So there's this dog up the street; a menacing, bothersome dog. It came at me on Sunday, full bark. It was one more run-in with a dog that reminded me of another run-in, so I decided to write about it.
After getting it all down, it was too long, so I edited what I'd written. And edited some more. But there was still one bit that wasn't right.
Does that happen with your writing?
You have too many (or too few) words, but still struggle to find the right ones? Well, I kept at it until I found the one word that would fix it all: dumbfounded.
Here's the story. I'm sharing it because it's ridiculous and good for a laugh if you need one.
Years ago I was walking with Agatha, my long-earred, droopy-eyed, red-and-white basset hound. It was early morning and I decided to mix things up and walk through a neighborhood across the avenue.
We were two blocks in when a German shepherd bolted from the side of a one-story house on the corner.
Now Agatha was a sweet, easy-going dog and she merely raised her head, looked at the German shepherd, and continued on her way. I should have followed her lead, but that dog just kept barking and circling, getting closer and closer, and it was making me nervous.
And then I heard a voice.
A woman's voice coming from inside the house. It was hard to make sense of it all, but there she was, peering out from a six-inch gap at the bottom of an open window. With her head tilted to the side and wedged in the opening, she spoke again.
"Ask him if he wants a bath," she said.
"What?" I asked (though I was fairly certain I heard what she said).
"Ask him if he wants a bath," she said again. Dumbfounded, but feeling a bit desperate, I did what she said.
Turning to the circling German shepherd I said, "Do you want a bath?"
That dog stopped barking, dropped his head, tucked his tail, and turned back toward the house. The gap in the window closed.
Dumbfounded. Until I found that one word, I was struggling with the story. I tried writing about how confused I was, how I wasn't sure about what I was hearing ... blah, blah, blah.
So I kept at it. Walked away a few times. Rewrote what I had written. And did it all again. Writing is hard for all of us because writing is hard.
Do you sometimes struggle with writing?
I can help. Especially with things like ...
Five Ways to Build a Better Website
You've got a website and it's been up for a while, but is it as good as it could be?
1. A fresh approach
If your website is more than a couple of years old, it may be time for an update.
Take a critical look at your site. Does it inspire confidence? Is your information up to date? Is your logo big enough? Too big? Do the fonts and colors on your site reflect your logo and branding?
Do you have large blocks of text that read more like a novel than a website?
Writing for the web is different than other forms of writing. Keep your audience engaged with:
This article is a good example. People like to skim headlines, subheads, and lists and then go deeper. Make it easy for them to skim.
Does your site feature a dark background? Though it can be striking to have a dark background, it makes reading difficult. And that means people will stop reading before they finish learning more about how you can help them.
2. Is it all about you? It shouldn't be
Do you welcome visitors with a line that's all about them ... or is it all about you?
Sure, your website is about you, but when people visit they're thinking about themselves and how you can help them. Your landing page should start with sentences like:
We help YOU make better decisions when you have to _________ , or
Become the best ________, or even,
Discover how to ________.
Open with sentences that make people feel welcome and let them know right away what you can do for them.
Sentences like, "WE have 25 years of experience ...," or "WE'RE members of ..." belong on your about page.
Who you are, your background, your years of service, it's all important information. But it's information people want only after they know how you can help them.
3. Share your expertise
When someone comes to your site they’re looking for information, hoping to be inspired. Make it interesting. Aside from the usual menu items (home/about/contact), what else can you offer? Maybe you could consider a blog or special features:
Blogs are great if you commit to posting regularly, but clearly not for everyone or every business. If you have a blog and the last post is from over a year ago (or, gasp, three or four years ago), you might consider taking it down or breathing new life into it.
Special Features. Consider features like how-to articles, a behind-the-scenes segment, staff profiles, infographics, and updated photographs.
Regular updates can also help with search engine results. Turns out a stale website is, well, stale. New information garners attention and boosts your ranking.
4. Offer downloads and products
If you have how-to information, a special edition poster, infographic, a report, an ebook or print edition, promote it on your website.
You can also consider sharing what you know for a fee or by subscription. You have information people want and need. Position yourself as an expert and distribute and sell what you know.
5. Stay In Touch
Email remains one of the best ways to connect with customers and associates. Consider a monthly newsletter delivered by email.
You can build your email list by offering something in exchange for contact information. Something like an ebook, a top five list of something relevant, or a discount for services or products.
As you build your email list, you can help others by sharing what you know. And it will help establish you as an expert in your field.
Is it time to refresh your website?
Call or write today to learn more about making your website the best it can be.
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Write today to start looking like the professional you are.