What’s the Difference Between a Blog and an e-Newsletter?

Both blogs and e-newsletters are effective methods for building, maintaining and growing an audience interested in what your business has to offer. From doing both types of publications, I’ve found that the main differences between them are: how they are distributed and how they are interacted with. Below, I outline the purpose of each along with their major benefits.

Sample blog post

What is a blog?

A blog, short for Web Log, of regularly scheduled posts, is meant to engage readers who return to your website often to find out what’s new.

What’s the Marketing Purpose?

Build trust and authority in your business specialty as you build your prospect following through informative blog postings.

How is a Blog Distributed?

Your audience can subscribe to your blog and receive a notice when new posts are published, people can find your blog while browsing the internet, or people can click on links that you promote through social media posts.

A Cool Thing About Blogs:

Search engines like Google will index each post you publish – making it easier for people to find your business when they search on keywords.

For instance, if you search on “marketing bad attitude” my blog post, “Don’t Ruin Good Marketing With a Bad Attitude” along with my business name appears on page two of Google out of 53,100,000 pages. This is a good thing because people looking for this subject have a great chance of running across my article.

This type of visibility is possible for each blog post you publish!

What’s an e-Newsletter?

Sample e-newsletter layout

A regularly scheduled email in article style layout. E-newsletters can include useful articles, helpful web links, notice of upcoming events, announcements and reminders, fun game or inspirational quote.

What’s the Marketing Purpose?

Stay in front of serious prospects who are interested in your business. Continue to build relationships and your subject matter authority.

How are e-Newsletters Distributed?

E-newsletters are sent directly to an email address. Email marketing services like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp track how many people open your email and click on links inside the newsletter.

People will forward a good e-newsletter to their friends!

A Cool Thing About e-Newsletters:

Your e-newsletter fans will reply to your mailing and let you know that they enjoyed the information you shared. The responses you get back are more personal because you are building a relationship with your readers.

Similarities are Okay

It’s ok to publish the same article on your blog as you do in your e-newsletter. You may have a different audience for each type of publication. If you do have readership overlap, be sure to offer something “new” or different in each place so there’s a reason to check out both.

If you need help planning, editing, or writing content for your blog or e-newsletter contact me for a complimentary 30-minute writing services consultation.

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Turn Off Your Insta-Editor and Write

Books, magazine articles even blogs have the power to transport readers through words alone. Amazing right? Have you ever been inspired to write something of your own but get stuck after the first few sentences? You go over your words a few times tweaking things here and there. You want everything you write to be perfect before you move on. So you don’t move on.

Our internal insta-editors can hinder any form of writing – emails, case notes, reports included. How can you get work done efficiently if you’re waiting for perfection? The following steps are suggestions on how to override your insta-editor until the timing is right.

Move Through the First Draft on a Path

I’ve started a new piece of writing only to get stuck polishing the first paragraph over and over because I didn’t know where the rest of the story was going.

I got ahead of myself, skipping the planning phase. Set up your writing path by “brainstorming” or thinking about your idea, finding the focus of what you’re going to write about, then break that down into points that you will turn into paragraphs or sections.

If you know where your writing is going, you’ll be less likely to get stuck perfecting the first few sentences.

Re-thinking Perfection

I understand the desire to send out perfect writing. I want that too, but it won’t happen if you’re holding up the process re-working the first few sentences. What is perfection anyway when it comes to writing? An email – for instance – doesn’t need to be poetic.

Focus on these goals for your writing instead of perfection:

Clarity: Can your readers understand what you’re trying to say? Because this is the point of written communication, yes?

Concise: Keep focused on an argument or main point. Stick to the reason you started writing in the first place.

Entertainment Value: This is optional, especially for an email, but if you have an interesting take on your topic readers will appreciate it and read to the end.

“E” is for Editing at the End

Lastly, editing does have its place in the writing process and that is at the end. There can be different “end points” like the end of a section, the end of a page or once all of the initial writing is done. Make the conscious decision to edit only when you get to the end point of your choice.

When you edit at the right point, you’ll feel encouraged by the progress you’ve made and how your words are shaping up.

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Get Over Your Fear of Publishing (FOP)

Get Over Your Fear of Publishing

Suffering from FOP? It’s a common condition, especially when starting a new blog, website or newsletter. I suffered from FOP when I began writing this blog. I was worried that internet trolls would leave negative comments on my posts. But as I started publishing and comments started coming in, I found that I could approve or deny those comments. So, I really had no reason to worry in the first place because I can control what comments are allowed on my posts.

When someone tells me that they’re experiencing FOP I feel a little sad. Sharing your thoughts and passion about a topic you care about helps people. It helps you gain a deeper understanding and you get to share that useful information with others.

Let’s take a look at some common forms of FOP and possible solutions.

No One Cares About What I have to Say

Why wouldn’t we care about what you have to say? is my question. I write about historical places to visit around the San Francisco Bay Area. Sure, not everyone wants to read those articles but friends, family, and people searching the internet for local tidbits do.

As long as you care about the topic that you’re writing about, you will develop an audience in time.

My Writing Isn’t Good Enough

Feeling confident in your writing skill is a huge challenge. Some people are just naturally fearless in this department. For the rest of us, this fear can be cured through organization.

For example, I started this article with an idea – which I turned into the title. Then I introduced what would be addressed throughout the article in the introduction. Each section has its own subheading which I’m filling out as I go along.

Following a structure allows you to feel confident that you’re hitting all the points you need to make to give your reader something useful to read.

Not Sure What to Write About

When you start a newsletter, blog or website there should be a reason behind that decision. It could be your business, hobby, or an organization that you participate in. When you write content for those publications, stay on topic.

Take it easy on yourself and use real-life examples like happy customers, a learning experience, interviews or event reporting are just a few ways to inspire a story idea.

Not Ready for People to Read My Writing

Don’t worry, when you start a blog or website, no one knows about it. This gives you some time to get comfortable with seeing your writing online.

Ask a few people to read it and give you feedback. When you feel comfortable with how everything looks, send out announcement emails and social media posts…push that publish button!

Have a Lingering Case of FOP?

If your finger is still hovering over the publish button, I’m happy to diagnose your writing project needs. Contact me at eva@evabarrows.com

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Don’t Ruin Good Marketing With a Bad Attitude

Recently a friend of mine forwarded me an e-newsletter she subscribes to. She saw an entry that might interest me. She was right, I was interested. The newsletter talked about hiring writers if you need help developing content to keep your business visible.

The person whose newsletter it is, works locally so I went ahead and sent them an email introducing myself. I told them that I’m a local writer and would be happy to meet with them sometime.

Their response back was a conversation stopper. They had no need for a writer, their marketing department develops the newsletters, and my invitation to meet in person was ignored.
So in other words, this person is sabotaging their business’s marketing efforts.

I question: Why bother sending out newsletters if this is the response you give when someone reaches out to you?

What Went Right

The newsletter itself did what it was supposed to do. Someone on the mailing list received it and forwarded it to someone else – extending the reach of the original marketing piece.

The newsletter elicited a response from the reader. The reader actually sent an email to the person who sent out the newsletter.

This is the response that you want from a newsletter. You want your readers to reach out to you with comments, feedback, questions, even an invite to grab a cup of coffee. Your newsletter is helping you build relationships.

What Went Wrong and Why

I’ve touched on what went wrong. The “sender” of the newsletter cut short any potential for a relationship.

It seemed like the person didn’t know what was talked about in the newsletter.

They were not ready to respond thoughtfully to any interest the newsletter might create.

Instead of taking a grateful appreciative approach, they took the “don’t bother me” one.

It’s all too easy to take them up on that sentiment.

The lesson here is to be gracious and engaged when new contacts reach out to you. Make your goal nurturing relationships instead of stomping on the seed.

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Writers on a Boat: Eireene Nealand and Eva Barrows Talk Writing (Part 2)

Eireene Amongst Boats
Part 2 of 2 Part Series

The sun pours in from the cabin windows and from the open hatch above. A cooling breeze wafts into the cozy space smelling of salt and seaweed. The bark of harbor seals, the “ting ting” clang of various ropes hitting against wrapped sails, and the ever-present seagulls squawk overhead. Eireene and I share our thoughts on writing tucked inside the boat docked at Half Moon Bay California’s Pillar Point Harbor.

The Nest: Tales from Bela Rechka, book written by Eireene Nealand, Photographs by Megan Lueneburg, available on Academia.edu for download

Uncommon Approaches to Structure

Eva: I like to base my writing around dialogue. Just focusing on what people would say and then tightening it up and trying to make it sound funnier. I don’t really have jokes, it’s just the situation that’s humorous.

Eireene: Did your family go back and forth a lot?

Eva: Sometimes we’d have a banter.

Eireene: I don’t think I ever learned that.

Eva: You didn’t banter?

Eva Writing in a Boat

Eireene: Yeah, I’m too serious. (laughs)

Eva: But you had music? All of your family members know how to play instruments?

Eireene: Yes. I think it helps to have that. I really write by the sounds of language a lot. So I think I paid a lot of attention to songs. As I write I’m hearing the tones and the sounds. A lot derived from poetry. I love overhearing conversations.

Eva: Right I saw some of your snippets.

Eireene: I’m trying to figure out what to do with the snippets.

Eva: So are you going to take those and make a story?

Eireene: I need to figure it out but I think that’s actually going to be my style. It’s going to have to do with how many conversations I’ve ever heard. Cause I’ve been doing it for years. I have giant files of people’s conversations.

Eva: Do you go back and look at them?

Eireene: Every now and then and I’ll modify them a little bit. And I’ve also learned a lot about storytelling. People are so good at telling stories out loud to each other like in coffee shops. I’m amazed people just visualize the whole landscape and they have a good sense of pacing.

Eireene: Nothing happens in the one little snippet but then you put another snippet next to it…

Eva: It’s like a collage.

Eireene: I like that one little story will connect to another story and deepen it. One sort of becomes a metaphor for the other one.

Eva: You’re kind of like a reporter.

I think a lot about structure. I worry about it and I think about it. And that happens until I know the big structure.

Eireene: I’m more of an arranger. Same with the historical stuff. I just get open to facts and mash them together. I think a lot about structure. I worry about it and I think about it. And that happens until I know the big structure.

Eva: I think of structure as beginning-middle-end, if it flows, if it makes sense, but you have a different scope of structure.

Eireene: I like the detours.

Eva: Do you usually know what the meaning is when you start or does it appear?

Eireene: By the time I’m done writing it’s totally something else. I usually have the beginning and the ending and I stick with those things pretty strongly. Then I spend years writing the middle.

I like the detours.

Eva: So what do you want to get that down to? A couple of months?

Eireene: I’m learning so much. There’s a structural thing about how the beginning and ending are related that you just have to figure out. You can actually, hopefully, this is how I plan to save time in the future —you can sit and think about that a lot then know.

Eireene Nealand’s stories, poems and translations have appeared in ZYZZYVA, Chicago Quarterly, Drunken Boat, Poetry International, Catamaran, Sidebrow, WHR, elimae, and The St. Petersburg Review, among other places. Her work has received multiple awards including a Fulbright Fellowship in Creative Writing, an Elizabeth Kosova Fellowship, and an Ivan Klima Fellowship. To her degrees from UC Berkeley and San Francisco State, she recently added a Ph.D. in Literature from UC Santa Cruz, where she studied proprioception, a neurobiological phenomenon that allows us to see textures and shifts. She currently lives in Santa Cruz, where she writes and translates Russian, Bulgarian and French prose and poetry.

Eva Barrows is a San Francisco Bay Area freelance writer. Eva writes about local places, people and events on her website www.evabarrows.com. She founded the online literary journal Imitation Fruit www.imitationfruit.com in 2007 and has enjoyed promoting fellow writers and artists ever since. Her writing has appeared in the California Writer’s Club, Fault Zone Uplift anthology, and the San Mateo County Fair’s, Carry the Light fair winner collection.

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Writers on a Boat: Eireene Nealand and Eva Barrows Talk Writing

Pillar Point Harbor, Half Moon Bay, CA
Part 1 of a 2 Part Series

The bay sparkles. Clear blue skies overhead and fishing boats flit across the calm water. Eireene Nealand and I take over her sister’s green sail boat docked at Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay, CA.

We tell ourselves that we’re actually going to do some writing once we get inside. Eireene takes my bag of crab cake sandwich and fries so I can keep my balance stepping onto the back of the boat. She assures me I won’t fall in the water.

Eva Getting Used to Boat

She unlocks the cabin hatch, slides it back and moves the ceiling panel so we can make our way inside. We sit across from each other on padded benches with a multi-use pop-up table between us. Eireene heats up water in the micro kitchen lining one side of the cabin. She sips tea and I eat my lunch.

The boat gently sways back and forth. I take out my digital voice recorder. She agrees to an impromptu interview. For a little context, Eireene is a poet, short story writer, European language translator and holds a Ph.D in Literature and MFA in Creative Writing. So, I have lots of questions for her as I’m in awe of her resume.

I start with the basics.

Siege of Leningrad and the Office Breakroom

Eva: What’s your favorite type of project to write?

Eireene: I like writing weird connections with history. I wrote a story about Lake Ladoga the Siege of Leningrad. It was about a girl in California who felt she was suffering then she learned about the Siege of Leningrad and was like “Wow my life’s not so bad!”

I like writing weird connections with history.

Eva: Do you fantasize about Eastern Europe?

Eireene: I did fantasize about the Communist Revolution when I was younger. But then I went and visited and found it wasn’t so romantic.

I did a whole story about that. It was really great that people had a big dream and the big dream had a lot of awful things to it. But how much worse would it be if there was no big dream and there was just awfulness?

Eireene: What do you write about?

Eva: I try to write about something that’s happened to me. I blow it out of proportion like a Seinfeld episode.

Eireene: Do you stay away from politics?

Eva: I keep it casual. In, The Birthday Committee, which is a funny story, I have a character in the office breakroom and she’s watching CNN and it shows a bomb going off in Syria. It’s not really a comment on Syria it’s a comment to the story. It’s a war zone in the breakroom.

Eireene: What kind of settings do you like to write about?

Eva: Things I’m familiar with. A lot of my writing has been about things that’ve made me mad. I want to go back and reinvent the moment. Become empowered in some way. It’s never a big deal. It’s just something that’s bothered me. The settings are small and familiar, the breakroom at work, the college campus out in the back fields, a coffee shop confrontation.

Eireene Not Reading

A Family of Characters

Eireene: It’s interesting a lot of other people have written about my family but they do it in a completely different way than I would do it. They draw on all of these hippie stereo types.

Eva: How many articles have there been?

Eireene: There’s been two major ones about the idea of a hippie family. I think they do a really good job. A better one than I could do. I can’t get at real life directly. It seems like you’re closer to real life.

Eva: I write about my husband a lot. Like things he does that influence me. He’s usually like “oh god you’re writing about that?” I’m not writing deeply about myself, kind of expressing myself.

He’s the other character in my life.

Eireene: I notice a lot of writers have this break-through moment when they fall in love and write about the other person.

Eva: But I’m not even gushing about him though.

Eireene: Yeah you’re just tracking his behavior. You’re noticing him a lot because you’re happy. One day I aspire to write that kind of story.

Eva: He’s the other character in my life.

**More of our discussion will be posted on the blog next week. Come back to find out how two different writers approach structure in writing.

Eireene Nealand’s stories, poems and translations have appeared in ZYZZYVAChicago Quarterly, Drunken Boat, Poetry International, CatamaranSidebrowWHR elimae, and The St. Petersburg Review, among other places. Her work has received multiple awards including a Fulbright Fellowship in Creative Writing, an Elizabeth Kosova Fellowship, and an Ivan Klima Fellowship. To her degrees from UC Berkeley and San Francisco State, she recently added a Ph.D. in Literature from UC Santa Cruz, where she studied proprioception, a neurobiological phenomenon that allows us to see textures and shifts. She currently lives in Santa Cruz, where she writes and translates Russian, Bulgarian and French prose and poetry.

Eva Barrows is a San Francisco Bay Area freelance writer. Eva writes about local places, people and events on her website www.evabarrows.com. She founded the online literary journal Imitation Fruit www.imitationfruit.com in 2007 and has enjoyed promoting fellow writers and artists ever since. Her writing has appeared in the California Writer’s Club, Fault Zone Uplift anthology, and the San Mateo County Fair’s, Carry the Light fair winner collection.

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Write in the New Year: 3 Content Marketing Assessments You Need to Make

The end of the year is a great time to look back and find out if you’ve hit your online marketing goals.
If your attempts to grab attention fizzled out, read on for suggestions about how to stay on track in the New Year.
No matter what type of content marketing you choose to do, present your business in a professional consistent manner. Make a genuine effort to stay in touch with your prospects through valuable content, not fluff!

Case of The Pseudo Blog

Publishing a vibrant blog on your website can produce huge benefits. One of the biggest rewards of having fresh content rolling in on your blog is growing a loyal audience.

But a blog can go wrong in one huge way – abandonment.
If blog posts are infrequent and outdated, your blog is not building a following.
The solution to blog abandonment is creating a publication schedule that you can stick to. The more often there’s an excuse for people to look at your website the better.
Start thinking about how you can stick to a publication schedule in the New Year.

Case of The Old News Website

While you’re reflecting on your business goals, check your website to see if anything needs to be updated.
In a previous post, “Don’t Stink Like a Fish: 6 Ways to Keep Your Web Content Fresh” I outline common website categories that need attention from time to time.
Close out the year by adding new client testimonials, links to company mentions in the press, and check to see if the “About” tab needs a refresh.
Get ready for the New Year by making announcements for upcoming product releases and adding appearances and events to the calendar page.
Make it easy for your followers to know where you’ll be – online and off – so they can plan on joining you!

Case of The On-Again Off-Again Newsletter

People subscribe to your newsletter because they want to hear from you. Keep your fans happy by showing up in their inbox once a month with useful content.
Stay top of mind with a consistent publishing schedule.
Putting together a mini-magazine for your business can be a daunting task. For best results keep your newsletter simple – for your own sanity and to respect your reader’s time.
Combine links to your blog or other websites with some original newsletter content to hold your reader’s attention.
***
What marketing methods have worked for you over the year?
Make a plan to keep them going strong in the New Year. If you need some help keeping up with your content marketing schedule, contact me to strategize with you!
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10 Things I Love About Freelance Writing

 

San Mateo County Fair where I took home three honorable mentions in writing this year.

This month I’m celebrating one year in business as a freelance writer! Here’s a peek into why writing is my passion.

Learn New Things

In order to write about a person, subject or organization I have to know what I’m talking about. I love to educate myself and expand my knowledge. A trip to the library, internet search, or firsthand interviews are just some of the ways I get the info I need to start writing.

Interview People

Often I get to write about interesting people who do interesting things. One of my favorite interviews so far has been with a Hawaiian musician who belts out a killer falsetto. I learned about his music and got a Hawaiian history lesson sprinkled in for context.

Craft of Writing

With the research in front of me, I sift through it all and make a story out of it. I’m in control of where the quotes go, how to weave the facts in, and I set the tone – funny, serious, melodic.

Being Published!

In the past year, I’ve had writing published in a book, blogs, and newsletters. It’s always exciting to see my words shuttled out for people to read. And I have a few fans! I recently went to a ball (yes, a costume Regency era soiree) where at least three people told me how much they love reading my blog.

Project Variety

I have written about so many different things this past year: camping, film festivals and construction projects to name a few. I’m constantly challenging myself by learning new subjects and switching gears from project to project.

In Person Networking

As a solopreneur I need to get the word out about my writing services. One of the ways I do this is through going to local networking meetings, and mixers to meet the community. I’ve picked up a few clients this way and met with people that could be future interview subjects.

Local Travel

The focus of my blog is the exploration of the beautiful San Francisco Peninsula. With so many points of interest in close proximity, I don’t have to worry about running out of content to write about. Experiencing where I live has been refreshing and gives me a greater appreciation for the area.

Creating Publications

I’m also celebrating ten years of publishing Imitation Fruit, the online literary journal that I created and edit once a year. The skills I developed working on the journal and doing layout at a print shop have equipped me for taking on newsletter publications for clients. I’m currently newsletter editor for Midpen Media Center and enjoy the publication process and project management aspect.

Solve Problems

I love to be the one with the answers and the ability to pull off writing and publication projects for clients. I can step in and produce newsletters, examine websites for areas of improvement or take on writing assignments that need to be done.

Work in PJs

Umm yeah, freelance writing has its perks!

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In a Writing Rut? Plagiarism Isn’t the Answer

Hey, writing is hard even for professional writers. Nowadays everyone from established businesses to solopreneurs has to crank out blog posts, newsletter articles, social media conversations and more to build their audience. Most likely the focus of your business is on a widget or service that has nothing to do with mastering the skill of writing. So when those deadlines loom to get something new posted, cutting and pasting a great article (someone else wrote) into your layout might seem like the perfect solution. But it’s not.

The word for taking someone else’s writing and putting your name or your company’s name on it is plagiarism – which is another word for stealing. Writing is like any other product. It takes time to research the subject matter and tons of thought goes into crafting the message. So yeah, if someone’s writing is stolen they’re going to be upset.

Let’s look at three ways to create fresh content to broadcast to your followers. The best part is you’ll be proud of the content because you can legally call it your own.

Write it Yourself – This is a no-brainer. You’re the expert. We want to hear from you about what’s going on in your industry. Tell us about what you deal with every day and how your products or services are helping people out. If you’re having trouble coming up with things to write about check out my article on just that, “7 Tips to Finding Your Next Writing Topic.”

Hire a Ghostwriter – In this scenario, you can put your name on a professionally written article and take full credit for it. That’s because you hire a writer – and let them know that it’s going to be a ghostwritten piece – to write as if they were you. They’ll perform the magic behind the scenes to make you look great in front of your readers.

Link Up – This solution involves you (or your ghostwriter) writing an introduction to your topic of choice then listing one or more articles that you’ve enjoyed on this topic. Refer your readers to these articles with a live link and a short reason why you think they should read it – without giving away the heart of the piece. Then cap off your article with your words of wisdom.

These solutions enable you to create valuable resources for your readers without stooping to anything shady. If you’re looking for a ghostwriter you can find me hiding under my desk! Booo.

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Don’t Stink Like A Fish: 6 Ways to Keep Your Web Content Fresh


Browsing the web you’ll come across sites that look like they haven’t been touched since the day they were launched. A “What’s Happening” page full of events from three years ago or an attempt running a blog fizzled out after three posts point to abandoned websites. Visitors question if the business is legitimate or if they’re still in existence. If you want to engage potential customers and build an online audience you can’t let your content fester and stink like a dead fish.

Keeping your website current may seem challenging but it doesn’t have to be. The good news is you’re already making news as you grow your business. You just have to identify things to add to your site.

If you’re thinking that you haven’t done anything worth adding to your website in a while then it’s time to swim out the door and do something. Having a website should motivate you to stay active in your industry so you can have something to share with your visitors.

Easy Website Updates that Keep Your Business Swimming Strong

Front Page – The most visible web page of your site is a place to get to know you and your business. It’s an opportunity to display important or major new offerings, products, promotions or insights.

Event Page – Get out and do things – tell us where you’re going to be so your followers can come visit you!

About Me – Every six months to a year look this page over. I bet you’ve done something new you can add to this page to keep it current.

Credentials – Good job! You have a new certification, award, or license to enhance your knowledge and skills – Let your visitors know you’re serious about your business by updating this info.

New Clients + Testimonials – A strong list of people you’ve worked with and happy client blurbs always look great and build potential client’s trust in your brand. Keep this updated so we know you’re still making people happy.

Publications – Have you published an article on another website? Has someone written about you and your business? Keep an ongoing list of links to these publications on your website so we can learn even more about you.

Just by adding, updating or moving around information, you stir the water of your site and prevent it from going still.

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