The Secret to a Successful Business

The reality is I haven’t been in business long enough to have any clout to reveal the secret to a successful business, BUT there are some things I’m noticing right out of the gate. AND I’ve been talking to other people who have been in business way longer than me. The following is what I/we found.

The secret is. . .

I thought people would want to use my freelance content marketing services because I convinced them of its value. After all, research shows the importance of having a blog so surely everyone wants what I’m offering, right? Because they understand it will help their business thrive and boost visibility on search engines? Well, no. It surprised me to learn my rational explanations mean diddly if there’s not an emotional component as well.

freelance content marketer oakland

We like to think of ourselves as logical, reasonable creatures, but actually the majority of our decisions are made by the subconscious part of our brains, sometimes referred to as our reptilian brain. That includes purchasing decisions as well and why storytelling in business is so important. Research on advertising shows the emotional response to an ad influences a person’s intention to buy much greater than the ad’s content itself. Why is that? Because emotionally charged storytelling creates a rush of dopamine in the brain, particularly in the amygdala, which is responsible for memory, according to the Ted talk “Storytelling, Psychology, and Neuroscience” by Amanda D’Annucci.

For instance, if you think about the toxic masculinity ad from Gillette, it got people talking and also created brand loyalty because people vibed with the ad. We want to support businesses that are in alignment with our values and one of the best ways to show a value is through storytelling and emotion. However, I’m not selling razors, so how does this apply to me? The emotional component comes down to this: People are more likely to hire their friends.

Oakland content writer

“[E]mployers really want people who they will bond with, who they will feel good around, who will be their friend,” according to Dr. Lauren Rivera at Northwestern University who examined 120 interviews and published her results in the American Sociological Review. We all want to work with people we like, and yes, I’m an Oakland freelance writer and not an employee, but the premise still applies. “Employers” in my case are clients and clients want to work with friends. Thus far that’s proving to be true. My current clients and potential clients are friends or we have a friend in common. This makes sense, right? It’s essentially a form of word-of-mouth advertising, which is the most trusted form with 86% of consumers trusting word-of-mouth.

We trust our friends and we care about what they think. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg said: “People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.”

Oakland blogger

I am asking my friends and family to refer me out of course (hey, can you refer me out?), but I’m also approaching potential clients as if they were friends. I’m doing my best to establish a friendly rapport because the reality is business comes down to relationships. We are in relationship with one another trading a good or service. In my case, I’m trading blogposts for money but it could also be trading water bottles or razors or widgets. We want to do business with people we like and what I’m finding is that starts from the very first point of contact.

Do you want to connect with me and be my new business friend? Get in touch.

An Example of Storytelling in Business

In a previous post, I wrote about the importance of storytelling in business. What follows is an example of the sort of piece I’d like to write for alternative health practitioners. If you like what you see, contact me about working together. 

Using Network Spinal Analysis to Heal Emotional Trauma

When Lana H. used to stroll down the street in her native Berkeley, CA, she startled when people revved their car engines. Cognitively she knew that happened, and that people slammed doors, but her nervous system jumped anyway. Part of that could be attributed to surprise, but it also happened for things she anticipated – for instance, her boyfriend entering her apartment.

“My boyfriend has a key to my apartment and I can hear when he approaches my door,” she said. “I know his step, I know the sounds he makes, but I would startle anyway when I saw him inside my place. My body behaved as if a complete, random stranger walked in and I hadn’t heard it at all.”

Photo by Maria Ziegler freelance writer Oakland, CA

That startle reflex has calmed down significantly as a result of seeing a network spinal analysis chiropractor where she lives. Lana started care in July 2019 not so much for a physical reason – although she no longer has a sore back – but more because she sought emotional support.

“I have a friend under network care and I saw something that changed in their lives that I wanted,” she said. “It’s hard to quantify, but I’ve been talking to that friend for a long time and something about the way they spoke about their life changed. Their perspective shifted and their sense of hope and clarity grew.”

Lana decided she wanted the same thing, and even though she’d been in somatic therapy since 2014, she found she couldn’t access the deep, nonverbal childhood trauma she sought to heal. She hoped network care would help with that. So far it has, and since seeing her chiropractor, her window of tolerance has widened. What that means is she can deal with stress better and cope more easily with difficult emotions. She’s not triggered as much, which means when something happens that’s similar enough to the original trauma that occurred in her childhood, she’s not thrust back into a place of helplessness and hopelessness.

Photo by Zoltan Tasi ghostwriter Oakland, CA

“Widening my window of tolerance means I’m less easily triggered, more able to recognize when I am triggered, and more able to care for myself,” Lana said. Caring for herself might mean meditating or calling a friend.

Network spinal analysis has granted her peace – she doesn’t feel as beholden to her emotional states anymore. Emotions are more complicated than simply feeling states – they are associated with biochemical and physical reactions. As most people know, fear spikes adrenaline and cortisol levels. By processing her emotions better and more quickly, Lana is able to cut the cycle short and keep adrenaline and cortisol from being dumped into her body as extensively. Instead of looking for things to fear when she’s afraid, she calms herself down.

Her healing process isn’t finished however, Lana said. Network spinal analysis isn’t a quick fix and she’s finding it’s worth it to see her chiropractor for a longer period – some people keep going for years.

freelance blogger Oakland CA

“It’s not just about reinserting a dislocated rib,” she said. “That’s not how this works. Instead it’s that my rib is more likely to stay put, and if it does go out of place, it will reposition itself without the help of my chiropractor.”

Even though it’s only been a short time, Lana has noticed subtle changes in her body and her mind.

“It’s a little hard to go, ‘Wow, everything is different’ and yet everything is different,” she said. So much so that for now she plans to keep seeing her chiropractor and she looks forward to more changes along the way.

Like what you read? I’d be happy to do this sort of blogging for you as well. Get in touch with me to discuss your business needs. 

The Importance of Storytelling in Business

Now that we’ve established why you should have a blog (check out part one and part two), let’s talk about the blog content. What exactly are you supposed to write about?

If you can give general advice or write a how-to, do that. For instance, “The five at-home remedies for the common cold,” or “How to go camping in cold weather.” This is why the internet was invented — so people could search for the answer to any question. And also cat videos. Let’s not forget cat videos.

cat buried under blanket

But let’s say you’ve already written all the advice and how-to articles you possibly can. There are only so many times you can write about at-home remedies for the common cold or how not to freeze your tushie off while camping. Then what? The answer: Tell stories.

Humans have been telling stories since they could communicate. It’s baked into our blood. And businesses that leverage storytelling have a profit performance ratio 750 times higher than a company that doesn’t convey purpose and value. That figure comes from John Kotter and James Heskett in their book Corporate Culture & Performance. Let me say that again: 750 times higher!

Stories capture people’s attention and communicate your vision. The most successful companies in the world have profound stories behind them that instill a sense of bigger purpose and meaning into what they do. I like to think about REI. It’s more than a company — it’s an organization that encourages people to be healthy, to get outside. Just think about their #optoutside campaign on Black Friday.

person standing on a mountain

Stories also humanize your business — people would rather invest in a human than a company. What better way to show your humanity than to tell a story on your blog?

In today’s world, consumers are oversaturated with information. There’s just too much out there and it’s easy to get lost in the cacophony. You could have the best service in the world, but decision-making is more emotional than it is logical. Telling a good story makes you stand out.

According to an article on Forbes, “Researchers Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn showcased the value of storytelling by listing insignificant objects on eBay with a heartfelt, well-written, and purposeful short story about the item in the description section. The items, which were originally purchased at a garage sale for no more than $1.50 apiece, resold for nearly $8,000 — highlighting how a smart storytelling strategy can contribute to raising the perceived value of an item and generating massive returns on investment.”

paper clip mug and pen

Storytelling connects us and penetrates deeper than data into our core. So tell a story about your business! The challenges, the triumphs, your transformation. And if writing isn’t your bag,  don’t worry, it’s mine! I’d be happy to take over the blogging portion of your website. If you look at my writing samples, you’ll see that nearly all of my articles are profiles (aka, stories). You know why? Because I’m good at it. I’m an experienced journalist so I’m adept at research, but I also freaking love to tell stories. Contact me and let’s see if we’re a good fit.

 

Why You Should Have a Blog Part 2

Welcome to part two of “Why You Should Have a Blog.” (If you missed part one, check it out.)

As I’ve mentioned, having a blog is essential for your ranking on search engines and search engines are often how people find things these day. Let’s talk some more about how blogging helps with that process.

1.) Blogging lets you link internally

One way to help search engine optimization (SEO) is to use links. Links point to related content and search engines want to establish “knowledge hubs” they can use to verify the importance of a page or website.  That means linking to relevant content helps search engines understand your niche and increase trust in your website, according to Webfx.com. Having a blog allows you to link internally (which is what I did in the first paragraph). Sometimes you can link to main pages, but when a blog starts rolling it’s likely you’ll have loads of opportunities to link.

chain links

2.) A blog gives other sites reason to link to YOU

Internal links help with SEO but the real gold is external links. For search engines to recognize how awesome your website is, other respected sites have to link back to yours. Having a blog helps in that process.

Blogging creates valuable information (if you’re doing it well). “Any time another website decides it’s valuable to their readers to point them to useful information on a different site, there’s a far higher likelihood that your website will provide information that’s worth linking to if you’ve got a bunch of great blog posts,” according to HostGator.com.

You don’t have to take my word for it — HubSpot reports companies with a blog earn up to 97% more inbound links. It makes sense other websites will link to the helpful post you wrote about best at-home remedies to treat a cold than to your homepage.

holding hands

3.) Blogging creates a connection with your clients

When you create a stellar post, your clients or customers are more likely to share it, which drives traffic to your website, and they’ll come back to see if you’ve written more stellar content. When you receive tons of traffic and repeat visitors, search engines like that, to put it simply. It means your website is trustworthy and also worthy of ranking higher.

But more importantly, it allows you to connect with your clients or customers, which is ultimately what you want anyway. Writing is not everyone’s forte but it is mine! If you need help with your blog, give me a shout. I’m happy to help.

Why You Should Have a Blog

So you started your own business. Great! Now what? How will people find you? Will it be a magic, mind-melding thing where they’ll just know and stumble upon you? Maybe! Or will it be a Google, internet, SEO thing? And what does that mean anyway? So many questions . . . Let’s break it down.

You might already know this, and if you do, skip this section. SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s a fancy way of talking about your visibility on search engines like Google or Yahoo or Bing. (Is Bing still a search engine? I literally just googled that.)

However, having a blog in and of itself doesn’t do much if it’s poor quality and/or updated sporadically. They say that content is king, but so is consistency. How does blogging help with all this? Keep reading.

1.) Blogging keeps your site dynamic

Blogging, especially if the blog is recent, signals to the powers that be (in this case search engines) that your business is alive and kicking. If you haven’t updated your website in several years, the internet starts to wonder if you’re still in business.

“Google doesn’t want to deliver its searchers outdated information,” according to HostGator.com. “Websites that are regularly updated signal to them that the website is alive and offering fresh content. It also gives the search engine algorithms more reason to index your website more often, keeping it more on their radar over time.”

Updating the homepage every week? A pain in the rear. But a blog? Totally manageable. Or maybe it’s not, in which case, I can help you. I’m a professional writer with more than 13 years of experience. Writing is my jam and I’m more than happy to take the blogging portion off your hands.

2.) Blogging keeps people reading

We have to talk a little bit more about how search engines work in order to understand why blogging is important.

Search engines want to provide people the information they’re looking for. For instance, if you google “freelance writer in Oakland, CA” you expect the first result to be what you’re looking for. However, if after briefly perusing the site you discover it’s a website that sells lances, and you hop back over to Google, that signifies the first search result maybe wasn’t so great. But if you click on the first result and stay on the website for a bit, then Google breathes a sigh of relief and says, “OK, yes, that is the most helpful search result.”

Google hasn’t said point blank “dwell time matters in terms of ranking,” but they’ve made other statements that make it clear dwell time is something they pay attention to.

So blogging means people will dwell longer on your website.

3.) Blogging helps with long-tail keywords

I’ll be real here — I would love it if someone googled “freelance writer” and my name came up as the top entry, but let’s be honest, that’s probably not going to happen. What’s a gal to do? The answer: long-tail keywords.

My best bet is using longer, more specific keywords that are relevant to my business, such as “empathic freelance writer in Oakland, CA, who has a journalism background.” Just kidding, that’s too long but I think you get the gist.

Half of all searches are for terms that are four words or longer but they can be hard to fit in the homepage. This is exactly where blogging comes in. I’ve typed “freelance writer in Oakland, CA” a few times now already because that’s doable in a blog.

Sure, I won’t get as much traffic as “freelance writer” but the traffic I will get will likely come from local people in my target audience.

So there you have it — three reasons why you should have a blog.

Stay tuned for more reasons. (Yes! There are more!) And again, if you don’t want to maintain a blog I’ll gladly take on that task for you. Let’s chat!