Category Archives: blogging

Writing copy that sells – 6 top tips

Book and pen

Writing copy that sells: Engage the reader

You’ve crafted what you thought was the perfect homepage, newsletter, blog or flyer – and you’re feeling pretty chuffed with yourself right now.

But it soon becomes clear that the only person who got excited about your masterpiece was you. So what are you doing wrong?

Good copywriting is not just putting words onto paper. Writing copy that sells is a skill that can make a real difference to your business.

The principles of good copywriting predate the Internet and apply to print and online text – the bottom line is – you’ve got to engage your reader!

Here are some copywriting tips to get you started:

  • Who is your customer? You can’t write anything worthwhile unless you know your customer. Think of some-one specific whose business you’re keen on getting and try to get into his or her head. Does he like Arsenal? Does she love expensive handbags? What makes them lose sleep? Call up a mental image of this person and imagine talking to him or her in the pub or over a coffee when you’re writing.
  • NEVER write for groups  Even if you’re writing something that you hope will be read by lots of people, you need to write as if you’re only ever going to have ONE reader. People switch off when they read phrases such as: “Many of you.” “Some of you.” They want to feel special.
  • Write the way you speak Lawyers and businesspeople often shake their heads at this point, assuring me that this type of writing doesn’t apply to their special customers. Not so. Even the wealthiest, snootiest potential customer is human and responds to good copy in an emotional way. There are not many people who’ll be persuaded to do something by someone who speaks as if he’d escaped from the pages of a Charles Dickens novel.
  •  Planning Before you reach for your laptop and start typing, take a piece of paper and a pen, pour yourself a glass of wine and jot down a plan for the blog post, newsletter, homepage, flyer. Start with a goal – what are you trying to achieve? Do you want your customer to call you, visit your online sales page or fill out a survey?
  • What do you want to say? Once you’ve nailed your goal, think about what it is you want to say – and here it’s important to think more about your reader’s needs rather than your own. So, you want your reader to know that you can sort out his finances? Think about how this will make life easier for him. For example, you could write: Do you want to spend more time on the tennis court or golf course and less time trying to stay on top of your finances? Why not let me take care of your finances, so you can work on your serve or improve your handicap.
  • Don’t forget a call to action  Tell your reader clearly what you want him or her to do now that you’ve persuaded them you’re the right person to contact. Link to your contact page or a page with more details of the offer you’ve talked about or the service you described.

I hope these tips will inspire you to experiment with your own copywriting – you’ll be amazed at the difference even these basic tips will make to your business communications.

Of course, if you’re rather be spending your time doing something else – why not let us help you work out who you want to talk to, what to say and how to write copy that sells.

Find out more about our new small business package here – designed to manage your online presence (and media presence if you need it) so you can focus on what you love to do.

Photo credit: Free Digital Photos.Net : Tiramisustudio

 

 

The business of writing – work for yourself

Screen shot of an article on another website - Inspired Mums

My interview on Inspired Mums

My business was recently featured on Inspired Mums – where I was interviewed about my transition from journalism to setting up my own communications and PR business.

I can’t remember ever being on the receiving end of an interview before – apart from job interviews of course – as I’m always the one doing the interviewing. It made for an interesting change to answer questions about why I started my business and what the best and most challenging part are of working for myself.

The best and worst things about working for yourself

The best thing about working for myself – is the flexibility it allows me to be there for my family and the ability to choose the projects I want to work on.

The most challenging is to stay motivated and confident when I’m having an off day and to make sure I don’t become too isolated.

What would I have done differently?

Another interesting question – was: What would I have done differently when I set up my own business – with the benefit of hindsight?

Well, that’s easy – I should have started working for myself earlier, rather than waiting for others to create opportunities for me. I finally decided to take the plunge after becoming increasingly fed up reporting to people, sometimes less creative and experienced, and in limiting roles because I wanted to have a flexible role. I also really liked the idea of choosing the type of projects that excited me, rather than having to be given assignments that bored me to tears.

Do you work for yourself? What do you think the best and worst parts of working for yourself are? Do you have any tips to share for people thinking about setting up on their own?

Read the full interview on Inspired Mums

Why guest blogging is good for business

Ed Yourdon / Foter / CC BY-SA

Most of my clients look at me blankly when I first mention guest blogging.
By then I’ve usually managed to convince them that their business needs a blog. The next content marketing strategy is guest blogging to help grow their business and once they get it and start seeing the benefits for themselves, they can’t stop singing the praises of guest blogging.

So, what is guest blogging and why should you do it?

Imagine you’re a career coach and you’ve been invited to speak at a conference attended by frustrated middle managers in need of career inspiration – exactly the type of customer you’re after.

The organiser hands you the microphone and gives you carte blanche to talk to them about how you could potentially help them solve their career problems. Would you say no to an opportunity like this? No, I didn’t think so.

That is what guest blogging is all about – an opportunity to get your name in front of a new audience, exactly the right type of audience for your business, and to show them why you’re somebody worth listening to.

How to find guest blogging opportunities?

The first step is to ID whom you want to talk to. Who is your ideal customer – for example if you run a cookery school for toddlers, you probably want to talk to mums.
Do some research and find local or national websites targeting mums.

(Building a national profile is an excellent way of showing local customers how important you are and why they should want to do business with you.)

Start getting involved in discussions on the sites you want to be associated with and following their content. Many editors of websites (and publications) are constantly on the look out for fresh information relevant to their readers.
Guest-blogging ideally is a win-win situation. They get good, fresh content, you get a chance to talk to their audience.

What should my guest blog posts be about?

First work out what you want to achieve with the guest blog post. Do you want to make middle managers stuck in a career rut contact you to consider you for coaching?
Come up with a topic that your ideal client will find interesting and helpful. So, for the career coach for example – 5 reasons you may be ready for your next career move.
If you’re an estate agent, perhaps you want to write about a trend relevant to your audience of buyers and sellers – such as: How to make your house sell itself.

At the end of your post, you include your profile and a link to your website (if allowed) and how you could help your potential customer solve a problem they may have.

Take a look at my portfolio to see some of the guest blog posts I’ve written for clients in recent months.
If you’re idea is original, relevant and well-written, chances are good that the editor of the website you’re targeting will only be too delighted to use your copy and will usually agree either to link to your site or at least mention your website in the copy.
The top prize is a link – as a variety of back links from reputable websites is an ideal way to boost the site’s search engine ranking, but a mention of the website also does the job of getting you noticed by a new audience.
Once your guest blog is published – share and keep sharing on all your social media channels, to make sure both you and the website owner who published your guest post get maximum exposure.

If you need help identifying guest blogging opportunities and goals or just can’t seem to find the time to come up with a list of interesting topics in your niche, I can help. Contact me for any communication needs. You can view my full list of services here.

Get your name in the news: media relations tips

Mike Bailey-Gates / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

 

In my former life as a journalist, I’ve deleted and binned more press releases than I care to remember. The number of times I ended up interviewing a so-called ‘expert’ offered by a PR company can be counted on one hand.

Now that I’m on the other end of the table, my insight into the media and nose for news enable me to help entrepreneurs and small business owners to get noticed by the media – in a positive way of course.

These days everyone can write their own news on the internet, but writing an opinion piece or feature or getting quoted in a well-respected paper or website, is still one of the best ways of building your profile as a credible authority in your field.

Here are my tips for getting your name in the news

Think news first

Find something in your company, product, story that is newsworthy – not from your point of view, but from a journalist’s point of view.
If you can add a fresh angle to something that’s already in the news, you’re likely to find a willing ear.

For example, the day after a national survey about working mums’ guilt appeared in the media, I approached a parenting website on behalf of Inspired Mums, a career coach – offering a guest blog post with tips for working mums on how to banish the guilt – it got accepted straight away.

Find out what journalists are writing about on Twitter and engage in the conversation using topic hash tags. If they think you’ve got something worthwhile to add to the story, they’ll get in touch.
Offer stories about new trends in your industry, new ways of looking at things, different approaches, a look behind the scenes, but steer clear of promotional articles only designed to make you look good.

Lose the fluff and hype

Editors are no fools. If you’ve called your product or company “unique”, “world-renowned” or “leading”, your release is already in the trash folder.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve tried to explain to CEOs and PR people that journalists couldn’t care less about your core messages. They care about the news value of the story first and foremost. A story with a perfectly crafted core message but without news value – is a complete waste of time. Of course, once you’ve hooked them with a topical news angle, you need to get your message in there, but in a subtle, organic way.
If you understand this, you’re half way there.

Don’t expect them to do your job

Do NOT send information and photographs in the hope that the editor ‘will know what to do with it’.
They WILL know what to do with it, yes – they will delete it, because they have no more than two seconds to decide whether the email you sent is a story or not. If you haven’t told them what the story is, you’ve lost your chance.

A clear, well-written and persuasive two-line pitch explaining exactly what the story is about, why it is relevant and how it can be illustrated, has a much better chance of getting a look in.

Quality, well-written content

Once you have a bite, you can follow up with a crisp, concise article – answering all the obvious questions: Why, what, where, when and how and then include meaningful, non-salesy quotes from no more than three people. Offer up to three captioned photographs, good quality jpegs to choose from and links to your website and contact details for the people mentioned in the article.
Don’t expect the journalist to do research for you. Include relevant quotes and statistics and make sure they’re accurate!

Don’t send an attachment – include the press release in the body of your email.
Newsrooms are shrinking and if you can deliver a complete, ready-to-publish package on time – you’ll get the exposure you want – most of the time.

Respect deadlines

If an editor shows an interest in your story – be prepared to be interviewed or provide more information. Don’t switch off your mobile and go the gym or say you’re too busy when a journalist calls. Bad move. You won’t get asked again.
Similarly, if you pitch a guest blog post and you’re given a deadline, make sure you deliver on time, whatever happens. No one cares that your computer crashed or your babysitter was late. Make it happen.

Build a relationship

If your article or post is used in whatever way, send a quick thank you email or tweet. Don’t bombard the journalist with daily story suggestions, but do follow them on Twitter, read their stories or blogs and comment from time to time. They’ll be more open to your next, targeted and relevant pitch.

If all of this sounds too much like hard work, why not let me handle the media for you while you get on with the day job.
Contact me if you want help getting exposure in the media.

I can help boost your website traffic and build you profile through effective blogging and guest blogging too. Targeted, engaging website copy to help you meet your goals – I’m your girl.

Is your website content letting you down?

photograph of pair of glasses lying on an open page

Is your website easy on the eye?

You’ve forked out a small fortune for a shiny new website with bells and whistles and if you’re really switched on, you may even have a blog.

Now sit back and wait for the cash to roll in.
You may wait a long time. Much more likely is that not a single soul – apart from the odd porn spammer – will stumble across your site for months to come.

Before you reach deeper in your pocket for an expensive site upgrade, consider this:

Does your website answer the question foremost on your customer’s mind when sitting down in front of her computer? Does your website miraculously appear on Google results in answer to their question – in other words is your website content engaging and search-engine optimised? Do conversations on social media reel clients in to your site?

Even if you answer “yes” to all of the above, that’s just the start.

Is your content stopping your potential client in her tracks?

Is the content clear and explained in a way that does not insult the client’s intelligence, put him to sleep or annoy him with creepy sales talk?

If by the time your reader has reached as far as you’re reading now you’re doing well. If you lose him, he’ll bounce away into the virtual ether never to return.

5 ways to write SEO website content to get your business noticed

Know your customer and keywords

Who are you writing for – picture your ideal customer. What are they looking for? Use a free tool such as free Google AdWords keyword planner tool to find out what your ideal customer is likely to type into Google search. Now use those keywords in headings, subheadings and text on your site, but be subtle: Think flirting – you want to make your intentions clear in a playful way, not throw yourself at some unsuspecting suitor making them run for the hills.

Spread the word

No one will notice your business online, unless you tell them about it. Use social media to spread the word. A blog will help to give you fresh topics to talk about on social media. Join industry forums and take part in discussions, link back to your site. Guest blog (more on that later) on sites bigger than yours and link back to build your online profile.

Less is more

Keep your message simple and clear. The average time people spend reading a page online is said to be less than a minute – this varies of course, but the bottom line is: Not Very Long. Reward them for stopping by – with meaningful, concise, targeted content that makes them want to come back for more.

Be personal

Let your personality shine through. People like doing business with people. Don’t shy away from showing who you are on your website and social media – it will make your business seem more human. Obviously this is not the place to over-share your leather fetish or recreational drug habit, but don’t be afraid to let people know a bit about you.

Get a conversation going

The days of thrusting products in people’s faces and ramming advertising messages down their throats are over – especially online.
People in the digital age – respond to communication that is two-way and conversational.
Use your blog to talk to them about questions they have and offer solutions. Link to other pages on your site in the answer. Be open, generous and honest – and you’ll soon be seen as an expert in your field who’s worth listening to and buying from.

Of course good content can’t be the band-aid for bad design or poor business research, but if you’ve done your homework and have a good basic website (which doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg), the above content guidelines will get you off to a good start.

Your website is likely to be one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, communication tool in your tool kit. Get it right.

Subscribe to my newsletter below for more tips on getting your business noticed online or contact me if you need a seo copywriter to make your website work for your business.

Do you have other useful tips to add? I’d like to hear from you too.


Does my business really need a blog?

Whether you run cookery courses for children, fix computers for a living or transform gardens – a blog could give your business a real boost. Here is what a business blog can do for you:

Attract new customers
Google loves websites to be fresh and have a bit of a buzz about them and a blog will do just that. It will give your website a pulse.

This will boost your Google ranking making it easier for customers to find you.  Using the right keywords and tags in your blog, linking to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, will turn your business into a customer magnet.

Make you shine
Your blog is your chance to blow the socks off potential customers – and I don’t mean flogging your products with creepy sales speak – but through informative posts showing that you are an expert in your field, someone they should consider buying from.

Say you’re a chiropractor and customers often ask you questions such as:
“Should I put ice on my strained muscle? “Is it OK to feel pain when I play tennis?” “How long does it take to cure runner’s knee?”
Bingo! Answer these questions on your blog and you have a series of posts to show new customers why you’re good at what you do!
Update your blog regularly with valuable, useful information and you’ll become the go-to person in your field.

When writing blogs or guest blogs (more on this later) for my clients I look at questions their clients typically ask, for example:

  • “How do I start my own business?” – a career coach
  • “How long will a spray tan last?”  – a beautician
  • “How do I keep my children’s lunchboxes cool during a heat wave?” – a company selling lunch boxes
  • “How do I go about getting a divorce?” – family lawyers

Answer these questions in your blog and then subtly offer to solve the problem for the client with a call to action at the end.

Show the real you
A website can be quite static and sterile. It doesn’t give you a voice in the way a blog does where you can have a real conversation. This is good because it shows you’re human and you’re not just there to make customers part with their bucks.
They ask questions, you reply – if they’re not happy they can tell you and you can respond. You share ideas, experiences, products and new developments with them and they share it with their friends on Facebook – more potential customers! This way you build ongoing relationships with clients and manage your reputation.

Of course, you may not have the time to write your own blog and manage social media sites to help promote it. That’s why I’m here. Here’s the subtle call to action in case you haven’t noticed 😉

I write targeted blogs with a clear call to action that will do all the things I talked about for your business. I’m an experienced writer who will not put your customer to sleep.

Contact me for more information about business blogging or to hire me as a freelance blogger for your business – or for an introductory session on how to start your own blog.

This is what people say about me.

If you want to know more about how to write a blog – look out for my next post or sign up to my free newsletter.