Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform – and even transform – its intended audience. Her past work can be found all over the Internet and in print, but it's her work with you that means more to her than anything else. Erin’s an empathetic listener who considers all perspectives, and takes a client-centered approach to every project. What else would you expect from the child of a psychologist and a nurse?

Posts by erin


5 Most Productive Writing Habits of Famous Writers

These writing habits of famous writers can help take your writing to the next level

When I was in my graduate writing program, we were required to read the work of great writers. In addition to this, we read books on craft and wrote essays studying the craft of great poets and authors. Why?

Because when you can study and identify the writing habits of famous writers, you can either emulate them or take parts of what worked in their writing and use it in your own. There was much that I learned about other authors that I didn’t think would benefit my studies, but overall, every single trick that I learned strengthened my writing in some way or another.

Consider these writing habits when structuring your writing routines!

Evaluate your writing instruments

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 4.32.28 PM

Nowadays, many people sit down to the computer to begin to compose their writing.

Vladimir Nabokov didn’t have computers, of course. He composed all of his works on index cards. This allowed him to resequence all of his content so that scenes could later be moved around to wherever they best fit in his work. In an interview with The Paris Review, he said “My schedule is flexible, but I am rather particular about my instruments: lined Bristol cards and well sharpened, not too hard, pencils capped with erasers.”

What writing instruments do you use to achieve your best work? Other than the web, of course. Some writers I know prefer pen and paper, others use specific computer programs. When I was in graduate school and working elsewhere, my commute was very lengthy, and I used a voice recorder to note all of my thoughts.

Write even if you aren’t feeling particularly inspired

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 4.34.55 PM

In his book On Writing, Stephen King, one of the most prolific authors of all time, says that he writes 10 pages every single day. There are no days off from writing – even holidays. Imagine the massive body of work you could amass if you wrote every single day, even if you only wrote half of a page. In addition to the amount of words you’d yield, your writing would significantly improve, as well. Just like any muscles in the body, the more you use your writing muscles, the stronger they become.

Figure out your most productive hours

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 4.39.06 PM

What time of the day do you do your best writing? I find that I’m most productive in the early afternoon and also the evening. I have a poor attention span for writing first thing in the morning and later afternoon. Now that I’ve figured that out, I’m best able to plan my day.

I start my morning answering emails, planning, researching, or working on social media. Then I jump into writing. If I need to switch gears, I do, and then finish my day with writing, as well. Not everyone would benefit from my jumping-back-and-forth habits. In fact, the writing habits of famous writers can vary.

Many famous poets and authors wrote best in the very early morning, such as Sylvia Plath, Edith Wharton, Toni Morrison, and Kurt Vonnegut. Night writers include Robert Frost, Pablo Neruda, and Rachel Carson. Try out different times to write and see what works best for you!

Create writing routines

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 4.47.45 PM

Maya Angelou kept a hotel room where she did all of her writing. Paying for it monthly, she would go there every day, early in the morning to begin her writing. She’d keep nothing else in her hotel room other than a thesaurus, dictionary, and something small like a crossword puzzle for when she needed to clear her mind. She’d leave every day around 2pm, and go home to edit her work.

Consider your writing routines, whatever they may be. I find that my attention-sidetracked brain works best when I keep a notebook by my side at all times to jot down various notes throughout the day. Then, when I have more time to devote to writing, I’ll sit with my notebook and a computer, type up any thoughts and begin to expand on them.

Test your writing to see if it works

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 4.49.40 PM

Aaron Sorkin, the award-winning screenwriter behind The West Wing and The Social Network, has admitted to acting out his scenes in front of a mirror. He does this to hear the dialogue out loud to be sure it sounds realistic. Reading your work out loud is something we definitely recommend at BuzzFarmers. If you feel uncomfortable reading aloud, find someone who can edit your work or even read it for you!

Of all of these writing habits of famous writers, which do you identify with most? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Image sources:

  • Image 1 from page 74 of “114 proved plans to save a busy man time” (1918)
  • Image 2 from page 265 of “Complete catalog and price list” (1900)
  • Image 3 from page 745 of “Knight’s American mechanical dictionary” (1882)
  • Image 4 from page 584 of “Text-book of nervous diseases” (1901)
  • Image 5 from page 40 of “Usus et Fabrica Circini Cuiusdam Proportionis” (1655)
  • Image 6 from page 63 of “Architectural drawing” (1920)

read more


Promoting Blog Posts Made Easy: Why We Love CoSchedule

If you understand the importance of promoting blog posts, consider transitioning to CoSchedule

If you’re reading our blog, I’m going to assume you either work with content regularly or you’re trying to learn everything you can about writing and promoting blog posts. I’ll be completely honest with you: Before I started working in the world of content marketing, I actually thought that working social media would be an easy job. I’d been using Twitter, Facebook, and other social media applications for years. Scheduling posts, communicating with followers, and sharing quality content simply couldn’t be difficult. Oh, how naive I once was.

If you think being a social media manager is easy, you’re not considering all the work that goes into promoting blog posts and sharing quality content with your followers. Do you remember the social media formulas we use for each and every article we write? I’ll give you a quick update (though, be sure to head over there and read the entire post if you haven’t yet). Each time we write a post, we also create dozens of carefully crafted Tweets and Facebook posts to optimize our content. Not only do we need to choose the right words to share, we also then need to schedule the content to post days, weeks, months, even a year into the future.

Let me explain my previous process:

  1. Write a post in WordPress
  2. After the post is scheduled, write the Tweets and Facebook posts in a separate Google document.
  3. Copy and paste the Tweets and posts from the document into Hootsuite, and then schedule the date and time for each social share into the future.

This process meant I always had three open tabs to keep clicking back and forth between when writing and promoting blog content. This is by no means a life-ending problem, but it did mean I was spending a significant amount of my work time completing what should be a relatively simple process.

And then CoSchedule came into my life, and everything changed.

When we decided to test drive the CoSchedule plugin for WordPress, we started by just using it on BuzzFarmers and Napa’s Daily Growl. It was immediately evident how the CoSchedule plugin was streamlining our processes, making our job easier, and we quickly began to recommend it to our clients, as well. It saves me hours of time a week completing tasks associated with promoting the blog posts I’ve spent so long writing.

How CoSchedule Helps with Promoting Blog Posts

1. In-line scheduling, so you don’ t have to keep switching tabs.

Remember how I originally had three pages I needed to toggle between? That need has completely disappeared. Not only does CoSchedule work as an editorial calendar where you can view scheduled posts, it also works as your stand alone social media scheduler. This all happens all in one place, folks. I don’t need to open multiple tabs or log in to three different accounts.

This is my biggest selling point. I can now schedule Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. posts while I’m still writing. If I happen to write a witty sentence that would fit in with our social media formulas, I just have to copy it and schedule it below the post in the CoSchedule plugin. It’s then ready to share on whatever day I scheduled it. Voila!

2. Smart scheduling in one click so you can save SO MUCH time.

I also love that you can schedule posts by time and date via CoSchedule. Since this is something I relied heavily on in Hootsuite, it’s so nice to have the same options in CoSchedule. Even more, CoSchedule offers easy scheduling. You can say you want the social post to go out between 8am-12pm, 12pm-3pm or 3pm-10pm. This way you can schedule a Tweet to go out from four accounts, and they’ll all go out at different times; CoSchedule determines when the best time will be for each account. Awesome.

There’s something you should know, though – you can do this even if the post has yet to be published. And if the publish date changes, the scheduled Tweets change with them.

We have a process at BuzzFarmers where we write, and then another managing editor will edit our posts (and social media content) before we schedule or send the content to a client. By being able to schedule the social media posts before sending them to our editor, there’s no more follow up on our part. The social media posts and the blog is ready, and nothing else needs to be completed.

3. Easy linking, so you don’t need to use any other service (although hooks up to it!)

CoSchedule builds in a shortened permalink for each social media share. Now, the process of getting a shortened link isn’t difficult, but in my old way of working, I’d need to go to a separate website to get a shortlink and then copy and paste it dozens of times into my Google doc before even scheduling the posts in Hootsuite.

I no longer have to worry about the getting and copying shortlinks. Each time you schedule any social media posts, the permalink is already built in to each Tweet. CoSchedule is built to make the life of a managing editor who worries about promoting blog posts much easier.

4. Always current and up to date so you never send out a broken link!

CoSchedule is completely sync’d with the blog. If we change the title or URL on a post, as long as we’ve used their shortcodes that automatically pull in the {title} or the {permalink}, CoSchedule will pull in the correct information. Even if we’ve scheduled Tweets for a year from now, it will pull in the correct title and URL because it’s pulling that data directly from the blow.

5. Analytics, so you can see how your posts are performing.

It’s no secret that BuzzFarmers loves analytics. CoSchedule does, too. Once a post goes live, you’re able to view how many social shares, favorites, likes, and retweets each post has garnered. The analytics go even deeper. Based on social media shares, tops posts are identified. They’ve also mentioned that they’re considering adding single Tweet analytics, which we’re very on the edge of our seats waiting for because it will make testing our Tweets even easier. Maybe A/B testing will be next, who knows!

And it isn’t just the CoSchedule product that we want to shout about on rooftops – we also really dig their blog. They even made the BuzzFarmers 10 Best Company Blogs of 2014 list. Oh, and we gave them a shout-out during our first #FollowFridayVideo that we posted two weeks ago. Check it out! See – I wasn’t joking when I told you how much we love this company.

We’re dedicated CoSchedule users, and now, so are our clients. If you’re considering making the switch, don’t hesitate. The transition was seamless and smooth, and we couldn’t be happier with their product.

Do you use CoSchedule? What feature makes your life easier? Let us know in the comments!

read more


Why Blogging Matters to Any Business (Especially if You Think It Doesn’t)

Do you have a tough time understanding why blogging matters? 

One thing we hear often from prospective clients or even family and friends who may not understand blogging, is that they simply don’t get it. They can’t understand why blogging matters, how blogging could ever result in a sale, and they want to know why we think it will benefit their business.

The bottom line is that businesses with blogs can outperform competitors without blogs. We’re the secret sauce for the clients we work with, which is why we also don’t work with competitor. Customers, or even prospective clients, feel more of a connection with businesses who share personal stories, pictures, videos, and testimonials online than they feel for a company they find in the Yellow Pages.

Long gone are the days of one pharmacy, one bank, and one insurance company in each town. Competition is fierce. Companies must take positive steps to ensure they stand out from the crowd. 

read more


What You Can Learn From The Best Corporate Blogs

If you want to add your company to the best corporate blogs list, we can teach you how.

At the end of 2014, we created a best-of list highlighting 10 company blogs we thought were doing really great things. As you can imagine, these blogs are killing SEO, writing the best content, and amassing a bunch of comments on each post from loyal readers. They’re also speaking to niche personas, showing up in search engines, and pulling in some great company revenue.

When we wrote the post, we wanted to highlight some companies that we really admired. As you know from our Marketing Genius series, we like to showcase companies we think are doing great things, and explain why we think their approach is working for them. Now that we’ve highlighted these 10 companies, let’s talk about what they’re doing that makes them the best corporate blogs.

read more


Using Free Images for Blogs Might Get You Sued

Looking for free graphics to use on your blog? Think again. There’s no such thing as free images for blogs.

Picture this: A young writer has recently taken over writing the content for his family’s successful travel agency blog. It’s a dream job; he’s able to feature new destinations daily. He’s learning about the world around him, and using his mastery of language to write killer copy. Plus, this young writer knows well enough that you can’t just use free images for blogs.

He steers clear of sourcing photographs from Google’s image search and other search engines. Instead, he uses graphics sent to the travel agency by partner companies or even takes pictures travelers post to other travel blogs, but always credits the original photographer for their work. Then one day, he gets an email from a lawyer informing him that the travel agency is being sued for copyright infringement for thousands of dollars.

read more


10 Blog Best Practices for Turning Stories into Sales

If you want your company blog to thrive, honor these 10 blog best practices

I loved competitive diving as a child, but I didn’t love practicing for the swim meets. I’d whine and occasionally try to use my part-time job as an excuse to get out of practice. Sometimes I succeeded, other times I failed.

When I did make it to team practices, my coach would make me do the same dive over and over and over again – the front flip. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t do a front flip off the board. I could do back flips, easily and with precision, but my front flips were a complete mess. I’d open up too soon and my back would slam against the water.

So I gave up on the front flip.

read more


17 Little Known Storytelling Social Media Formulas: Plant the Seeds and Watch Your Articles Grow!

You’ve mastered visual storytelling and blog storytelling. Social media storytelling is your next step!

The time has come – you’ve really gotten the hang of this blog-post writing thing, and you’re ready to profess your stories to the world. So, what do you do? You’ll soon learn that storytelling & social media go hand-in-hand!

When we first start the social media conversation with new clients, it’s interesting to hear their perspectives on social media. The great thing is that most of our clients seem to have a strategy, though they usually include posting a Tweet or Facebook post once — on the day the post goes live. The strategy often ends there.

So, other than the fabulous SEO job we assume they’re doing, how do people ever see that article again if it’s only promoted the day or week that the blog post goes live? The simple answer is that they don’t.

Even our publishing clients with high blogging frequency sometimes look at us strangely, as if to say, “You mean, I’m supposed to share this somewhere else?”

read more


Try, Try Again: Experimenting With Content & Blogging

New to content & blogging? Experimentation can teach you what works best for your blog.

Think you know what your audience wants from you? If you’ve done your research, it’s likely that you’re keyed in to what your customers want to read. Do you have a public relations, marketing, and analytics team? Even better! You’re probably on the right track to relevant content blogging. There’s a good chance that with research and guidance, your posts will be a hit with your readers.

But what if your posts aren’t getting the traction you thought they would?

read more


Hiring Blog Writers: Grow With the Help of Experts

If you’re considering hiring blog writers, here are some tips!

You want a company blog, but you don’t have the resources to build and develop it yourself.

We’ve heard this many times before. Often, CEOs – after coming across other great business blogs – understand that they, too, need a blog to make their company stand out from the competition. But how? What if the interest is there, and there are resources available, but no one to fill the shoes of writer, producer, and editor? This situation happens more often than you’d think.

read more


Blog Collaboration: Inviting Different Voices to Write for Your Blog

Consider blog collaboration to spotlight new voices.

One of the questions we get asked most often from our clients is who should be writing their company blog. Should it be one person, such as the CEO, or should it be a blog collaboration, featuring staff of various positions? This question isn’t an easy one to answer, and largely depends on the blog’s goals and vision for the future.

There is a lot to consider before deciding on a single writer or blog collaboration. For example, how will posts be scheduled during a vacation? Who will edit the writing? Will there be an approval process or fact checking? While we can’t make the decision for you to go it alone or include a team of writers, we can help you understand the benefits of collaboration and what to consider even if you are writing solo.

read more