How To Make Your Content Readable


If like me you spend a lot of time reading from a screen you will appreciate well written content. And I’m not talking about potential eye-strain. This is about your content being readable. Whether it’s email, website text or a blog, reading from a screen can be difficult.

Let’s talk about blogs first, because generally they will be the longest and most frequently written. As well as being relevant and interesting, your blog posts have to be readable. If they’re not, then your audience probably won’t even finish reading them. 

Child holding his face in his hands

Know your audience

First of all, make sure your text is at the right level for your target audience. For example, when I prepare instruction manuals for system users I keep it simple. I write them as if every reader is a new user, and that way everybody will understand it. User Guides are a good example because they’re not just for trainees. Experienced users will refer to them too, especially if there is an area they’re not familiar with. 

Blogging is the same. It’s easy for me to be enthusiastic about website testing because it’s my job. But if I’m going to write an article about how to improve your website, it has to be interesting and readable for my target audience. 

Plan your paragraphs

When you’re starting any blog make it clear from the beginning what the topic is, then go into more detail as you continue writing. This helps the reader understand the concept of your article from the outset. Try not to make your paragraphs too long, and keep your sentences short as well.

Writing in a notebook

How many times have you started to read something and had to start again because the sentences drag on? Sentences containing more than 20 words are considered to be too long. Also, if they are shorter there is less chance of you making grammatical errors. 

Check out the example below. This paragraph is an extract from a Yoast.com blog post. I have edited it to show you how not to write a paragraph.

If you really want original pictures that fit your post you should make your own photos. Taking your own photos ensures that you’ll show an original picture; one that can never be found on another blog and on top of that this allows you to shoot a photo that truly fits the content of your post so if you’re blogging about your day-to-day life taking your own pictures is definitely the way to go. That also goes for food blogs or for a company blog or a technical blog or anything else for that matter, it’s much harder to take pictures that actually fit the content of the posts you’re writing.

Punctuation

Even with a few commas in there to break up the sentences, it is still very difficult to follow. The sentences are far too long. Think about how you have a conversation. You don’t talk without taking a breath, so why would you expect someone to read without punctuation?

This is the original, unedited version of the same paragraph. 

If you really want original pictures that fit your post, you should make your own photos. Taking your own photos ensures that you’ll show an original picture, one that can never be found on another blog. On top of that, this allows you to shoot a photo that truly fits the content of your post. If you’re blogging about your day-to-day life, taking your own pictures is definitely the way to go. That also goes for food blogs. For a company blog or a technical blog, or for Yoast.com for that matter, it’s much harder to take pictures that actually fit the content of the posts you’re writing.

Simply put

The other thing to consider is vocabulary. Try to limit the use of long words because if they have four or more syllables they are considered difficult to read. I have read articles where the author appears to have deliberately thrown in long words. It puts me off a bit because then I start to wonder whether they are just trying to be clever, or if they are trying to confuse me?

Of course, depending on your blog topic you might need to use advanced vocabulary and terminology. But if your paragraphs and sentences aren’t too long, then it should still be readable. 

Transition words

My business website is on WordPress, and there is a really useful tool that you can use to help create readable content. Yoast SEO checks the sentence and paragraph lengths as you’re writing. It also checks whether you are using enough transition words and sub-headings. These are all elements which make your content more readable.

Great article with good readable content

It annoyed the hell out of me to start with, because I just could not grasp ‘transition words‘.  But I’m fairly happy with this article at the minute, because I can see I have got two green traffic lights for SEO and Readability.

You probably use transition words quite naturally when you are speaking. However, it can be difficult to use them in the right place when you are writing. And when you are trying to include enough transition words to improve the readability, it’s very tempting to use the same ones. This is another ‘No-No’. Try to avoid repetition and using the same words over and over and over again.

Because I draft my blogs in a word or Google document, if I’m struggling to come up with an alternative word I use the inbuilt grammar and spell-checking tools. So to find a similar word I ‘right-click’ in my document and check out the synonyms.  This will give you other examples of words that have the same or nearly the same meaning as the word you have highlighted. It’s really useful, and is yet another way to keep your readers happy, joyful and elated. 

If you want your readers to get to the end of your blog post, make sure that your text is easy to read. Don’t make your text more difficult than you have to. Avoid long sentences and write clear paragraphs.

Yoast SEO

Finally

My top tip though is read whatever you have written out loud before you publish it. Reading on screen is difficult and it’s easy to miss spelling and grammatical errors. If you read it out loud it will also help you find sentences that are too long. 

If you have enjoyed reading this article please ‘like and share’ to support a small business.

Sharing is Caring! 

Location

Shirley Atkinson

SAA IT Test Consultant

79120, Sainte Soline, France

SIRET – 835 373 515 00013

©2020 SAA-IT-Test.com

Contact

Need additional assistance? Please contact us:

saa.it.testing@gmail.com

FR: +33 (0)7 83 16 61 11

UK: +44 (0)7940 435970

Hours

Mon: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Tue: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Wed: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Thu: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Fri: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Sat: Closed
Sun: Closed

Chats de Chatillon – the cat refuge with a HUGE heart

If you follow me or my business page on Facebook you might have noticed a bit of a cat-theme going on recently. That’s because I have been sharing stories and fund-raising posts about Chats de Chatillon, a cat refuge based near Parthenay, France. For those that don’t know the link between my business and the refuge, I’ll try and keep it brief.

A few weeks ago I received an email from my friend Micala telling me that a lady named Judy would be getting in touch. Judy had contacted Micala because she needed help with social media marketing and designing a new website. A few days later I had a call from Judy and I was quickly and easily persuaded to help design a new website and manage their Google My Business site. I learnt a lot about the cat refuge in that short call, but when I checked out the Facebook page, I was caught – hook, line and sinker!

My mission is to improve the business website, get more hits on their Google My Business page, and ultimately see more animals being adopted. 

The only way to navigate some administration hurdles with the original website was to start from scratch. Create a new site that would be quick and easy for Judy to update, and include a secure donation link. So I could focus on the Google site I enlisted Rob Smith to help with the website. As an experienced web designer he can do it much quicker and easier than me, and will host and manage the new site.

Devotion

So that’s where we are at this moment in time. Updating the Google site page is done by ‘yours truly’ every morning, using the Facebook posts that Judy writes. And Rob is meticulously creating a new site with English and French versions of each page.

I copy most of Judy’s posts word for word, because if you read any of her updates, every sentence demonstrates the love and devotion to every single one of the animals in her care.

Let me give you an example. This is the story of Blossom, who I was fortunate to meet on my visit at the weekend.

URGENT APPEAL for BLOSSOM

“We are launching an urgent appeal to find either a foster or adoptive family for this precious girl.
She is 5 years old and during this time has had 5 owners. The last owner dangled, and dropped her repeatedly from a 3rd storey apartment, amongst other acts of cruelty. In spite of this Blossom is very affectionate and has so much love to give. She wants nothing more than to be safe in a home, loved and cherished. She is very insecure with other pets and would need to be the only one.
Blossom has settled well into the refuge, but we cannot give this darling girl all the attention that she so badly needs. And it breaks our hearts to walk away from her to tend to so many others.
Normal adoption fees do not apply. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you think that you can help. Thank you”  

That was posted on the Facebook page on 28th June, and shared to the Google site the following morning. Yesterday, the day after my visit to Chats de Chatillon, Judy shared the fantastic news on Facebook that Blossom had been adopted!

BLOSSOM FINDS A FAMILY

My goodness, what an emotional and tearful week this has been. Will you please share our immense joy tonight knowing that BLOSSOM has found at last, a wonderful forever home, safe in the knowledge that she will be loved and protected for the rest of her life? Thank you so much to the kind family that have given her a future destined for happiness. In the short time that she has been with us, it has been a privilege to know such a beautiful, kind and forgiving little girl.

We shall miss you terribly Blossom, but your very special new family will be able to give you all what we cannot, and it time for us to let go. God bless you little pudding.

And that my lovely friends is why I am involved with this amazing cat refuge. I finally got to meet Judy and her husband Alan last Saturday. Myself and Debbie took a trip out with a car-load of cat food, cat litter, treats and toys donated by the good customers of the Ark79 Animal Charity Association.

Injured and abused

When we arrived at 11am we interrupted Judy’s daily routine of feeding, cleaning and cuddling. Each and every cat and kitten receives special individual attention. Some were abandoned, others are strays and a few have been injured, or abused, like poor Blossom.

At the moment every cabin is taken, and foster families are hand-rearing several orphaned kittens. One cabin holds Cleopatra and her little family, including two orphaned ones that she took under her wing. Another is the home of Trixie and her little brood. Next door, and in total isolation, is pretty little Pebbles who has been diagnosed with Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV). When she arrived Pebbles weighed only 1 kg and she was in a lot of pain. Because of her condition, it will be an extra special person that will adopt her.

Sponsored

There is some good news though. When the lovely people at Hot Tubs in France heard about the fund-raising, and Pebbles’ story they offered to sponsor her. They pay a set amount to Chats de Chatillon each month, which helps to pay for her ongoing treatment and the special diet that Pebbles needs. With the money received from other generous donations, the refuge is now able to buy a portable isolation unit, so that Pebbles can go outside of the cabin. She will still be isolated, but can’t infect any of the others cats. And she will be able to lie in the grass and feel the warm sun on the back.

I met Pebbles at the weekend, but sadly didn’t get a chance to cuddle her. I did leave her a few little tasty treats though. And when her noisy kitten neighbours quietened down, I saw her climb down to check them out.

Building up trust

I was very lucky to meet Clemence on Saturday too. Judy had previously told me that people often visit the cat refuge to help out or just to spend time with the animals. This benefits the cats and kittens because it gives them some extra special love and attention, and helps to build their trust. And in Clemence’s case, as soon as she saw the kittens her face lit up. She didn’t stop smiling, and is so gentle with them, and them with her. I’m sure she would move in with them if she could.

The time went too quickly though, and after an hour spent with three orphaned kittens who were causing mayhem in the living room, it was time to go.

Bittersweet

I listened to Judy and Alan telling us why they set up the cat refuge, and the rules and regulations they had to satisfy. And you cannot question their dedication and determination to provide a sanctuary for all these beautiful creatures. I wanted to take every single one of those adorable animals home with me, but I had to leave empty-handed. On the trip back with Debbie, we talked non-stop about which one was our favourite. But every time we mentioned one name, we came up with a dozen more.

Judy and Alan are hoping to take a day off soon to say Thank You in person to the lovely people at Ark79, and to Nicola and Tim from Hot Tubs In France when they are in Sainte Soline at the end of July.

Me and Debbie are already planning another day trip to the cat refuge. Until then I’m going to be extra nice to my hubby and see if I can persuade him to change his mind. I don’t want to be leaving Chats de Chatillon empty-handed next time.

Can you help?

With Micala’s help we are trying to raise vital funds for Chats de Chatillon cat refuge to enable them to keep doing their amazing work. We want to put together a lovely feline Pamper Hamper as a top raffle prize (for pampering a very lucky cat, not the cat’s owner!). If you can help by donating cat-related products, such as grooming brushes, treats or toys, please get in touch. Donations need to be received by 10th July so that we can start advertising and selling the raffle tickets.

Alternatively, you can donate cat food, cat litter, toys, bedding, or money, which goes towards ever-increasing maintenance and vets bills. Contact me or Chats de Chatillon via our Facebook pages to arrange drop-off points. If you would like to sponsor a gorgeous fur baby, please get in touch with Judy.

And Thank You to every one who has made a donation so far. The impact you have had on these little tiny lives is absolutely incredible.


Location

Shirley Atkinson

SAA IT Test Consultant

79120, Sainte Soline, France

SIRET – 835 373 515 00013

©2020 SAA-IT-Test.com

Contact

Need additional assistance? Please contact us:

saa.it.testing@gmail.com

FR: +33 (0)7 83 16 61 11

UK: +44 (0)7940 435970

Hours

Mon: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Tue: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Wed: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Thu: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Fri: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Sat: Closed
Sun: Closed

Pretty ginger cat waiting to be adopted

Fund-raising in aid of Chats de Chatillon

With my good friend Micala Wilkins, from Alacim Social Media Marketing, we are organising several online events to raise money for this wonderful cat refuge. Based near Parthenay in France, Chats de Chatillon is a non-profit association run by husband and wife team, Judy and Alan Lewis.

The refuge desperately needs funds to purchase two portable isolation units. Extra money will also help them to keep on top of ever-increasing maintenance and vet’s bills. 

Isolation

The Chats de Chatillon cat refuge takes in abandoned, abused and injured cats and kittens on a daily basis. They get calls to take in ‘refugees’ all hours of the day and night, and they very rarely say No.

New cats often need to be isolated until they are given a clean bill of health by the vet. Sadly, some of these cats have infections or viruses that can be treated, but cannot be cured. They have less chance of being adopted, and will remain in isolation for the rest of their lives. 

Having portable units will improve the quality of their lives enormously. They will be able to lay in the sun and play in the grass, without being a risk to other animals. 

How can you help?

If you own or know a business that makes or sells cat-related products we would love to hear from you.

We want to create a luxury ‘Feline Pamper Hamper’ to be the 1st prize in an upcoming raffle. If you can donate items to go into the hamper it would be fantastic. But even if you can’t donate a kitty product, you can still help by sponsoring one of the cats in isolation. Alternatively, you can make a monetary donation. 100% of the proceeds will go to Chats de Chatillon. 

Businesses that sponsor, or provide donations will get a special mention in all online advertising for the fund-raising events. If you can help, or want more information, please get in touch with me, Micala or Judy,  

On behalf of everyone at Chats de Chatillon, thank you.

Your support and donations will help improve the quality of life of our feline friends

Chats de Chatillon kitten

 

Little Miss Polly & Pretty Pebbles

white cat sat on windowsill
Little Miss Polly

Miss Polly (right) has been diagnosed with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Until we find someone special who can give her a loving home she must be isolated from other cats. 

She arrived at the refuge in May this year. Abandoned in the town centre, she was suffering from an extremely deep bite at the base of her tail that had caused a huge abscess. The vet thinks she may have got infected when she was attacked.

Polly has a pure white coat and is extremely affectionate. She longs to be loved. Aged about 7-8 months (born approximately Sept 2020) she is still only a kitten. She is such a happy, friendly little girl, and loves to race around.

Quality of life

Pretty Pebbles came to us in such a terrible condition that she would not have survived much longer. She has been diagnosed with Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV), and like Miss Polly, she must stay in isolation.

When she arrived Pebbles weighed only 1 kg. She was such a good girl being cleaned up and cared for. Never getting cross or lashing out, even though she was in a lot of pain. 

Because these two infections are caused by different viruses unfortunately they cannot share accommodation. Having portable isolation units will improve the quality of their lives enormously.

 

Improving your Local SEO

google my business map and description

Google My Business – profile and map for SAA IT Testing

As small business owners I’m sure we have all heard about Google and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). We might not fully understand SEO, because it’s a fairly complex subject all about algorithms, search terms and keywords. But if you want your business website to rank higher in search results, then employing a SEO expert will help do that – for a hefty price.

Large companies employ teams of SEO experts to monitor trends, research and analysis data, and constantly update and refresh site pages. For small businesses though, your best Local SEO friend is Google My Business (GMB). 

According to the most recent edition of Moz’ Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, Google My Business continues to be the biggest driver of local SEO success, with quality links coming in at a close second. 

What is Google My Business?

In a nutshell, GMB is a business listing on Google, similar to Yell.com or ‘Pages Jaunes’ in France. But the bonus with GMB is the advantageous local SEO that it brings with it.

GMB was developed to standardise the information that is displayed by Google in Google Search and Google Maps, so you can be found more easily by potential customers. It helps ensure that your customers have up to date information about your local business, for example your opening hours, address, and contact details. Additionally, you can add links to your business website, share posts, offers and other information the same as you can on social media. It also allows two-way communication between you and your customers by allowing them to create reviews and you to respond. 

How does it work?

When you claim your business listing on GMB and you are verified as the owner of that address (you receive a letter in the post with a code to confirm in the GMB set up), you will be a named business location on Google Maps. Your GMB listing will be as detailed as you want it to be, and it will all be highly visible in three important Google areas: 

Google Knowledge Graph

Google Knowledge Graph SAA IT Testing

This is the box that displays your business information. When someone searches on your business name, this panel appears on the right-hand side of the Google Search Results. On mobile devices it will appear near the top. It’s a really useful summary of the information that is important to new and existing customers, especially if they want to contact you. 

If you have several social media sites…Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest…your profiles in each one should be consistent. The same goes for Google My Business. And if you have a business logo – display it! 

Make sure you have a profile image so you are more recognisable. Complete the profile section, making it relevant to your business, and appealing to your audience. 

Google Local Park

These are the top Google listings that will appear below a map when someone searches for businesses in a particular location

Google Maps

Pinpoints your business on a map, with a summary of the address, opening hours and provides directions to your location.

Added Extras

As if that wasn’t enough, when you set up your GMB listing you get access to Google My Business Insights, which tells you how many people have searched for your sites, what they searched for and the number of page and post views. 

You can also build a free, single-page business website. This doesn’t mean that it should replace a full-blown business website, especially if you are a hotel or tradesperson. These types of industries will need higher-quality design, comprehensive lists of services and professional photography The GMB version is very limited, but you can add a resume, products, images, services and prices. Use it as an extra social media platform. The ratings and reviews in particular will help your business rank higher in search results. So encourage your customers to give you feedback. Share GMB listing with them, link it to your business website.

Here’s my Google My Business Listing, check it out and see just how much you can do to enhance your online business presence. Get your business noticed. Keep your profile and business details up to date. Improve your Local SEO quickly and easily.

If you need any help or advice setting up your business listing then please get in touch. I’m always happy to help.

SAA I.T Test Consultant

 

‘Sharing is Caring’

If you found this useful then let me know – and let your friends know!

 

 

Location

Shirley Atkinson

SAA IT Test Consultant

79120, Sainte Soline, France

SIRET – 835 373 515 00013

©2020 SAA-IT-Test.com

Contact

Need some help? Please contact me:

saa.it.testing@gmail.com

FR: +33 (0)7 83 16 61 11

UK: +44 (0)7940 435970

Hours

Mon: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Tue: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Wed: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Thu: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Fri: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Sat: Closed
Sun: Closed

Time for a review. Overcome your fear of criticism

 

Fear of criticism

Maybe our fear of criticism goes back to our school days. Spending hours writing essays only to have them marked and returned with lots of red lines and teacher’s comments.

I’ve also been subjected to a wide variety of appraisals and work reviews in the different organisations I have worked for. Most of them provided encouraging, constructive criticism and feedback, especially in my early years in the Civil Service. And yet I still used to dread the annual Performance Appraisal Reviews and the fear of criticism. I imagine we are all the same. We think – hope! – we are doing a good job, but when there’s a review on the horizon we start to worry about getting negative feedback.

I was very lucky to be assigned to experienced managers who understood the difference between constructive and destructive criticism and how it can affect a person’s self-esteem. Their feedback encouraged my personal development and gave me the confidence to take on new challenges throughout my career and in my personal life.

Humiliation

However, there is one incident which stands out in my mind more than any other because of the way it made me feel. Little did I realise that how I felt at that moment was going to influence how I treated people I worked with in the future.

In my first contract as a freelance Test Consultant I was working for a very large corporate company. The job meant I was working away from home, with people I didn’t know and learning a new complex system. Everything was different, I was way out of my comfort zone but wanted to make a good impression because this was the career I loved. 

What I didn’t bank on was being assigned to a manager who let her personal life interfere with her professional life, to the extent that on her bad days, she publicly criticised and humiliated people. Less than a week into my new role, I was verbally attacked in a room full of people – because I had saved a file in the wrong place. She should have quietly point out the correct folder structure, but instead she shouted, finger-pointed and called me an ‘over-paid simpleton’. 

Embarrassment

I sat there open-mouthed and fighting back the tears. People were staring at me. I felt embarrassed and physically sick. I couldn’t even manage an easy escape because the door was the other side of the room. Instead I bit my lip, walked over to her desk, and I asked her quietly and apologetically if she could show me where the file should be. After correcting my mistake I walked down to the Ladies loo on the floor below and cried my eyes out. I had never felt so humiliated in all my life and convinced myself I was going to get sacked. I left work that day ready to pack my bags and even started looking for a new contract!

The next day she acted as if nothing had happened. No apology was ever forthcoming but it occurred so frequently, with different people, that eventually she was reported and moved to another area. Under a new, encouraging, more professional manager I became a team leader and stayed with that company for two years. I learnt new skills and gained knowledge and experience using new testing tools, but the most important thing I learnt was how to give feedback. 

Negative Feedback

If you have single-handedly set up your own business, set up Social Media accounts, manage the financial affairs and created your own website, hats off to you. You deserve a massive pat on the back. It doesn’t matter what line of business you are in (unless you are a web designer!) or how well you are doing. You have successfully done something a lot of people can’t or won’t do for various reasons, and one of those reasons is fear of criticism.

When you’re starting out, you know a business website is an essential marketing tool, but a good web designer costs money – even bad web designers cost money! And although it’s a recognisable investment, if you can’t afford it, your only option is to go it alone.

There are lots of sites, like Wix and WordPress, which can help you create a simple, straight-forward website. Don’t let them fool you into thinking it’s an easy task. You still have to think about what pages you need, getting the right template, writing the content, uploading images, etc. Maybe that doesn’t sound too difficult, but if your website is going to stand out from your competitors then it needs to be aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. 

So, now we’ve added a couple of plug-ins and widgets to improve the website ‘look and feel’ and it’s ready for publishing. Who are the first people we ask for feedback? Our friends and family of course. Because of our fear of criticism we can rely on them to be positive – and even if they are really honest, we know it will be in a nice, positive way. But does that mean we are already worrying too much about what other people think and, more importantly, what our customers think? 

What is Criticism?

Negative criticism from an unqualified, uninformed source is of so little value that it’s meaningless. It makes zero sense to pay it any of your valuable attention.

Extract credit – Jim Connolly 

As a small business owner we have to learn to deal with these fears, because as soon as your business is online it’s visible and open to criticism. So to survive it’s essential that you stop negative criticism from affecting you.

Jigsaw puzzle showing the words constructive criticism - fear of criticism

To do this try to understand more about the critic than the criticism. If they are an expert in their field then, even if their comment is negative, it might be something worth taking onboard. The key difference between criticism and feedback is our perception of it.

Criticism is often taken to mean that we are being judged by another person in a condescending manner. So when people are criticised by others it can be a fairly unpleasant experience for the receiver.

Destructive criticism doesn’t help anyone. In fact it can lower a person’s self-esteem and make them feel like a failure. Constructive criticism, on the other hand can help to develop the abilities of that person, and create a positive change.

What is Feedback?

Feedback is generally understood to be information that can improve the performance or development of a product or a person. For example, a company has released a new product on the market and wants to evaluate the public’s response. There are different ways to go about this. They might hold a small event where samples of the product are given to members of the public and they have to provide feedback. The company can then understand how well the product has been received and act on this feedback. 

For people,  a manager might give feedback in a personal appraisal, or to a group of employees when they complete a new project. A lot of companies hold one-off, end of project ‘Lessons Learned’ sessions.  Key stakeholders are asked to provide feedback for the project as a whole – what went well or not so well and what can be improved. 

Lessons Learned

Lessons learned is all about understanding what you all did right and what you all could have done better. It’s not about finger pointing. It’s about learning. And this is why, when I perform my business website reviews, my feedback report isn’t all about what is wrong with the website. It’s about pointing out what works really well and what can be improved. 

I always ask for feedback and, from what I’ve received, the majority of my clients generally agree with my comments. Issues are fixed, suggestions for re-wording are applied, website layout and functionality is improved. A lot of the changes are quick, easy, inexpensive and effective. 

Very occasionally they don’t want to make any changes, which is fine. I’m not going to force my opinions on anybody. However I will point out that if one of the issues is that your website is not legally compliant, then that is not just my opinion. It’s the law! 

Be Kind

One of the reasons behind this post is a conversation I had recently with a new client. She admits she’s not technically minded but has still managed to build her own website. However, when she saw that someone on Facebook had left a rather derogatory comment, she was understandably upset and demoralised. Personally, having just started my review of the site, she has done a bloody good job and we’ll work together to make it even better! 

If you’ve never received bad feedback maybe you don’t have a fear of criticism, and you’re incredibly lucky. Your parents and teachers must have been a lot nicer than mine. But next time you leave a review or a comment, if you know it’s a small business, try and be a bit more considerate. Your criticisms can be hurtful and demoralising. I appreciate it’s not always easy, especially if you’ve had bad customer service, but imagine how you would feel if you were being publicly humiliated. 

I know how I felt and it’s not something I would even wish on my worst enemy. 

 

SAA I.T Test Consultant

 

‘Sharing is Caring’

If you like this article let me know – and let your friends know!

 

 

Location

Shirley Atkinson

SAA IT Test Consultant

79120, Sainte Soline, France

SIRET – 835 373 515 00013

©2020 SAA-IT-Test.com

Contact

Need some help? Please contact us:

saa.it.testing@gmail.com

FR: +33 (0)7 83 16 61 11

UK: +44 (0)7940 435970

Hours

Mon: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Tue: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Wed: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Thu: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Fri: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Sat: Closed
Sun: Closed

 

The New Normal

What can we do to get ourselves and our business back on track?

woman on stairs and the words All Ideas Grow Out of Other Ideas is imaged on the steps to the side

Having been in Covid-19 confinement and business lock-down since March there is now a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. In the next few weeks several European countries are relaxing their restrictions and allowing businesses to reopen. In France this will only go ahead if the number of confirmed coronavirus deaths does not rise, and as long as the businesses that are allowed to open apply strict health and hygiene guidelines.

But although we all say we’ll be glad to get back to normal, I think we know it’s not going to be the ‘old normal’. It’s going to be a ‘new normal’. 

And that leads me straight into an article I read yesterday that I want to share with you. The author shares the same views as me and the article itself provides some good, solid advice. So why re-invent the wheel?


One thing that I think this pandemic has taught all of us in business is that we need to be flexible and ready for change, so it might be worth recording everything you’ve learned, and continue to learn during this crisis, so you can have a contingency plan in place to help you through the next few months.

 

The above quote is from the latest post from a blogger that I follow and admire, Cindy Mobey. She’s a freelance writer and marketing consultant, and I must admit to being just a little bit jealous of how easy she makes blogging look. Her style of writing is natural, intelligent and easy to read. It’s also informative and thought-provoking. 

Are you ready for the ‘new normal’?

Cindy has kindly given me permission to share the article on my website, and here it is. Please read the full article – Time for a new normal? and let me know what you think.

How can I help?

Location

Shirley Atkinson

SAA IT Test Consultant

79120, Sainte Soline, France

SIRET – 835 373 515 00013

©2020 SAA-IT-Test.com

Contact

Need some help? Please contact us:

saa.it.testing@gmail.com

FR: +33 (0)7 83 16 61 11

UK: +44 (0)7940 435970

Hours

Mon: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Tue: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Wed: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Thu: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Fri: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Sat: Closed
Sun: Closed

Business Blogs – When is the best time to blog?

It occurred to me this morning that I hadn’t posted a business blog in a while. With so much going on with coronavirus, self-isolation and people disobeying the distancing rules, why would anyone be interested in a blog about websites? Or website testing? 

So then I started thinking about the reasons why I should do a blog and it got me thinking about optimisation. It sounds like a random train of thought doesn’t it? But I’m talking about ‘optimisation’ in a business blog kind of way. And at 6 am on a beautiful Sunday morning I’m sat at my desk researching ‘Business Blog Scheduling’. 

I know the reasons why I should be submitting regular business posts. It’s so that it keeps my website fresh, helps with SEO and search traffic, helps build a good relationship with clients, etc, etc. But doesn’t how often we need to publish a blog and the optimal blogging frequency vary, depending on the type of business you have?  

 

top part of a round white clock face showing numbers and the words Prime time

Image Credit

General Blogging Guidelines

So as a result of my early morning research I did actually come up with a few general guidelines.

  1. Publish a new business blog at least once a week
  2. Always publish on the same day
  3. Focus on creating high-quality content

Great. Now I have my guidelines all I have to do is find a way to make user testing sound interesting. That’s the hard bit. But then, reading different articles this morning, I noticed that Guideline #1 isn’t strictly correct. It doesn’t always have to be new content. If you have posted something previously about a topic that is still relevant, or has come back in fashion, re-use it. There’s nothing to stop you giving it a bit of a tweak – re-cycling! – and republishing it. It counts as a new business blog, just don’t keep re-using the same one every week.

Identify your audience

Guideline number 2 is about being consistent and routinely publishing your blog on the same day. This is where I think we need to experiment to find out what works best for our own business and for our customers. But the first step has to be identifying your business blog audience.

My services are not going to be required by everybody. To be honest I probably have a very limited audience – owners of small and medium sized business enterprises – SMEs. And it doesn’t really matter what line of business my ‘audience’ is in. If they have a business website then they are a potential customer, even web design businesses.

I regularly work with a couple of web designers, reviewing their work during and after publishing, because catching bugs earlier means it easier and less expensive to fix. When you’re busy it’s easy to miss little things, such as broken links or poor navigation. Lots of little things can lead to one big, bad customer experience. So sometimes, it just helps to have a fresh pair of eyes look over the content and usability. 

There you see, I have drifted off into my own little testing world when I should be focusing on the task in hand and telling you about the ultimate goal.

The goal, of course, once you have identified your target audience is to successfully maintain a business blog that will increase website visitors. Making new connections and continuing to engage with existing customers or clients, will hopefully start generating new sales. 

Experiment

Different audiences will have different needs. If your business blog is a tool for providing up-to-the-minute information about products that you sell then you probably need to publish short, promotional blogs on a daily basis, or even several times a day. Whereas if you provide technical services, like testing for example, then that requires a longer, more detailed blog. So I think for me personally, once a week should suffice.

If you’re not sure what your blog readers need then you might have to experiment and see what formats and frequencies get the best reactions. See which format is a consistent favourite and continue with that. 

Now comes the hard part – creating high-quality content.

Avoid Burnout

This came up in several of the articles I read this morning and probably made the most sense. We all start off with so much enthusiasm, especially when people like or share our posts. But trying to consistently write something that’s interesting, in whatever line of business you are in, can be exhausting. There are a couple of ways to overcome this and avoid burnout.

First of all, why not share the load? Try inviting a guest blogger to write for you occasionally to add a bit of variety and a different personality. (This could work for me, and I have already got a couple of people in mind). Alternatively, if you really don’t like writing content and this is what puts you off blogging then you could hire someone to do it for you full-time.

Second, try writing and stockpiling articles for when you haven’t got time to keep to your business blog schedule. I have started adding articles or other blog sites to a ‘Favourites’ folder for future inspiration. I also check out Google search trends and try to use them as topics or keywords.

Timing

A lot of research has gone into analysing blog post timing data. Which Social Media platform is best for your business depends a lot on your target audience. I doubt many of my potential clients would be on TikTok for example. Pinterest is another one I don’t bother with, and I only have an Instagram personal account, not a business one, and even that is rarely use. You don’t need to have a business presence on all of them if it isn’t going to do anything for you. It just makes it harder to manage.

Mobile phone and tiles spelling Social Media

My business networking focus is on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. To get the best from these platforms for my business I need to look at the research.

Well, I have looked and basically the answer seems to be ‘it’s complex’ because it depends on your industry and your audience. Fortunately, I know my audience and thankfully. the research does confirm that these are the best platforms for my industry sector. That’s a bonus. 

However, I don’t intend to make this post any longer than it needs to be, so I’ve added a link to an easy to follow Info-graphic. Under normal circumstances it provides all the optimal posting timings for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. It also includes data for business sectors such as B2B, B2C, Higher Education, etc. 

Best Time Scheduler

Unfortunately, at this moment in time, there is nothing remotely normal about what is going on around us. Schools and the majority of businesses are either closed or employees are temporarily working from home. Our travel, work and home schedules are different, which means that our access to the internet and social media is different. 

In a few months there will be more data analysis on the best times to post a business blog, based on the lock-down period.  So I’m going to put creating an all-singing, all-dancing ‘Best Time Scheduler’ on hold for the time being and write some new content for my once-a-week business blog. 

I’m sure my audience will let me know if they want more from me, but for now, I think it’s time for another cup of vanilla chai before I go out in the garden and pull a few weeds. Happy weekend everyone!

Stay Safe and Stay Well

Shirley Atkinson, SAA IT Testing 

Location

Shirley Atkinson

SAA IT Test Consultant

79120, Sainte Soline, France

SIRET – 835 373 515 00013

©2020 SAA-IT-Test.com

Contact

Need some help? Please contact us:

saa.it.testing@gmail.com

FR: +33 (0)7 83 16 61 11

UK: +44 (0)7940 435970

Hours

Mon: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Tue: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Wed: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Thu: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Fri: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Sat: Closed
Sun: Closed

Let’s Get Creative

What can you do that is different from what everyone else is doing?

Lightbulb on a postit - get creative

Whether it’s now or in the next 6 months, most small and medium-sized businesses are going to have a few obstacles to overcome. Maybe now is a good time to get creative – start thinking about what it is we do and how can we improve it. 

Get Started


Running a business is hard work. It’s not just doing the jobs that bring the money in, it’s marketing, paying taxes on time, working with suppliers, etc. We learn how to manage these activities, but when something we have no control over impacts our business that’s when we need to stop and think. The situation we now find ourselves in, through no fault of our own, needs to be managed, otherwise not only will our businesses suffer, but our health will suffer too. I’m in the same boat, and I don’t know how I’m going to pay the bills this month. But I’m trying to stay positive. I’m fit and healthy. We have a place to live and food in the freezer. I’ve arranged meetings with the bank and insurance agent to discuss our finances and there’s government aid we can apply for.

“Being creative can involve cooking a meal from scratch, creating a novel marketing campaign, making up a bedtime story for your child, finding ways to cut costs, or even developing a creative solution to a negotiation impasse. Whatever you do, creativity helps you do it better.”

From the book ‘How to be more creative – A Handbook for Alchemists’ by Marelisa Fabrega.

We’re not the only ones in this situation and that bizarrely is what is making me think positively. Now, I need to channel my positivity into creativity. I’m off to do some mind-mapping to jog my creativity.

 

Location

Shirley Atkinson

SAA IT Test Consultant

79120, Sainte Soline, France

SIRET – 835 373 515 00013

©2020 SAA-IT-Test.com

Contact

Need some help? Please contact us:

saa.it.testing@gmail.com

FR: +33 (0)7 83 16 61 11

UK: +44 (0)7940 435970

Hours

Mon: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Tue: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Wed: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Thu: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Fri: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Sat: Closed
Sun: Closed