Apps I Use: Google Drive

This blog post was written and published by our Summer 2017 Intern, Mallory Corbin, a student at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

If there has ever been an application or program that you absolutely need to use, regardless of who you are or what you do, it is Google Drive. Google Drive is a cloud-based storage system connected to your Google account that acts as a home base for all of your Google apps; including Sheets, Docs, Photos, Forms, and Slides, among many others.

Through Google Drive you can:

  • Store documents, photos, and other files in a number of formats such as Docx, JPG, PDF, and many more.
  • Share your files with friends, family, and coworkers.
  • Easily collaborate with others and edit files as a group from separate computers.
  • Create and organize folders to store your documents.
  • Use any device with an internet connection. Yes, even your cell phone through the Google Drive app that is available on most devices. As long as you can log into Google, you can access your files.

Google Drive supplies free and easy to use versions of office software for all of your needs.

Google Docs is a classic word editing program that is easy to maneuver, even easier I would argue than its counterpart Microsoft Word.

Google Sheets is a spreadsheets program that can be used to organize and record data. This program is much more user-friendly than most other spreadsheets programs I have experienced.

Google Slides, which is very similar to Microsoft PowerPoint, creates easily designable presentations. You can either start from a blank slate or use one of their many predesigned presentation options with beautiful color schemes and fonts.

Google Forms can be used to quickly gather responses from clients, friends, and family. Anything from a survey to a party invitation can be created using Google Forms.

Google Photos stores your uploaded photos on a cloud in order to optimize space on all of your devices. This is ideal for conserving all of those photos you’ve got stuffed in that box in your basement – or is that just me?

Everything you could possibly need at home or at work is kept together using Drive. It can be as organized or as cluttered as you’d like. I for one am guilty of using excessive folders, and folders within folders, as well as of color-coding.

A newly added “Quick Access” feature makes it easy to find files you’ve recently worked on, so you won’t have to go digging through your folders to find them.

Google Drive saves space on all of your devices by making all of your files and programs cloud based. This ultimately helps your computer run faster and saves you from the ever-impending and terrifying day when your computer crashes and you lose all of your files!

Apps I Use: Scannable and Camscanner

This blog post was written and published by our Summer 2017 Intern, Mallory Corbin, a student at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

As I’ve said before, because we have so many international and remote clients, most all of our business transactions occur online and in a digital format. This is meant to make life easier, as everything we could ever need is in the cloud, and we don’t have to worry about losing any pesky loose sheets of paper. However, on the off chance that we do receive a loose item; such as a business card, contract, photos, or notes; we are quickly able to cleanly scan these items to the cloud with the press of a button. There is no need for an “old fashioned” scanner. Each day something new seems to come out in the world of technology and replace whatever came the day before, soon my iPhone 6S Plus will be “old-fashioned” and out of date! All of this is thanks to two very easy to use apps:

Scannable is an app that is accessible through Apple devices (sorry, Android and PC users!), and makes it possible to scan clean copies of all of your photos, documents, receipts, business cards, and other loose paper items. With Scannable you are able to:

◦ Quickly convert images into scanned documents that are cropped and enhanced.

◦ Edit, share, and print scanned images. I’ve found this is incredibly helpful when I need to share a document with a client that I only have a single hard copy of.

◦ Turn business cards directly into contacts. All you have to do is scan the card and like magic you can create contacts from the image.

◦ Upload scanned images straight to your Evernote cloud or other online server. For my fellow die-hard Evernote fans, this is amazing for us!

Scannable is free to download and use for anyone with an applicable device. This factor makes it an ideal app to use with clients, who may not wish to purchase any apps during our time working together.

Camscanner is another scanning app that is available on Apple, Android, and Windows devices. Camscanner does a similar job to that which Scannable does, but is more widely available. With Camscanner you are able to:

◦ Take an image with your phone to create a cleanly scanned image

◦ Use OCR (optical character recognition) to convert your scanned images into editable text documents.

◦ Export your images in JPG or PDF format.

◦ Share scanned images via text or email.

◦ Access scanned files online at camscanner.com or in the app.

A basic account with Camscanner is free, and allows for 200 MB of cloud space, this is good for those who would be using Camscanner for personal scanning. However, this may not be enough space for businesses that may have hundreds of scanned images coming in each day. A premium account costs 4.99/month or 49.99/year. This premium account allows 10 G of space, unlimited folders, and is totally ad-free.

It is apps like these that help companies go paperless! As you know, we are huge advocates for sustainability at Writing It Right For You, so when we discovered these useful apps we were ecstatic.

Scannable and Camscanner have saved me unmeasurable time and money. These apps may even convince you to ditch your heavy, space consuming scanner and use what you’ve got in the palm of your hand. I would highly recommend trying out both of these apps and utilizing them in your everyday routine.

Photo Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profilebloomua’>bloomua / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

The Editorial Calendar: What It Is and Why You Need One

This blog post was written and published by our Summer 2017 Intern, Mallory Corbin.

If you’re a procrastinator like I am, you know it can be very easy to get sidetracked when you’re trying to get things done. For me this is especially the case when it comes to writing. Whether it be for your blog, your book, or even your grocery list, sometimes you have to really force yourself to sit down and get things done. If you are responsible for creating content for your job, this discipline can be extremely important. But sometimes, pure willpower isn’t enough.

An editorial calendar can be the key to success when you catch the procrastination bug. Like a cup of hot tea to a sore throat, your editorial calendar will soothe all of your worries. Your calendar will help you lay out exactly what you need to get done, and for when, for some months in advance. It can layout each step you have to take to complete a task. This can all start with brainstorming on Monday, to outlining on Tuesday, to writing on Wednesday, editing on Thursday, and finally publishing on Friday. An editorial calendar creates a kind of accountability for you, and possibly your team, that will work to keep you on schedule and committed to all of your due dates.

Choosing your system. Here at Writing It Right For You, we use an app called BrightPod to keep ourselves organized and on track. BrightPod makes it possible to create multiple editorial calendars for every project we may be working on at any given time. From there we are able to set due dates and publishing dates for things like blog posts and articles. Be sure to check out our recent post “Apps I Use: BrightPod” for more information on the app.

BrightPod is just one of hundreds of apps and softwares that can be used to create editorial calendars. Programs like Microsoft Excel or Google Spreadsheets are very simple and easy to use options. There are some options which cost a pretty penny, while others are totally free for anyone to use.

Don’t think that you have to use a digitized system, however. If you prefer a physical calendar over an online option, go for it! It’s all about choosing a system that works for you. That means, it can be as fancy as using an expensive software, or as simple as color coding and sticky notes on paper.

Why you should be using one. If you haven’t yet jumped up and started organizing your editorial calendar upon reading this post, here are a few other reasons that may get you onto the task:

• Minimal stress. You will have everything you need to do laid out for you, so you will never have to stress that you are forgetting something. Additionally, if you are running something such as a blog, you will have your topics ready. That means you won’t have to stress about brainstorming new ideas on the spot.

• A road map to keep you organized. By laying out everything ahead of time, you will be able to stay organized and make time for new projects and your everyday life. Your editorial calendar will be your roadmap that will lead you through your day-to-day life.

• Notifications keep you on schedule. Most all editorial calendar apps will be sure to remind you in advance when you have things due. If you go the app route, each morning you can be reminded of what it is exactly you need to get done that day.

An editorial calendar is exactly what you need to keep you afloat when you are feeling like you may drown in due dates. There’s no need to overcomplicate your life, once you find an editorial calendar system that works for you, stick to it, and you surely won’t regret it.

Image Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profileprettyvectors’>prettyvectors / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

5 Quick Tips about SEO Content for 2017

For many people writing and publishing content to their blogs and other sites, focusing on SEO (search engine optimization) is an important goal. They want to be found on Google and other search engines and they want their content to be on Page One. Unfortunately, many of those same people go way overboard and feel that SEO and SEO only is the best way to move forward, and literally “pad” their copy with SEO elements they think will give them the edge needed to rank high on the SERPS—the search engine results pages. As you may know, Google is constantly changing its algorithms and it is really difficult for the average person to keep up. To help you achieve real SEO success this year, I’ve outlined the 5 top tips for including SEO in your content, even if you are not an SEO expert.

1. You have to work HARD to get “noticed.” Many people try to take the easy way out and constantly check what Google is looking for as it constantly indexes sites.

  • When is the first date that your domain or webpage was discovered by Google? The older the indexed age, the better. Yes, that means that if you are “new,” getting found will be harder, but that means you have to keep updating your site.
  • Does your site have a lot of diverse quality links coming back to it? Both the links and the original site that sent the link need to be of good quality, not junk.
  • Does your site have plenty of high-quality content? Do you publish new content regularly? Google will not highly rank content that is thin on information and lacking value for the reader, nor will it rank content that is too short, devoid of relevant keywords, or content that doesn’t engage the readers for a good amount of time.

2. Your content must favor quality over quantity. Even though it is highly recommended that you publish regularly, it is even more important that what you publish is high quality, not just any ol’ thing so that there is something on your site. Google does notice people who try to scam the system by using quick tactics such as article spinning, link-generating software, or content that is too heavy in irrelevant keywords or SEO elements. Just.Don’t.Do.It. Take the time to write and publish content that is valuable, engaging, original, and not filled with ads, affiliate links, or pressure to buy products.

3. Content, Content, Content The content you write must be compelling, add value to the reader, answer a question or solve an issue, be well-written, and your publishing schedule must be regular. You will not get good SERP rankings with sub-par content. The more valuable your content is to the reader, the more it is naturally shared by others, and a good amount of sharing certainly helps your rankings.

  • Written content is still the most published copy, but there are also opportunities to publish videos, infographics, and other forms of content besides just text. A diverse group of content keeps things interesting for your readers, keeps them coming back for more, and keeps your SERP ranking high.
  • Content marketing is also very important. “If you build it, they will come…” is not a good marketing strategy. Again, we’re talking about working hard here. Once you have published your content, you have to make sure people know it’s there and encourage them to read it, comment on it, share it, and link back to it. Whew!

4. Size Matters. Google is looking for content that adds value and is informative, and the best way to ensure that is to write copy that is between 1,000 and 2,000 words. Each blog post and article you write should be very valuable to your reader, and unless it is just a quick notice-type post, you really need at least 1,000 to have substantial and targeted information. Your content not only has to be long, but it also has to be of good quality. We cannot emphasize that enough. This is where keywords are important, they help you to stay focused on your chosen topic.

  • Being a great writer takes a lot of skill and practice. Being a great SEO writer takes even more skill, patience, and experience.
  • Most professional copywriters have studied and practiced their craft for many years. Being a skilled writer and SEO specialist takes more than someone who received “A’s” in English class in high school or college.
  • Writing 1,000 to 2,000+ word blog posts and articles takes time, research, skill, and experience. Could you become proficient at writing content that will rank your site high with Google. I’m sure you could. But it will take time.

5. Get Mobile and Stay Mobile. Today more people access the Internet from their mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) than from their desktop or laptop computers, and now Google is more focused on mobile searches with its algorithms.

  • It is imperative that your site is mobile-first and mobile-friendly. You must ensure that you content loads quickly and navigates easily on all types of mobile devices.
  • It is very simple to test out your site yourself: just pull up your site on your mobile device and see what happens. Is your experience a good one? If not, you will have to make the necessary changes.
  • Google is so focused on mobile accessibility that it has launched the “Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project that additionally ranks content on its mobile-friendliness. The AMP project developers have a vision that helps publishers to create mobile-optimized content for their sites. There are specific published guidelines that must be met for your content to be awarded the “AMP” tag. You can find the guidelines here.

Are you having challenges or do you have concerns about making your content SEO relevant? Is there something more you need to learn to ensure you are high in the SERPS? Let us know in the comments.

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Revise Your Business Plan Before Year’s End

At Writing It Right For You, we work primarily with small businesses or the marketing departments of larger businesses. We realize that the recommendations of this post may not be relevant to large enterprise operations.

It’s almost the end of the year. It’s the holiday season. You’re busier than usual. We get it, we really do. But before the clock strikes 12 on December 31, you should add one more important task to your end-of-the-year list: revising your business plan: what happened in the previous and what needs to change in the next year.

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Your business plan was never meant to be a static, one-time document. Instead your business plan is a road map that you should use continuously to ensure that your business stays on track with your goals and objectives. Ideally, you should review your business plan at least quarterly—especially the marketing plan and financial forecasts. But at the end of the year, it is important to review and revise your entire business plan because things have definitely happened in the current year that will impact what you do in the upcoming year.

Set aside several hours before you close down for the year to do a comprehensive review of your business plan so that by the time the new year rolls around, you will be refocused, have new and/or revised priorities, and success plans and metrics in place.

  • Begin with your “wins.” What went well this year? What goals did you meet? What new initiatives actually worked? What a physical and psychological list of all of the positives first, and then you’ll be better able to deal with the inevitable elements that didn’t go so well.
  • Revisit your SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Be honest. It’s better to know that not know what challenges you may face in the new year and the tools and processes you already have or need to have in place.
  • Revise your cash flow projections month-by-month. Look back at the current year, check with your accountant, gather your figures, and complete an in-depth analysis.
  • What were your key marketing initiatives? Do you have an ROI estimate. Which can be changed or replaced?
  • Review your pricing structure? Is it time to adjust or even raise your prices? What products or service offerings were the “best sellers” in the past year?
  • Is it time to upgrade and update your hardware and software? Technology changes so quickly; during your business plan review, make sure to look at your office setup to make sure that it will meet your needs for the upcoming year.
  • Lastly, look at your human resources. Do you have employees or contractors? Are all contracts and payments up to date? Are any changes or adjustments necessary?

By reviewing the current year and preparing for the upcoming year before the end of December, you can really celebrate the holidays knowing that you and your company will be ready for business on the first day of the new year.

Offer a Solution with a Company White Paper

White papers. We’ve heard about them, but do we really know what they are and how they fit into your marketing mix?

A white paper is an in-depth authoritative and persuasive document that focuses on one topic and presents a problem and provides a solution. A white paper is not a direct pitch for your product or service; instead a white paper uses facts and evidence to show how your product or service offers a solution to a problem or challenge faced by your customers or clients. A white paper is positioned as a problem-solving guide and is usually made available via an email campaign, allowing your company to capture leads for future appointments or sales.

A white paper is different from a blog post or an eBook, each of which can be researched and written in a few hours to a few weeks, a well-written white paper is more like an academic paper that includes a solid body of research and fully documented references. A white paper shows expertise in the chosen topic, is written in a very serious tone, and are meant to help you and your company build credibility and trust with the readers, most of whom are further into the buying cycle.

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When you hire a professional copywriter to produce a white paper for you and your company, the copywriter should first consult with you to find out your goals for your white paper and the preliminary information that will be required to write the copy for your white paper. Your copywriter will also work with a professional graphic designer to ensure standardized components for your white paper such as page layout, images, fonts, and colors.

  • Your white paper will be a minimum of six pages in length, and usually between 20-30 pages long. Included in the page count will be the illustrations, charts, and references.
  • The final draft of your white paper will also include a table of contents, a short executive summary, an introduction, a chapter that outlines the problem faced by your customers or clients, a chapter that defines one or more relevant solutions, a chapter that highlights a company that used the recommended solution to get results, and a conclusion.
  • Your final white paper will be 8.5X11 in a portrait layout PDF that can easily be downloaded from an email or printed and mailed or presented in hardcopy.

You should expect the generation of a white paper to take at least a month from initial consultation to final draft. Your next step will then be to design an email and social media marketing campaign to give your white paper the greatest exposure.

A white paper is an important element of your overall marketing strategy. The professional team at Writing It Right For You looks forward to working with you to write a white paper for you and your company. Contact us here.

Apps I Use: Pocket

pocket-1There are several apps that save articles from the web to read later, including Instapaper and of course, Evernote, which is my #1 app. A relatively new entrant to this market is Pocket, an update to the app Read Later. Being a visual person, I love the setup of Pocket for viewing your saved information, either in a list or as a grid. You can save all sorts of files to Pocket, including articles, videos, RSS feeds, images, and more.

In addition to directly saving to Pocket on the web, you can use a Chrome extension as a bookmarklet, you can add information via email with the unique add@getpocket.com address, and you can add to your Pocket account from any mobile device you use, including Kindle.

So what are the benefits of using a “read later”-type app, and why do I use Pocket?

There is much more information on the web that interests us than we can read in one sitting. Saving articles, images, quotes, videos, and other types of data in an app like Pocket helps you to save what interests you for easy access at a later time and also gives you the opportunity to read your saved information from any mobile device. Pocket has a tagging functionality that you can use as you save your information; searching by tags keeps similar entries together, and you can also use the categories in the sidebar to organize your different types of information.

For me, using Pocket to save information on the web or any of my many devices is often just quicker than saving to Evernote. However, I also use Zapier, a web automation app, to seamlessly copy some items I save in Pocket into Evernote. Because what I’ve saved in Pocket is tagged, I can choose which kinds of information to copy in the background into specific Evernote notebooks. Some pre-planning is necessary, but after that is done, everything else is automatic, syncing in real-time and instantly available on all of my devices.

I really enjoying using Pocket. As a standalone option, or as an addition to Evernote, you may find Pocket is the right web curation app for you, too.

Drip Marketing Defined

As a business owner, you know how important it is to have a marketing strategy because marketing is the very important and comprehensive process used to create interest in your products and services. Marketing is the integrative sphere through which you can strengthen your customer or client relationships, create brand awareness for your business, and create value for through the overall customer experience.

There are so many types of marketing activities you can use, that it is difficult to decide which one to use at any particular time. A very useful marketing activity to add to your list is called “drip marketing.”

consultation-dripDrip Marketing is an automated system of contacting your contacts on a set schedule triggered by a specific activity. The name and concept of drip marketing come from irrigation, where watering a crop little by little instead of all at once is more effective. It is the same for drip marketing: you are giving your contacts information a little bit at a time. Drip marketing is usually used with email marketing campaigns because that is the easiest and most efficient. Setting up a drip email campaign takes planning and up-front preparation, but once everything is in place, automation takes over and you’re on your way to engaging and relating to your prospects, clients, and customers.

Drip marketing is a process to give people the right information at the right time, based on actions and triggers that you define. You can generate drip campaigns for different segments of your email list and for certain pages of your website. The entire point is to keep your users engaged with you and your products and services. With a well-designed drip marketing campaign, you can nurture leads, welcome new clients, request recommendations, teach courses, and query unsubscribes to your newsletter. Almost all of the email marketing applications can help you to set up a drip campaign with auto-responders, including using the contact’s name during the mail merge for every more personalization.

The set up of an effective drip email marketing campaign is one of the services offered by the professionals of Writing It Right For You. We would love to work with you—contact us!

Apps I Use: Brightpod

6b15836ccc1925b3492b5057c48f304e_400x400Brightpod is an online project management and time-tracking app specifically designed for digital marketing and creative teams. I have been a Brightpod user for about three years, starting just before the app came out of beta testing. For my freelance business, the marketing and creative team consists of just me and my full-time assistant, but Brightpod is an excellent app for marketing teams of all sizes. The interface is very visually pleasing and very easy to navigate. There are several project management apps on the market, and many of them are much more well-known than Brightpod. Over the years, I’ve tried most of the available apps, but here are the primary reasons why my assistant and I have stayed with Brightpod for our marketing projects:

  • The #1 reason I started using Brightpod was the editorial calendar. We have three blogs of our own for our three companies, we provide copywriting services for clients, and we also publish to other venues such as LinkedIn.  We can schedule articles and blog posts in Brightpod, color code them by client, invite others to collaborate with us at no extra charge, and drop and drag the scheduled posts elsewhere in the calendar as needed. We can also upload relevant files and images and all due dates for tasks and publishing are integrated into online calendars.
  • For individual projects, Brightpod uses the name “pod” instead, hence the name of the app. A “pod” is more akin to a depository for everything needed to work on each project, including all types of files, messages, timelines, workflows, and time-tracking (if desired). Task lists in the pods can be viewed as a list or as a Kanban-type board. Tasks can be one-time or recurring at your desired intervals.
  • Tasks can be set as high-priority, and Brightpod has two productivity features that are based on how your want and need your workday to proceed:
    • “Focus” shows you the few MIT (Most Important Tasks) that you need to concentrate on for the day. All tasks are drag and drop in case you want to make changes.
    • “Me” includes graphs and lists of your scheduled, overdue, and upcoming tasks, as well as those of your team. On this page, you can drag and drop tasks to update them as necessary.
  • Brightpod has a full range of reports that can be generated with real-time results in just a few minutes. You can also request a Daily Digest to arrive in your email every morning with a summary of what has been done and what is scheduled for the future.
  • Brightpod also has full email and cloud storage functionality, and the monthly subscription plans, ranging from free to full agency level, are quite affordable and based on the number of projects you select to have active in your account.
  • Lastly, the help sections and customer service for Brightpod are top-notch. They have several training videos and any support requests are answered quickly.

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The only thing I really miss in using Brightpod is some kind of integration with Evernote. I look forward to that feature one day soon.

If you are “test-driving” project management apps before making a decision for your business situation, I encourage you to look into Brightpod. The app has a 14-day free trial.