You know it’s a good blog post when the pictures tell the story.

By Jason Terry, talking about taking a blog post from good to great through pictures. If you can get the meaning of the story just by looking at the pictures, you’re on the right track.

I was recently doing a blog post with a client when an important idea hit me in the face. I wanted to share that experience with you, minus the pain.

This story was about bringing your kids to work day and how the company makes it a really big deal. To see the blog post on Straub Construction’s website, go here.

Bring Your Kids to Work DayFeatured Image

The first thing you will notice is the featured image. It has ten employees and eleven kids. Imagine what it took to herd so many cats against a wall for this shot. Ernie Straub is flanked by his work family and their kids. That must have been a really cool moment.

I chose to use this as the featured image for the story because it captured the emotion and scope of the moment. Sure, there were lots of other great pictures to choose from, but this simple photo against the wall in their offices just felt right.

Telling the Story Through Images

Bring Your Kids to Work DayAfter the featured image, there’s a series of great pictures of the employees and their kids throughout the day. They start in the conference room reviewing architectural plans.

Next is a drone shot in the parking lot. It’s a really interesting picture because of the perspective. And it’s just different to see what your taking a photo of from 40 feet in the air.

Back into the office for an estimating exercise. The joy on Hannah’s face and Ernie apparently being attacked from all sides by the kids made me smile.

Next, they took the kids to a job site to show them a construction project in process. The first thing that hit me when I saw these pictures is, “wow. They really do take this seriously.” Imagine the planning it took to make this happen. And I’m sure the kids LOVED it. I don’t know of another company in town that goes this far for Bring Your Kids to Work Day. Do you? And I ask that question seriously, because if you work for a company like that, I want to know about it!

Finally, the kids got to build their very own washers game, and spray paint the washers a custom color. At the end of an awesome day, they get to take home something they helped build, an ongoing reminder of what a great day it was.

Bring Your Kids to Work DayLet’s Continue to Focus on Good Pictures For Our Stories!

I’ve written hundreds of blog posts over the past ten years. And I’ve helped clients publish hundreds more. It’s rare to see the pictures tell the story like they did in this particular blog post. Kudos to Matthew Straub for pulling all of these images together, including piloting the drone for the overhead shot. (You can see him in the right side of the picture with his head down over the controller… :)

I am going to renew my focus on capturing images for my stories. If you’re involved in telling stories for your company or organization, I hope you will too!

Embrace Your Fears to Conquer Them

Post written by Mic Johnson, talking about embracing your fears in order to conquer them.

We all have fears.

That’s human nature.

Many of us avoid thinking about them.

Others of us obsess over them.

The irony is that the best way to conquer your fears is to embrace them.

When I’ve embraced and conquered my fears, I’ve also learned that the fear I’d built up in my head was often far greater than when I actually faced the fear.

I see this a lot when I work with new clients as they begin their blogging journey. Sometimes people on the blog team are excited about writing. But more times than not, I could cut the fear of writing in the room like a warm knife through butter.

That’s natural. I get it. But it’s also a case of irrational fear.

hug your fear micnuggetsHow I Help My Clients Embrace and Conquer the Fear

  1. I tell my clients “People either think they’re a great writer or a horrible writer. The truth is usually somewhere in between.” I’ve seen it play out that way countless times over the years. Most people aren’t bad writers. It’s just a muscle that hasn’t been exercised.
  2. I remind them that when their blog post is live on their website and shared on social media, the world doesn’t stop and yell, “Hey everyone, X Company is blogging now! Drop everything and read their post!”
  3. I let them know that their blog post doesn’t have to be a literary work of art. The internet isn’t waiting with baited breath to critique their content.
  4. Finally, I remind them that, as with most things, the more they write, the more comfortable they’ll get and the better writers they’ll become.

One Recent Client Example

I just started working with Jeff Hagen and his team at Grafton Staffing. We did a website project together and recently kicked off their blogging efforts.

Jeff told me early on that he wasn’t a writer, that he had reservations about writing, and that he once had an English teacher who told him he’d never be a writer. The fear was there for sure.

But when Jeff sent me his first rough draft, I told him “You can write. You’re not a bad writer.” My hope is that I crushed the negative record playing in his head about what that English teacher told him so many years ago.

In the end, Jeff embraced the fear and conquered it. He did a fine job on his very first blog post: Grafton Launches New Website in Pain-Free Fashion.

Not only that, but others on the Grafton blog team did well on their first posts too. All of them had reservations, but all of them embraced their fears and conquered them.

And you can too.

What fears have you embraced and conquered? What did you learn from the experience? Share your notes in the comments below to help others who read this post. 

Shout Out to My Clients Who Put In the Work

Mic JohnsonHey there, thanks for stopping by. It’s Mic Johnson here, and I wanted to give a shout out to some of my clients who put in the work every month. 

Blogging is hard work.

It takes time. It takes thought. It takes creativity. It takes commitment. It takes writing sometimes when you don’t feel like it. It takes looking for regular inspiration. It takes a desire to want to help people.

And it takes an accountability partner. I often say I’m like a personal trainer for my clients when it comes to their monthly blogging strategy.

Like any personal trainer, it’s important to give a shout out and encouragement to those who put in the work.

So here, in no particular order, are a few of the teams who have been doing the hard work for months…and some…for years…along with a favorite blog post or two for you to enjoy.

(Side note: We also built the websites for many of these same clients!)

Swope Health Services

Swope-Health-ServicesSwope Health Services provides primary health care and behavioral health services throughout Greater Kansas City.

I’ve been working with them for years and they do a great job of providing education, health information, community events and more through their blog.

Their communications team comes ready each month and has shown a strong commitment to keeping the content engine running.

I loved their recent post (recipe included) Make it Bright: It’s a Great Time to Reach for Salads!

Stockman Bank

Stockman Bank.

You don’t see a lot of banks jumping into the blogosphere, but that’s exactly what the largest bank in Montana did a couple of years ago when we started working with them.

Their blog team has grown and they’ve done a great job of incorporating a range of employees in their blogging efforts.

A couple of my favorite posts include Coffee Talk: Quarterly Report – Q1 2018 from CEO Bill Coffee and a great post about financial preparation options for your children’s educations: Building a Better Future for Your Child.

MEDiAHEADMEDiAHEAD

MEDiAHEAD creates specially tailored marketing and distribution portals for clients and also provide small packaging, variable printing, wide format, mapping, email marketing, digital marketing, and full-service fulfillment.

We’ve been working together for just a few months now, but they’ve really embraced the need to share their stories through blogging.

A couple of my favorite posts from them are Kathryn McDaniel: Perseverance Personified and Meet Izzy: The True Secret to MEDiAHEAD’s Success.

Health Partnership Clinic

HPCLogo-v2

Health Partnership Clinic offers a range of medical, dental and behavioral health services through four clinics and at sites throughout the community.

The team at Health Partnership Clinic always comes prepared and, while relatively new to blogging, has done a great job of starting to tell the story of their organization.

I really enjoyed their post Spring: A Time of Renewal and Growth and they’ve started an Employee Spotlight series to highlight their best and brightest.

Apex Business Advisors

ApexBusinessAdvisors

Apex Business Advisors are business brokers who offer a complete business sales, merger and acquisition service.

They put out quality, consistent content each month about things to know when considering buying or selling a business. I’ve become a fan of their Book Club and Case Study posts, offering up a new recommendation in each category every month.

Swartz and Associates

Swartz-and-Associates

Swartz and Associates provides excellent service in the review and analysis of property tax valuations for clients.

This review includes fair market value analyses of not only commercial/industrial real estate values, but also business personal property and the valuation of machinery and equipment, furniture and fixtures, inventory and data processing equipment.

Owner Don Swartz has been writing blog posts for nearly three years about issues in their industry as well as some personal life experiences with his family.

A couple favorite recent posts include The Swartz Report: April Showers Bring May…Graduates and The Swartz Report: Should Kansas Wake Up and Smell the Property Tax Coffee?

Please join me in giving these companies a shout out for the work they put in each and every month to educate, help and inspire those who follow their companies!

If your company is interested in blogging, drop me an email at mic@bluegurus.com or call me at 913-645-6650 to get the conversation started today!

Who Is Your Accountability Partner?

Author: Mic Johnson, talking about the importance of accountability.

Over the nearly 9 years that Blue Gurus has been helping companies share their stories through blogging, better leverage LinkedIn, and create websites they can be proud of, I’ve come across several instances where organizational accountability issues have occurred.

Here are a couple of real world examples we’ve seen too many times over the years:

Accountability Example 1 – LinkedIn Training

We train employees on how to create a great LinkedIn profile and how to better leverage it for sales and content marketing. Companies pay us to do this and give their employees the opportunity to participate in the training.

But sometimes some of the people who went through the training never update their profiles. Even worse, they go back to not using LinkedIn effectively/regularly.

accountability

I often joke during the sales process, “Look, if you aren’t going to implement what you’re paying us to teach your employees, then just cut us a check and save all of us the time.”

Obviously it’s said in jest, but I want to get the point across. If you’re paying for us to train your employees on LinkedIn, then it’s important to hold them accountable once the training is complete. I’ve yet to hear a good reason to do otherwise!

Accountability Example 2 – Blogging Clients

We’ve been working with clients for years to help them share their stories and execute a weekly blog strategy. When we start working with a new client, the process is designed to be as simple as possible.

Here’s how it works: We meet with clients monthly to brainstorm ideas and topics. Next, we assign people on the team to write the posts (and they have an ENTIRE MONTH to write those posts). Finally, the content is due when we get back together a month later and repeat the process all over again.

The goal is simple: Give us four rough drafts a month, and we’ll do everything else. We edit, proof, come up with titles, publish the posts to their website, and then share them on their social media accounts.

Even though the process itself is simple, we’ve still had clients who struggle to get four rough drafts written per month. Sure there are legitimate reasons sometimes as life and business get in the way, but a big part of our job is to hold them accountable every month.

I often say “I’m a personal trainer for your blog.” Why? Because most of the companies we work with have told us that they know their blog wouldn’t get done if we weren’t their accountability partner. We don’t drop balls. And our job is to make sure you don’t either.

It’s easy to put it off or not do it when you’re trying to hold yourself accountable. But when we’re showing up every month, and you’re paying us to do what we do, then you’re going to feel more of a responsibility to get it done. That’s just human nature.

But again, I’ve yet to hear a good excuse why companies wouldn’t want to share their stories on a regular basis. How else will people know what you do, how you can help them, what you do in the community, etc?

What About You?

Do you do a good job of holding yourself accountable or do you need an accountability partner to make sure you do what you say you’re going to do? What other examples do you have of accountability issues? Leave a comment below or drop me an email at mic@bluegurus.com.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read. We appreciate it!

Everyone Loves a Good Case Study

Author: Mic Johnson, talking about the power of a well-written case study. 

One style of writing most people like to read is a well-written case study. Ironically, I’ve been blogging for the better part of the last eight years and I haven’t written many case studies myself.

Leave it to my wife Missy to “one up” me and write one for her business, MJMeetings. While I’m her “blog coach”, she came up with the idea all on her own and wrote a very effective piece. I’ve included her case study below. Here are a few things I really liked about it:

  1. Formatting

    I loved the simple layout of the post:

    -Challenge/Opportunity
    -Response/Solution
    -Outcome/Results
    -Observations from the Client

    It makes it very easy for the reader to know exactly what they’re in for.

  2. It Educates People About How She Helps Her Clients

    Without bragging, the case study educates people about how Missy was able to help one of her clients. In addition, one of the challenges for many businesses is educating people on who their target clients are. I can assure you that many people had no idea that Missy worked with nonprofit events in Kansas City or that a nonprofit could even afford to use her services.

  3. The Case Study Serves as a Marketing Piece

    Now that she has a case study about how she helped a nonprofit client, she can share it with prospects who may have similar types of events. The pictures in the post also provide a visual representation of some of the work Missy did. Finally, the case study will be one of several featured on her new website in the months to come.

  4. You Just Can’t Beat a Great Client Testimonial

    Missy can talk until she’s blue in the face about the value she brings as a 20-year meeting and event planning professional, but when a client is willing to share their hands on experience in working with her, it’s worth it’s weight in gold.

Take a look at the case study below. What do you think? Have you or your company written case studies? I’d love to hear what kind of success you’ve had with them. Leave a comment below or drop me an email at mic@bluegurus.com.

Missy-and-Melissa-450x600Post written by Missy Johnson, Principal, MJMeetings, LLC | Meetings Consultant | Gourmet Food & Wine Enthusiast | Sports Fan

Challenge/Opportunity

The World Outreach Foundation Kansas City (WOFKC) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide healthcare services to the homeless of Kansas City and in underserved developing countries.

Established in 2014, the main annual fundraiser to support this mission is a black-tie gala called Dancing with a Mission (DWAM). Approaching the fourth year of the event, MJMeetings was brought onboard to professionalize the event planning and elevate the overall attendee experience.

Planned mostly by one full-time staff and volunteers in the past, the organization realized that while their event had built momentum, in order to keep attendance and revenues growing, it was necessary to bring in the experience of a professional event producer.

Response/Solution

The event had typically attracted around 450 people but the goal was to reach 500 while also elevating the overall experience for an audience that comes back year after year.

MJMeetings worked with the Executive Director and the Gala Chair (a volunteer) to create several strategic documents and elements that had never been used before:

-A comprehensive planning timeline which highlighted all tasks, vendor deadlines and details to keep the project planning moving forward proactively.

-An itemized budget document that allowed for tracking all revenues and expenses in real time and allowed the planning team to make decisions affecting the budget more effectively.

-A reimagined stage and room set for enhanced audience enjoyment and overall improved look-and-feel which gave the attendees and participants something new.

-A focus on expert negotiation of all expenses and analysis of overall spend to keep expenses within budget and revenues growing, thereby allowing for net financial gain even AFTER paying for consulting services provided by MJMeetings.

Outcome/Results

The event goals were reached…attendance increased by 15% and the net financial gain was $70,000 over the previous year, almost a 50% increase in fundraising to support their important mission.

Feedback from attendees, sponsors and other stakeholders continues to be positive and the organization is once again partnering with MJMeetings on the 2018 DWAM gala.

Observations from the Client – Jerry Smith, Executive Director

“The main fundraiser for WOFKC has been, since 2014, Dancing with a Mission. The event has grown over the years and the amount of work needed to coordinate and plan the event has increased exponentially.

In 2017, for the first time, we decided to hire an event professional to oversee and manage the event. This was a major step for us as previous events had all been managed “in house” but we chose Missy to be our event planner and the results were transformational.

We anticipated that the planning would be more effective under a professional, but Missy’s expertise also allowed us to extend the boundaries of the event itself. Her ideas and suggestions greatly improved the event on the night and her diligence and timely management on all the vendors and performers meant the stress on the committee members was far lower than previous years, and the results better.

It can be a difficult decision for organizations to take the step of hiring a professional organizer. Some may be, as we were, concerned about the cost but I can assure anyone thinking of hiring Missy that you will get more than your money’s worth not only in the increased efficiency of your planning efforts and the new ideas she will bring to the table but also in her skill as a negotiator that will yield you better pricing in many areas too. The feedback we received from our vendors, donors and participants was uniformly positive and all appreciated having a professional in charge of the event this year. I highly recommend Missy for any event you are planning.”

If you’re looking for expertise to elevate your next meeting or event, you can reach me at missy@mjmeetings.com or 913-645-6649.

Blogging 101: Having trouble figuring out what to blog about? Start with a picture.

By Jason Terry, talking about blogging and using pictures as the starting point for your next blog post.

Something everyone struggles with when it comes to blogging is finding inspiration for your next great story. A story that’s heart warming. Or scary. Maybe chuckle inducing. But most importantly, interesting.

Blogging 101: Start With a Picture

We set up blogging teams at the companies we work with. And one of the first things we teach the blog team is that a story needs to start with a picture. Or if the idea is already there, they still have to figure out a featured image that represents their story.

As I sat down to write my blog post for this week, I opened up my iPhone photo gallery. I wanted to see what’s been going on over the past couple of weeks that would be worth talking about. And because I take pictures often to capture interesting moments, I had a bunch to choose from.

LinkedIn Training at TPP

Pictures Tell The Story: TPP Being Prepared for Training

Pictures Tell The Story: TPP Being Prepared for Training

I was recently at TPP for a second round of LinkedIn training. I was so impressed that every single person came to the room with pen and paper, ready to take notes, that I had to take a picture. I was impressed with their professionalism and that they came to the room prepared to learn. I could have written an entire blog about fostering a company culture of being prepared based on this picture.

Lenexa Public Market Ribbon Cutting

Pictures Tell the Story: Lenexa Public Market Ribbon Cutting

Pictures Tell the Story: Lenexa Public Market Ribbon Cutting

My wife and I recently attended the Lenexa Public Market ribbon cutting event. If you weren’t aware, there’s a bunch of development happening in Lenexa at 87th and I-435. It’s called Lenexa City Center and it’s basically in our back yard. I’m excited because more businesses and restaurants should be within walking distance over the next couple of years. (Fingers crossed for a Chipotle.) I have a dozen pictures I could have used to talk about the Public Market opening and the anchor tenants like Roasterie Cafe, Chewology, Topp’d Pizza and more.

A Random Act of Kindness

Pictures Tell the Story: Shelly Edwards at Panera and her Random Act of Kindness

Pictures Tell the Story: Shelly Edwards at Panera and her Random Act of Kindness

I was meeting someone at the Panera at College and Metcalf. I think about a thousand people have their satellite office at that Panera. When I walked up to the register and ordered my coffee, Shelly Edwards told me that it was on the house. And that she wanted me to have a great day. #payitforward

That random act of kindness really surprised me and made me happy. I could do an entire blog post on why Random Acts of Kindness often come full circle, especially in business.

That’s a Wrap

Pictures Tell The StoryI had three more pictures I wanted to share. They were more examples of how to use pictures as anchors for a great story. The problem is, I didn’t want this blog post to be too long. If I’d included more, there’s a good chance you wouldn’t have had the patience to get through all of them. Heck, you might not be reading this part because you’ve already moved on.

If you did make it this far, thank you so much for reading another story from your friends at Blue Gurus. We do our best to educate you, make you think, and hopefully make you laugh. Oh, and if you’ve been following my fitness journey, here’s a quick update…

Fitness Update

I’ve been walking at least 10,000 steps a day since May 1st, 2017. As of today, I’m down 28 pounds. Last week, I walked over 40 miles, more than 95,000 steps. An unexpected benefit is that there’s been a ripple effect. Quite a few people in my personal and professional circles have joined me in walking to improve their health. And that’s an awesome combo for me… helping others while helping myself! If you have a FitBit, let me know so I can invite you to the party.

Social Media ROI? Here’s how we found our newest blogging client.

Author: Jason Terry, talking about Social Media ROI.

Our audience regularly asks for real world stories about social media efforts turning into measurable revenue. In other words, is it worth the time to connect with people on social media sites. And then tell them stories (through blogging) to stay top of mind? The answer is yes.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again. Every single dollar that we’ve earned since 2009 is the result of a referral. And just about every business we talk to gets more than 70% of their new revenue from referrals as well.

Blue Gurus - Kansas City BloggingKnowing this to be true, we should always be connecting to the people that are likely to refer us to our next customer. And that’s just half of the social machinery required for success when it comes to generating revenue. We have to stay top of mind by telling them stories about our team, our clients, our community and our passions.

An Example of Social Media ROI

So here’s the example. Mic and I did a website for Vince & Associates Clinical Research about three years ago. During that project, I connected with an IT professional named Matthew Hornung, the Owner of Blue Wave IT. The funny thing is that I only talked face to face with Matthew for about 15 minutes. I needed him to make some technical changes to their domain so that the new website we had built would go live. I loved that his company name was Blue Wave IT (the common color Blue in our company names.) And we ended up connecting on LinkedIn.

Fast forward to June, 2017… it’s been almost three years since Matthew and I have talked or emailed each other. That said, we have mutual friends in the IT community (Trent and Heath at Umbrella Managed Systems for example) and Matthew has seen our blog updates on LinkedIn off and on over the years.

Matthew Hornung Refers Us To Our Next Blogging ClientMatthew called me out of the blue (pun intended) and tells me that he’s working with a large physician group in Lee’s Summit. He goes on to tell me that they’ve been talking about updating their website and getting their arms around their blogging and social media strategy. He was reaching out to see how we could help.

A conference call and then a face-to-face meeting over the course of a week, and we now have a new blogging client that’s going to be a lot of fun to work with. The thing to remember here is that the ONLY way this happened was because Matthew and I connected on LinkedIn. And we stayed top of mind with him for three years with regular status updates about our work, our clients and our passions.

This is another example of social media ROI that keeps us blogging every week for ourselves and with our clients.
It just works.

If you or someone you know needs help getting the storytelling process off the ground, give me a shout! It would be ironic if this blog post turned into another great referral… I would need to do a Part 2 telling that story as well. :)

Here’s an easy way to turn your weekly blogging efforts into an email newsletter.

Author: Jason Terry

Hello friends! It’s Jason with another thought provoking story from Blue Gurus. (I hope I don’t fail you!)

The majority of our clients are telling stories on a weekly basis. Updates are pushed out to their social media sites that link back to the stories on their website. Through this process they’re staying top of mind with their most trusted relationships. It’s an effective way to market.

But what if your client or prospect is not connected to you socially?

Send an email newsletter.The answer is to send them an email newsletter. But that takes time and resources to create and deliver each month, right? If you’re coming up with stories every week and then have to create a monthly or quarterly email newsletter, it can become time consuming. Even worse, it can feel like a tedious chore.

What if I told you that you could have a weekly, monthly or quarterly email newsletter that pulls in your blog posts and is sent automatically?

Our clients have already spent time and energy creating stories about their people, their customers and the community… why not leverage that content for their email newsletter? We’ve been doing this for years and it works really well.

Mailchimp RSS-to-Email Campaigns

We leverage an excellent feature provided by MailChimp to make this happen. It’s called an RSS-to-Email Campaign.

What is RSS?Your first question might be, “what is RSS?” This stands for Really Simple Syndication and it’s a technology that’s been around for a long time. Most websites have an RSS feed built into them. Usually, this feed is a list of recent blog posts.

To see an example, the Blue Gurus RSS feed is https://www.bluegurus.com/feed.

If you click on the link, your results may vary. Depending on the browser you use, it might look like a bunch of weird code (Chrome, if you haven’t installed a feed reader) or you might see a cleanly formatted list of the 10 most recent blog posts that we’ve written (Firefox, Opera.)

If you have an RSS feed set up on your website, you’re telling the world what your most recent stories are any time someone checks your feed.

Back to MailChimp.

MailChimpMailChimp can be set up to automatically pull your most recent posts from your RSS feed into a pre-formatted email template. It can then send the email out to your list of subscribers. This can be scheduled to happen any time a new story is found or on some other time based schedule like weekly or monthly.

If you sign up for the Blue Gurus email newsletter, you will see exactly how this works. Our newsletter is set up to deliver daily if a new story is found… and since we do a blog post every week, the email newsletter goes out weekly.

Some of our clients don’t want to send too many emails, so they’ve opted to send a monthly digest instead. Their campaigns are set up to pull new posts since the last time a newsletter was sent. Then an excerpt of the story is included with a Read More link that goes directly to their website. (Yes, this helps with SEO.) Usually their monthly email newsletter has 4-5 stories in it and it looks great.

The best thing about this solution is that you can focus your time and energy on weekly stories knowing that your email newsletter will happen automatically. Sure, you have to do some initial setup to make it all work, but once it’s up and running, it just happens!

So was I successful? Was this story thought provoking? If not, shoot me a question that you would like me to answer and you may end up highlighted in a future blog post with my answer. Have a great week!

Three Good Reasons You Should Be Writing Your Own Stories (According to Avid Communications)

Author: Jason Terry

Dave Scott and David Hollingsworth BloggingA couple of weeks ago, I was working with Avid Communications (one of our blogging clients) and particularly loved one of the stories they wrote. The title of their blog post is, “three good reasons for writing our own blog posts instead of curating content or hiring ghostwriters.”

This picture shows the founders (Dave Scott and David Hollingsworth) working on their stories. :)

Three Good Reasons to Write Your Own Stories (According to Avid Communications)

  1. It helps us reflect on what we’re doing as a business
  2. It helps us keep in sync internally
  3. We want to communicate in our own voice

Be sure to check out the full article on Avid’s Blog here.

Curating Content

Re-posting content from other people might be better than nothing. It’s not nearly as engaging as real stories about your people, your company, your clients and your community.

People want to read about what’s going on in your life. The difference you are making. They want to see your passion for supporting a local charity. Or learn that you play guitar in a band. I think the reason for this is that they care about you to some degree, or they wouldn’t be connected to you on social media or doing business with you.

Ghostwriting

GHOSTWRITER: A ghostwriter is a person who is hired to author books, manuscripts, screenplays, speeches, articles, songs, blog posts, stories, reports, white papers, or other texts that are officially credited to another person.

We’ve seen plenty of companies that outsource their storytelling to ghostwriters. The end product is professional and well written. I think the risk here is team engagement.

The employees on the blog teams at our clients are more engaged because they write the stories themselves. They don’t have to worry too much about form, grammar and flow because we clean that up for them. Once their story is done, they love seeing it on the company blog and often share it with everyone they know, especially friends and family. They’re proud of their work!

Bonus Tip: LinkedIn Headlines

Your LinkedIn profile headline is a great way to start being social with people. What you type in that section shows up in search results and is prominently displayed on your profile. We recommend having not only your current position, but a couple of business things and a couple of personal things you are passionate about separated by the “vertical pipe” symbol. Here’s and example:

Principal of Blue Gurus | Entrepreneur | Web Developer | LinkedIn Trainer | Scuba Diver | Guitar Player | LEGO Collector

Some people can’t find the “vertical pipe” separator symbol on their keyboard… it’s the key above the right-hand Enter key on your keyboard… so hold shift and click that key… Shift+Backslash.

I hope this article was helpful! Let me know what you think in the comments. Also, if you think of someone that would benefit from the original stories we tell every week, please forward this along. Thanks!

We’ve Been Doing THIS For 7.5 Years Because It Works.

Author: Jason Terry (with great help from Mic Johnson!)

BloggingThe very first blog post for Blue Gurus was an article I wrote and published on March 18th, 2009. That was the month Blue Gurus first opened for business. The title of that first post was “The Power of LinkedIn.com” and what was true then is still true today.

That story went live seven and a half years ago, and we’ve been putting out a blog post just about every week since. To date, we have 347 blog posts published between Mic and I. Mic’s first post was published March 30th, 2010 and the title was “Social Media – The Only Thing You Have To Fear Is Fear Itself.” Amazingly, it’s an idea and perspective he continues to share to this day.

Now I’m not sure if you find any of that background particularly interesting. You might be thinking to yourself, “Self… these guys have been telling real world stories for a long time. Cool.” Or you might be thinking, “Who cares?”

No matter which side of the fence you’re on, here are some thoughts that any business who is blogging (or even those who haven’t started yet) need to consider:

Your blog is the living history of your company.

As I was paging through the history of Blue Gurus blog posts in preparation for writing this story, it turned into a virtual walk down memory lane. It was actually a lot of fun. Sprinkled throughout the pages of our posts are pictures of ourselves, our clients, our peers, the nonprofits we’ve adopted over the years, and more. It was amazing to see all of the people we’ve worked with, the inspirational stories, the technology tips, the ups and downs, and how our perspectives have changed and grown over the years.

In case you missed them, here are a few of my favorites: 

So what is the ROI of blogging?

This is a question we still get today. (even though blogging has been around since the late 1990’s!)

For starters, we’ve grown every year since the doors opened through word-of-mouth referrals. There’s NO QUESTION our blogging has earned us business. To this day, it’s still the only formal marketing we do… and that’s by design. Being able to say we grow every year using our own best practices is a great selling point when talking to potential new clients.

Blogging accelerates growth through referrals. The benefits far outweigh the costs.

We’ve educated people on social, technology, and great local businesses. We’ve put a lot of time and effort in trying to inspire people with the thoughts and ideas that matter to us. And we know it’s been working because rarely a week goes by where someone doesn’t tell us that they enjoyed a post, put one of our best practices to use, tried out a local restaurant we mentioned, and more. Just recently I had someone tell me, “I loved your blog article about hand writing letters and wax stamps. I’ve been doing that since college!”

DON’T MISS THAT. The majority of traditional marketing efforts don’t get people actually TALKING about what you’re doing in your business. When you make a consistent effort to create quality content on a regular basis via your blog…people will start talking. We’ve lived it ourselves…and we’ve lived it with our clients over the last several years.

THANK YOU for reading and sharing our blog. Whether you’re reading it for the first time or have been following us for awhile, we appreciate it more than you know.

I hope this post encourages you to keep blogging at your company… and if you haven’t started yet, it’s time. Believe me… it’s definitely time.