The doldrums – that dreaded atmospheric condition that in previous centuries drove sailors mad. Here is how wikipedia defines it:
The doldrums are noted for calm periods when the winds disappear altogether, trapping sail-powered boats for periods of days or weeks. The term appears to have arisen in the 18th century – when cross-Equator sailing voyages became more common. Colloquially, the “doldrums” are a state of inactivity, mild depression, listlessness or stagnation.
Make no mistake. We are smack dab in the middle of the summer doldrums – colloquially speaking that is.
Know the Symptoms
I see the signs all around me. In my weekly business meeting absenteeism is up dramatically. Clients can’t be bothered returning emails or phone calls. When they do respond they give the stock answer.
“Call me in September.”
I get it. I’m feeling a little listless myself. After all, here in New England the summer is gone in the blink of an eye and we want to make sure we soak it in before we get back to shoveling snow. But when it comes to your website, the “wait until September” strategy is a mistake.
Do it Now
If you want your website to be fresh in September, don’t wait until September. Work on it now. Why? Because if you wait until September to turn your attention to it, it will be October before it actually gets done. You will have lost your chance to get your updates out there before your competition. But more importantly, you’ll be too busy yourself in September and you’ll end up cutting corners just to get your site updated. The result could be mediocre content, or worse. That’s not really what you want is it? Here are a few things you can do to protect your website from the summer doldrums:
Review your website’s content – Is it still current? Does it accurately reflect your business now?
Contact information – has anything changed, i.e. your phone number, address. If you don’t already have one, consider adding a google map to your contact page.
Mobile Optimization – is your website optimized for proper display on mobile devices? If it’s not, fix the problem now so you’ll be positioned to take advantage of the increasing number of users who access the internet via their cell phones and tablets.
Blogging – are you blogging? I know – you don’t have the time. Maybe that’s true but you should at least think about it. Blogging is a great way to establish your expertise and authority in your field.
Don’t Be That Guy/Gal
You know, the one who says “I haven’t updated my website in [fill in the blanks, weeks, months, or god forbid, years]. There’s no reason you can’t be thinking about this stuff while you’re sipping an umbrella drink or working on your tan. The point is this. A little bit of thought now while you have some free time will put you again of the curve when September hits and you get jammed. Don’t let your website fall victim to the doldrums.
And Now Back to You
Are you waiting until September before putting some serious thought into your website? Be honest. I won’t judge you. If you are, consider spending just a little bit of time thinking about it this summer.
Photo credit: edited from Calm, by Gary Felton. Used with permission.
My friend and colleague, Jen Powell presented a wonderful seminar last Tuesday at the Enterprise Center in Salem, MA. The topic was “How to Write a Great Blog.” Let me say this: Jen knows how to fill a room. I’ve been to quite a few seminars at the Enterprise Center but I’ve never had trouble finding a seat before. Jen, of course, will tell you that the topic is interesting – which it is – and that’s why there was such a great turnout. But that’s not all of it. It’s her easy going, interactive, “hey we’re all in this together” approach that puts backsides in the seats when she speaks. So here, then, are three (there were many more) questions that struck a chord for me.
Why Am I Blogging?
Pretty basic question don’t you think? But still so many bloggers don’t know the answer. Are you blogging to establish your credibility as an expert in your field? Are you using your blog to sell products or services? Are you a writer blogging because….well because that’s what writers do? I blog for three distinct reasons. First, to communicate to clients and would-be clients that I am an expert at what I do. My post on Designing for Mobile Devices is an example. Second, to get something off my chest. That’s why I created a category called “Rants.” (Does it say something about me that I have more posts in the Rants category than any other?) My post called Advice for Bosses, Managers and Supervisors – Be Nice, is a rant. Third, to share with readers in my own demographic group something that interests me and thus may interest them, like Paul McCartney Turning 70. Those are my reasons. What are yours?
Who Am I Talking To?
We’ve heard this before haven’t we? Know your audience is another way of saying the same thing. Of course the who can only be clear if you know the why. If, for example, you’re blogging to establish expertise in your field, then it’s your potential clients you should be talking to. They are the ones who have to have confidence in you before they hire you. No matter what your reason for blogging, the better you know your audience, the more focused your blogging will be and the more success you will have. Here is another great idea courtesy of Jen Powell. Write to just one person. Of course you’re trying to reach many people but writing to one person will make it easier to focus your thoughts. Try it. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to write that way.
Should I Hire Someone to Write my Blog?
It depends. One of the keys to a successful blog is authenticity. If you’re a small business owner then the best chance of your blog being authentic is for you to write it yourself. But you may not have the time or the ability and hiring someone to write it for you may be the only way to ensure that it gets done. This is fine providing the person writing on your behalf spends enough time getting to know you and your business. This is essential if the writing is going to be authentic – which it must be if you want your blog to be successful.
And Now Back to You
Have you thought about blogging but haven’t been able to get started? What’s holding you back? Start with the three questions above and see if that helps. Let me know how you’re doing.
I was privileged to attend a conference a few weeks ago presented by Merrimack College as part of it’s 2012-2013 Leadership Series entitled “It’s Time to Create Your Digital Platform!” As a perk of membership in the Peabody Area Chamber of Commerce, admission was free. I gladly would have paid. Two of the three speakers, Michael Hyatt and Brian Halligan, are best selling authors. Halligan also happens to be co-founder and CEO of Hubspot, a marketing software company that helps businesses transform the way they market their products. The third, Sally Falkow, is a highly respected public relations guru. I took notes, scribbled down links to websites, wrote down recommended book titles, sent out real time tweets and, giving in to my inner geek, got my books signed by the authors. Later, when life had slowed down some, I looked over my notes. One phrase jumped off the page. Each of the speakers said it during their presentations. Some said it more than once. It took on the aspect of a mantra. To get noticed in a noisy world, you have to write remarkable content.
Sound Scary? It Doesn’t Have To Be
I started thinking about my clients – you – the good people who sometimes read my blog. I’ve heard you say it. “I’m not a writer. I can’t write remarkable content.” Well here’s how my trusty Oxford American Dictionary defines the word “remarkable.”
re • mark • a • ble (ri-mahr-ka-bel) adj. worth noticing, exceptional, unusual.
If you’re not a professional writer I understand why you would be intimidated at the prospect of writing exceptional or unusual content.
It’s All About Your Audience
My point is this. If you sell concrete, your website should be geared to people who want to know more about concrete. Since concrete is your area of expertise I’m betting that you can produce content that, if not exceptional or unusual, is at least worth noticing? That is to say worth noticing to your audience. Don’t get me wrong. No matter how much expertise you have in your field, a professional writer will always do a better job at crafting your web copy than you will. But if you focus more on the worth noticing part of the definition of remarkable and less on the exceptional and unusual parts, you just might be surprised at how remarkable your content is.
Some Helpful Resources
If you’d like to dive a little deeper into the world of remarkable content, here are a few links that are favorites of mine. I hope you’ll find them helpful:
Did you write your own copy for your website? How did that go? Or did you hire someone to write it for you? Were you satisfied with the result?
P.S. To my writer friends and colleagues. Don’t be angry with me for suggesting that clients on a limited budget might want to try writing their own copy. My intent here was to give them some helpful advice if they want to go in that direction. Know this. They will never replace you.