August 26th, 2015 — Freelance advice, freelance copywriter, freelance copywriting
Running a freelance business is great…most of the time.
The pluses include:
- No more 9 to 5
- No boss breathing down your neck
- You get to choose your working hours
- You can run your business in a way that suits you
Of course, any freelancer also knows that what that really means is:
- You can end up working a lot more than just 9 to 5
- You have no boss so the buck stops with you
- You have to work the hours your workload dictates
- You’re the only one in your business so you have to be Jack of all trades
From an employees perspective freelancers have an easy life, but we know that’s not always true – especially in the early days.
One of the toughest bits of freelancing is finding a constant stream of clients.
The freelancer’s workload is notorious: one minute you’re up to your eye balls the next tumble weed is rolling through your office because work as dried up.
What can be done?
Can anything be done, or is that just part of being a freelancer?
Client churn is a natural part business. When you’re busy everything’s rosy, but you tend to be so busy you let your marketing slide. As a consequence, once your project is complete there’s nothing to follow it up with.
Where do clients come from?
Everyone has a favourite way of attracting clients:
- Website traffic
- Through blogging and article marketing
- Social media
A lot of freelancers tend to put all their eggs in one basket, either relying on Google, or relying on local networking events.
The problem is when Google changes its algorithms your rankings are likely to take a hit, causing a reduction in traffic and therefore enquiries. With local networking, you’re limiting your audience and may find it tough to find a fresh pool of clients.
What’s the most effective way to find clients?
Using a mixture of methods.
Ahem – existing clients?
True – your existing and past clients are also a rich source of work. Plus, because they’ve already worked with you, they’re warm leads.
Staying in touch with your past clients is a great way to generate new work. You never know when they’re going to need you again, so drop them a line every month and keep them in the loop about new projects you’re involved with or new services you’re offering.
Notice I said stay in touch? That doesn’t mean emailing them every month asking for work. Send them useful information and tips to keep your relationship with them alive – don’t beg.
Maintaining a constant workflow in the world of the freelancer is essential, but difficult to achieve. Even with the best systems in place you’re likely to see peaks and troughs, but by getting organised and maintaining contact with past clients you’ll have the best possible chance of a constant income.
Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd
August 19th, 2015 — copywriter, copywriting
This post first appeared on Briar Copywriting, but I also wanted to share it with you here.
Everyone makes them, even you.
Those who claim to never have made a mistake in their lives are, well liars quite frankly.
How can I be so sure?
You’re human. I’m human. To be human means we make mistakes, but how we deal with them defines the type of people we are.
What type of person are you?
Sweaty palms, the sudden sinking of your heart, that sick feeling in your stomach – are all signs of the realisation that something’s gone wrong.
What do you do?
a) Pass the buck and claim it was down to someone else?
b) Hide and hope it blows over?
c) Go to pieces, change your name and emigrate?
d) Put your hands up and do what you can to resolve the problem?
If you picked either a, b, or c, you need to rethink your attitude.
I’ve made mistakes and I’ve worked with companies that have made mistakes. The most annoying thing is when someone either denies it’s their problem, or they claim it was someone else’s fault.
Yes, the initial discovery of a mistake is maddening; you want to scream at someone (depending on its magnitude), you may even want heads to roll, but once you’ve had time to digest the situation you would rather have someone say:
“I’m so sorry. It’s completely my fault. What can I do to resolve it?”
Learn and grow from your mistakes
The worst thing you can do after making an error is to forget about it.
Sure, you need to move on otherwise it will eat you up and zap your confidence, but you should always learn from the experience.
- What you can do in the future to safeguard against such mistakes happening
- Reviewing your processes and training provision and improve where necessary
If you care about your work and your customers an error can seem like the end of the world.
It doesn’t have to be.
As a copywriter I’m expected to be a world-class expert on spelling. I’m not. My expertise is in using the right words to create the emotions and responses you want from your customers.
I do make typos. I always do my best to find them before they reach the client. Sometimes those slippery little suckers get through, but if that happens I am there by my client’s side correcting the mistake.
Do I feel bad? You bet I do.
Do I want to curl up and hide under the nearest bush? Most definitely.
Is that what I do?
No. I face my mistakes. I do all I can to put them right. I learn from them.
Yes, I’m a copywriter, but I am also human.
Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd
August 12th, 2015 — blog, blogging, blogging for business, seo
Is there really such as a thing as an SEO secret these days?
Possibly not, but there are a few white hat practices that bloggers tend to overlook.
Blogging is all about sharing your knowledge, but it’s also a great way to drive traffic to your website and raise your online profile.
The tactics I’m going to outline in this article are pretty basic, which is why they usually get forgotten about. However, each one with help you make marginal gains that all add up to a big difference.
Your headline is crucial.
Not only will it get your post noticed, it will also determine whether it gets read or not.
Did know you know that the more click throughs your article gets in the search results, the higher you’re likely to rank? It’s true, because Google’s algorithm will attach more value to your blog because of the post’s popularity.
Conversely though, if you already rank fairly well, but your headlines are poor having a knock on effect on your click through rates, your blog will be seen as being irrelevant to that search term and your rankings could fall.
That’s why it’s best to always write cracking, eye-catching headlines.
Images give you diversity in your backlinks.
The Alt tag tell the search engines about the image, but if you use an image to link to your blog post, that tag will also serve as a keyword.
A great way to boost this effect is to create infographics for others to use – just ask for an image backlink to your post.
Nofollow or Dofollow?
It’s tempting to take a few short cuts when it comes to link building, especially when a growing number of sites only offer nofollow links. If you’re tempted to buy in links, don’t. That’s is the quickest way to ruin your rankings and reputation.
Concentrate on creating high quality articles that other sites will want to link to.
Yes, linking out to other high quality blogs is a good thing.
If you are seen as a trusted blog, it’s expected that you’ll be linking to other equally high quality blogs.
Length of blog post
It’s best to stick with longer, high quality, informative blog posts. However, you also need to work on gathering comments because this will add to the length of the unique content for each post – something the search engines love.
None of these are revolutionary, but they will all help you in your quest for a high ranking blog.
If you have any other suggestions I’ve overlooked, leave a comment below.
August 5th, 2015 — marketing, Video marketing, Viral video marketing
The internet is jam packed with videos these days.
Bloggers, would-be musicians and companies are all at it vying for your attention.
That means if your video is going to cut the mustered and get noticed it’s got to be something pretty special.
Granted, the production, initial idea and storyboard will have a lot to do with that, but so too will your video’s script. After all, you need powerful words to make the most of the action.
Making an impact
The first thing to remember is that your script must be written in spoken English.
Written English, as you would use for web copy and other marketing materials, will come across as stilted so it’s important to write as you speak.
Whether you have a storyboard to fit your script to, or you’re writing freestyle, it’s important to start with the most important person – the customer.
Every word must be directed at them and what they need, so think about:
- What are they looking for?
- How does the product/service help them?
- How will it make their life better?
These should all be addressed early on (and recapped at the end) before you talk about any features.
Pain and pleasure
Once you’ve worked out what you need to cover to answer the question above, finding the customer’s pain (i.e. the problem they have and the reason for them looking for a solution) should be fairly easy.
Your next stop is to highlight this issue in your script and show how the product/service will alleviate it and make their life better.
Going back to the earlier point of using spoken English – now’s the time to ignore (some) grammatical rules and write as you speak.
Don’t get me wrong, it still has to be good English, just not as straight laced as written English.
The best way to make sure you’ve captured it is to read the script out loud and adjust it until it sounds like natural speech.
The length of the script
Remember this is a video not a feature length film.
The video isn’t there to answer every question the customer has; it’s there to tempt them into finding out more.
Ideally, your video shouldn’t exceed 90 seconds.
Call to action
Yes, your script does need a call to action.
If you don’t include one it will just fizzle.
Recap your main points (especially the benefits) and tell them how to get in touch. The final visual should be of the web address, phone number and email. Let’s face it, if you forget that they’re not going to get in touch.
So, a quick recap:
- Write for the customer
- Write in spoken English
- Keep to 90 seconds or less
- Finish with a call to action
Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd
July 29th, 2015 — Advertising, Branding, marketing
A tagline has always been seen as an important part of your brand’s marketing, regardless of your company’s size.
In a few short well-chosen words, it sums up your brand’s promise, but is it still relevant today?
Just look at some of the biggest companies around like Amazon, Apple, eBay and Google, they don’t rely on taglines, their logo is enough to instil the values they hold dear.
OK, the chances of your business commanding the same kudos in your industry is unlikely (you don’t have their marketing budget for a start), but if they can go tagline-less can you?
More and more companies are moving away from them, but is that because the vast majority of taglines are, well, not to put too finer point on it, bad?
Is there a value in taglines?
Look at is this way, advertising is moving away from selling. Overt sales pitches don’t cut it any more (did they ever?). Consumers want to be wooed; they want to be shown how great their life will become if they buy your product. In other words, your marketing has to be all about them and not about you.
The inclusion of a tagline however, creates a hook that attaches itself to their mind permanently telling them:
- I’m lovin’ it – McDonalds
- Just do it – Nike
- We’re better connected – 02
- Every little helps – Tesco
- It gives you wings – Red Bull
- The make-up of make-up artists – Max Factor
- 8 out of 10 cats prefer it – Whiskas
A good tagline can permanently cement itself from childhood, who doesn’t remember the Frosties, They’re Grrrrrrreat!
It instantly conveys what your brand stands for and your customers’ attitude towards it.
How to create a winning tagline
Only time will tell if you’ve come up with a cracker, but here are a few tips to try and get you on the right course.
- Do you want it to reflect your values or your product/service?
- Does it reflect the emotions and feelings of your customers?
- Does it gel with your businesses ideology?
- Use simple language without any jargon
- Will it date quickly or does it have longevity?
- Is it memorable?
Ultimately, ask yourself whether it adds value to your brand?
If you’re really struggling to come up with something perhaps it’s worth going to market without one.
In time, as your business grows and you understand it better (and your customers), you can always do a mini rebrand exercise and introduce one.