Conveyed Communications. We give companies and brands a voice by assisting them with their marketing, writing and social media needs. Wondering what to post on Facebook? Looking for some magical marketing copy? Trying to keep tabs on your ever-changing market? Give us a call (or email or tweet or message…)! We’ll be happy to discuss your next project — no strings attached. Just have a question? That’s OK too! Hit us up; we might just know the answer.

Who’s the voice behind this blog (and site)?

Me. 😉

What can we expect to read in the future?

This is where you come in! Are you looking for information on a particular topic? Would you love to hear more about something previously touched on? We love your feedback and try to use it to shape future content. Drop us a line or leave your thoughts in the comments below.

So that should just about do it. Any other questions? Thoughts? Suggestions?

–>Who’s read this blog in their pj’s?<–

Photo credit: the doors open by Torley Olmstead via CC BY-SA 2.0 // modified by the author

Cheers,
Jaime

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Free Your Mind and The Productivity Will Follow

One of my favorite college classes was Business Writing. While it was a morning class (night owl here), we were so productive in that hour and fifteen minute time frame. Why? Free writes.

Do you free write?

Free writing — and espresso — help me get the creative juices flowing.

Each class, we’d arrive and sit down at a computer. The professor (who was another reason that class was so productive) would give us a topic, seemingly at random. We’d have 15 minutes to write on that topic, whether it be our desired superpower or a special memory from our childhood. No matter the topic, the free writes produced the desired results — getting our creative juices flowing.

Let’s be honest. College students aren’t known for being morning people and may party more than most. But the simple act of free writing helped us wake up, start thinking and made the rest of the class more productive.

Do you free write?

Sometimes I’ll look back through my college papers, and I always enjoy re-reading the free writes from this class. I’m going to begin incorporating these back into my routine to help break through writer’s block and get my mind going when it’s just one of those days.

Here’s your free write topic: What superpower would you choose? Why? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!

Cheers,
Jaime

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And The Award Goes To…

CCC is excited to accept its second award for this blog — The Butterfly Light Award — from Sage Doyle, author of The Journal of Wall Grimm and guest blogger extraordinaire.Thanks, Sage!

Image

This award is given to those who are using their blog to spread light or be a positive influence in today’s world. We’re honored to accept this award, because we’re big believers in helping others, bringing a smile to people’s faces and Paying It Forward. With every post, we’re aiming to help business professionals and small business owners with their marketing, writing and social media efforts while also reflecting on life, lessons learned and what moves us as human beings. If one person walks away from reading a post with more knowledge, an idea for her business or a smile on his face, we’ve done our job. If we’ve accomplished one of these goals with you, please chime in and let us know about it! What post(s) or type of post(s) are your favorite?

Now comes the hard part: choosing who we will bestow this award upon. We appreciate the entire CCC community for your loyal reading, continuing the conversation with your keen insights and comments and sharing our posts with your networks. When thinking about what this award stands for, one reader quickly came to mind.

Rich Mistkowski of Proforma ROI Marketing

Rich is a small business owner, volunteer firefighter, husband and dad. He and his wife, Lisa, are blessed with two great kids, including Mattie, who has Down Syndrome. The family is active in promoting Down Syndrome awareness and supporting the Special Olympics. As a volunteer firefighter of 30+ years, Rich has been involved in numerous fundraisers, charity benefits and helping out those in need. He’s truly one of the good guys, and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with him for the past year. Congratulations Rich, you deserve it!

Image

Rich and Mattie hang out at Mattie’s favorite place — the fire station. Mattie wants to be the first firefighter with Down Syndrome. Go, Mattie!
(Photo courtesy of Rich Mistkowski)

 

“I’m blessed to have Mattie as my son. “It never ceases to amaze me about the impact that Mattie has on people. He seems to be able to bring something out in people that I’ll never understand, but always marvel at.”  –Rich Mistkowski

Thank you to Belinda for creating this award to promote positivity and helping others.

Cheers,
Jaime

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Walking on the Wild Side to a Devoted Blog Following

In our last post, we talked about attracting an audience when you first begin your blog, and a little about Field of Dreams. (Hey, it was a great movie.) Thanks to all who contributed to the discussion. Now that people are coming through the turnstiles, how do you keep them at the park?


Google Calendar’s a lifesaver, but I couldn’t live without my Harley-Davidson wall calendar.

Publish Consistently

Of course, quality content is important, but so is publishing consistency (even more so than frequency, in my humble opinion). Choose a frequency that you can handle (realistically, not in your dream world), and stick to it. When I first started this blog, that was my biggest issue. I’d publish a post here and there, which didn’t help with drawing visitors. Once I committed to a schedule, business definitely started to pick up. Last year, I decided to up my frequency to twice a week, publishing on Tuesdays and Thursdays (after initially experimenting with Tuesdays and Fridays). It’s a commitment, but I’ve managed to stick with the schedule pretty well with a little planning and guest bloggers.

A Note on Guest Blogging

Note that I only began inviting guest bloggers once the CCC blog had reached a decent readership. Second, guest blogging has come under fire recently because some marketers and social media folks (OK, a lot of them) have abused it as an SEO tactic. Google has been criticized by some circles for warning against this practice, but you shouldn’t be guest blogging or accepting guest bloggers purely for SEO purposes. Will the proposed content interest and benefit your audience? If not, then pass. The same is true if you’re looking to write for other blogs. Only propose content that fits their audiences and don’t stuff it with unnecessary links back to your work.

Yours Truly, in leopard print

Yours Truly, in leopard print. Hey, I’m not really a buttoned-up kind of gal.

Walk on the Wild Side

It’s OK to walk a little on the wild side sometimes or have a wide path to begin with. It may take a little time to figure out exactly what topic(s) you want to discuss. This blog is a little different because it covers a myriad of subjects, but they’re all related to four main topics: marketing, writing, social media and personal reflection. It just so happens that Elvis, MacGyver, The American President and leg lamp cookies all relate to these topics while giving the blog a breath of fresh air. I have a plethora of passions and like to try new things, so it’s only appropriate that my blog is wide-ranging as well. Have fun, and don’t be afraid to take a stand on an issue or two. (Just don’t hate; that’s never helpful.)

Open Mic Night 

Involve your readers; don’t lecture at them. People like to share their opinions and experiences, which will add another dimension to your blog. Always ask for comments, and feel free to throw some specific questions out there. It’s always fun to hear others’ points of view. We’re fortunate to have people around the world reading this blog, and I love hearing from them. (Full disclosure: I’m a sucker for British accents, so I always read comments from Great Britain out loud complete with accent.) Sometimes a post can take on a whole new meaning because of a question posed or insight provided by a reader.

Don’t worry if your blog’s comment box isn’t blowing up either. You may have loyal readers who love your posts who would never venture past the like button, if that. Some people prefer to remain silent while others don’t want to take the time to leave insightful comments or just don’t have anything else to add. Regardless, if your follower count keeps creeping higher, then people are listening.

That’s the leopard print lady’s take on filling the grandstands with devoted readers. What do you think?

What other suggestions do you have?

Is anyone else in love with animal print? 🙂

As a reminder, we covered how to get folks to visit your blog in our last post. We’d still love to hear your thoughts on that subject as well.

Still walking on the wild side,
Jaime

Constant Readers, let’s get social…
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Using Google+ to Boost Your Search Engine Rankings

This is the final post in a 4-part series highlighting steps you can take to improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO). This guide was written by Ramya Raju, an experienced freelance web design writer from India. If you missed any of the first 3 posts, you can review them here.

Clearly Conveyed Communications Google+ header

Search engines like Google are influenced by social media profiles, especially Google+. As Google’s own social network, Google+ carries major weight in boosting rankings on the largest search engine in the world. Its profiles are very helpful in personalizing search results that go beyond the local search results. If you wish to personalize searches, then carry out the following steps:

  • Create a Google+ profile for personal use and a business page.
  • Give a +1 share to the websites that you wish to generate rankings for. You can also share websites on the profile page and link to them using the personal information boxes in the recommended websites section.
  • Completely fill out the personal profile, so it comes up in appropriate searches and draws interest from other people.
  • Update your status regularly, and keep the status of your profile information public (for better search results).
  • Share interesting information from other people so you’re not entirely self-promotional (and to help connect with others).
  • Network with people who you feel can benefit from seeing your website in the search results. You can use the search box on Google+ to search for people and add them to your circles.

The idea is to gain popularity on Google+ so that you can get better rankings in personalized search results.

Keeping Track of Your Results

After all the hard work and effort taken to achieve better SEO of your website, it only makes sense to keep track of the results. You can use the following two tools to monitor such results easily:

  • Authority Labs – very effective in tracking keyword rankings that are used for your website and helps to check whether they have moved up in the search results or not. The account comes with a fee but has a 30-day trial period to test it.
  • Google Analytics – an all-around solution for SEO monitoring. It helps with monitoring visitors to your website, checking organic search traffic sources and understanding which keywords are used by people to find your website on search engines. This tool also tracks the keywords that can lead to people visiting your site and joining a mailing list, purchasing a product and other actions you want them to perform.

There are many tools and resources available to improve your SEO but the above two can help start off your campaign in the right direction. 

We hope you’ve enjoyed this 4-part SEO guide to help you improve your website’s search engine optimization efforts. A special thank you to Ramya Raju for writing the guide and sharing it with CCC’s readers. For more on the first 3 parts or Ramya, see below.

Ramya Raju

Ramya Raju is a freelance web design writer with 8 years of extensive blogging experience on a variety of online publishing and social media platforms. She generally writes high quality articles on travel, photography, SEO, web design, English courses and other general topics as requested. Ramya, an extrovert with a passion for photography and anthropology, enjoys travelling to different countries to discover new cultures and experience life with the locals. You can reach her at ramyaraju896@gmail.com or visit her online at http://www.colorcharacter.com/uk/.