adapting business to client needs.

Your business has to be adaptable to clients’ needs

adapting business to client needs.“I have to use it or lose it. ” That’s what he told me.

There was still a bit of money left for marketing. And if it wasn’t spent next year’s budget was going to be reduced.  I’d spoken to him before about doing some work and nothing had come of it.  Now he had some money and he didn’t want to waste it.

Obviously my full pop marketing retainer package was not going to work. Not for one month. It wouldn’t be worth it. But he wanted a pitch. So I thought about a package that would meet his budget and not undercut my own value proposition.

I presented two options.  The first was a marketing webinar to show his team how to align marketing content with sales.  The second was what I called a “social media makeover” where I would come in and connect all the content pipes to LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to automate distribution across multiple channels.

Both options would take about the same amount of time and would come in at the numbers he needed. Neither option is a service I advertise or promote on my website. But I certainly do both on a regular basis for my clients.

When you have a set business model it’s easy to state what it is you do. In my case it’s marketing for consultants, trainers and professional speakers. But that’s not all I CAN do. Everyday I work across multiple marketing channels using skills that are transferable between most industries.

So if someone asks me to do something – even if it doesn’t fall neatly into the niche where I spend most of my time – I say yes. That’s because I’m adaptable to what my clients want. Unless it’s something I absolutely can’t do you won’t ever hear me say “I don’t do that.”

These smaller projects are rarely very lucrative in the short term. But they demonstrate value and a willingness to work with a client’s budget. So you never know if they are going to become something more in the future.

As a business owner you need to be ready when somebody offers an opportunity. You must see beyond your listed offerings and be able to think about what your clients need. If YOU still have some budget for marketing, let’s see what we can work out before the end of the year.

Contact me directly at 416-371-2680 or Aidan@shortcircuitmedia.com

tips on increasing blog conversion.

What should you do when your blog doesn’t convert?

tips on increasing blog conversion.You have a blog. That’s great. There’s just one problem. You don’t know what to do with it, and it shows because you’re seeing no conversions.

So what do you do if you have a fair amount of pageviews – and that’s a big if – and you find visitors bouncing out long before your call to action?

It’s actually a very common problem. According to Brafton’s 2017 CONTENT MARKETING BENCHMARK REPORT, B2C sites have an average bounce rate of 61%

So what can you do to reduce that number AND turn those visitors into paying clients?

Define your audience

This is the biggest factor when it comes to turning your blog into a proper marketing tool.  Simply filling whitespace with words is not a strategy. You need to know your audience well enough to keep them interested until the end.  Find out what age, gender, marital status, profession and interests your preferred blog readers are or have. Then ask yourself what challenges or problems they might encounter. Voila! You have blog post ideas that people are going to care about.

The very best blog posts that drive people to act on something are those that answer a question or help someone overcome a point of contention. These posts are great because the person is probably en route to buying something. That said, don’t answer all of the questions. Leave that to your call to action to get them to do something (such as contact you) to learn more.

Write a grabby title

You don’t necessarily want to write click bait (because people can smell desperation a mile away), but you want your posts to have attractive headlines. They’re what people are going to see first, and what they’re going to see in search results and on social media. It may very well be the one thing that convinces them to follow the link and read the article. So you need to be punchy.

There are headline analyzer tools out there, but the thing you want to do, as much as you can, is appeal to people’s emotions. Have a headline that tugs at the ol’ heart strings. That will be the key to getting people to read on.

Format articles for skimming

Your formatting will play a big part in how successful you are at getting people read to the end of your post. When people are online, they skim.  And as much as it kills me as a writer, I know that most visitors aren’t going to be paying too much attention to every single word.

So you’ll want to make sure you have headings to break up the text and have short paragraphs to avoid “paragraph soup.” Also use bulleted lists where you can. Also use images to break up the text and make sure your font sizes are legible.

Optimize Your Content for SEO

While you don’t want to do this too brazenly — stuffing your article full of keywords will more than likely get you penalized on Google — you do want to keep this in mind because, after all, you want people to find your content. So use keywords (if you can) in the headings and title of your piece and sprinkling them through your content. Use synonyms where appropriate and make sure your images have proper alt-text descriptions.

Have a Crystal Clear Call to Action

Always, always, always do this. You want people to do things with your article, whether it’s sharing it or clicking on a button for more content or contacting you. It really depends on what part of the buyer’s journey the article is speaking to. If your readers are just setting out doing their research on something you offer, the last thing you want to do is hammer them over the head with a sales pitch. Similarly, if people are ready to buy from you and your piece is solving a problem that only you can offer, get them to come to your physical location to close the sale – assuming you have a physical location.

If you’re struggling with the concepts and execution behind content marketing, we can help. Just contact us and let’s have a quick chat about how you can deploy great content and use it to achieve fantastic results.

Blog marketing tips

5 Tried and True Ways to Increase Your Blog’s Search Ranking

Blog marketing tipsIf you have a marketing blog, you’ll know the importance of ranking high in Google and other search engines. It is, after all, how most people are probably going to find you. The question is, how do you do this — especially if you have a new blog? Well, the answer isn’t easy: you may, in fact, have a bit of an upward battle ahead of you. The competition for eyeballs grows every day and most of these new bloggers know their way around search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines have also become more savvy over the years at figuring out what content has the highest value, which means you have a rough road ahead in terms of convincing them you should rank above everyone else.

It’s no longer about how many keywords you stuff into a blog post, it’s about how comprehensive and useful it is. Longer posts tend to get better rewarded — so long as you’re not putting the same keyword into every single paragraph and header. Still, what techniques should you use when it comes to making your blog rank higher in Google? This post will tell you a few of them.

Regularly Publish Quality Content First

It’s not so much about keywords anymore (though they’re still somewhat important and we’ll get to them a little later), it’s about how good your content is. If you write quality content for your intended users, you’re going to increase your site’s traffic and improve your authority and relevance — all things that a search engine looks at.

The other side of this equation is to be publishing quality content regularly. The more you publish, the more often search engines are going to visit you, and you may tend to rank higher as a result.

Put Your Content on Social Media

If you want to get higher rankings in Google, you have to promote your own content. You can do this by putting your blog posts on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. If you put your content in more and more places online, Google will start collecting more information on it.

The other upshot is that if you provide crucial content to your social media following, they will start to visit your site and increase their engagement through their own social media channels. This creates backlinks to your content pages, which can help you rank higher in Google.

Just be sure that you aren’t “spamming” your followers. Always have useful information to share, but if you’re following tactic No. 1 up above, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Use Different Keywords and Keyword Phrases

If you’re going to focus on keywords at all, make sure that you’re using their synonyms, too. Use related phrases and concepts. Think of different ways your audience might look for information, and tailor your content to that. This will help you avoid “keyword stuffing” and be more useful and friendly to your audience, which will impact how highly your post ranks. However, try to be organic in your approach and use the keywords naturally. Otherwise, your content will look like it’s spam, and that can negatively impact your site ranking.

Be sure to add a keyword or two to your title, mostly the ones you want to be ranked for. Use focused keywords, not broad keywords. The more niche-like your keyword is, the more likely you’re going to rank higher for it.

Link to Older Articles That Are Relevant

Backlinks are a great way to get some of that “Google juice” happening. And one of the safer ways to do it is to link to older articles on your own site. If you already have an article published that’s related to something you’re now writing, link to it. You’ll help your SEO and also give the reader something of high value.

However, if you link to a page that has nothing to do with the current topic at hand, you’ll be doing more harm than good. So be judicious when using this tactic. Don’t link to something solely because you’ve noticed that a page isn’t ranking as well as it used to. And be sure to have relevant information in the text of your link — don’t just write “click here”.

Make Sure You’re Optimized for Mobile

Google is now saying that most searches from 10 countries have come from mobile devices. So you want to make sure that users can successfully view and search for your content on a smartphone or tablet. Make sure you do the following two things to get the most from this audience:

  • Ensure your pages, menus and posts are optimized for mobile.
  • Consider the different behaviours mobile versus personal computers may have in visiting your site, and tailor your content for that.

Are there any additional tips or strategies that you have for getting the most for your blog’s SEO buck? If so, feel free to comment below and tell us.

Align your marketing with sales

There was a time, not so long ago, when marketing teams had nothing to do with sales teams other than feeding them product information.

Then marketing took over the web portals at major companies. Next it was social media.

And sales just went along – business as usual.

But that model doesn’t work.

When products and services closely mimic each other across entire industries, finding a way to explain why your widget is marginally better than the widget made down the street is a tough task.

So how does your company stand out from the competition?

One of the buzz words you’re probably sick of hearing is customer engagement. This requires sales people to become more involved –  before and after the sale –  in order to keep existing customers coming back while also attracting new customers to the brand.

This is a role most salespeople are not used to; “Marketing is for marketers.”

Of course that’s a load of crap. In a business environment where most research is done online – marketing is everyone’s job.

So the number one goal of sales and marketing is to work together.

And the way to do that is to use the strengths of both to make the entire organization stronger.

Sales people are typically very good at communicating the benefits of the products and services they sell. While marketing are great at creating content.

So instead of producing brochures and web content focusing on benefits, marketing teams should instead give sales people content that builds credibility with clients and strengthens the brand.

How does this work?

Let’s say your company sells tires. Your tires might be great. But so are the tires other companies make. So how would your sales person get the attention of a fleet manager at a trucking company?

In the old days they might try emails and phone calls, just hoping to get past the gatekeeper.

But today you can find out a lot about a company simply by doing some research online. On LinkedIn you can find key employees and decision-makers quickly..

Once that’s done, it becomes a exercise in education and persuasion.

This is where marketing comes in. Instead of creating content around specific products, marketing can research and write content that appeals to the buyers’ interests.

Where once it was about telling people how amazing your tires are, the content, in the form of blog posts and articles become about safety tips, fuel efficiency, industry trends and regulatory changes. The tires are the product, but it’s the expertise and credibility that’s being sold.

So is your company still selling tires? You can always get cheaper tires. But expertise and experience are priceless.

business-blogging-for-consultants

[Announcement] A unique branding service for senior executives

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Toronto firm offers unique branding service to executives

Toronto, ON. Nov. 21 – Toronto based marketing firm Short Circuit Media launches new service for high level executives who want to use marketing tools to build a higher profile and increase their chances of landing the top jobs at large organizations.

Today CEOs not only have to be ready to lead, they must also be ready to be seen. So it takes more than a great resume and a successful track record to persuade a Board of Directors.

“I did a search on LinkedIn and found that there were over 6000 individuals in Toronto alone who were at the VP level or higher at companies with over 1000 employees,” says Short Circuit Media President Aidan Crawford.

“That got me thinking, what can these professionals do to make themselves stand out from the crowd when they apply for a job as CEO or other top positions? And the answer was marketing.”

Short Circuit Media has helped consultants, trainers and professional speakers market themselves better since 2010. However executives need more than a shiny website and some social media.

“In addition to creating a superior online presence, we partnered with an executive coach, a top LinkedIn trainer as well as a vocal and presentation coach to provide a program that not only raises a client’s profile, but also gives them the skills to succeed once they get shortlisted for a top job.”

To learn more about this unique new service please visit https://ShortCircuitMedia.com/ExecSuccess

About Short Circuit Media

Short Circuit Media is a Toronto-based marketing company that takes an integrated approach to building our clients profiles online and off. https://ShortCircuitMedia.com

Media Contact
Aidan Crawford
Aidan@ShortCircuitMedia.com
(416) 371-2680

Here’s my marketing campaign that flopped

On the internet we’ve been conditioned to put our best foot forward at all times.

Everything is great. Everything worked.

But that’s not life.

If you are an individual entrepreneur or you own a small to medium sized business you take chances and experiment all the time. It’s in your DNA. Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t. But even when they don’t, you learn something. So it’s never a complete waste to try.

Recently I was researching a few alternative ways to market my company locally. Over the last 7 years, I have spent a fortune on online advertising and trade shows. For the most part things have worked out rather well and my online marketing has brought me clients from as far away as Russia.

Entrepreneurs experiment all the time. Sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t. Click To Tweet

Online marketing has been good to me.

For example the first time I tried Twitter ads I signed 2 new clients – one of which had me on retainer for the last 4 years! But I’ve never replicated that success. Instead I’ve grown my business through some word of mouth and a lot of hustle.

But online advertising isn’t exactly a sure thing. So I decided to look into a postcard campaign.

It just happened that as I was considering this an email from Vistaprint advertising a site-wide 50% sale popped up in my inbox.

That was the final push. I created a postcard and landing page advertising something simple – a reasonably priced website with some hand holding for small businesses.

I ordered up 1000 postcards and then went online to research how to get them to my target audience. Quickly found Canada Post’s Neighbourhood Mail Program where I could use post office data to select businesses within specific routes around my area.

Seemed simple enough.

So went through the process and selected 900 businesses who would get my postcard. At this point the costs were $100 for the postcards and $100 for the mailing.

All I needed to do was drop them off and track how many people responded to my CTA driving the to Shortcircuitmedia.com/BIZ

The postcards were all delivered between Sept. 27 and 29.

Out of those 900 postcards, not one person went to the landing page. I’m no mathematician but that would roughly calculate to a 0% ROI.

So why am I telling you this story of my not-so-costly marketing flop?

Mostly because it’s important that businesses not be afraid to try new things. In this case it didn’t work. But when I tried Twitter ads it paid off nicely.

And when I consider how much I’ve spent on LinkedIn and Facebook ads, $200 isn’t that much. Will I try a postcard campaign again? Probably. I’ll change my creative and target a different area. If that doesn’t work, I’ll keep looking for different ways to get my business noticed by potential clients.

It’s the only way to grow and it’s a part of being an entrepreneur.

You need a business model more than a new website

If you’ve ever seen the movie Field of Dreams then you’ll be familiar with the mantra “build it and they will come.”

It’s a great line. But it’s terrible business advice if you happen to be a consultant or professional speaker.

You can have the flashiest website on the planet, but if your business model is flawed then it won’t make a lick of difference to your bottom line.

I’ve seen some very smart people who spent a lot of money on websites that just tell others that they happen to be very smart people.

And if you’ve found a way to monetize people thinking you’re a very smart person – that’s awesome.

But most prospects hire based on the added value or skills a consultant brings to the table – not how smart they are.

People hire consultants based on the added value or skills they bring to the table. Click To Tweet

I’ve worked with clients who have terrible websites and have no trouble finding work. I’ve also worked with clients with amazing websites and struggle to make their businesses work at all.

So what’s the difference? It’s a business model that matches expertise to a highly defined pool of prospects who are willing to pay for it.

When somebody goes into consulting or speaking as a profession, it’s usually because they have knowledge or skills that are marketable. So they go about building out a website like it’s a fancy resume. This means prospects have to look really deeply into the listed skillsets to figure out if they fill the holes they need plugged.

Of course nobody tells you this when you’re just starting out. So when business isn’t coming in as fast as you expect, you begin to doubt the value of your offering. But really it’s just a case of broken messaging.

What successful consultants and speakers to do is think of themselves not as very smart people, but really smart investments for their clients. They suppress the urge to self-promote and use every element of their website to sell their value proposition to the people most likely to hire them.

So why is this on my mind now? For a long time I avoided website development for people other than my monthly retainer clients. I was frustrated by the lack of control over the messaging and I didn’t want to deliver something that I ultimately didn’t think was going to help.

Earlier this year I put together a business and marketing coaching program to help consultants and speakers who’d been in the business from 0-5 years put all the pieces together in order to create a sustainable business model that could grow and become more profitable over time.

I also started building websites for speakers I knew and respected – and who already had business models in place I believed in.

While attending the National Speakers Association earlier this summer I was chatting to a new speaker with very specific expertise and who was fuzzy on who her audience should be. After spending about 15 minutes we figured out who would be most likely to pay for her expertise.

She needed a website. But I didn’t want to simply build a site and cut her loose. So I combined my 12 week marketing coaching program with a new website at a big discount.

The idea being that by the time we’re done, she should have all the tools in place to make her business work.

It was a breakthrough for me. Combining these two desperately needed services into a single discounted package (that costs a lot less than what some people pay for just a single website) could help a lot more people actually achieve their goals.

So before you drop big bucks on a new website take some time to understand who it is that will pay for your expertise and then develop your new site based on writing for them.

If you want to see if this package could help your business, I have it all scoped out on this page.

If you have any questions about your business model or how I might be able to help you send me an email or give me a call.

Define your audience before you create your message

I was recently at the National Speakers Association annual conference.

This year, as I’ve done every year since 2011, I had booth to promote my speaker marketing and coaching services. I’m not cheap and most folks at the event either don’t have budget for me or they already have staff to do the work. So my ideal clients are somewhere in between those two points. My clients speak enough to know they need to up their marketing game, but aren’t prepared to hire a full time person to do it.

This means I tend to spend a lot of my time chatting with folks who are not my ideal clients. But that doesn’t mean I’m not helping people. New speakers tend to be attracted to my booth and the promise of an all in one marketing solution for their business. And while there are a lot of businesses that would be happy to take their last nickel, I’m not that guy.

So I hold court, dispensing business and career advice to consultants, professional speakers and trainers who have expertise and valuable content to share – but haven’t thought out how to monetize that know-how.

The biggest issue I found this year was an abundance of speakers who crafted a message and planned a business before ever figuring out who would actually pay for it.

If you create a program and then start looking for an audience to match it, you are choosing a very difficult path.

Define your audience before you create your message if you want to succeed as a speaker. Click To Tweet

Instead, consider your experience and where that gives you credibility. If you have experience in IT sales, then you will have much more luck with IT resellers, than if you create a general sales program and pitch it to realtors.

As I’ve said before “Everyone” is not an ideal client profile. And that is still one of the best bits of advice I’ve ever given out.

Before you create any program, clearly define the intended audience. This will allow you to avoid generic presentations and allow you to differentiate yourself in the speaking or consulting markets.

An example of this from the conference was someone with an expertise in fitness training with a specialty in seniors. When I asked who would pay of that, the answer was any individuals AND companies that want employees to be fitter. The conversation then shifted to how gyms do such a terrible job of accommodating older individuals.

So I suggested that a more specific and profitable program might include speaking to gyms and fitness facilities on how to market effectively to this group – with an emphasis on the amount of money they are leaving on the table by ignoring a huge segment of the population.

Once that audience was defined there was suddenly clarity of message and a business model.

So before you focus on the expertise you bring to the table think about the marketplace and where your expertise is likely to resonate. It will make it a lot easier to make a business case for your services going forward.

3 Ways to Avoid Mediocre Marketing Content

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Coming up with fresh content can be difficult, which is why it’s easy for marketers to fall into the trap of looking through previous work for inspiration. This rinse-and-repeat approach leads to predictable content, and predictability is what pushes audiences to look elsewhere for something more original.

The most competitive brands have the courage to look elsewhere for ideas. It’s not easy — especially when it needs to be done at scale — but here are three ways to ensure you’re approaching content creation from an angle that can pay off in a big way.

Embrace newsjacking.

One way to breathe new life into your content strategy is to capitalize on the popularity of trending news stories. Is there a new finding or event that affects your target audience? These are opportunities to connect your content to a much larger story and amplify your marketing efforts.

A great example is Oreo’s now infamous “You can still dunk in the dark” tweet. The cookie company seized the opportunity presented by Super Bowl XLVII’s power outage with a clever tweet about its snacks still being enjoyable without electricity, and the newsjacking paid off: In less than 24 hours, the post generated nearly 15,000 retweets and more than 20,000 likes on Facebook.

Notice that the best newsjacking opportunities allow brands to add relevance to the story, which is why a snack company saw such an incredible response during a sporting event. Another way brands can add relevance to trending stories is to localize the subject matter. For example, my team at Fractl helped real estate company Movoto map out the wealthiest people within the United States. The innate regional ego bait helped the project generate more than one million on-site views along with 140,000 social shares and 130 press mentions.

Push the envelope with controversial content.

Although striking up controversy might seem ill-advised, polarizing ideas work because they trigger an emotional response. Audiences feel encouraged to click, read and share your content because they have an opinion — and they want the rest of the internet to know about it.

However, this strategy only works when the content ties back to your brand and its services. Below are two different approaches to controversial content along with examples that show how each approach can positively relate back to a brand:

  • Disprove an assumption: This content typically forces audiences to rethink a common belief. Consider the Ad Council’s incredibly successful “Love Has No Labels” PSA. The organization’s mission is to inspire “ongoing dialogue, engagement and action around significant public issues,” and the video took that message to heart when it used an X-ray machine to disprove subconscious prejudices about relationships. Connecting the theme to tolerance helped the controversial clip become the second most-viewed community and activism campaign of all time.
  • Make a taboo subject more approachable: Another thing successful controversial content does well is offer a different look at a familiar subject. Discussions on body image, for example, aren’t always easy. To make the subject matter relatable to a much larger audience, Fractl helped Bulimia.com reimagine superheroes with more realistic body types. When the new images were paired with the originals, the stark contrast offered a new way to discuss body issues — particularly for men. In just nine days, the campaign earned more than 200 pickups and nearly 90,000 social shares in 20 U.S. states and 25 countries.

Don’t assume complexity is boring.

Establishing yourself as a thought leader within your industry is incredibly valuable, but it doesn’t mean your content needs to be lengthy and explain every last detail of something — that’s a surefire way to lose someone’s attention. Instead, rework complex ideas for your audience so that they are much more easily understood — particularly if you’re in a more complex vertical like finance or tech.

A great example is this campaign that visualizes the virtual storage space of an iPhone into something more tangible: storage boxes. Someone might not understand how vast 128GB of storage is, but they’ll have a better idea when it’s equated to 12,800 storage boxes stacked with paper stretched more than three miles. This helps make something like data storage a bit more engaging — and appeal to a an audience beyond those working in the nearest Apple store.

Unengaging content will never support your marketing goals, particularly because today’s consumers have little interest in anything that doesn’t address their immediate needs. Whether you choose to look towards newsrooms for inspiration or opt for a formula that’s a little less vanilla, these techniques will inspire you to think outside the box — and ultimately create something that will reach a much larger audience.

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/295782

On – 20 Jun, 2017 By Andrea Lehr

Top tools and apps to make you a better writer

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a software program that took your writing and spat out new copy that was Pulitzer worthy? Sadly, such a program doesn’t exist. However, there are tools and apps out there that can make you a smarter writer – and possibly a better one. The emphasis is on smarter though, because you have to know what some of these programs are telling you in order to decide if their feedback and suggestions are worth the effort. As with all marketing efforts, it’s all about context and the message you’re trying to get across.

Happily, there are online apps and tools that are quite sophisticated, and can show you areas where you can improve your output. What apps and tools are these? Read on!

Grammarly

You might be scratching your head about why Grammarly is included in this list. Don’t we all have spelling and grammar checking in our writing software? Yes, but can your spellchecker distinguish between the use of “you” and “your” and suggest that you might need to use one of those pronouns instead of the other?

Grammarly catches the kinds of errors that regular spelling and grammar checkers miss. That’s crucial if you’re a professional who uses writing to reach clients. So what’s the downside? Grammarly is not compatible with Google Docs (which means you’ll have to cut and paste and dump your content into the app). However if you are an MS Word person, you can download Grammarly directly into Microsoft Word and use it as your new spell check program within the application.

Readable.io

If you’re writing to a general level audience, simplicity is crucial. That’s why it’s always good to run your words through a reading level comprehension program such as Readable.io. It’ll tell you what grade level your sentences and paragraphs are scoring at — anything between a Grade 6 and Grade 8 reading level is ideal for a general audience. This can help you prune down some of your longer sentences and choose words that are simpler to understand without dumbing down your work.

The drawback is that a lot of these online reading level calculators don’t know what to do with bulleted lists, so you may be forced to use a hack such as putting a period at the end of each bullet point manually to get an accurate score.

OneLook Reverse Dictionary

Are you struggling to come up with a word, knowing only what defines it? You could try OneLook Reverse Dictionary, a free tool that allows you to look up words based on their definitions. This tool really helps if you only “sort of” know the word you’re looking for. If you enter something vague such as “something you eat”, you’ll get all kinds of synonyms for eating that may or may not be helpful. Still, if you find yourself grasping at straws for coming up with the right word, this may be a useful tool.

Google Docs

This one is almost self-explanatory. If you do any writing online, chances are you need an editor. Google Docs allows you to collaborate with others on your Hemingway-esque pieces. It’s also constantly backs things up, so you don’t have to worry about hitting the “Save” button every minute or so.

WordPress

If you’re doing any business writing, you need a blog. WordPress is a good choice as it powers about 20 percent of the Internet. Having a blog is a good practice to have regardless, because it’ll give you the platform to keep writing. And the more you write, the better you’ll get. So a blog is a good tool to have in your arsenal.

Are there any other good (and preferably free) tools and apps out there that you use? What are they? Feel free to share them in the comments section below.