Write like nobody’s reading

Following on from yesterday’s post I thought I’d continue with the theme of why we bother doing what we do.

I often get asked how many people read my Time Saving Heroes blogs, or how popular the blogs are that I write for my clients.  I also get asked how best to define a “good” blog.

You might think these are easy questions to answer, but the truth is, they’re not.

My viewing numbers vary from post to post – I can get two views on one, and over 1,000 for another on a similar topic.  Sometimes it’s just not your day.  Sometimes it is.

As for the popularity of my guest blogs, or those I ghost-write for clients, it’s the same issue. However, if they’re popular with my clients, the people who are paying for them, then that’s the only metric I need to refer to.

Finally, a “good” blog – yeah, I can’t even with that one.

All too often blogging and any form of content marketing is measured by its reach, the number of people who have seen or shared it.  People seem to constantly be hoping for a post to go viral – the Holy Grail of social media.  But that’s far too short sighted.

Good content needs to make an impact.  Perhaps it only makes one person stop and think, challenge their perceptions, learn something or want to find out more.  Does that make it a bad blog because not enough people have interacted?

A piece of writing that’s seen by hundreds but is forgotten within minutes is not a good one, surely?

The vast majority of people who ask these questions are not the ones that are contemplating “buying” content from me – they’re actually the people who create their own.  Essentially they are looking for an answer to the question “Why am I even bothering?”

For those people, the ones still too scared to ask the question, here are my reasons:

  1. Practice makes better (I don’t believe in perfection). The more you write the better you will get at it. You will find your voice, you will find it easier to put words to screen, and you will learn to stop over thinking the whole process.
  2. It’s therapeutic. When you write for the right reasons, to inform, to engage, to encourage or educate then it can be a hugely therapeutic experience.
  3. You’re always visible. Even when people don’t read your piece they might have seen it pop up (depending where you’re sharing it in the first place). That still means you’re visible.  You’re still out there.  If that happens enough then there’s a good chance that a little spark of curiosity is going to get them to connect.
  4. Blogging gives you a chance to expand your own knowledge base. I’m lucky to be able to write for a wide variety of people, who work in completely different industries.  Sometimes I know nothing about the products they’re selling, and I have to do a lot of research to pull a piece together.  That’s fine, I love it as it gives me the chance to learn and explore. Even if you’re writing about your own industry, something you should know a lot about, you’re bound to pick up more information which will be an advantage to you and your customers along the way.
  5. Blogging also gives you an opportunity to make some really random questions. Putting your content out there encourages people to say something back, to comment, to like, to share – even if they don’t do it immediately.

If you’re struggling to work out whether you should carry on with your blog or not, take some advice from me.  Stop worrying about who’s out there, and start writing like nobody’s reading.  Take the pressure off and write for the sheer heck of it.

It’s a beautiful thing when you just let it be.

Why do I even bother?

If you’re self-employed you have possibly uttered the words “Why do I even bother” at some point in time.  If you haven’t, then the chances are you’ve probably thought it.

Of course, if you’re a parent you’ve definitely said it – possibly at full volume to a room full of children that have long since stopped listening.

Whilst those five words could be prompted by anything, today I want to focus on social media marketing.

In the last few weeks I’ve seen numerous contacts and fellow business explorers lament lose their shit about the lack of interaction from their “friends”.  I’ve seen such rants (for, that is what they are) on a variety of social media networks, and always by different people.  Even different industries.

It seems to be a theme that is plaguing many.

“I set up this business and none of my friends, family or previous co-workers interact with it.”

“People I help and support don’t ever share my posts.”

“What do I have to do to get them to pay attention to me?”

It’s a shame.

Really.

Admittedly that possibly sounds a little insincere, but it’s not meant to.  I genuinely sympathise. And perhaps just as importantly, I really do get it.

In fact, I’ve been there.

And whilst there I realised something the people still tearing their hair out probably haven’t come to terms with yet.

Running your own business is a lot like being a parent. No one asked you to do it, no one’s particularly impressed and once the initial novelty has worn off no one else really cares anymore. Eventually everyone but your very nearest and dearest are going to get bored of the fact you can’t talk about anything else. Don’t even get me started on the constant stream of photos and myriad of hashtags that come with them.

The point is your friends, no matter how long you’ve known them or the scrapes you’ve been through together in the past, don’t owe you anything.  They don’t have to like your posts, or your page.  They don’t have to share anything you do. They are not obligated to you.

Yes, I get that it might be nice if they did once in a while – but what’s their incentive?  When they do help you, do you actually stop and say thank you?  Do you return the favour in any capacity with anything they need help with?

Only you know the answer to that, but it’s something many people forget about.  If they do interact then that’s them taking time out of their day to do something that benefits you.  That’s worthy of a little acknowledgment. If you start giving, you may find yourself on the receiving end a little more often.

Equally, and this is something far too few people seem to really grasp, there is a distinct possibility your friends are not seeing any of your posts.  When it comes to social media we have a tendency to be a little egocentric – you know you’ve posted it, therefore everyone else must do.

But think about it. If your friends have liked your business page purely because you asked them to once upon a when you set it up, then the chances are they’ve not had much cause to interact with it since.  If that’s the case, then all the magical algorithms that determine what content people see, will rank your content low for their newsfeed.

That means they just won’t be getting anything you post out, and you ranting and raging at them is unlikely to change that.

If you’re not getting any results then it’s totally understandable you’d ask yourself why you’re bothering. However, the correct question that needs answering is what are you doing wrong?  Because I assure you, it’s something.

If you can figure that out, and approach your social networking from a different angle, you may just start seeing results.

 

 

 

 

When it comes to call handling, you have 3 choices

Last week we announced our popular call handling service is back, and it’s better than ever.  We now have a dedicated team able to take your calls, and that has created the opportunity for us to differentiate ourselves from other company’s offering the same service.

As a result, we have three different options to choose from.

Option 1: Holiday cover

Day to day you may find you’re in control of your phone calls, able to answer them whilst you’re at work, or keeping on top of any messages that come through.

You might even have staff on hand who handle this side of the business for you.

But what happens when you’re on holiday, or your staff take a break?  Who handles the calls then?

We offer a short term package to suit your needs, whether it’s for a week, 10 days or longer.  Our team will be on hand to answer your calls and deal with them according to your instructions.

This is ideal for people who need extra support for a short period of time and don’t want to be saddled with a contract or any set-up fees.

Option 2: Monthly cover

If you’re struggling to stay on top of your calls, or want the added bonus of ensuring every incoming call is handled in a timely and professional manner, then our monthly cover is ideal for you.

There’s no set up fee, and our pricing structure is competitive and easy to follow.

Calls will be answered between 8am and 5pm, Monday-Friday with messages being sent via email or text, depending on your preferences.

We can also offer an additional assistance package whereby we provide customer service support to your callers.

Option 3: Emergency cover

Time Saving Heroes pride ourselves on our ability to be reactive to the little emergencies that crop up in your business.

Kids off sick?  Stuck on a job? Receptionist caught in traffic and unable to come in? Whatever the issue, we offer emergency cover for as long (or as short) as you need it.

It’s quick and easy to set up (we can have you up and running within 10 minutes), cancel or extend.

 

How to find out more

If you want to have a chat, and find out more about our exciting new call handling, give us a ring on 0161 883 2024 or email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk

 

 

The problem with Fakebook and filters

Many of you who know me personally know that once a month I mentor a 13 year old girl called El.  It’s part of the Girls Out Loud Big Sister Programme which targets the girls who sit in the middle of the cohort who simply cruise along. These girls are in danger of becoming invisible purely because they are neither seriously disruptive, nor super academically gifted. They struggle to find their place and often get lost in the noise, either hiding in the corner or looking for validation in all the wrong places.

In the short time I’ve being involved in this wonderful cause I’ve been struck by the impact social media has on these young girls. The insane amounts of pressure they face day in, day out via their online interactions has blown my mind (and I consider myself not to be terribly naïve in this particular area).

Young people (let’s not pretend it’s all about the girls) are exposed to so many things which increase their anxiety around appearance and cause them to focus on their body image.  Society’s obsession with celebrity culture creates an unhealthy image of what we should all aspire to, with many of us forgetting just how much airbrushing goes in to the perfect image.

However, that is nothing new and sadly, isn’t going away any time soon.  What does seem to be on the increase though is the proliferation of social media channels focussing on nothing but image.  The likes of Snapchat and Instagram promote unrealistic messages of how people, especially young girls, “should” look.  If you don’t conform to the “correct” standards you can easily become ostracised.

It’s easy to sit here in the cold light of day and query why anyone would care how many “likes” their latest photo has received, but when social interactions are based on negative or positive comments and ratings, friendships become nothing more than competitions. It is an unhealthy way to live – but to remove yourself from the situation ensures you become an outsider and are excluded in the real world as well.

The problem is in a world where social media dominates, we have fallen in to the trap of sharing almost everything.  Let’s face it, a night out didn’t happen unless there are countless photos all over your chosen platform.  There’s little point in arguing such a good night would captivate your attention so much you’d be able to avoid the lure of the selfie in the first place.

The problem is filters existed long before Instagram came along. When you are in control of what you share it makes sense that you only share the best. It’s human nature and there’s nothing wrong with that. Or is there?

When you post photos of you working in your perfectly manicured garden along with a status describing your perfect life and how you have it all #LuckyGirl #LivingTheDream #Freedom – doesn’t it make it a little harder to yell for help when it goes a little wrong?

Does the inherent undertone of “I have it all, come be like me” not set you apart and put you on a precarious pedestal?  I worry so much that as a society we are all playing the Fakebook game a little too well, and I fear what impact this is having on our mental health.

If, we the sage adults are able to fall in to this trap of pretend perfection, what hope is there for our young teens?

 

 

 

Guess what’s back …

In 2014 we started offering call handling to some of our existing clients.  It proved to be such a popular service that we rolled it out to everyone and anyone, and it definitely became one of our more valuable offerings as far as business owners were concerned.

However, as is often the case with business, the sailing didn’t stay smooth for ever.

Following some staff changes Lu was predominantly answering calls on her own, and with the onset of morning sickness, she became concerned the quality of the service offered would be compromised.  It was a difficult decision, especially as it meant losing some clients altogether, but the call handling was stopped in early 2016.

I treat my clients like good friends, and I want to do the absolute best for them. Dropping the ball when it came to their businesses just wasn’t something I was prepared to do.

Nearly 18 months later and things have changed.  The morning sickness has been replaced by a 10 month old boy called Eric, and now we have a team in place dedicated to handling all the calls you can throw at them.

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If you want to find out more about the various packages we offer (including a holiday cover package) please get in touch. You can call 0161 883 2024 or email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk

 

We look forward to taking your calls.

 

 

Tragedy is not a marketing opportunity

This is a blog post I never thought I’d write, but unfortunately tragic events are becoming an increasing part of our everyday lives.  In the last few weeks we have had the MEN bombing, London Bridge attacks and just yesterday the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

I know there are far more incidents worthy of comment occurring throughout the world, so please forgive me for focussing solely on those closer to home.

When breaking news occurs, and starts to dominate social media what should you, as a business and brand do?  How do you react to it, and indeed should you make a comment at all?  The reality is no social media platform comes with an etiquette guide to troubling events, and whilst we may all suggest relying on common sense, in the heat of the moment such an apparently common attribute is often lacking.

Here’s the first things you should consider to avoid getting it wrong.

Ask yourself why

In the wake of a tragedy, celebrity death, terrorist attack or natural disaster you may feel compelled to say something.  That’s undoubtedly human nature in this constantly signed-in culture we live in, but stop for a second and ask yourself why you want to comment.

Just because everyone else is saying something doesn’t mean you have to. Sometimes it’s perfectly acceptable to say nothing – you certainly shouldn’t say something just because you want to jump on the band wagon.

Equally, if you do want to say something consider whether it has to be via your company.  Is the current event or situation linked in any way to your industry?  If not there is every chance any comment you make or any links to the trending hashtag will be seen as a cheap marketing ploy. If that is the case then trust me, any clicks and interactions you get off the back of it will not be worth the negative responses you will foster in the vast majority of people.

If your industry or business is connected in some way to what’s happened then people will undoubtedly expect you to comment.  Failing to do so can be seen as being as unnatural as those who try to force the issue.  Don’t feel you can’t say anything, just make sure you put some thought in to it before you press send.

Get the message right

I confess I was appalled this morning by a post I saw on a local businesses Facebook page.  Late last night (less than 24 hours after the Grenfell Tower fire started) a letting agent posted a photo of himself when he had a brief stint as a fireman over four years ago.

Knowing the gentleman concerned I have little doubt the tone was meant to be one of solidarity and genuine compassion for those involved. However, the use of two photographs featuring himself ensured the post was solely about him. The associated content was just as equally focussed on him, with a statement that he had previously lobbied the local fire service and council for the installation of fire alarms to be made a legal requirement in private rentals (before this became ratified by government).

I was left feeling he was looking for external validation and applause – all on the back of a tragedy in which countless people have lost their homes, possessions and in all too many cases, their lives. This is no doubt not the case, but the shoddy way the posting was handled meant I know I am not the only one who was left querying the motivations.

This business had genuine reasons to be commenting on this tragedy – I do not dispute that for one second. It is simply the way it’s been done that was entirely wrong. No real message was passed on, there was no benefit to the wider public, it was instead “look at me, I’m wonderful”.

A far better response would have been to remind people (a few days later) that if you live in a rental property it might be your landlords responsibility to ensure there are suitable alarms and detectors in the property, but that it remains your duty to check they are working at regular intervals.

The above message could actually save lives.

The original one cannot.

Err on the side of caution

If you are not sure if what you are posting is relevant to your business, audience or industry, but you still want to say something, it is often wise to err on the side of caution and simply post on your personal accounts instead.

Let the message come from you, not your brand; at least then either way you cannot be accused of seeking validation or promotion.  Get it wrong and people are unlikely to forget quickly.

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re not getting leads through LinkedIn, you might be making this mistake

Usually when I speak to people about LinkedIn they tell me it’s a waste of time.  Initially I was surprised by their attitude because, for me, I’ve always found LinkedIn to be really useful when it comes to promoting my business, expanding my network and generating meaningful leads.

A few minutes and some pertinent questions later I realise that in every single case the individual concerned is using LinkedIn wrong.  For most they half-heartedly set up a profile months (or even years) ago, and haven’t done a single thing with it since.

And they wonder why the phone’s not ringing off the hook.

The simple fact is, if you’re on LinkedIn and you’re getting nothing out of it, then you’re using it wrong.

It honestly doesn’t get any simpler than that.

No matter what your ultimate LinkedIn strategy is, it’s ultimately going to involve communicating with your network.  In order to do that you need to have a network in the first place, and you can only establish one of those by connecting with other users.

Which leads me on to my tip for this week.

Make sure your profile is optimised

There’s no part of your LinkedIn profile that’s not important; however, there are some bits that are slightly more important than others.

When you send an invitation to someone to connect, the first things they’re going to see about you are:

  1. Your name and profile picture
  2. Your professional headline (job title)
  3. Your message

As a result, it’s fair to say your name, picture and headline are the three most important things you need to add to your profile to make the right first impression.

Admittedly, there’s not a whole lot you can do about your name – you’re probably used to it by now, but do avoid using nicknames. Equally, you might want to give some thought as to whether you want to include letters after your name.

I have a BSc, but don’t include it on my profile because it’s utterly irrelevant.

When it comes to your profile photo you need to make sure you have one.  I’ve seen many business owners who decide to use their company logo instead of a photo of themselves.  They might think this helps with getting their name out there, but it doesn’t.

If I’ve just met you at a networking event I’m going to remember you, not your logo.  You profile photo shows me who you are, and a professional one shows me that you can be taken seriously.

As for your professional headline, this is really important and so many people get it wrong. It is not simply your job title, though you might very well went to include that in there somewhere.  Headlines are searchable, which is why it’s key to think of something that not only clearly represents what you do, but is easily understandable to your target audience.

If someone needed your product or service, what would they search for?  The biggest problem I see is business owners identifying themselves as “Business Owner.”  If I’m looking for a carpet cleaner, or website designer I am not going to type in business owner in the search bar – therefore, I am never going to find you.

You might well be precisely what I’m looking for, but LinkedIn doesn’t know that, therefore I won’t know that.

 

 

Here at Time Saving Heroes we spend a lot of time helping people develop LinkedIn strategies to achieve their goals.  Part of this includes providing a review on LinkedIn profiles to make sure you’ve got everything you need to make a good impression.

To find out more simply give us a call on 0161 883 2024 or email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.