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Sara Lancaster is the founder and chief communicator for No. 2 Pen, a Denver-based web marketing agency. With a degree in journalism from the University of Colorado in Boulder, Sara’s career has included work as an online marketing consultant, copywriter, marketing manager, book marketer, paralegal, and journalist. Sara’s diverse background means she brings a unique set of communication skills to each No. 2 Pen writing project.
No. 2 Pen specializes in search engine optimized website content writing and online marketing strategy development for businesses.
MO: The name No. 2 pencil conjures images of taking tests in grade school. What made you choose No. 2 Pen as the name for your company?
Sara: My process for naming my business wasn’t very scientific. I was on a plane and wrote down every catchy name that came to mind. “No. 2 Pen” stuck because it was a new take on an old idea. We all used no. 2 pencils in school, but chances are very few of us use them as adults. I thought, “Hey, it’s like the next generation writing utensil!” On top of that, I like the idea of being the voice for my clients. Sort of a second in command when it came to telling their stories.
MO: When did your interest in entrepreneurship develop?
Sara: My husband, then fiancé, started his own Internet marketing business in 2007. After seeing him succeed and after tiring of the daily grind at my existing job, I decided to take the leap and be my own boss. The real motivator, though, was our ambition to travel all over Asia and Central America and live in New York City for a couple years. Starting my own business has allowed me to work and travel at the same time.
MO: Can you tell us a bit about the ebook that you’ve been working on?
Sara: I had a baby last November (a girl, Maggie), and while I was lazily “enjoying” my ninth month of pregnancy I felt an ambition to write down every single one of the ways that I come up with blog post ideas. It felt great, like an inventory of what I’ve ever done while blogging. Then I decided to take it a step further and ask other bloggers what they do to come up with blog post ideas. The result was better than I’d hoped for. I got some outstanding ideas from 17 different bloggers.
The tips (all 103 of them) have been compiled into a book titled 103 Ways to Create SHARP Blog Content, which will be available as a free download from my website content writing website soon. Hope you’ll check it out. I’m super proud.
MO: What tips can you give our readers for creating great website content that captivates and motivates potential customers?
Sara: My first tip is that you should write like you talk. Lose the jargon and long-winded paragraphs. If you’re not sure what to say in your web content, record yourself during a sales meeting and play it back later when you’re ready to write.
My second tip (and this is not necessarily mine…a lot of marketers will tell you the same) is to focus more on the reader than on you, the writer. When I visit a business’ website I want to know what they’ll do for me. How is this business going to solve my problems? Make me better? Entertain me? Etc. Etc.
MO: Are there any online marketing trends that our readers should be aware of?
Sara: The thing with “trends” in marketing is that the fundamentals of marketing are essentially the same as they’ve always been. Because the web has given us so many awesome opportunities, it’s easy to get lost in what is new and shiny. The reality is that we need to focus on messaging and on being personal, regardless of the medium or the latest trends.
But now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I do think creative, edgy, and unique images are super important right now. With Pinterest exploding and more and more infographics coming on the scene, anyone who wants to promote a website should integrate as much imagery as makes sense. If you’re not sure what an infographic is, check out this infographic about funny Vail, Colorado facts.
MO: What types of books do you most like to read while lounging in your hammock?
Sara: My genre of choice is definitely historical fiction, especially books set in NYC. One of the best books I’ve read recently is Forever by Pete Hamill.
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