SUGAR GROVE – Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you’re not a journalist.
Matt Brennan of Sugar Grove is counting on that.
Brennan, 36, is a freelance writer who works with various businesses providing website content, blogs, social media posts and more.
The former journalist has found that many business owners realize they should create quality content for their websites – specifically a business blog – to help attract customers, but they’re not sure how to do so.
Aiming to help small business owners – or anyone who wants to learn how to blog more effectively – he wrote “Write Right - Sell Now: How to Create Content that Will Grow Your Business.”
The 142-page book will be available for $12.99 starting Oct. 4 on Amazon.com. Town House Books in St. Charles is going to be carrying the book, according to Brennan.
“A lot of the stuff that we learn as journalists … might not come as second nature to somebody who is coming at this from the outside,” he said. “I go through a bunch of techniques and strategies that business owners can use to make their content a little more friendly to the reader or potential customer.”
Brennan, who has 10 years of journalism experience and six years of marketing experience, said some businesses provide aggressive advertising copy on their websites because that’s the only way they know how to share a message.
But that’s not the type of content that does well online, Brennan said.
“Journalists have been trained in how to write to engage people for a long, long time,” Brennan said. “And for business owners, that’s a little bit new. With the internet and with blogging and with web content, that’s different than taking out a newspaper ad. [Blogging] is not such a hard sell. It’s not that direct. It’s more about providing information. It’s about providing value to the reader on a consistent basis and building trust, building an authentic relationship and moving on from there.”
The marketing website Hubspot notes that business-to-business companies that blog generate 67 percent more leads than those who do not, Brennan said.
The reason is simple: in an age where research helps people decide what to buy, if your business isn’t providing the information people need, another business will, he said.
“[If you’re] a plumber, it might serve you well to have a how-to blog post on how to fix a leaky sink,” he continued. “If I had a problem with my sink here, I’m exactly the type of person who might [read the post], pull out a wrench and get to step 3 and say, ‘I’m not doing this.’ Who am I going to call? The person who wrote that post.”
Brian Basilico of Aurora, a content marketing consultant and coach who has worked with Brennan for years, praised the book.
“The biggest thing is the system he’s put together, step by step,” Basilico said. “Most people open up a free blog and just start writing. I think [Matt’s book] really gives blogging a little more of a framework and defines more of its purpose.”
One of Brennan’s tips explains how business owners can differentiate themselves from the competition by sprinkling personal anecdotes into blogs and website content.
Brennan, for example, shares on his book jacket that he’s a sucker for the Chicago Cubs. It has become a great icebreaker for him when he meets a new client, he said.
“I’ve had 5-minute conversations about the Cubs before we even talk business,” he said. “By the time you’re talking about their [business], they trust you that much more. It’s something I’ve done personally, but it’s something that works, and something all businesses should try to a certain extent.”
Other book topics discuss the appropriate length of copy, search engine optimization, how to write engaging headlines and more.
Basilica, a four-time author, penned a foreword for Brennan, saying Brennan’s book is quality.
“I love it, love it, love it,” he said. “I think it’s in a very easy-to-digest format, and for the average person it makes a good case for why you need to blog. A lot of people know they need to do it, but they don’t get it … . He lays out the basics that make it less intimidating.
“Someone thinking about blogging [who] reads [this] book will feel more confident in blogging.”