The Value of Hiring an SEO Writer

Should you write your website’s blog or hire a third-party SEO Writer?

You would be surprised at how many business and organizational leaders hire third-party bloggers. Hiring an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) writer to blog for you is no different than hiring an accountant, a landscaper, a chef, an IT administrator, or any other individual with specialized skills. Similarly, an SEO writer will produce well-written blog articles designed with search engine optimization in mind.

There are many reasons why you may prefer to hire a writer (with knowledge in SEO) to produce your blog articles. If so, there’s nothing wrong with hiring a professional with the right expertise, training, and experience to back you up. Additionally, you should consider the following in determining the value of hiring an SEO writer as your third-party blogger.

You will never have enough time to do it yourself –

I’ve been writing blog articles for clients and my blog for the last three years. I can attest that most website owners recognize the value of maintaining a blog on their site. However, they don’t initially realize how time-consuming it can become.

Experienced bloggers make regular blogging a priority. They are accustomed to meeting due dates and publication deadlines. I recommend this option because doing so offers the best chance for successfully maintaining your blog on a long-term basis.

An SEO writer can help your organization establish credibility –

Blog posts can provide value to your organization by building credibility with your target audience. You do so when you answer their questions and offer solutions to their problems. You cannot purchase credibility – you earn it over time. Organizational credibility leads to a broader audience, further engagement, and considerably more influence.

As such, blogging can become a valuable tool in your overall, long-term marketing strategy. However, you must consistently provide your target audience with well written informational content that adds value related to their interests.

An SEO writer can help you establish credibility –

A blog can provide immediate value to your current and potential customers through relevant, useful information. Moreover, it delivers that value on a cost-effective basis. Additionally, a blog can help you establish credibility with your target audience.

A blog can help people learn more about you. That includes the products you sell, the services you offer, or the work of the non-profit organization you represent. If you consistently provide high-quality content that is relevant and useful for your audience, they will see you as an authority, a credible and trustworthy source of information. You will become the go-to person whenever they need something they know you can provide.

An SEO writer can help your blog become more successful –

Experienced SEO writers are usually successful at blogging over time because of one essential characteristic – they know how to write. Knowing how to write effectively means knowing how to connect with your target audience. SEO writers know how to hold interest and engage readers.

There are times when it’s necessary to focus on how one constructs a sentence. Then again, there is a time to focus on finding the right word that will best communicate the message/idea. Aspects of grammar, form, style, research, expressing ideas, overall readability, and the audience are vitally important to an SEO writer. Why? Because they help engage the readers that are essential to the success of your blog.

Contact us today

If you’re a website owner, I invite you to contact us today. We would welcome an opportunity to discuss whether our blogging services could help you save time and attract more visitors to your website. If so, we could play a small role in promoting your business or non-profit to a broader audience. We can be contacted at (217) 358-9492 or contact me by email at david.cox@thirdpartyblogger.com.

Although many resist the idea of providing fees on their website, we list these along with our services. We do so to help you further determine the value of hiring an SEO writer.

The Wisdom of Blogging for Nonprofits

Why should a nonprofit organization have a blog on its website?

There are three primary reasons that nonprofits should blog:

  1. A blog will enable your organization to publish relevant, updated content to volunteers and the public at large.
  2. A blog will strengthen your power to influence public opinion.
  3. Finally, a blog will encourage your readers to become part of your community, working towards continuing development and the fulfillment of your mission.

Another significant benefit of blogging is that search engines favor fresh content. As a result, your likelihood of appearing higher in search engine ranking results increases dramatically. Those improved results will translate into increased “traffic” with more visitors exposed to the message and work of your organization.

Blogs Offer New Content

Updated content continuously drives more traffic to a website and offers a multitude of opportunities to keep visitors interested. A nonprofit website without a blog misses these opportunities. Moreover, if your site provides updated posts and articles with new content on a regular basis, it eliminates the need to build additional web pages to generate traffic.

Blogs Increase Credibility

When your organization offers a blog, it not only adds a measure of management professionalism, it also increases the credibility of the organization’s mission with your target audience. If you continue to publish relevant content, it becomes much easier to relate your knowledge, message, authority, and influence within the field.

Blogs Build Community

A blog continues to be one of the most effective ways to build an online community of diverse, yet like-minded individuals. By creating content that conveys your commitment to a cause, folks from different backgrounds but with similar interests will find it beneficial to connect with your organization. A blog gives you the platform to communicate with people who are genuinely interested in your message and the work of your organization.

Blogs Spread Awareness

A well-written blog is beneficial in creating awareness. For example, if you update your blog with exciting news and success stories from volunteers, you’ll not only provide current news about the work and results of your organization, you’ll also highlight the individual volunteers who spearhead these efforts.

Volunteers can then interact with visitors through engaging stories, reports, and comments. Hopefully, visitors will feel inspired to become part of your organization whether as donors or volunteers.

Blogs Are Economical

If your organization has a well-designed website, blogging is one of the most economical and cost-effective development tools in reaching your target audience beyond your traditional geographic area. It attracts attention and helps you market your message and work to a much wider audience.

Conclusion

Your nonprofit organization can ultimately attract a broader audience to your website, create awareness about your mission, and because of that, drive the recruitment of prospective volunteers. Blogging remains one of the most effective ways to deliver the message of your organization to a growing audience, at a minimal cost.

Effective Leadership: The Value of Your Example

Considering a traditional perspective in the 21st-century workplace

By David Cox, SHRM-SCP | July 17, 2018

Introduction

A business owner arrives at work on Monday feeling energized by the challenges he’ll face in the week ahead. He walks through the building and greets every employee as the day begins. This isn’t just a management tactic—he’s genuinely glad to see them and feels fortunate they work for him.

His employees are engaged at work. They are productive, focus on customer service, and collaborate with one another as needed. The business owner has chosen to lead by example and it’s proven to be effective. As a result, many of his employees have stayed with him for years.

His employees represent a pool of talent and the future leaders in his business. As a business owner, this could be your story as well.

The case of Jim Sinegal

Jim Sinegal, who co-founded and served as the CEO of Costco Wholesale for over 35 years, retired on January 30, 2018. He had celebrated his 82nd birthday earlier in the month and stepped down from the company that began as a single warehouse based in the Seattle, WA area and now operates 746 stores around the world.

I’ve read numerous stories about Sinegal’s time with Costco. Most attribute his remarkable business achievements to one thing: Jim Sinegal believes in leadership by example. Over the last six years of his tenure, Costco’s stock doubled while revenues continued to grow at an impressive rate.

His name tag plainly said “Jim,” he answered his own phone, and if what I read is true, his unassuming office at the company headquarters in Issaquah, WA didn’t even have walls.

A 2016 Seattle Times news article stated that while other CEO’s were spending tens of thousands of dollars just decorating their offices, Sinegal paid himself an annual salary of $350,000. Most CEOs of companies the size of Costco are paid in the millions. So how did he come up with his salary amount? Sinegal asserted, “I shouldn’t be paid more than 12 people working on the floor.” His simple contract was only a page long and even included a section that outlines how he could be terminated for not doing his job.

Costco’s employee turnover rate remains among the lowest in the retail industry, over five times less than rival Wal-Mart. In an age where CEOs are paid in the millions and would never be seen in the “trenches,” Jim Sinegal was unique among his peers. His employees truly respected this man who led by example until the day he retired and walk away with all wishing him the very best.

Leadership

Business owners are not granted qualities of effective leadership that appear with their articles of incorporation. These individuals need to honestly assess their deficiencies and put an end to any leadership practices proven to be ineffective.

Moreover, business owners hold greater oversight responsibility for management functions and their leadership must also be measured by outcomes related to the quality of hires, productivity, employee retention, safety, individual improvement, customer loyalty, quality, and overall business performance.

If you want to improve your business from the top-down, identify what leadership qualities are most effective, adopt them, and lead by example.

Conclusion

Does your leadership by example have value? In my opinion – Yes. How a business owner chooses to lead will go a long way in determining the organization’s future growth and development.

A business owner who leads on the basis of rank and privilege will never lead as effectively as one who leads by example. Those who lead by example earn the respect of their employees and their willingness to help drive improvements throughout the organization. Such leadership inspires employees and helps a good business become even better.

Up next: Self-confidence

The Demise of Courtesy at Work

Why it’s lacking in our workplaces and what can we do about it?

By David Cox, SHRM-SCP | January 30, 2018

Introduction

Respect towards others should be standard behavior in the workplace, regardless of role, rank, or reputation. However, as companies have become more virtual, global, and fast-paced, this common-sense standard seems to have become somewhat obscured.

A Lack of Personal Interactions

There was a time, not so long ago, when much of our work was conducted either face-to-face or through real-time conversations in the offices, on factory floors, at meetings, or through visits with customers. These personal interactions allowed people to get to know each other and create connections.

Today, much of our communication is neither face-to-face nor in real time. Email, voicemail, teleconferences, and videoconferences have replaced other opportunities for face-to-face interactions. The result is that more of our work today is conducted impersonally, which means that there is less pressure to observe basic courtesies and good manners.

Supportive Studies

A University of Michigan study found that today’s college students are less empathetic than those of past generations. The researchers speculate that this is because they have grown up with more reliance on digital communications and less direct interaction with others.

Another study at Duke University found that Americans had one-third fewer friends and confidants than they had two decades earlier, possibly because digital interactions were replacing personal connections.

Impact on the Work Environment

In the absence of personal connections, many managers are reporting “breakdowns” in courtesy and respect. Undoubtedly, some of these situations are exacerbated by the demands and stresses of the workplace. Some common examples I’ve heard recently include:

  • A last-minute request for “urgent” information without regard for the time and effort it will take to satisfy the request.
  • A manager ignoring emails and voice mails which delayed resolution of a customer service problem.
  • A team that worked all night to meet a budget deadline and then received neither feedback nor thanks for their work.
  • A manager in Asia who was required to attend regular teleconferences with a North American team that kept her up through the middle of the night, with no acknowledgement of her effort.

What’s worse is that the continuation of these behaviors will eventually create a toxic environment that will reduce employee engagement and management motivation, which is something we’re already seeing in too many organizations.

Proposed Suggestions

In an effort to prevent further “breakdowns” in courtesy and respect, Ron Ashkenas a Partner Emeritus at Schaffer Consulting and author of the book, “Simply Effective: How to Cut Through Complexity in Your Organization and Get Things Done,” offers two suggestions to avoid further erosion of courtesy and respect in the workplace.

  1. Convene a meeting with your team, including virtual members, and talk openly about the kind of workplace behaviors you expect from each other.
  2. What does it mean to act courteously and respectfully?
  3. Have there been incidents where that didn’t happen?
  4. Assuming that people aren’t intentionally trying to be difficult, what provokes these kinds of unproductive behaviors, and what are their consequences?
  5. Having an open dialogue on this subject can “reset” your team, making them more aware of workplace courtesy and when it’s lacking.

Encourage your team and co-workers to courteously push back on bad behaviors when they occur. The reality is that most people don’t plan to be mean or insensitive; it just happens in the heat of the moment without them realizing the impact on others. So, if you can find the right ways of calling out these behaviors, it may be possible to reduce their impact and prevent them in the future.

Most of us want to work in an environment of mutual respect and courtesy. However, we may have to put in some extra effort to make that happen.

Up next: What Drives Employees to Become More Successful?

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The Moral Courage to Take Action

What are we doing to protect our employees from sexual harassment and predatory sexual behavior?

By David Cox, SPHR, SHRM-SCP | December 5, 2017

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a morally reprehensible act.  Despite the negative publicity, the problem remains pervasive in workplaces throughout the U.S.  It victimizes vulnerable employees, lowers morale, and costs employers millions of dollars each year in lost productivity, absenteeism, employee turnover, and liability.

In the last year, we’ve seen the careers of numerous celebrities and public figures destroyed following revelations of their predatory behavior towards colleagues and staff.  As more details of these incidents become public, we react with support for the victims coming forward and disgust towards the offenders.  Additionally, we’re outraged by staff, executives, and other parties who chose to protect and, in some cases, enable these offenders.

Victim accounts of sexual harassment continue as lead stories in traditional and online media.  However, the vast majority of the victims are women and some men, who are neither celebrities nor high-profile public figures.  Until this last year, they’ve felt forced to endure such offensive behavior in isolation.  The exploitation of individuals by those in positions of power demands that we address this problem now while a significant audience is still listening.

The hurt and anger we hear from victims are understandable.  There’s a lot of outrage voiced by political pundits, but the calls for justice and a “day of reckoning” do little more than fuel political debate.  A typical political candidate’s position will sound something like this: “We need more laws concerning sexual harassment.  They need to be stricter, and they need to specifically support victims who come forward, and impose increasingly severe consequences on the offenders.”

Such a perspective has significant historical precedence.  Federal and state laws with mandated reporting requirements and established enforcement agencies have resulted in workplaces with less risk of employee injury, and fewer incidents of discrimination in hiring and advancement practices.

However, no reasonable person would honestly declare that we’ve eliminated unsafe working conditions and discrimination in the workplace.  We need to remind ourselves that improving safety and anti-discrimination conditions in the workplace have taken over 60 years of slow progress; and so, we remain vigilant with the higher standards we’ve set in these areas so positive development will continue.

My wife and three adult children all work in different career fields.  I have four beautiful, smart granddaughters who will one day join the workforce and pursue careers of their own.  The prospect of it taking years to address sexual harassment adequately to protect employees from such abuses is unacceptable to me, and hopefully, it is to you as well.  Change requires action, but action must begin with the right mindset.

Mindset

I agree with those who feel that our workplaces are most effective and efficient when we foster an environment that respects the dignity of every employee.  If we genuinely want to change a workplace culture for the better, employers must lead “from the top” through policies, practices, and exemplary personal behavior.  Employees must become actively engaged in supporting these efforts, and likewise lead by how we speak and behave towards others.

You and I need to become actively engaged in changing the cultures of our respective workplaces.  We need to nurture a culture that promotes greater respect, civility, and professionalism at work.  However, we also need to end the culture of secrecy and silence that has allowed sexual harassment to go unchecked for far too long.

Victims

You and I need to listen to the victims of sexual harassment in our workplaces without prejudice or judgment.  Victims need our encouragement and support whether they choose to stop the predator themselves or report the offender to someone in authority.  One thing is sure, ignoring the problem is not a solution.

Sadly, victims of almost any offense in our society must consider the consequences of coming forward, including the public opinions and scrutiny that will follow their claim.  Nearly 70% of those who have reported incidents of sexual harassment feel they have also experienced retaliation for coming forward.  These reprisals underscore the need for encouragement and support.  You and I must be ready and willing to stand with these victims.

Workplaces are not courts of law.  Evidence against a harasser does not have to meet the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  However, it’s difficult to terminate an employee in situations that are limited to “he said – she said” assertions with no corroboration.

Victims of sexual harassment need to share what has happened with other co-workers (not just a single close friend).  Victims also need to document the date, time, and details of any sexual harassment that occurs.  Finally, victims need to save any emails that refer to or demonstrate further harassment.  Such emails are “evidence” that includes the offender’s name along with a time and date stamp.

Offenders

Offenders need to know that the victim considers what they’re doing to be sexual harassment—that it’s wrong and it’s unacceptable.  They need to hear this from the victims, and they may need to hear it from you and me as well.  Offenders need to understand that others are watching.  They need to realize that it’s only a matter of time before witnesses report these offenders to their superiors.  Once that step occurs, the relationship between the offenders and the organization will likely end, jeopardizing future career aspirations.

The rest of us (The Bystanders)

I recently saw a newscast on CNN that referred to a survey indicating that 52% of men and 71% of women have witnessed sexual harassment at work that they chose to ignore.  I’m ashamed to admit that I fall into this category and have failed to speak up in situations when it was my responsibility to do so.

We need to stop offenders and expose their harassment.  Victims need encouragement and support, but the rest of us need to commit ourselves to become “active bystanders” in our workplaces.  Doing so will help end the culture of secrecy and silence that allow incidents of sexual harassment to continue.  The role of an “active bystander” is not a new concept, but it’s worthy of our consideration and one that employers should encourage in our workplaces.  This role typically includes the following:

Attitude adjustment

  • Acknowledge that sexual harassment exists and realize that we have a role to play in ending this problem in our workplaces. We need to make sure others know where we stand on this issue.
  • Honestly evaluate our behavior toward co-workers and subordinates. Determine to be part of the solution, not the problem.

Demonstrate sensitivity toward others:

  • Make ourselves available to listen without prejudice or pre-judgment and offer support
  • Be prepared to empathize with the victim, without assigning blame
  • Allow the victim to control the situation. Help them to report sexual harassment, if they choose to, but secure their permission before going to management on their behalf.

Look for ways to positively impact the workplace:

  • Help create an environment where employees feel safe
  • Practice inclusion and don’t allow potentially vulnerable employees to be isolated
  • Be observant and don’t ignore what is going on around you.
  • Lead by example

Keep it honest:

  • Don’t give your friends a pass. Hold them accountable.
  • Confront co-workers that excuse abusive behavior, whether they are perpetrators or witness the abuse
  • Speak up when something offensive is said or if you observe sexual, sexist, or homophobic remarks or behavior

Conclusion

It’s time for us to practice greater inclusion with our co-workers.  It’s time to prioritize the level of civility and professionalism we bring to our workplace relationships.  It’s time to commit ourselves to become “active bystanders” at work.  Moreover, it’s past time for each of us to stand up, accept individual responsibility, and refuse to tolerate incidents of sexual harassment in our workplaces.

We don’t have to wait for the 2018 mid-term elections or the enactment of federal and state laws to change the status quo.  If we’re going to keep our employees safe from predatory sexual behavior, employers and employees alike need to respond by assuming responsibility and taking the steps necessary to end this reprehensible behavior immediately.

We most assuredly can end sexual harassment in our workplaces.  We know what to do, and all we need is the will and moral courage necessary to act now.

Got Time?

Do you manage your time, or does it manage you?

By David Cox | December 08, 2016

You’ve heard it before, but it’s so important, it bears repeating: By managing your time more effectively, you can get more done without all the stress. The trick is making the most of the time available. Here’s how:

  1. Set clear goals. Set both short- and long-term goals. Don’t forget to review and update them whenever circumstances change.
  2. Establish priorities. Not every task is equally important or urgent. By prioritizing you can impose order (and calm) on a hectic schedule.
  3. Generate a game plan. Spend 15 minutes at the beginning of each day planning your workload for the day (or do it the last 15 minutes of each day for the next day).
  4. Learn to live with interruptions. Keep focused on your priorities despite the phone calls, visitors, or unexpected meetings.
  5. Keep your cool. If you start to fall behind or when you have too much to do, don’t panic. Take a moment to review what you must do, prioritize tasks, and get back to work, taking things one step at a time. If you’re overwhelmed, talk to your supervisor and ask for help.
  6. Be flexible. It’s important to plan your time, but don’t become a slave to your plan. When circumstances change, be prepared to adjust your plan accordingly. For example, if your supervisor comes to you with a rush job and tells you to put everything else aside, you’re going to have to juggle your schedule to fit in the unexpected job.
  7. Pay attention to your energy cycle. Do the most difficult and important tasks when you are alert and have the most energy. Save the more routine chores for the times when your energy level is low.
  8. Maintain a realistic pace. Be realistic about what you can accomplish each day. Don’t expect to always finish everything on your To Do list.
  9. Manage procrastination. Don’t avoid large or complicated projects. Try dividing big jobs into more manageable parts and tackling them one at a time.

Parkinson’s Law says work expands to fill the time available for its completion. The first step in gaining control of your time is to repeal Parkinson’s Law and schedule your work to fit the available time. Here are more time management tips:

  • Focus on one task at a time. Of course, you need to plan your work schedule for the day, the week, and even the month ahead. But while you’re performing each task, think of it as the only job you must do. Without worrying about everything else you have to do; you’ll work more efficiently.
  • Don’t waste a minute. Squeeze small jobs into the little blocks of waiting time or downtime that open here and there during the day between major tasks.
  • Be optimistic. Believe in your ability to solve work problems and stay on schedule. (By the way, March is Optimism Month.)
  • Work carefully but keep a steady pace. You’ll feel more energized and work more efficiently.
  • Take a break. When you start to feel drained, take a minute or two to refresh yourself.
  • Stand up from time to time. According to a University of Southern California study, your brain processes information faster when you’re standing than when you’re sitting. So, stand up while you’re on the phone or when you’re making a To Do list.