4 Tips to Better NonProfit Website Copy

Better website copy is right around the corner. (photo from FreeFoto.com)

Better website copy is right around the corner. (photo from FreeFoto.com)

Today’s guest blogger is Lindsey Patten, who is our special guest speaker at the July 28th online workshop, Learn to Write Better Nonprofit Website Copy.
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Writing for the web is easier said than done. It’s easy to extol the virtues of great copy, but that much harder to get right down to business. See, writing is something that everyone knows how to do, but everyone doesn’t know how to do it well. So what are some first steps for sitting
down and getting it done?

1. Know your Limitations

If you are in charge of writing the web copy, ask yourself this: Are you up to the task? It’s nothing shameful if you aren’t. It’s more important to assess your writing capabilities and determine they aren’t up to snuff then not and go ahead with the writing anyway. Maybe you are good at one type of writing but not the other. Perhaps you can write the technical side of the issue, but not the emotional side? Whatever the case, know your limitations.

2. Secure your Environment

By this I mean, determine which is the ideal environment for creative juices to flow and make sure you have it. If you don’t wish to be disturbed, shut your office door or go somewhere else entirely. If you are interrupted during writing it can break your whole train of thought and leave you frustrated. Then assess what you do as you write. For me, I like to stand up and pace, running my thoughts through my head before I write them on the page. Some people like to listen to music, others like complete silence. Some like to eat as they write, others don’t. Whatever your perfect environment is for writing, try to replicate it.

3. Spit it Out

Staring at a blank piece of paper or a blank computer screen can be daunting. It’s important to get words, any words at all down on paper/computer just to start you off. It doesn’t matter if its gibberish, you just need to start writing to get into the flow. And then the real words will come. I promise!

4. Get an Editor

Get an editor. A good one. One that will show no mercy on your copy. Yes, sometimes it can sting when you receive back a piece of writing with track changes or red lines all over it, but ultimately this will help you create a better piece of content. It’s important to put your ego aside and at least consider the editor’s suggestions, even if you don’t accept them all.

So there are a few tips for getting started. And remember, writing good copy takes time so don’t frustrated if it doesn’t come to you in the first minute. Or hour. Or even day.

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For more information on Professional Mojo’s online workshops or to find out more about Lindsey Patten, please contact us.
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4 Tips for Managing Your Online Reputation

A friend of mine recently confessed that she had been Googling and searching Facebook, Twitter and Linked In for information on a potential employee.  She also did some blog checking on the prospect’s current employer to check them out, too.  Based on the information she received, she decided against making him an offer.  Ouch. 

Manage your online reputation. (photo from FreeFoto.com)

Manage your online reputation. (photo from FreeFoto.com)

Social media, along with its many opportunities to reach your customers and prospects directly, exposes us as individuals and businesses to a level of transparency that we have never before encountered.  If you choose to play in the social media game, you will have to put on your best protective wear.  Controlling the brand and the message is now only an illusion, but you can monitor and influence the conversation. 

Consider these 4 tips for helping to manage your online reputation:

1) If you haven’t already done it, set up a Google alert for your company’s name, your name, your tag line, and other key words.

You may also want to consider an alert for your main competitors.  You can’t influence anything unless you know it’s being said. 

2) Create robust profiles on the major social networking sites for yourself and for your organization.

I would include Linked In (where the two are intertwined), Facebook (individual profile and separate business page), and Twitter (since the entries are now indexed).  There are many others, but when someone search you or your company and there is vacuum of information…they fill in the blanks themselves.  Make sure you have something out there.

3) Follow a policy of what I post on the Internet will stay on the Internet – forever.

  Prospects, potential employers, potential donors, and customers are researching you. Keep your personal stuff personal and locked down only for your friends. Don’t post anything to a public, business-centric profile that you don’t want published on the front page of the evening news.

4) Don’t forget your name.

If you haven’t already spent the few bucks to purchase your personal domains, do it.  I would suggest purchasing domains with the .com/.net/.org/.me for your name or any variation of it. For less than $50 per year, you can park those domains – www.yourpersonalname.com – and know that others can’t use them.

Remember, in today’s transparent world where misinformation is transmitted at the speed of light, keeping tabs on your and your business’s online chatter is paramount.

For more information on building a quality social media plan and managing your online reputation, visit ProfessionalMojo.com and subscribe to our newsletter.

Choosing the Right Virtual Employee

Does your virtual employee have the V factor?

Does your virtual employee have the V factor?

Things change. People change.

No, I’m not breaking up with you, I’m suggesting that if you already have virtual (telecommuting, teleworking, etc.) employees and are facing challenges, or if you are considering making more of your operation virtual, the right person in your OFFICE may not be the right person AT HOME.

Let me explain.  The “A” players you have on your team now may need the contact, input and stimulation that only a brick-and-mortar location can provide. Many managers make the terrible mistake of assuming an “A” player will remain an “A” player under different circumstances.  When you are considering moving an employee into a virtual position or if you are hiring for a virtual position, look for the V Factors:

1) Self-solving:  Can he solve problems on his own or find a way to get the answer when the communication process may not be as crisp as in an office? Hear this: even if he seems like a problem solver in the office, he may not be when immediate resources or feedback are NOT available.

2) Self-confident: Does she have the guts and the intestinal fortitude to run to ground what she needs? Does she have the confidence and knowledge to make decisions when you are not around?

3) Self-motivated: He has to want to achieve on his own without needing prodding or informal visits. You’d be surprised how much info we gather at the water cooler, so don’t underestimate this.

4) Self-reliant: What if the resources aren’t available or not created yet?  What will the employee do then?  You can do your best to have roles and rules around the virtual employee, but there still has to be a streak of self-reliance so the projects continue on course.

5) Self-entertaining:  I know it’s not a word (so you can keep those comments), but it makes sense for my purpose. Think about how much time you spend at work visiting…chatting…going to lunch with colleagues.  There is a sense of isolation when one works at home that requires creativity and imagination.  I’m not talking about an imaginary friend, but I am talking about finding ways to break up the day to keep productivity high.

Does your potential virtual employee have the V factor?  Ask the right behavioral questions and find out.

The Real Power of Social Media: Sheep, uh, I mean Word of Mouth

People are followers - and that includes in social media.

People are followers - and that includes in social media.

Remember when you took Sales 101 in college or maybe was forced into one of those dry sales training courses at work? One of the first tenets to be drilled into you was that it is just as important to find the person who can say NO as it is to woo the actual decision maker.  Looks like the same rules apply with social media.  But that shouldn’t be surprising, because people are followers.

A recent study by Razorfish indicated that while most folks do not use social media to actively seek recommendations, they are influenced when they receive negative or positive feedback via social media – even if that feedback is unsolicited

If you are a small business and you are 1) struggling with the decision to invest resources in social media, 2) engaging in limited forms of social media but are concerned you are not doing it well or 3) just not involved in it, you need to immediately take a step back and create a social media plan. 

Look, social media is no longer a “maybe” or a superfluous add-on for when you get time and money…or free up a stray resource.  Social media is a robust business universe where deals are getting done, opinions are being changed and brands are being both praised and skewered. Let me give you a couple of recent examples from my own town.

Example 1:  Someone Tweeted out that she was joining the local name-brand gym. She didn’t ask for any advice; in fact, she probably just wanted an atta-girl for finally getting off of her duff and getting some exercise.  Instead of validation, she received a number of replies that talked about how she should not go to that particular gym for all sorts of reasons. In a matter of minutes, she changed her mind and hundreds -maybe thousands- of people read the complaints, too. They also read her note that she decided to back out and go to another gym. Ouch.

Example 2: Last Friday, a local guy Tweeted about his new car.  He got a number of very positive responses that simply validated the Tweep’s choice in vehicles  and probably caused some others to consider that make and model.

What is a business to do?

First, a small business needs to develop a comprehensive online presence that is consistent and planned across the best-choice platforms.

Second, the business needs to develop an authentic voice. The time of companies and brands living at the top of the heap is done. Finis. Kaput.  Social media is about establishing and maintaining relationships, not about arrogant businesses who believe they can still control their brand. It’s an illusion. You can only influence.

Third, the Razorfish study concluded that consumers are looking for ways to engage with businesses on these social platforms.  We’re not talking about a tepid corporate website, but a robust fan page or maybe a content-rich blog that provides some transparency and insight into the company. 

You see, people still want to do business with people, and they are still influenced by people.  Many folks are followers by nature.  That really hasn’t changed over the decades.  But, the way in which they communicate that instantaneous recommendation or thumbs-down sure has. If you’re not paying attention to it, it may be the death of you.

Search Engine Optimization Tips: Today’s iTunes Podcast

Search Engine Optimization Tips - Register for the Webinar/Workshop

Search Engine Optimization Tips - Register for the Webinar/Workshop

 

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