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Why You Should Outsource Your Blog

Why You Should Outsource Your Blog

Great!

You have a blog page on your website, but do you use it? Everyday I come across business websites whose blog page has no recent content, or the content consists of a paragraph – or even worse it is empty.

Are you damaging your brand?

No one said maintaining a blog was easy, especially when you don’t have the skills and resources. But having no blog or a poor one is damaging your brand. It’s like someone giving you a book you really want to read, but all the pages are empty. You are left confused and disappointed; not a good first impression for any business.

Why don’t you blog?

The main reasons why companies say they don’t blog:

  • No time
  • I’m no good at writing
  • Business is boring, we have nothing to write about
  • No marketing budget

Firstly, no matter what industry you are in you have a story to tell. People and businesses are fascinating, that’s why I love what I do; everyday I get to tell stories. But these stories enable my clients to build emotional connections with their customers.

Trust

Having a blog is about building trusting relationships with your readers. They want to get to know you and your business in ways a website can’t convey.

So if you can’t do it yourself, what are the options?

Guest Posts

A guest post is when a person or a business writes content specifically for your blog. It’s a great way of ensuring you have regular content, but who should you ask? When looking for a guest blogger ideally you want:

  • Someone with knowledge of your industry
  • Who can provide relevant content for your clients
  • They are experienced in writing guest posts, and
  • They have a writing style that compliments your business

Ghost Bloggers

We fall into this category, in essence we write in the voice of your business. Why use a service such as ours?

  • Detailed industry knowledge
  • Consistent and relevant content
  • Saves you time to concentrate on your business
  • Experienced at turning your thoughts into words to tell your story
  • Creatively able to gain the trust of your clients through emotional connections
  • Provide client centric content

Not in our words

While you are continuing to think of the reasons why you should not outsource your blog, your competitors are racing ahead. Yes outsourcing is a cost, so is it worth it? I’ll let some of our clients answer that:

“Andrea of Citrus Content has been a great find and a real asset to my business. Andrea’s passion for interior design is in direct alignment with my client base, making her ideally suited to help deliver my message. I found social media marketing to be a terrifying proposition and needed considerable help and advice in order to navigate my way forward. Andrea understands the nuances of the social media landscape and has a natural ability in marketing and promotion. She has helped to raise the profile of my business and exposed my brand to a far wider audience. I’m very grateful for the work she has done for Your Space Living.”

Jo Buckerfield, Your Space Living

“Highly recommended. Andrea and her services have been the best support for my business. I have always struggled to put my thoughts into words, Andrea has been able to capture our style and tone perfectly, I no longer have to worry as I trust her to produce content relevant to my business. In addition, I have found Andrea to be extremely helpful, supportive and friendly, going out of her way to help us.”

Amalia Protheroe, Homelink Lettings

What’s holding you back?

Click here to book your strategy call and let us show you how we can add value to your business today.

 

What to prepare for with a new website

What to think about

So, it’s time for a new website. You’re last one is starting to creak a little in its old age and you want to have something shiny and new for your clients to enjoy. You find a developer and you say “Hey, let’s make something amazing!” Eager to oblige, your developer gets out their notepad and says “Great! What sort of thing are you looking for?” This is where you realise you don’t have a fully fleshed out idea.

Not knowing exactly what you want is fine, it’s what designers are here to help with. However, there’s a lot to consider when outside of the standard “looks nice” remit. While that’s an important factor, there’s a lot to consider before any design work begins.

What do you want the sites focus to be?

It sounds painfully obvious, but it’s pretty commonly over-looked. Let’s take an estate agent for example, there’s a lot that can be done to change the focus as soon as a visitor lands on your home page. Want more sales? Making the property search a prominent feature will make that clear. Maybe you have no problem selling but you need more stock? Making your valuations a focal point will drive more people there.

Making sure you know what you want to get from your website will help your designer achieve that for you and know exactly where to place focus. This will save you from having a fantastic website that doesn’t do the job you want it to.

Site Map

It’s important to know exactly what pages you want to go into your website. Do you want a page dedicated to the business and how things began? Do you want something a little more personal like a “meet the team” page? Putting pen to paper and making a full list of every page you want to be included is important. It’ll help you in knowing exactly what content needs to be provided and will make it easier to cut anything unnecessary.

It’s important that every page on your website has a function, whether that be a blog that provides engaging content and helps SEO or a testimonial page that shows new clients how well you perform. You’ve got the perfect site map, not when there’s nothing left to add but when there’s nothing you can take away.

What to think about

Your content

As well as the website being easy to navigate, the text on it should be too. Patience is something that we don’t have a lot of in this day and age. We want everything now and that extends to information about your company. It’s important that no matter how much content you have, it’s easily digestible. This can be achieved in many different ways:

  • Sub headings breaking up large blocks of text (like this article)
  • Bullet point lists (such as these)
  • Cutting out any unnecessary information (like the points in the brackets above)

There’s a lot more to it than these simple points, but they’ll get you on the right track to writing content that people actually want to read.

Provide your brand guidelines

It’s all well and good asking a developer to design you a website, but without predefined brand guidelines it can be hard to get the tone right. While any developer worth their salt will talk over the design with you before-hand, brand guidelines will ensure that your website enforces the same brand ideology as the rest of your business.

It’s important that your brand look its best, so in addition to your guidelines make sure you have high-res versions of your logo and any other brand images ready to go. If you don’t have the high-res version a quick chat with your designer should sort that out.

Have great imagery

A picture says a thousand words. The average adult in England reads at a rate of about 300 words per minute, which means it’ll take 3 minutes and 20 seconds to read a thousand words. When a user lands on a web page they normally make their mind up on if their hanging around in 8 seconds! That’s enough time to read 40 words. If you can’t get imagery for every page make a real effort for the home page, it’s the page the page that needs to grab a user’s attention so make it count!

Moving imagery is even better so don’t be afraid to get fancy and put some video in there!

Property Feed

To make sure your website is always up-to-date you’ll need your property management software. There’s loads to chose from out there but chances are you already have one set up. All you’ll need to do is provide access to your developers and they’ll get everything running automatically, no painstakingly uploading properties over and over.

Mobile Strategy

The way we consume media has changed. Current statistics show that just over 80% of us have smart phones in our pockets and that we use them as our primary means of browsing the web. That means that if your website isn’t compatible you’re missing out on a HUGE chunk of the market.

With the surface of responsive technology making your services available to users on the move is easier than ever. However, one of the things you need to be aware of is whether or not your designer will include responsive design as standard. Many designers will charge you extra for this so it’s important to be aware of exactly what you are getting and that you’ll be ready for any platform.

Budget

It’s always good to go into any new project with an idea of how much you’d like to spend and what you can realistically achieve for the price. The more complicated you want your website to be, the more it will cost. Be sure to talk to your developer about your budget and they’ll always be happy to tell you what they can and cannot build for your requirements.

In conclusion

Getting a new website takes a lot more thought than waking up and just deciding you want one. Sure, you could do that, there’s hundreds of template services out there and some of them are even free! As with anything though, you get what you pay for. If you want to strongly represent your brand in a world that’s becoming more and more digital, there’s a lot to think about!

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Has this article left you feeling stuck? Or maybe just unsure about what you should take into consideration? Chat to us at Estate Apps and we’ll do what we can to get you heading in the right direction.

 

Are you embracing the modern way of working?

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I’ve always loved the idea of working from home but whenever I Googled terms like ‘work from home’ or ‘be your own boss’ it would always cough-up the same dodgy looking websites, offering an unobtainable pipe-dream; when in fact all they want to do is rob you blind!!

And then a couple of years ago Yahoo slapped a big ban on their employees working from home, which (for many) was seen as the first ‘nail in the coffin’ for home-workers. CEO, Marissa Mayer, left hundreds of her staff facing a tough choice between relocating from home to Yahoo’s nearest office or quitting, as part of her vision of a ‘new era of collaboration’. However Richard Branson has recently spoken out about Yahoo’s controversial decision, branding it a big mistake. The Virgin Group founder believes that companies who forbid their employees from working from home put pressure on families, whilst limiting opportunities for women.

Branson: “Unless you have a technical job like flying a plane, you can probably do it from home.”

Samii 3

I know working from home isn’t everyone’s cup-of-tea, especially for those of you who need continual guidance and have a short attention span, but when I saw a (rare) opportunity to work as a remote personal assistant I jumped at the chance. Fortunately (!!) the position had already been filled, and not long after I was offered an even better role working from home with Citrus Content, and since then I haven’t looked back!

Why do I like working from home? … Well:

  1. There’s no commute (I don’t drive!)
  2. Work via my own initiative (This is how I work best!)
  3. No formalities to adhere to (e.g. I can dye my hair whatever colour I like!)

Our approach to content writing is equally as refreshing as Andrea’s approach to business. This is because at Citrus we aren’t confined by stuffy offices or corporate nonsense, as our main focus is finding and creating the voice of your business.

The general consensus of those who don’t work from home seem to think it must take a phenomenal amount of self-discipline, if you don’t have to be there at a set time or have any outside pressure to be continually busy and motivated. But I don’t agree, as I believe if you’re truly passionate, enjoy the work that you do and respect and get on well with your co-workers and boss; the drive to excel and work hard will come naturally.

bitrix

There are lots of ways to keep on track from home, and as a company we use Bitrix24; a free social enterprise platform for small businesses. Offering a complete suite of social collaboration, communication and management tools, it allows me to still feel part of the office event though I’m not based there. It helps me to stay on target with deadlines, store helpful dates, keep in contact with the Citrus team via in-built video chat and much, much more.

Citrus Content as a company embraces flexible working, believing that a happy workforce is a productive one. So as a business, what with recent and continual advances in technology, why wouldn’t you embrace the modern way of working?

Ask yourself this: are you limiting your work forces productivity by doing so? …

- Samii.

Estate Agent Leaflet Drops – Sin or Success??

Estate Agent Leaflet Drops - Sin or

Yesterday I was privileged to attend a Rightmove seminar in South Wales, where on a couple of occasions when the words ‘leaflet drop’ were mentioned.  This made me twitch a little, why?  Every day we all receive a wonderful selection of ‘junk’ mail through our doors some of which could include one of your leaflets.  Now I am a little sad as I actually go through my junk mail to pick out estate agent leaflets as I want to research what you are doing.  But many of these leaflets are lost inside the numerous take-out menus that seem to decorate my door mat when I arrive home.  Unlike me, many people will be throwing this pile of unwanted mail in their recycling bin so are your leaflets going the same way?

I ask you, are leaflet drops working for you?

When is the last time you actually questioned the number of leads you received from this essentially costly form marketing?

What is the solution?  You need to create awareness of your brand and your agency services.  You want to ensure that you are in the forefront of people’s minds when they are looking to sell, so is there another way to ‘leaflet drop’ that will have a greater success rate?

The typical estate agent leaflets are a maximum of A5 with pure advertising copy.  I have even had post cards, house shaped and even scraps of paper (yes not the best first impression!).  But is it the size or the copy that is not making you stand out in the junk mail crowd?  Dare I say possibly both!  Nowadays no one wants to be sold to, and isn’t that what a leaflet drop traditionally is, selling?

So what would make your potential clients take note of what you deliver and even keep hold of it?  We work with one of our clients on a monthly newsletter that has had a real impact on his business.  This is a 4 page A4 quality ‘leaflet’ that is filled with tips, advice, seasonal information and industry news.  What’s more the newsletter has a focus on their local community, making it something that their past, present, potential clients and the community at large look forward to reading.  This community edge gives the reader the sense that they are not just based in the community but also actually part of it.  This newsletter is an investment in their business but the results speak for themselves.

Every piece of material you create for your business must serve a purpose and not just because its something that is done in the industry.  Look outside estate agency and property for ideas and inspiration as you need to make a lasting first impression.  Well who knew a meerkat could have such a dramatic impact on a price comparison site?

If you would like ideas on how your marketing material could evade the curse of junk mail, contact us today to see how we can help your business.

Andrea

 

Our Top 5 Reasons Why Blogs Convert into Sales

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At Citrus Content we pride ourselves on the blog service we give our clients.  Each blog post is written exclusively for the client and we ensure that their voice shines through.  Working with our clients we cover a multitude of issues, news and inspiration within the property and interior sector.

1. The Facts

We know why blog posts are powerful for your business and therefore we would like to share with you some facts.

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2. More Facts

It’s all in the name: Citrus Content

We are proud that our blog post service has won awards for our clients.  Recently one of our clients disclosed that using Citrus Content has provided increased traffic to their site by 400%.  In addition, our clients are part of the 62% of companies who outsource their marketing – the facts and figures speak for themselves.

  • Blogs can assist you with the effective promotion of a service or product. (Convertwithcontent)
  • Websites with Blogs have 434% more indexed pages (helps search engines & SEO efforts) and 97 % more inbound links. (U.addresstwo)
  • 84% of inbound marketers – compared to only 9% of outbound marketers – cite organic sources (blogging, SEO, social media) as rising in importance. (HubSpot State of Inbound, 2014)
  • Blogs can give you credibility and authority. (Convertwithcontent)
  • 46% of people read blogs more than once a day. (HubSpot Science of Blogging, 2010)
  • SEO is out. Blogging is in. (Convertwithcontent)

3. Show Your Expertise

Blogs are an effective way of showcasing your expertise.  As a leader within your organisation you have a wealth of knowledge that should be shared with your clients.  Clients like to do business with experts, they want to know they are in safe hands.  Telling your story is a way of connecting with them on another level.  We help you put your thoughts into words.

4. To Have a Voice

Every business has a voice, it encompasses your USP’s, your ethos and your personality.  Every piece of content you produce should speak in your voice as clients can connect with a voice rather than a corporate image.  We know how to find your voice and ensure it’s consistent in everything you produce.

5. To Engage with your Clients

Being engaging is about showing a piece of you and your personality.  Engaging content not only creates sharable content that will increase awareness of your company but it will also encourage loyalty.  We make sure you engage.

Why Blogs Convert into Sales

The facts speak for themselves and through your expertise, voice and engagement and instead of chasing sales, sales will come to you.

If you are thinking of outsourcing your blog and are interested in how we can benefit your company then get in touch today.

Lessons from my Double Life

Lessons from my Double Life

Twelve months ago I started Citrus Content, I had no idea about what to expect but knew I could make it successful.  At the time I was working full time and like most families in the UK we needed two incomes to pay the mortgage so I began leading a double life.  By day I would go through the motions of the employed, rush home and spend some family time, then off to my office to start work on my business.  No matter what people tell you about leading a double life, the facts are it is exhausting, exciting, stressful and yet so much fun.  As of the 1 August, I ended my double life and now focusing solely on Citrus Content, I just feel like a huge weight has been lifted.  For those of you taking the tentative steps into a double life I hope that these tips will help.

Sacrifices

Your family and friends will suffer no matter how much you try and organise your work round them.  It is impossible to dedicate 100% to your business and still give your family the amount of time they need and deserve.  I virtually became a hermit for 12 months trying to juggle everything.  Set one time in the week that you set aside for family time.  I used to set Sunday day as our family day, I would make sure we did something special on that day even if the day could only be for 3-4 hours.  I found it more difficult as we have had serious illnesses in the family which have also been emotionally stressful to add to the mix.

Sleep

You think you have felt tiredness before? Think again.  Yes you sacrifice that completely, when I did get to bed around 1am, I would restlessly be thinking of all the things that needed doing and how was I going to squeeze them round everything else?  Sleep when you know you really need it.  You will get to a point when you know you need to sleep, I would sometimes have a siesta when I got home from work, just to recharge.  When you finish work, you will sleep better than you have slept in a long time trust me.

You will let people down

Unfortunately this was my biggest bug bear.  With my personal blog Trying to Balance the Madness, I had some many good intentions to showcase people and companies. I was asked to write a number of guest blogs which I wanted to do,  but if my client work took all my ‘free’ time this got pushed back.  I’m ashamed to admit that a lot of work I intended to do for other people is yet to be done.  To those people this affected I am truly sorry!  Learn to say NO! yes OK I was rubbish at this, but since leaving work I am more careful on what I accept unless I can honestly work it into my schedule, the last thing I want to do is let down a paying client.

Growth will be stunted

I am not being harsh it’s just that you will spend all your ‘free’ time working on your client work, it is hard to put in the hours required to strategically grow your business.  You also need to think about whether you can manage any growth.  I reached a point where I knew I couldn’t accept any new clients as I physically didn’t have the hours in the day to achieve anything more.  Know how much growth you can realistically manage, once you have stopped your double life, this question doesn’t go away but the way you are able to manage growth changes.

Should your clients know?

This is only a question you can answer, you know your clients.  I never promoted the fact that I was employed, but some of my clients knew my situation and some didn’t.  I didn’t want any client thinking that their work was being affected as I was working full time.  You will be surprised to know how many business owners are leading a double life – many that you don’t even expect. 

I know that the last 12 months of my double life has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to do but wow was it worth it.  In just 12 months I have managed to build a business I am proud of, that is successful and I can see so much in it’s future.  Thank you to all my amazing clients that have made my first year in business so pleasurable.

If you are thinking of leading a double life, remember like in most things, you only get out of it what you put into it.

 

The Post-it Wall of Fear

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Last night, as I sat at my desk looking at the wall of Post-it notes in front of me, I began to get scared.  I felt as though this black cloud was hovering over me, the weight pressing on my slumped shoulders.  I felt overwhelmed.  Each Post-it represented a piece of work I needed to do, emails to send, blog posts to write, projects to complete.  They were staring at me as if calling my name, haunting me with their presence and draining my energy.

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It’s hard to start a business, and even harder when you are still employed.  Every second is so precious as though it was a rare jewel for the taking.  I balance my life between work, family and business my supportive husband encouraging my every step.

Stepping-stones

I have so many things I want to do for my blog, my business and my writing.  I have a mystery story constantly itching to spill out on a page, ideas for my blog and vision for my business.  I will get there, I have a plan, and every day I am moving closer to this dream.

I took a deep breath.

I the looked at the wall again.  This wall didn’t represent fear, it was magical, inspirational and rewarding.  Who would have thought when I started Citrus Content I would have been contracted for such a variety of projects and with fantastic companies.

* Writing articles for print and online
* Social media campaigns
* Marketing a websites
* Writing website content

I am loving every minute of it.

This is my wall

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My wall represents by business, my future, my dream.

 

Am I a writer?

Writer citrus

I was reading a blog post today by Jeff Goins about following his dream and being a writer. And this part of the post got me thinking.

A few years ago, a friend asked me an important question:
“What’s your dream?”
“Don’t have one,” I said.
“Sure you do. Everyone has a dream.”
“Ah, I dunno… I’m living it, I guess.”
“Really? Hrmph.” And then a long pause — “Because, well, I would’ve thought your dream was to be a writer.”
As soon as I heard those words, something in me stirred. Something that had been there all along.
“Well, uh, yeah…” I gulped, “I guess I’d like to be a writer… some day. But that’ll never happen.”
I sounded so sure, so certain that at 28 years old, I knew where the rest of my life was headed. Shaking his head, my friend smiled.
“Jeff… You don’t have to want to be a writer…”
And then he said nine words that changed me life:
“You are a writer; you just need to write.”

This got me thinking of my own journey and the right to use the term ‘writer’. Do you have to earn the right? Or can you just be one?

It all boils down to that feeling we all have from time to time of being a fraud. Even the most successful people have a ‘fraud’ moment from time to time. I recently read the book by Sheryl Sandburg, Lean In. She speaks openly and honestly about her ‘fraud’ experience. She then talks about whether you lean in to the moment or lean out. Reading her experience gave me confidence, why? It demonstrates that we are all human, you could be the COO of Facebook or me and still have the same emotions in similar situations.

Julian Smith in his book Flinch, states “The flinch is the moment when every doubt you’ve had comes back and hits you, hard. It’s when your whole body feels tense. It’s an instinct that tells you to run. It’s a moment of tension that happens in the body and the brain, and it stops everything cold.”

Whether you ‘Lean In’ or face the ‘Flinch’ both require you to have faith and confidence in your ability.

Writing is something I love to do, it’s so expressive, creative and true. There is something scary and liberating about putting pen to paper and sending it out into the world. Citrus Content is still in its early days but my passion for writing is growing. I am constantly armed with a notebook frightened of missing a line, a story or any kind of inspiration that magically appears in my mind.

In many ways starting Citrus Content is like unlocking a door or even flood gates. What has been held deep inside me is now racing to get out. Words are like drops of water forming together into a dramatic waterfall. I feel alive.

So instead if feeling a fraud and flinching, I am now going to embrace the four words and proudly state “I am a writer“.

Resources

Jeff Godins expert via
How I Stopped Waiting to Become a Writer, Quit My Job & Launched My Dream

Julien Smith, Flinch

Sheyl Sandberg, Lean In

The Incredible Journey – From Passion to Citrus

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“Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.”

Winston Churchill

 

As some of you may know I have gone through a difficult few weeks.  To tell you how I got here you have to start at the beginning.

twitter-Man-with-a-van When I joined twitter I never, ever imagined what lay ahead of me.  I started with complete naivety and skepticism of what it was.  I plodded along really not knowing what to do and then I started to find my voice for property and interiors and I never looked back.  Building my followers has been organic and underpinned with engagement.  I love hearing people’s stories sharing their successes, their interesting articles and honored they want to share them with me.

 

Just over a year ago I started Trying to Balance the Madness – my blog which I share my passion for Property, Interiors and Social Media.  This blog came from, well basically, being nagged by a certain part of my following.  Again I was a novice and really no idea what I was doing.  Again soon I found my blog voice. Trying to Balance the Madness is a huge part of me I feel it shows my journey and my story.

 

About this time last year I started to have talks with a friend about the idea of A Passion for Homes, after months of hard work we launched in February 2013.  It was an amazing day one I will never forget.  I was so proud that so many of the followers had supported me in some incredible ways with venue, photography, speaking, being part of the site.  You name it my followers were there, sharing the experience and I felt honored.

 

About a month ago I made the very, very difficult decision to walk away from A Passion for Homes.  This was not a decision I made lightly but knew it was the right decision for me.  Partnerships are difficult.  My Passion for Property and Interiors is stronger than ever and I knew I wanted my own business and I have so much to give.

 

Trying to Balance the Madness is growing and it’s fascinating seeing it develop and mold into something more exciting every day.

 

Through Trying to Balance the Madness and A Passion for Homes I realized how much I loved writing.  My parents had always said that I had a talent for it but I never really thought anything of it.  Over the last 6 months the request from people for my writing has been overwhelming and I have realized that my parents were right.

Writing-writing-27456811-1277-955  I Love to write!

 


Citrus Content
allows me to utilise my love for writing with my passion – perfect combination.

From:

  • Articles
  • Website Content
  • Blogs
  • Newsletters
  • Rightmove MicroSites
  • Social Media

Wherever content is needed – you will find Citrus.

I am honored to already be working on a couple of really exciting projects.

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As people always say, ‘When one door closes, another one opens’.

I feel as though that door was there all the time and I just hadn’t found the key.

 

Andrea x