Bright and Breezy

You don’t get much more ‘bright and breezy’ than striding across the top of Dunstable Downs in a vibrant yellow t-shirt.

This weekend, I joined 40 enthusiastic people, for an 18 mile walk along the Ridgeway. Starting in Dunstable, we made our way back to Wendover one step at a time. The purpose of this walk was to raise awareness and funds for The PACE Centre.

The PACE Centre
The PACE Centre provides specialist education and therapy for children with motor disorders. It gives these amazing children the opportunity to realise their potential. With two sites in Aylesbury, along with outreach services, the charity supports the care and development of children and young people, from birth through to 18 years old.

The PACE Centre provides primary and secondary education from KS1 through to KS4 and standards are high. In its most recent Ofsted inspection, the school was graded outstanding. Talk about setting high standards!

In order to continue its services, the charity takes a very proactive approach to fundraising events. The BIG Walk is just one of a number of ways in which the local community and businesses can get involved. If running a marathon or cycling isn’t your thing, would you be tempted by a Brewery Tour, a Quiz Night or Open Gardens?

Why I Support The PACE Centre
If a child’s needs can’t be met by mainstream education and clubs, there needs to be alternatives. Parents and children have to have access to high quality care and specialist support. It’s fortunate that a dedicated team have ensured that local parents have this option on their doorstep.

Rather than funds disappearing into a pot, I’ve seen that even small donations to The PACE Centre have been used to purchase equipment. The charity has previously sent letters, and even a video, to show how my support has really made a difference to their pupils.

Benefits of Walking
I find walking is a fantastic form of relaxation. It offers time to clear my mind and allows creativity to flow. If I’m stuck on a blog writing idea, getting out for a walk often proves far more effective than staring at a screen in the hope that inspiration will strike.

Walking gets you out in the fresh air and boosts your fitness. It is easy to incorporate into your daily routine and whilst a brisk pace is most beneficial, you can easily vary your speed. It cost nothing to go on a walk and you spot so many things that simply go unnoticed when you drive by in a car.

Get Involved
There’s more to getting invovled than simply walking. Local business supported the event in other ways. Aylesbury’s Motts Coaches donated vehicles and drivers to transport walkers to three different starting points through the day. Staff from Aylesbury’s Metro Bank provided drinks, snacks and encouragement at points along the route. Volunteers from the Rambling Association were walk guides, whilst other people gave up their time to marshal at road junctions.

Such events offer so much more than a tick in the CSR box. If you ever want to restore your faith in human nature, get involved; you’ll have the chance to meet, and chat with, so many inspirational people.

This is the third BIG Walk that I’ve taken part in. Each has been extremely well organised and it is a friendly and positive event. After months of snow and rain, it was a delight to enjoy sunshine and clear skies. The conditions also meant we were rewarded with stunning views of the Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire countryside.

If it sounds appealing to you, follow The PACE Centre’s Facebook page. You’ll get details of The BIG Walk 2019 when they are released.

Barriers to Blog Writing

Breaking Down the Barriers to Blog Writing

“Continuous Improvement is better than delayed perfection”

This quote popped up on my social media this morning. I don’t know who to credit for it, but sums up the reason we often hold back when it comes to creativity.

Getting Started with Blog Writing

Last week I spoke with a business owner. She was proud of her new website, but very aware that it had an empty blog page. Then she admitted that she had written a blog, but was apprehensive about posting it. Was it too long? Had she effectively communicated the key message?

With a little advice and a nudge in the right direction, she took a deep breath and clicked ‘Publish’.

I’m not sure how long she’d be contemplating that blog, but as soon as it was out there, her mind filled with ideas for future blogs. Her creativity was unlocked; she had broken down the first barrier of blog writing – getting started.

Concerns about ‘getting it wrong’ often hinder creativity.

I enjoy activities that spark creative thinking, so enrolled on a one day block printing workshop at my local arts centre.

After a brief introduction, the tutor gave us each a crisp, white t-towel and a carved block. She squirted thick, black fabric paint into our trays and told us to get printing. She’d imparted some basic instructions on applying the paint, but provided no rules.

This lack of structure threw some into momentary panic. Where should they start? What if it goes wrong?

A tea towel – at best it would be used to dry the dishes. Did it really matter if it went wrong? To some people, yes, because we feel a failure if we don’t get it right (even on the first attempt).

Once we all bit the bullet, the process was simple, fun and quick to deliver results. As each participant took printed the first black blocks onto their white fabric, the tension dropped. Creativity flowed and by the end of the workshop, we all left with a colourful selection of beautifully printed fabrics and papers.

Learn from the Creative Process

So many people hold back from creative activities because we’ve become so results focused. If you’re worried about making mistakes and what people will think, it’s difficult to really open up to new possibilities.

Our early attempts may not be fantastic, but we learn from the creative process. Experience and feedback help us to improve. The more we break down the barriers to creative thinking, the easier it becomes. As a result, we open ourselves up to fresh ideas and new approaches.

Blog Writing

If you are keen to write your own blogs, it’s time to get some ideas down on paper. Don’t expect to write the perfect piece on your first attempt, just start by:

  • Writing a few ideas on paper
  • Considering what related points your customers would find interesting or useful to know
  • Researching information that relates to the idea and see where this leads you
  • Building on the formative thoughts to develop the idea
  • Writing a draft blog
  • Re-reading and editing
  • Finding or taking a suitable picture
  • Posting!

The minute you click ‘Publish’, expect to feel both panic and excitement. Your blog is live.

People can read it and form their opinions about it. Some may not be favourable, but which is worse; giving it a go or having an empty blog page? It’s time to get creative!

If you need a little more assistance, I offer content planning packages. We’ll consider relevant subject matter, key events and frequency of posting before a final blog plan is prepared. Simply email me to arrange a content planning meeting: catherine@write-it.co.uk

Anchor Text

Blog Writing Tips: Anchor Text

A good blog will provide the reader with information, yet you want to avoid information overdrive. This is where links come in.

Creating a Link

Any blog or article should include a link. The link should direct the reader to further information that expands on the topic of the blog. It could be a webpage, another blog or a published paper on your website (internal link) or on another website (external link).

You create a link, by:

  • Highlighting a word or phrase in your blog (the Anchor Text)
  • Clicking on the ‘Insert’ tab
  • Selecting Hyperlink
  • Adding the website URL that you wish to direct readers to

 

The anchor text will now be highlighted and if you hover the curser over it, the URL will show.

The Anchor Text

For SEO purposes t’s important that the search engines can see a direct link between the anchor text and the page that it directs to. Ideally, there should be an exact match between the text and URL.

Avoid Common Mistakes

Weak anchor text

If you want your website to be well ranked, you need to keep the search engines and your website visitors happy. This includes making every detail count, including good use of anchor text in blog writing. The example below shows that a small change can make a big difference when it comes to relevant anchor text.

“For further information on our catering packages click here – ‘here’ lacks the exact match that the search engines are looking for and it isn’t sufficiently specific for the reader either. It’s a missed opportunity to show the relevance of the link. An alternative could be:

“We are happy to provide further information on corporate catering and sample menus.” –  In this second option, there is the potential to link with two relevant pages of a website, using an exact text match. It’s a small change that will improve the effectiveness of your website.

Directing to the Home page

The match works both ways. In the example above, anyone clicking on Sample Menus will expect to see exactly that – a page of sample menus. If they are taken to the Home Page and then have to navigate to the Sample Menus page it’s frustrating.

It may only take seconds to navigate to the right page, but why should they? It is enough to put some people off and it doesn’t score any points with the search engines either.

Open Links in a New Tab

There are arguments in favour and against setting up links to open in a separate tab. When it comes to internal links, a separate tab isn’t necessary, but it’s a good idea for external links. This is because you don’t want to send your visitors to another site and not provide them with an easy way back.

If you have a WordPress site, as you highlight the anchor text and click on the hyperlink icon, you’ll see a cog icon; click on this for Link Options.

A box will open up for you to add the URL and there is a tick box option to ‘Open link in a new tab’.

In Summary

It’s a good idea to make us of links in your blog writing. Keep your readers happy by directing them to the page where the conversation naturally continues and ensure that you match the page URL with the anchor text. When it comes to external links, opt for opening in a new tab. If you prefer to outsource your blog writing, get in touch.

 

Why Write a Blog?

Why Write a Blog?

In order to value of my blog writing service, you need to clarify the purpose of blog writing.

Every company will have its own reasons for adding regular blog posts to their website. Here are a few reasons why it could be important for your business:

Showcase your Expertise

There are limits to the information that can be communicated on your web page content. Blog writing presents the opportunity to fill the gaps and share the breadth of your knowledge.

An Extension of your Customer Service

Blog writing is a way to share valuable information. This could include new product reviews, aftercare advice, how to tutorials and top tips.

Inspire Prospective Clients

People respond to fresh, exciting ideas. With inspirational content, you can encourage web visitor to book, request further information or buy, whilst avoiding the overt sales message.

Answer Frequently Asked Questions

Do you find yourself repeating the same information to customers time and again? Blog writing provides a means of giving a detailed response. By keeping a note of blog titles and URLs, it’s easy to send a link that directs customers to the information they seek.

Highlight your Company Values

Your company may support your local community, be passionate about the environment or be at the cutting edge of new developments.  Blog writing allows you to qualify how your team are putting your values into practice.

Promote Events

If you are exhibiting, organising a product launch, running a networking event or taking part in a community fundraiser, blog writing can encourage others to get involved and join in.

Respond to Topical News

As relevant news stories hit the media, blog writing is a means of presenting your web visitors with the key information, your response and action points.

Supporting your Social Media Activity

Blog posts give you a wealth of potential content that makes it far easier to maintain active social media profiles. A brief snippet a link to the full blog will help to drive traffic to your site.

Increase the Likelihood that your Website will be found on Google

Seeing blog writing as an SEO exercise is a missed opportunity. There is however no doubt that regular, original posts increase the chances of a match between the search criteria and your content.

 


 

I hope this explains why blog writing should be seen as more than a tick box exercise. Do you recognise ways in which it could help your business thrive?

If you do, but you haven’t the time to commit to blog writing, get in touch:

catherine@write-it.co.uk