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Anne McAuley Lopez

Anne McAuley, founder of McAuley Freelance Writing, is a freelance writer specializing in websites, blogging and content marketing strategy.

What NOT to do as a Professional Blogger

Written by Anne McAuley Lopez on . Posted in Blogging for Business Owners, Solopreneur Ideas

When I decided to become a professional blogger, I did it with my ass on fire and really had no idea what it meant to be a professional blogger or social media manager.

All I knew was that I had been laid off from corporate America and wanted to pursue my dream of being a writer. A dream, 14 weeks of severance, crash courses in blogging, social media, and networking, and I was ready (ish) to go.

Over the years I’ve offered a variety of writing services to my clients. The projects didn’t always turn out the way I wanted but I learned along the way.

Here’s what NOT to do as a professional blogger:

  1. Listen to the naysayers. I would have started a side gig before leaving corporate America if I had ignored a certain person at my corporate job. She told me I couldn’t make money blogging and I believed her. I never thought to do my own research or give it a try. I could’ve at least had a running start on a full-time business.
  2. Start without a plan. I know what you’re thinking — that I didn’t have a plan and I am okay. Yes, it’s okay but there are days when I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to get a j-o-b and start a side gig before jumping in full-time.
  3. Fail to have a strategy. I’ve spent A LOT of time spinning my wheels, doing what other people said I should be doing, and never had my own strategy. Whether it’s short or long term, you’ve got to plan where you’re taking your business. Once I did that, I was able to focus my efforts on social media and marketing, making the most of the time I spend on my business and on client work.
  4. Let clients dictate your pricing and packages. I thought it would be more sale-able to let clients tell me what they needed and then I could put a price on it. Boy was I wrong! Here’s the secret: clients don’t always know what they want. I ended up down a rabbit hole of projects and clients I didn’t want. Once I defined my pricing and packages, I was able to say, “Here is how I can help you and the cost.” It’s easier to tell someone that they didn’t fit what I offer and refer them to someone else rather than taking on work I didn’t really want to do.
  5. Assume people will do what they say. Last year I made the mistake of assuming a company was going to refer a certain amount of business to me so I didn’t fill my pipeline with leads. When they didn’t come through, I was left without the income and without any leads to fill the gap. Ouch. Lesson learned.
  6. Be afraid of change. If there is one thing I’ve learned as a professional blogger, it’s that change happens and you just have to ride the wave. When I started my business, I was a social media manager for most of my clients and blogged for a few. I discovered that blogging is a higher margin and, more importantly, I enjoy it more so that’s where my business is focused now. It was an interesting shift but well worth it in the end.

Even without a plan to start my life as a blogger, I’ve been able to learn, grow, and change along the way. Are you interested in becoming a blogger? Do you want to start a blog on your business website? Schedule a Getting Started Session today by calling 480-206-6452 or email anne@annemcauley.com.

My Experiment on the Best Times To Post on Social Media

Written by Anne McAuley Lopez on . Posted in Blogging for Business Owners, Content Marketing

My social media strategy was stale. I needed to revamp and refocus my efforts.

Since 2010 I’ve been researching and experimenting using social media for business. When I began, the strategy was simple – have a presence on social media – but it has gotten more complicated, not to mention more crowded. While Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn remain my steadfast platforms, there are a lot more players on the scene that need consideration — Pinterest, Instagram, Periscope and more.

best times to post on social mediaOver the years, I’ve studied the return on social media investment, target marketing, and best times to post. While I’ve dabbled in the latest news on these topics, I’ve primarily stuck to the beat of my own drummer.

I post what I think my social media communities think is helpful, amusing, or engaging and it’s worked to get me visibility, networking contacts, leads, and clients.

BUT

The landscape of social media is changing. It’s significantly more crowded, making it more challenging than ever to get my brand’s voice heard.

I suspected my content was not the problem but  rather it was the times of day I was posting – Monday through Friday, primarily during business hours. That’s when I came across the Co-Schedule download called The Ultimate Best Times to Post on Social Media and confirmed my suspicions.

Rather than paying attention to the day or time, I was posting whenever the mood struck me. That’s not necessarily when my community was online so even if the content was good, they weren’t seeing it or paying attention to it.

What did I do to adjust the times I was posting to social media?

For the better part of the year I was paying for the Awesome access on social media scheduler Buffer but I wasn’t always using it consistently. Even when I was, I hadn’t adjusted the time zone or posting times in months. That alone could help me but I decided to follow CoSchedule’s guidelines for time zone and best times to post on social media for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, my primary social media platforms.

When I started my experiment I had:

Twitter – 2880 followers

Facebook Blogging Badass Page – 620 likes

Facebook Blogging Badass Group – 107 members

LinkedIn – 718 connections, 802 followers

Goals of the Experiment

  1. Schedule one month of posts on Buffer.
  2. Add live posts at various days and times.
  3. Use the same posting times for Facebook page and group.
  4. 3,000 Twitter followers
  5. Increase engagement in the Blogging Badass Facebook group.
  6. Engage with target market on LinkedIn.

Honestly, I am surprised at the results of the best times to post on social media experiment. By the numbers, here’s where I ended the month:

Twitter – 2975 followers <+95>

Facebook Blogging Badass Page – 619 likes <-1>

Facebook Blogging Badass Group – 114 members <+7>

LinkedIn – 728 connections <+10>, 815 followers <+13>

Overall I feel like I spent less time on social media and got better results

but

the numbers aren’t the whole story of the best times to post on social media.

There were two surprises.

The first was the increase of 95 Twitter followers with little effort. The newest followers are aligned with my target markets of SEO and marketing companies, content creators, digital marketers, and fellow bloggers. I think that the times and consistency of tweets has helped as well as participating in twitter chats with complementary businesses, retweeting, live tweeting, and making strategic connections.

The second surprise was on LinkedIn. Not only did the number of connections and followers increase, there was more engagement on my posts. It is worth noting that along with adjusting the times, I made an effort to comment on posts by people in my target market. That got me seen by more people including two new clients.

Interestingly, during this experiment I didn’t publish on LinkedIn or my blog. I only recycled content I had already created and shared the best of what I found from others.

What can be learned from this experiment?

I learned that with focused effort and strategy I can grow my business and increase engagement in my online communities – and you can too.

  • Identify your target market.
  • Choose social media platforms where your target market spends time.
  • Create and share your own content.
  • Share the best content from others.
  • Post relevant content at times when your community is most likely to see it.

Was the CoSchedule guide the key to the success of my experiment on the best times to post to social media? Yes but…. so was Buffer …. and so was the kickass content I created ….and so was the kickass content I found and shared. The real lesson is realizing that while I’ve learned a lot about social media in the last five years, there’s a lot more to learn.

Are you interested in learning how to use social media as part of your blogging strategy? Join the Blogging Badass Facebook group

Source: The Ultimate Best Times to Post on Social Media

I blogged for free and it sucked. But that was my fault.

Written by Anne McAuley Lopez on . Posted in Blogging for Business Owners

Over the last year I’ve received requests to write for other blogs or to mention other brands in my blog posts. None of them had ever been the right fit until recently.

I was asked to write a post about staying inspired when your freelance business is slow. It seemed like a good fit for my project site The Solopreneur Blog. They agreed.

blogging for freeI wrote the post.

I seamlessly weaved mentions of their brand into the post.  

I included their infographic as they had requested.

I blogged for free and it sucked. 

But that was my fault. 

I forgot to ask, “What’s in it for me?”

I never negotiated payment.

I didn’t ask for a certain number of social media mentions.

I asked for nothing and I received pretty close to that.

Since the post was published, I’ve received one mention on Twitter. That’s it.

I tweeted a link to the post out more times than the brand I wrote the post for and that sucks.

I had faith they would do what lesser brands have done for me which is to promote the post but I never explicitly asked for that.

Thanks to my experience I am now a better negotiator.

And I won’t blog for free anymore.

I emailed them this morning to let them know I am writing this post. Without a response, I will remove the post from The Solopreneur Blog. I am waiting to see how or if they respond to my email. 

Are you receiving requests to write articles but you’re not a writer? I can help. Call me at 480-206-6452 or email anne@annemcauley.com.

Why Your Business Needs a Blog

Written by Anne McAuley Lopez on . Posted in Blogging for Business Owners, Content Marketing

If you have a blog on your website and aren’t adding content on a consistent schedule, you’re missing a piece of your marketing plan and an opportunity to speak to your target client. A blog is the most affordable way to establish yourself as an expert and distinguish yourself from the competition.  Not to mention that Google loves new, relevant content; it helps the site get ranked higher in searches.

When was the last time you added content to your website?

Many businesses have websites designed only to leave it hanging on the internet. We don’t have time or don’t know what to write for the blog. It’s overwhelming and with all of the other hats we wear as business owners, blogging often falls to the bottom of the list. And we never reach the end of the list.

What kind of content should be on a blog?

When I think of blogging, I think about adding written posts but in an age of insta-technology, many people don’t want to read a long written article.

The goal is to connect YOU to your target audience.

Videos, podcasts, infographics, news about your business, community events (if you’re targeting a particular geographic area), links to guest blog posts or media clips all make for effective content for your business blog.

Often we share other people’s content and while that’s a good idea, there is great opportunity to share your own products. Make a video about how to wear the scarves you sell. Write about tips for decorating and include your products in the post. Make your target clients want to buy your products.

Don’t stop when you hit publish.

Share blog posts on social media and in e-newsletters. Share the link to the post more than once and across social media sites using a different message each time. Not only will you drive traffic to your website, you will be establishing yourself as an expert in your field.

It’s time to start blogging for business.

If you’re not sure how to get started or continue blogging, join the Blogging Badass Facebook group and grab a copy of the Badass Guide to Blogging

Choosing the Right Social Media for Your Blog

Written by Anne McAuley Lopez on . Posted in Blogging for Business Owners, Content Marketing

choosing the right social mediaWhen it comes to choosing the right social media for your blog, there are two things you need to define: your target market and your social media goals. That gives you focus to create and share content exactly where your readers are spending time.

Define your target market. Who do you want to read your blog? Who do you want to buy your product or service?

EVERYONE is NOT your target market. Once you get clear, you can focus your social media efforts based on that demographic or interest group.

In their simplest form, there are three primary social media goals:

  1. Find your target market.
  2. Engage your target market my creating and sharing relevant, useful content.*
  3. Provide opportunities for engagement.

A secondary social media goal is to use social media for lead generation and sales. Ideally, leads and sales happen organically as you’re building trust with your online community. That’s not to say using ads to promote products and services is a no-no; only that sales shouldn’t be the primary goal.

*You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to content. If you see content that is useful to your community and couldn’t create a better version, share the content. If you think you could create something better, create a better version and share that.

LinkedIn: What used to be a resume and job seeker website has become a social and publishing platform for corporate types as well as entrepreneurs. Not only can Google find your profile, your LinkedIn community can find and connect with you using keywords. That makes it especially important to keep your profile up to date. Pretty cool if you’re looking to connect with people in a particular industry or at a particular company.

My favorite feature? LinkedIn Publishing. Unless you’re in a visual business, you should probably be publishing on LinkedIn. Be careful not to publish the exact same content in two places. (Publish on your blog and the exact same post on LinkedIn, for example) Google frowns upon it.

Facebook: Gone are the days of paying for likes on your business page. While it is still important to share relevant content on pages, the real interaction is happening in private groups. Check out my group Business Blogging Badass and experience for yourself.

Twitter: I LOVE Twitter for networking and research. I’ve met some of my best business friends through Twitter. When I attend events, I follow the event hashtag, make a connection, and then meet in real life. I’ve gotten referrals for business through Twitter contacts. When I am researching a topic or looking for the latest news, I check Twitter, often before a newsfeed or Google. I find the most up to date information is here.

Pinterest and Instagram: If your business or blog are visual (graphic designer, website designer, photographer, artisan, etc.), I recommend Pinterest and/or Instagram. Because I am more written than visual, my strategy is to have a presence on these sites but no dedicated time for posting; it just happens when it happens. That could change in the future but for now that’s how I use these sites.

Bottom line is that you don’t need to be on every social media site every day if you know your target market and define your social media goals. Create kickass content and share where your readers are spending time.

If you’re not sure which social media sites are right for you, call me at 480-206-6452 or email anne@annemcauley.com to schedule a Content Strategy Session today.

How to Use Your Blog for Business

Written by Anne McAuley Lopez on . Posted in Blogging for Business Owners, Content Marketing

How do you use your blog for business?

If you’re like a lot of business owners, you’re not using it at all. Stop whatever you’re doing and start thinking about creating content right now.

  • 55% of websites with blogs get more visitors
  • Blogs are rated the 5th most trusted online resource.
  • 61% of consumers have made a purchase based on a blog post.

How to Use Your Blog for BusinessBlogging needs to be part of every business marketing plan because of the value it brings to your business. It’s a commitment that can pay off by establishing you as the expert, creating a voice for your brand, and getting your business found online ahead of the competition.

How to Use Your Blog for Business

Blogging is a commitment that begins when you:

  • Identify your blogging target market
  • Create a Content List or Editorial Calendar
  • Schedule time to blog (and actually do it)

Blogging and Social Media

If you’re just sharing other people’s content on social media, you’re just wasting time.

To create value for your community, you must have your own content.

How will your community get to know you and your business?

How will you establish yourself as an expert?

You won’t or it will be a longer road to meet your marketing goals.

Don’t have enough time? Outsource blogging and social media management.

Get Your Business Found Online

Google loves when we’re adding new content to our website.

With just one blog post per week, you’re adding 52 engaging and relevant pages of new content to your business website each year.

Generate keywords for your blog posts and website content using a WordPress plug-in called Yoast to get your business found online ahead of the competition.

Use for Customer Acquisition

Businesses with blogs on their websites are more likely to generate leads on their website because they are establishing a relationship with their community.

Customers are likely to view you (and not the competition) as a source of reliable news and information about your business or industry. They will buy from you before someone else.

Affordable PR

Don’t save the news for press releases!

Use your blog for business news and information related to your industry and community.

Have you added employees to the team?

Did you move to new office space?

Are you rolling out a new product or service?

Share the news on your blog and social media. It’s affordable PR and good for business.

Branding

A business blog provides an inexpensive platform to create a voice for your brand to reach your target market. Tell readers how your business can help them. Whether you’re a young entrepreneur or an established attorney, tell a story and create a voice for your business.

If you don’t have the time to blog, hire a professional blogger to create a voice for your brand. Call me, Anne McAuley, at 480-206-6452 or email anne@mcauleyfreelancewriting.com.

The Truth About Social Media for Business

Written by Anne McAuley Lopez on . Posted in Content Marketing

Social Media for BusinessSocial media isn’t for sissies. There’s a lot of competition to get your voice heard.

The truth about social media for business is that you need an executable plan to make it worth your time, effort, and resources.

Be clear about why you’re on social media, who you want to reach, and the message you want communicated about your brand. Most importantly, you must be consistent.

Here’s the truth about social media for business.

You need to identify your target market. Choose social media platforms where you are most likely to find your target market. Just because everyone is talking about Instagram, it doesn’t mean you need to be there. If your target market is 18-34 years old, you need Instagram for your brand. Otherwise, stay away.

You must choose your social media platforms wisely. You cannot effectively manage a social presence on every site or even the main sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Social media consultant and fellow badass Stacey Harris suggests (and I agree) that time is best spent on two primary and two secondary sites. Facebook and LinkedIn as primary and Twitter and Pinterest as secondary, for example. Spend a few minutes each day on your primary platforms and once a week on the others. If you don’t have the time, hire a social media manager to help you provide consistent messaging and relevant content to your community.

You must have a consistent social media presence. Posting only when you have a house for sale or a special isn’t going to get you the traction you want. You’re just spinning your wheels and should quit or hire someone to help you. Services like $99 Social are affordable and can give your brand the consistency it needs. You should post when you can in addition to having the service so that your social presence is personal and engaging.

You must have a social media strategy. Back in 2010 when I started in social media, the strategy was “have a presence” but oh how times have changed. If your messaging isn’t focused, you won’t see the same results as when you focus on your target market and social media strategy.

You should be concerned about social media engagement not the number of followers. No one and I mean no one should be buying followers. That’s so 2010. Social media is about meeting your community and letting your online community get to know your brand. Trust me when I say that you’d rather have 1,000 followers and engagement than 10,000 followers and no engagement.

You must create and share your own content to share on social media. If you’re not creating your own content, then why are you on social media? Sharing other people’s content is good but to build a community, you have to establish yourself as the expert by creating content on your own blog and as a guest blogger on other people’s blogs.

If you’re struggling to find time or develop ideas for your blog, I invite you to join the 3-Day Business Blogging Badass Challenge where I will be sharing my blogging process. Register here: http://eepurl.com/brJEp5

Why You Need to Identify Your Blogging Target Market

Written by Anne McAuley Lopez on . Posted in Blogging for Business Owners, Content Marketing

Back in 2009, I began blogging for fun. While I didn’t realize it at the time, I had a clear target market for my blog — updating friends and family about my life in Arizona.

As the blog developed into a business blog, it became a hodge podge of personal, business, blogging, and social media posts. I just didn’t want the trouble of running more than one blog and it became a problem.

Colleagues began asking me what my blogging target market was and I had three all crammed into one blog.

Once I realized I had three target markets, I knew I needed a change. I couldn’t continue to dump everything in one place. It was too confusing. It was time for a change including a website re-design and refocus for the business:

  • Blogging Portfolio and Business Services → This became the updated McAuley Freelance Writing website and blog you’re on right now.
  • Entrepreneurs, Solopreneurs, and Freelancers → This became The Solopreneur Blog in partnership with my blogging and social media colleague Robbi Hess.
  • Personal → That’s the as-yet-to-be-launched McAuley Musings blog.

You need to identify your blogging target market to focus content creation.

It’s challenging to develop a content strategy when you’re not sure who you want to reach. That goes for blogging, podcasting, videos, infographics, and social media.

It’s overwhelming when EVERYONE is your target market.

By identifying your blogging target market, you can eliminate ideas and focus on what matters to your audience.

Let’s take real estate as an example.

Anyone who wants to buy or sell a house is as non-specific as a skincare representative saying anyone with skin is their target.

  • Do you want to build a commercial or residential real estate business?
  • What city or neighborhood is your focus?
  • What kind of client do you want?

If you’ve selected investors as your focus, you may write blog posts about how the recent mortgage rates impact buying or selling investment properties or how school districts impact the value of your home and type of renters. You would shy away from posts that talk about packing and moving tips, for example, that would speak to a different target audience. Each of your posts would be relatable to your target market of real estate investors.

Whether you’re in real estate or another industry, it’s important to identify your blogging target market so that you can focus your efforts. Remember, EVERYONE isn’t a target market.

Check out my blog post Why You Need to Know Your Target Market on The Solopreneur Blog for more on this topic.

Need help identifying your target market and creating a content strategy? Call 480-206-6452 to schedule a Content Strategy Session.

Struggling for content ideas for your site? Business Website Content Tips

Written by Anne McAuley Lopez on . Posted in Content Marketing

Business Website Content Tips

What’s the reason you have a business website? For most of us, it’s to give our business a presence online, like the yellow pages of the past. While I may have just dated myself with the yellow pages comment, my point is made.

Marketing your business isn’t just about social media, it’s about a brand story that’s told on your website. It’s about connecting to clients and prospects.

How do we attract clients and prospects with our story?

With engaging content. The best business website content tips include answering the most commonly questions asked by your target client, sharing your WHY, and using proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

[Tweet “The only rule of writing effective business website content is to make sure it doesn’t suck.”]

Who are you trying to reach and what problem does your business solve for them? Identify your target client. You have to know who you’re talking to so you can create content that helps them solve their problem. 

Take your time. It’s challenging to talk about our own business. I should know. It took me twice as long to write for my own website as it ever has for a client. That’s because I wanted the message to be perfect.

[Tweet “The message can be re-crafted as you become more clear on the focus of your business. #ContentRocks”]

While the content can be re-crafted, you should not hit publish without checking grammar, spelling, and the correct use of apostrophes. Walk away from the content after your write. Return with a fresh set of eyes a few minutes or hours later. Use spelling and grammar check. If needed, hire a professional proofreader.

[Tweet “Don’t forget to tell clients and prospects about your professional accomplishments and portfolio. #ContentMatters”]

Are you a badass blogger? An attorney who get sh*t done? Don’t be afraid to tell your clients and prospects about your accomplishments and portfolio. Often what we see as bragging on our own websites is just good marketing.

[Tweet “Tell your story to connect with clients and prospects. Write like you’re talking to them. #ContentRocks”]

What’s your WHY? Tell visitors to your website why you’re a passionate [fill in the blank] professional. Telling your WHY connects you to your audience.

And let’s not forget the power of design. Without our designer friends helping us with user friendly and mobile friendly designs, our content would sit on a white page and do nothing. Or worse, confuse visitors with poor navigation.

Business website content tips go beyond creating content for basic home, about, and service pages, and tells a story about your business.

Are you struggling to create engaging content for your business website? Contact me at anne@annemcauley.com or call 480-206-6452 to see how we can work together to reach your target clients.

Tips for Creating Content People Want to Read

Written by Anne McAuley Lopez on . Posted in Blogging for Business Owners, Content Marketing

Creating ContentJust because Google wants you to add content to your website, doesn’t mean you should hit publish after every phrase you write. People want better content. They want content that helps them in a meaningful way or makes them feel something intense or creates a better life for them or their family.

When we’re writing for the sake of writing, no one cares.

  • Lots of content is a recycled and less effective version of what’s already available.
  • The content is being created for the sake of SEO and nothing else.
  • You aren’t solving a problem for your readers.

When we’re writing for the sake of telling a story, solving a problem, or sharing how our business helps people, we are creating content that matters. We’re creating content people want to read and that sets us apart from the loads of crap that is available. [Tweet “Lots of content is a recycled and less effective version of what’s already available. #NoOneCares”]

Who is your target audience?

A key to writing content that people want to read is to identify your target audience.

As I began my journey as a freelance writer, I went out to the community and began networking with other women in business. We went around the room saying our name, the name of our business, and described a good lead. The idea was that we could refer clients to each other as we were networking in various circles.

HINT: Everyone is NOT your target audience.

The woman who represented a large cosmetics company stood up, gave her name and business, and said, “A good lead for me this week is anyone with skin.”

Even as a newbie to networking I knew this was bad. It was too broad.

A better response would have been, “Women ages 35 to 55 who are seeking solutions to aging.”

Take time to figure out your target audience, not just for blogging purposes but for an overall marketing strategy. You can’t market to people you don’t know.

It’s okay if the target audience changes over time as it most likely will.

What pain point(s) does your business solve for clients?

Now that you know your target audience, you can create better content. Answer questions your clients are asking you. Tell your audience how you help them solve a problem.

Not enough time to blog? Great. Hire me. I am a professional blogger.

Know you need content on your website but aren’t sure what to write? Call me. I can help.

You might need to step outside your business to see the problem that you solve.

When my accountant asked me what problem he solved, I said he took the weight of tax preparation and planning off my shoulders. I guess that makes him a weight loss coach!

What problem does your business solve for your clients? Answer that in each blog post or piece of content that you create. You will soon become a valuable asset to your clients and they will refer you as a trusted source.

It isn’t enough to just be creating content. We have to be sharing it.

Often I meet with a prospective client who wonders what we will do with blog posts once we create them. It’s a great question that I love to answer! In fact, I am working on a book on the exact subject. The short answer is that we never want to let a blog post just sit on a website. It needs to be shared.

In my blog post You’ve Written a Blog Post Now What, I address the importance of sharing content on social media and in a newsletter. While these are both effective ways to share content, I’d add that sharing content goes beyond sharing on your own social media accounts.

Join groups where your target market is spending time and engage other members of the group. Ask and answer questions. Make yourself a valued member of the group. When appropriate, share content from your blog, a link to your website services, and links to your social media accounts. The best groups I’ve found have been on Facebook and LinkedIn.

As you’re developing content ideas, I encourage you to stop writing crap and start creating content people care about and that is different than other content we’re seeing.

Share your awesome content with me on Twitter @freemcauley!

If you’re overwhelmed at the prospect of blogging for business, I’d love to chat with you about creating content that speaks to your target audience. Call me at 480-206-6452 or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Let’s Talk!

480.206.6452

info@mcauleyfreelancewriting.com