Freelance Writer – Leslie J. Thompson

Seasoned Writer and Editor with a background in Journalism, Marketing Communications and Ghostwriting

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Entries Tagged as 'Random Musings'

Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should

May 31st, 2010 ·

If you’ve ever seen any of the myriad home improvement shows on cable television, you’ve probably experienced a moment of inspiration when you thought about sprucing up your own pad. Watching the experts update a kitchen, living room or back patio in two days and for less than $2000 makes even the most tenacious couch potato want to head to Home Depot with plans for a quick weekend project.

Once you’ve actually done a DIY project, on the other hand, you may have second thoughts the next time inspiration strikes.

I’m a glutton for home renovation shows; Flip This House, Sell This House, Property Ladder, Trading Spaces–I find them fascinating. On the weekends, I’ll often hunker down to watch a mini-marathon of home makeovers, intoxicated by the interior designers and handymen working their magic with paint, furniture, and artfully placed throw pillows. For years I’ve been telling my husband how much I wanted to tackle a room–any room–in our house. Over Memorial Day Weekend, I finally did.

We recently updated our master bathroom with a new tub and a gorgeous travertine tile surround. After the renovation, the old wall color simply had to go. So, I took it upon myself to paint. Seemed simple enough; painting is always the “easy” part that the designers give to the homeowners on the home improvement programs. Grab a roller, make a “W” shape with your stroke, and you’re good to go.

Painting a room smaller than 80 square feet took me two whole days–twice as long as I anticipated. After taping the trim, cutting in with the brush, and hitting each wall with two coats, I was exhausted. Sure, the room looked great, but I questioned whether the results were worth the effort.

In hindsight, I realized that the reason home improvements look so easy for the experts on TV is because they are experts. They went to school or pursued an apprenticeship to study interior design or carpentry or architecture and have spent years plying their trade. They have a gifting and a passion for home improvement. Even though I was eager to try my hand at a relatively simple project and figured we’d save some money in the process, the learning curve was steep and the task laborious.

The same thinking applies to your company’s communications: Just because you can write them yourself doesn’t mean you should. Often, I find clients have tried to get by creating their own print collateral, press releases or website copy, only to find that the work takes longer than they anticipated and pulls them away from the things they do well–the things they get paid for.

When it comes to your marketing efforts, your time may be better spent managing other aspects of your business rather than wordsmithing a new brochure. Instead of tackling the project yourself (or delegating the task to someone in-house), consider calling on an expert to help you get things done faster and with exceptional quality. A qualified freelance writer with a degree in journalism, marketing communications or advertising and several years’ experience will know how to help you hone your message and reach your target audience effectively. In the process, you’ll be free to focus on exercising your own talents to increase your company’s bottom line.

RELATED ARTICLE:
The Dangers of DIY Marketing

Need a quote on a project? Contact Dallas freelance writer Leslie J. Thompson via email.

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Tags: Random Musings

SEO Tip: New Content Packs a Punch

March 10th, 2010 ·

Dallas freelance writer needs shoesI received a disconcerting voicemail message the other day from a manager at an engineering consulting firm. She explained that she was looking for a freelance writer in Dallas and had come across my website. However, she wasn’t sure whether I was still available for projects, since I had not updated the blog on my site since early 2009.

~gulp

It is often the case that the cobbler’s children have no shoes, and this holds true for my own marketing efforts, as well. Very often, managers and business owners are so busy handling the day-to-day affairs of their enterprise that they overlook their most valuable promotional tool: their Website.

If you’re in the same boat, you would be wise to show your site some love. If you don’t, your competitors could get the upperhand.

Case in point: As one might imagine, my website has been search engine optimized for the term Dallas freelance writer. And, my efforts at search engine optimization have paid off, because (at present), my site comes up #1 on Google for this keyword phrase.

But, not for long.

Although the core content is well-crafted and I’ve done some clever behind-the-scenes coding to improve the site’s SEO, unless I continue to post fresh, relevant content to my humble blog, it will gradually lose authority with the major search engines. And, when a site loses authority, it falls in the search rankings.

The same thing will happen with your website, if you do not keep the content up to date.

For this reason, many companies are choosing to add a blog to their existing website, or to build a new site on a blog engine (also known as the content management system, or CMS). Using the blog format makes it easy to add content on the fly, without having to know a lot of tricky HTML code or worry about “breaking” the design template. And, search engines like fresh content.

If you don’t want to create a blog, you can add content to your site by posting press releases (in HTML text, not a PDF) or by adding recent case studies and client testimonials. Keeping your site up-to-date needn’t be a major undertaking; even adding 300 words of text once a month will have a positive impact on how the search engines view your content.

So, take it from me, your trusty Dallas freelance writer — no matter how busy you are serving clients and managing business operations, don’t overlook your Website. It is your face to the outside world, and you should always put your best face forward. If you don’t have the time or resources in-house to create fresh content at least once a month, drop me a line at leslie [at] lesliejthompson [dot] com. I’m happy to help.

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Tags: Random Musings

Online Marketing: 3 Tips to Keep Your Website Fresh

February 14th, 2009 ·

Recently, I have been helping several clients beef up their Websites. I find that many business owners are simply baffled about how to keep their online marketing current in the Web 2.0 world. Although they may have a Website, it is either sorely outdated or generally neglected, often because clients don’t have the resources in-house to figure out what the heck to do with it.

computer_confusionIn truth, the sudden influx of Web-based projects came as a surprise. After all, in today’s media-saturated, socially-networked marketplace, I figured everybody already has a robust Web presence. But, that’s simply not the case. From doctors to lawyers to event planners, thousands of professionals still need help capturing the attention of prospective clients surfing the Net.

As the maxim goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. To this end, your Website needs to shine – or at the very least, not offend. And few things are more offensive than a site that is outdated, whether in design, functionality or content. Although you don’t need to implement an annual overhaul of your entire site, you should avoid letting it go stale if you hope to keep visitors engaged.

Here, then, are three quick tips to renovate your Web presence and beef up your online marketing efforts:

1)    Add a blog – If you don’t already have one, you need one. You can create a new section for the blog within your existing site, or set it up as a separate site – at zero cost – through a service like Blogger.com or Typepad.com. (Be sure to include a link back to your primary domain.) The power of a blog is that it lets you generate fresh content and speak plainly with customers. By adding frequent posts on new developments in your industry and other topics of interest to anyone visiting your site, you demonstrate that you are an authority in your field, and that you understand the needs of your readers. Likewise, by allowing Comments  in your blog, you can establish a dialog with your clients (and let them provide part of your content).

2)    Go minimalist – As little as five years ago, features like a Flash landing page were all the rage. But, these days, making them hit “Skip Intro” is a sure way to irritate visitors to your site. People want instant access to relevant information, not lots of fancy graphics (unless, perhaps, you are a graphic artist). What’s more, Flash puts a serious dent in your search engine optimization. If your site uses Flash, consider redesigning your landing page to take visitors straight to the main site navigation and summary content about how your business or practice can improve their life. (And remember, when it comes to text, less is more.)

3)    Add video – Recently, a colleague shared with me that 25 percent of all search engine results are now links to online video. (That’s results, not searches.) As sites like Hulu and YouTube continue their exponential growth, Web-based video is becoming perhaps the most powerful tool for capturing your customer’s attention. Whether you are a shoe wholesaler or a mortgage broker, video lets you engage viewers and lay the foundation for your relationship before you ever meet. For example, I recently did a project for a Dallas video production company to create a series of videos for a bariatric surgeon in Fort Worth. Even if you aren’t considering weight loss surgery, this case study demonstrates how effective adding even a short video segment to your homepage can be.

You can implement any of these strategies quickly and at minimal cost. All of them will make a positive impact on your search engine rankings and help improve the user experience for Web surfers who come to your site.

For a free evaluation of your site’s content, functionality and search engine optimization, please contact me at leslie [at] lesliejthompson [dot] com, or by phone at 214-704-6661.

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Tags: Random Musings