Freelancing has become increasingly popular in the U.S. workforce in the past couple of years. Companies are scaling down on expenditures and employees, which has opened the door for freelancers to take advantage. Find freelancing stats and how to’s here.
Forget The Jobs Report – Focus On the Freelance Economy
The number of freelance and independent workers is increasing exponentially in the U.S. workforce. With this type of growth, freelancers are set to make up the majority of American workers by 2020.
How to Freelance Your Expertise
“Are dreams of freelancing dancing through your head?” asks Entrepreneur.com. For those nodding yes, they’ve put together their tips for how to get started. Most importantly, remember that overnight success doesn’t exist.
How Can Freelancers or Remote Workers Master Productivity?
Once a freelancer lands a couple contracts, staying productive is key as they’re probably working from home. For all the freelancers and remote workers, rejoice in these tips for staying on top of things.
Working independently seems all too lucrative these days, for the businesses and freelancers themselves. As the economy moves closer and closer toward a contractual business model, keep these tips and tricks around in case the opportunity arises for you.
Kyle McClure is an intern for WordWrite Communications. You can find him on Twitter @kylmcclr.
So you want to be a thought leader? Ok, that’s fair. But are you a self-proclaimed thought leader or are you actually demonstrating thought leadership? There’s a huge difference there.
Let’s back up for a second. The term “thought leadership” is thrown around constantly these days, but how many of these references are used accurately and appropriately? Of course, there are several variations of the definition. My favorite is from Forbes which defines thought leadership as: “an individual or firm that prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise.”
Assuming we all agree on this definition, then how does one actually become a thought leader?
If you want to become a thought leader in your particular industry or area of expertise, then you need to be demonstrating it. There are several ways to accomplish this, but I’m going to hone in on one that we believe can have the strongest impact: blogging.
Let me explain why blogging is so crucial when demonstrating thought leadership:
Make your voice be heard.
You’ve already developed the expertise in a particular subject or industry, so why keep it cooped up in your head? Share it with others!
One of the best ways to demonstrate thought leadership in your area of expertise is to actively produce valuable blog content. You should be blogging regularly about several topics associated with your area of expertise. Write about topics that you know a lot about and that others need to know more about.
Be sure to blog often. This is not a “one and done” thing. The more you’re blogging, the more you’re increasing your exposure to position yourself as a thought leader. You want to make sure you are the go-to expert above all else when someone is seeking advice or assistance in your area of expertise.
Don’t forget about exploring guest blogging opportunities to contribute to other industry blogs. This enhances your visibility as a thought leader, as well as establishes credibility.
Promote your business at the same time.
Though the purpose of thought leadership blogging is not meant to be a promotional conduit for your company, you can still use your expertise through blogging to build credibility for your business or organization. Consider writing about topics that potential clients want to read about. If your product or service can provide a solution to their needs and challenges, then share that from a holistic perspective.
Then, when you’re prospecting, you’re able to direct these potential customers to your blog for information that theoretically should be answering the questions they already have.
Showcase unique situations that may resonate with prospective customers in your industry. These scenarios can tell the story of how you played a key role in solving a problem for a customer, and how your business was part of the solution in the end.
This is also a great discussion starter to showcase your knowledge in a particular area. At WordWrite we love when someone at a networking event or meeting mentions how much they loved one of our blog entries!
Avoid salesy and self-serving tones at all times! Thought leadership blogging is not meant to be a sales tool, rather to demonstrate your expertise in a particular area. Don’t “sell” readers on your blog – be as authentic as possible.
P.S. – it could also boost SEO.
As an added bonus, blogging is perfect for boosting your SEO. As my colleague, Hollie Geitner, puts it – this is a great way to keep your website fresh with great content. By writing strategically about topics and pain points that your potential customers are currently searching for anyway, this best positions your blog entries to the top of Google’s search results. By writing about solutions to the challenges your prospective clients are facing, you’re better positioned to be the thought leader they need, rather than writing about topics that no one is searching for.
Ensure that you’re peppering strategic keywords throughout your blog post, as appropriate. Keep the keywords your clients or prospects are already searching for top of mind while writing your blog entries.
Of course there are plenty more reasons why blogging is crucial when demonstrating thought leadership. What are some of your favorites?
For five more ways to establish yourself as a thought leader, check out this blog from our friends at HubSpot.
Christy Goodman is senior account executive for WordWrite Communications. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @christylgoodman.
Before we begin, I want to offer a disclaimer: This is not an article on how to be a “social media guru,” a “social media ninja,” or any other over-the-top title that some of us like to use to describe our profession or past time. This is about how to position your business head and shoulders above your competitors by using social media in a way that does more than establishing a voice and solidifying your brand. I’m talking about how to distribute noteworthy content on your company’s social pages that boosts your industry authority and reputation, as well as your ROI.
Curious? Let’s start with the basics:
1. Have a plan.
How many times have you looked up a specific company on Google, only to be disappointed by the fact that they have a bare-bones or even nonexistent web site or Facebook page? Personally, this is something that’s very frustrating for me. In this age, most people don’t want to have to pick up the phone to learn more about a product or service. How can a company boast expertise and authority in its industry when I can’t even find its hours of operation, let alone someone who could tweet me an answer to a quick question?
By now, most organizations understand that they should have a presence on social media, but it’s not enough to simply set up your company’s social accounts and cross your fingers. Facebook in particular is making it increasingly difficult to get likes, reach and engagement organically, so it’s even more important to have a spectacular social strategy when there isn’t a budget in place for social advertising and promoted posts. If you think that the amount of likes you have is just a popularity contest, then you’re missing the bigger picture. Engagement equates to a larger reach, and a larger reach equates to more prospective customers who are reading your content and learning why they should choose you over a competing business.
Bottom line: make a strategy and implement it. Don’t let it go to the way side because of time constraints.
2. Produce quality content.
I can’t stress this enough. Without meaningful industry content, your business has no authority. Increasing visibility and tactfully distributing your content is only one piece of the puzzle when looking to become a thought leader in your industry. Before you can distribute content onto your social media pages, you have to have content that’s worth sharing. This doesn’t mean that all of your social posts must come from your own content. In fact, only 20 percent of the content you’re distributing should be your own promotional material. The other 80 percent of social posts should consist of either curated content or any other content that benefits your customers more than your company. Whether content is curated or your own, high quality content is THE most important quality of a thought leader.
Of course this sounds easy in theory, but how do we know when we’re producing the right kind of content that will set us apart from another company’s social presence? My colleague Christy will be able to answer this for you in tomorrow’s blog post.
3. Timing is everything.
Just because it’s convenient for you to post at a certain time doesn’t mean your audience will be online at the same time. Think about the demographics you’re targeting and when they are most likely to log in to their social media accounts.
If the optimum time to post is during a period when you’re not available, don’t be afraid to use a scheduling tool. Whether you want something free or are willing to spend a few dollars for it, there are many scheduling tools out there that will do the job just fine.
On the other side of the coin, don’t get too comfortable scheduling content, either. Being able to jump into a conversation about a trending topic or to quickly respond to a customer’s comment or complaint is vital. Displaying expertise in an immediate and conversational way boosts trust. Taking a long period of time to reply to someone or passing the buck off onto someone else (e.g. “Thanks for your question, Bob! Our customer service department will be able to address this for you,”) doesn’t exhibit competency or an appreciate of your customers’ time.
4. Analyze and revise your strategy.
After all of that, maybe you didn’t quite reach the goals you wanted to reach. So now what do you do? Give up and stop distributing your content on social media? No! Take a look at what worked and what didn’t. Success in social media is different for every kind of business; there is no definitive formula you can use. You may have to use trial and error many times before you get it right. Always keep your demographics in mind, and keep tweaking your strategy until you see results.
Of course, these are the first steps but there are many other details to consider. What other tactics help to build your brand’s authority on social media? I’d love to see some of your feedback in the comments.
If you’re interested in establishing or revising the digital strategies for your business, we’re always here to help with that, too.
Rachel Borowski is an account executive for WordWrite Communications. You can find her on Twitter @RachelBro_ski.
The daily media horse race evaluating the success of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues to circle the track – and boy was today’s news a potential game-changer – but the focus of most survey results has been on satisfaction levels for individual consumers who were previously uninsured.
I don’t want to diminish the significance of new health care opportunities for that portion of the population, but most media coverage continues to ignore the lack of urgency in implementing the law from the single most important providers of insurance for American workers – their own companies.
The New York Times “Agenda” blog cited a Rand survey last week that revealed nearly 117 million people receive their health care benefits from their employer – an 8 percent increase from last September through March. Approximately half of Americans get health insurance as part of their job.
Yet in spite of the fact so many still get their insurance through work, most employers remain stuck when it comes to adjusting to upcoming aspects of the ACA.
Perhaps that’s because the delay of the employer mandate until 2015 – the penalty that employers with more than 50 employees would have to pay for not providing adequate health insurance to their workers – has bought larger businesses a little more time to conform.
However, citing law firm Littler Mendelson’s annual Executive Employer Survey Report, a recent article in Employee Benefit News notes nearly 40 percent of employers haven’t done anything yet, “as they believe they are still on course despite extensions; 14 percent are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach in hopes that the employer mandate will be amended or repealed and 14 percent have delayed planning some aspects in the event that future concessions to the mandates are granted.”
Does this mean businesses don’t care about their workers? Of course not. Our extensive experience working with consultants with a detailed knowledge of health care reform tells us that many employers are still paralyzed by the decisions they have to make in the months ahead.
For these businesses and their employees, health care reform has real consequences. Who should they trust to communicate those implications?
What about experts working knee-deep in the law every day? These thought leaders can help grow their businesses by positioning themselves as sources of knowledge and insight for the numerous other companies in need of health care reform advice.
And what better place to share this expertise with the widest possible audience than through the media?
Facing pressure from the right and left to be “balanced,” reporters in many cases don’t know where to turn for unbiased, basic facts when it comes to the rapidly changing health care landscape.
That’s where the real business development opportunity exists for organizations with ACA knowledge. If you’re in the business or want to be in the business of advising clients about the impact of the ACA, then your experts need to be the ones the media look to for guidance in their news coverage.
WordWrite knows a little about this because it’s been a big part of our health care work. Since the ACA was signed into law more than four years ago, we’ve consistently communicated the historic impact of health care reform to our contacts in the media. This issue has always been a tough sell to reporters, but it begins with an effort to educate them about our ability to connect them to subject matter experts and then grows from that initial dialogue.
Our persistence and strong relationships with the media have resulted in placements, interviews and coverage for our clients’ health care and professional services thought leaders in Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Nashville, Washington D.C. and Pittsburgh – one city in particular where we’ve helped inform nearly every print and television outlet on the significance of health-care reform and exchange options.
Knowledge is in short supply when it comes to health care reform, and health care and professional service organizations have it in spades. Let us help you become a conduit to the businesses, companies and executives who drastically need guidance on the ACA before it’s too late.
The window is closing for companies to communicate what the ACA has in store for workers in 2015. Open enrollment arrives in mere weeks and more provisions – including the employer mandate – take full effect on New Year’s Day.
Consultants and other businesses that hang their hats on providing health care reform guidance are probably missing out on a chance to position themselves as ACA experts to companies and journalists thirsting for knowledge on the subject.
Want to more about our thinking on how to position thought leaders as an oasis of knowledge amid the desert of health care reform ignorance? Contact me and I’d be glad to share some initial thoughts.
Jeremy Church is vice president of media and content strategies for WordWrite Communications. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @churchjeremy.
Putting aside the fact that blogs are an excellent way to draw traffic to your website, blogging should be a tool in every communicator’s or business owner’s toolbox. There are over 152,000,000 blogs on the Internet and nearly 40% of U.S. companies use blogs for marketing purposes. Blogs are both popular and show greater company engagement with their customers, industry and stakeholders.
If you want people to hear your story, telling an empty room just isn’t going to cut it—which is what you’d be doing if you were producing brochures and leaving them in your lobby or blindly sending out resumes. Who is there to pick them up or read them? No one is going to benefit from your perspective unless you put it out there on the “interwebs.” That’s where blogging comes in handy.
Blogs allow you to communicate with people you would never be able to without the Internet and blogger-sphere. Blogging creates a conversation. Publishing your thoughts isn’t the end of the conversation; it’s the beginning. Others can share their thoughts in the comments section, or share your blog on their social media sites if they appreciated the content. It gets others talking about a topic that is important to you and your business/industry. Who wouldn’t want that?
Blogging also helps keep you informed with what’s going on in the world around you—in particular your industry, because you must find something that will draw attention and engage your audience. Consider following other blogs—comment and engage with them and get comfortable with the medium before diving in with your own.
Blogging is a great way to hone your writing skills. It’s easy to become rusty or lose your style if you’re not writing frequently. You’ll notice that certain things will resonate and you may need to adjust your style, tone or the amount of information you share. Set a goal for how often you’d like to blog. As you decide this, something to keep in mind is 78% of companies that blog once a day convert new customers through the medium, and companies that blog twice a day collect even more. This time should be dedicated to a topic that is truly interesting and important to you. Stick to that goal and set aside time to make sure it gets done.
And of course, blogging is fun! There are no limits to what you can write about. This is the best way to let your mind run free and express an opinion or idea that you are passionate about. If you’re using it as a way to attract business, try to write about the things your potential customers would want to read. How can you solve their problems? What will make them find you when they are looking on the Internet?
So, what are you waiting for—get started on your own blogging adventure. Here are some resources to help you:
Setting Up Your Blog? Use This Checklist to Start Off on the Right Foot
Blogging Basics 101
3 Ways to Create Highly Valuable Blog Content
10 Ideas for Creating New Blog Content that Your Audience Loves
Free Ebook: An Introduction to Business Blogging
Jessica Carnprobst is an intern for WordWrite Communications. You can find her on Twitter @jess_carnprobst.
Pittsburgh is filled with fun activities for everyone this summer. On these warm sunny days, we can’t help but share our #Passion4Pgh! It’s not just us that think so either – both locals and visitors are filling the streets week after week to join in on the excitement.
Celebrate Downtown – July 14 – 21st
This week, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership is celebrating their 20th anniversary with events through Monday the 21st. From celebrating Christmas in July to salsa dancing in the streets, there is something fun for people of all ages.
Travel’s Best All-American Vacations 2014
Pittsburgh isn’t just exciting for people who have lived here their entire lives, it’s fun for people far and near to come explore the city for all its wonders.
This Video Will Make You Ridiculously Proud Of Pittsburgh
Not only do people enjoy traveling to Pittsburgh, they enjoy filming movies here. We have beautiful scenery and landscape allowing for some pretty unique and amazing shots. More movies than you think have been filmed here.
No matter what it is, there is something that draws people to Pittsburgh. Between the arts scene, food, beautiful buildings or hills, Pittsburgh is a unique place full of passionate people waiting to share their story. What have you been doing in the ‘Burgh lately? Comment below and share your #Passion4Pgh with us!
Jessica Carnprobst is an intern for WordWrite Communications. You can find her on Twitter @jess_carnprobst.
As a WordWrite intern, I certainly have been thrown right into things since day one, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Part of being thrown into things means having to take on your first media pitch from start to finish. If you’re new to this like I was, then follow these basic steps to put that pitch together.
1. Find something worth pitching
Make sure the story idea you have is a solid one. Be sure that you’ll have the resources to find enough information, and then go out there and find it. The most exciting stories to read are the ones that were most exciting to write. Make sure yours is one of them.
Once you’ve found a worthy story idea, do your research. Would interviewing someone to hear his or her side of things help add value? Who are the important people surrounding the story that would be worthy of mentioning? Researching and finding as many facts and details as possible will allow for a more comprehensive story and make pitching to media that much easier.
3. Compile your media list
This is probably one of the most crucial steps here because if you don’t look for the right media, then all your earlier effort was for naught. Be sure to look for journalists specific to your topic, especially ones who have covered similar stories in the past. And don’t be afraid to branch out. If your story involves people from out of town, then reach out to some media outlets in their neck of the woods, too. Having that local connection makes the story worth that journalist’s times.
4. Adjust your pitch based on your recipient
Don’t cut any corners here and send the same, generic pitch to every journalist you took the time to find. Craft each one individually and say the same thing in a variety of ways. If you know there might only be one thing of interest to a certain writer, then send them an individually crafted pitch highlighting that particular point. The number one thing to remember is to deliver the angle that the journalist will want. If that means changing up the focus a little bit, then so be it.
Crafting the right pitch is integral to landing the right media hits. Have something worth pitching, do your research, find the right contacts and write something that will compel them to cover the story. Think ahead to what their questions might be and answer them before they think to ask. Making information readily available to journalists will greatly increase your chances of success.
Kyle McClure is an intern for WordWrite Communications. You can find him on Twitter @kylmcclr.
In part one of this blog I posed the aggravating quandary of the marcom world incessantly measuring some element of communication performance or customer opinion while learning relatively little. In this second part I’ll offer why--and by extension --what we must start to change if we want well-intended efforts to truly yield useable knowledge.
This quandary exists because of three primary reasons. We:
too frequently measure and in doing so ignore the necessity of creative sampling measurement techniques,
too heavily rely on measuring consumer attitudes or opinions and too little on actual consumer or organizational behavior, and
Increasingly oversimplify our efforts by trading methodical and objective ways to understand what we wish to measure in favor of anecdotal knowledge.
Points one and two are a little more technical and suitable for discussion elsewhere. But the final point is perhaps most critical as to why we try to measure everything and know so little.
Buoyed by impressive advances in mobile data collection many marcom pros fancy themselves would-be analysts, pollsters and the like and too frequently proceed without sufficient care to make a reliable measurement. All too common, the measurement mine field trap doors of unbiased questioning, too many “yes/no” questions, poor quality control, insufficient sample size and a gravitation to descriptive over numeric data sinks one’s proverbial ship while still in the harbor. Later when sailing at sea and poring over the results it’s no wonder that the captain’s crew becomes literally swamped with “data” or other forms of information. We measure because we yearn to know something more. Poor or biased (whether intentional or not) measurement does just the exact opposite and risks saddling us and clients with a sort of fool’s about an incorrect assessment of the issue at hand.
This trend is increasingly dangerous ad hardly limited to marcom pros trying to daily make sense of it all in the vast data galaxy. In fact a “poster child” example of this showing the good and not so good ways to deal with all our measurement motivation is easily within our understanding to better make this point.
The folks at Consumers Union have been publishing Consumer Reports since the 1930’s. Committed to completing comprehensive, methodical analysis of all sorts of consumer product reviews, CR has deployed rich methods of quantitative measurement combined with extensive consumer surveys. It’s blended to provide comprehensive and practical information about virtually any consumer product. The typical outcome of such an effort is some form of numeric rating or ranking supported often by additional descriptive commentary that has aided consumer decision-making for eight decades. Too ensure bias is minimized CR exists strictly as a non-for-profit entity and abides by a strict policy of accepting no advertising to ensure never is there a confusion in priorities between the business office and testing lab.
By contrast the relatively new Angie’s List is a periodical on multiple platforms that seeks to blend “peer review” and ratings of local services with display advertising and feature articles. Like CR its content is partially fueled by subscriber input but relies exclusively on referral commentary to summarize service business performance. In addition, the very businesses being evaluated by Angie’s subscribers are simultaneously being solicited for display advertising investment. The resulting knowledge yielded by this method is a smattering of subscriber comments accompanied by a conventional scholastic letter grade. Numeric data are largely, if not completely, ignored and little disclosure is made about what, if any, natural conflicts of interest exist between those being rated and their ad expenditures.
The competing methods yield far different applications. The CR analysis of say, window air conditioners elicits a thorough, directed advisory of what’s best to buy and what’s worth the money in ways that are always objectively supported. Angie…on the other hand lists some descriptive referrals from a handful of subscribers. Whatever important views this group offers is in no way a comprehensive or accurate measure of anything. It is of course a handful of opinions from local consumers like you—you know the same opinions you can rapidly gather during small talk at church, with your pals at the local watering hole, or while idly watching your kid’s baseball game.
In a nutshell CR is most of what in commercial marcom measurement we should seek to be following. Methodical, reasoned, and thorough the CR style of measurement can be adopted for the broadest or most narrow form of commercial measurement where credible data will help yield insights to broaden our understanding. In contrast the anecdotal approach of Angie’s List represents most of what needs to be avoided. This is not to say that consumer referral or “word –of mouth” is unimportant—far from it. But when such views are assembled in a way where little regard is made for the methodical or accuracy of measurement and where objectivity and potential conflicts of interest are not disclosed transparently, the “resulting” findings are hardly credible—and at a time when marcom measurements has never been more important why are we wasting our time with that?
John Durante is marketing services director for WordWrite Communications.
As a thought leader, how you communicate what you do is crucial to your success. So how do you make sure that people remember you and what you do? Storytelling! Storytelling works because a unique, memorable and compelling story is easily remembered and easily repeated. Don’t just take our word for it — sample WordWrite founder Paul Furiga’s examples in this video blog.
Do you want to explore more about how storytelling can help you to share your authentic story? Download our Untold Stories worksheet below.
Paul Furiga is president and CEO of WordWrite Communications. You can find him on Twitter @paulfuriga.
Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft have been encountering more than a few bumps in the road these days. Between insurance companies and state regulators, the drivers, riders and companies are forced to jump through more and more hoops to maintain operations. Here’s the scoop on ridesharing in Pittsburgh and across the country.
Judges shut down ride-sharing firms in Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission issued a cease-and-desist order against companies Uber and Lyft last week to halt all operations in the city of Pittsburgh. ‘Burgh mayor Bill Peduto immediately spoke out against the order and called for legislation to be passed.
UberX Is Now Cheaper Than Taking A Regular Taxi In New York
New York Magazine
UberX in New York City has officially lowered their rates to be cheaper than the overarching yellow taxi companies that have transported people through the city for as long as anyone can remember. Increased funding has allowed Uber to lower their prices, and coexistence with the cab companies doesn’t seem to be their goal.
How are ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber regulated across the U.S.?
After the PUC’s order for Lyft and Uber to halt operations, we now know that the state wants to take a closer look at this situation before anything else. But are there other states where they’ve been able to figure out fair regulation to please all involved parties? Yes there are, and here’s the list.
Uber and Lyft have definitely garnered plenty of attention these days amidst all of the federal and insurance regulations that have been thrown at them, but they show no sign of slowing down. What are your thoughts on the government’s role in ridesharing?
Kyle McClure is an intern for WordWrite Communications. You can find him on Twitter @kylmcclr.