Entries from January 2009 ↓

The Power of Blogging

It seems like just about everyone has a blog these days.

Do you have one yet? Well, if not (or even if you do), continue reading and see for yourself why blogging is so popular.

What is a Blog?

Basically, it is a web page that contains short articles, known as posts, on a variety of subjects. These posts are arranged in reverse chronological order (that is, the latest comes first) and each one is identified by an anchor tag marked by a permanent link that can be referred to by others who wish to link to it.

Blogs are a means of communication – some just point to other websites, others contain long articles, some are personal diaries, and others promote new technology. In other words, bloggers can write about anything they want.

Why Blog?

Why not?

Through blogs, people can express themselves freely. Writing blogs gives you the power to get what you have written printed immediately. No questions asked.

Another reason why many people are blogging is the freedom of design, layout, and its structure. You can write anything about what you want regardless of what it looks like. Your point is to attract readers in the way you think is the best. That is the power of blogging-giving you the freedom of what you want your blog to look like.

More than that though, blogging can be an excellent way of promoting your business and driving traffic to your website. All you have to do is write a few blogs about your business using carefully selected keywords.

Blogging Tools

Before you begin you need to know about blogging tools. These tools enable you to post your blogs either on your own website or to a certain blogging community. Popular blogging tools are Blogger and WordPress software; web-based tools that don’t require you to install software to your personal computer or on your server.

These are just some of the basic things you need to know about blogging. Remember that blogs give you the power to publish anything you want. And don’t forget to place a link directing to your own website. It can help you generate the traffic you needed.

Freelance Copywriting – What it is, what it does, why it works

This blog site has loads of articles about freelance copywriting. But for those of you who are new to the art of copywriting, this blog will focus on giving an introduction to the subject and why it is in such high demand today.

Take a look around you. Every where you look someone is trying to market something to you. Therefore the field of copywriting is large and continues to expand every year.

A way to describe copywriting is putting a creative message in front of a consumer and is based on three fundamental principles:

  • When you are writing to a customer, there has to be an involvement between the customer and the seller.
  • You must make sure that you explain the rewards as far as when the customer is purchasing a product.
  • The final piece is achievement and that is what you as the writer will be focusing on.

Whenever you write copy, you want your readers (the customers) to want a certain product because they will want to gain certain rewards – you know the kind of thing, the product will save them time, money etc. etc. etc.

Come on, anyone can write sales stuff…can’t they?’

A lot of people would like to think that true but it’s not. There is a specific niche for copywriters.  They are the ones who write messages in such a way that it brings about an interest in a consumer.

There are so many ads out there today so consumers won’t respond unless it is something that specifically interests them.  This is why it is more important than ever to have a clear focus when you are writing your copy so that you know which particular niche you’re trying to hit.

There will always be a need for copywriters no matter whether the economy is in a recession or in a boom.  Companies must always put out a message to consumers and as long as this demand is needed, copywriters will be in high demand.

FireFox – Click Jacking

This was recently brought to my attention through a Twitter posting.

Clickjacking is a technique where a web developer can trick you into clicking on something that you don’t mean to click on. In this example, it tricks someone into updating their twitter account without their knowledge.

Check out the video (done with the totally amazing Screenflow software), and read up on it on James Podolsey’s blog.

If you use firefox and want to block this sort of thing, grab the Noscript addon.

Twitter Clickjacking from Scott Jangro on Vimeo.

7 Ways Articles Increase Your Prospects, Publicity and Profits

Writing articles and marketing with articles is one of the best and fastest ways to market your business.

Don’t believe me? OK then, I’ll prove it. Here are seven ways you can benefit from articles.

1) Articles quickly position you as an expert in your field

Writing articles sets you apart from your competition. You never have to say “Listen to me, I’m an expert!” Your articles do that for you, because articles increase your “expert-ability.”

2) Articles can become an army of 24/7 salespeople

Once you have an article published, especially on the internet, you will achieve a 24 hour, 7 day a week, 365 day a year international sales team working specifically for you and your business.

3) One article can have many uses

In other words, leverage. Just one article can be used as a free report, a newsletter feature, it can become part of an online e-course, part of a book, etc.

4) Articles spread the word about your business and your services

Articles, especially when submitted online have a very long shelf life. They can be picked up by anyone at anytime and anywhere.

5) Marketing articles is simple, easy and inexpensive

It costs you nothing to write an article (apart from your time). It also costs you nothing to have it listed on article directories such as EzineArticles.com. Imagine what it would cost you to pay for that kind of exposure and publicity.

6) Articles can help you build a mailing list

Once you have a few articles out there, prospects will begin to flow in. These will build into a mailing list worth its weight in gold which can be used over and over again.

7) Articles let you stay in touch with clients and sell more products

We know that it can take from 5 to 8 contacts or more for new prospect to be ready to become a client. Articles allow you to stay in touch with prospects and provide them with quality information.

This list of 7 is just the tip of the ice berg. Article writing and article marketing will boost your business. Why not give it a go?

Freelance Copywriting – BT Live Web Chat

Today I hosted a Live Web Chat for BT Tradespace on freelance copywriting for business. Just in case you missed the chat it is posted here so you can replay the action.

Tradespacer live chat – Copywriting for business with Sally Ormond (01/22/2009) 
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Sally Ormond:  Hi,

Welcome to the live web chat on copywriting for business. My name is Sally Ormond and I run Briar Copywriting. I have been freelance copywritng for about 18 months or so working with a diverse range of clients across many industries.

So, if you have any questions about copywriting – whether for the web or offline – I will do my best to answer them for you.

BT Tradespace:  

Hello everyone, thank you for joining us today for the Live chat.

Thank you to Sally for hosting this today.

The Cover it live platform allows us
to view your comments/questions before we push them live, so if you
experience a delay in seeing your question appear, don’t worry. The
chat is easier to read when we push questions live just before they are

Many thanks, and over to you with your questions!

[Comment From Sian]
Hello, thanks for providing this chat – I’m looking forward to it.
Sally Ormond:  Hi Sian, thanks for dropping by.

[Comment From Sarah Thompson]
Hi Sally
Sally Ormond:  Hi Sarah

[Comment From Sian]
I’m pretty new to copy writing – never really seen creating copy as a strength of mine, but according to those around me I’m not too bad at it. Do you have any tips for people who are starting out?
Sally Ormond:  Hi Sian,

Basically whatever you are writing, always make sure your write for your reader. By that I mean always keep in your mind what it is that they want – i.e. the benefits of whatever you are providing for them – why will it make their life better?

Always avoid the ‘me marketing’ trap whereby companies talk about themselves without thinking about what their customers want – after all the customer only wants to know what’s in it for them.

[Comment From Sian]
How do you decide on the tone? I try to write about what the customer’s interested in – benefits rather than features, etc, but I feel it often comes across as a bit patronising.
Sally Ormond:  You need to identify who your reader is – basically your tone will depend on your market. If your ideal customer is quite young then tailor your language and tone accordingly.

Really, if you can keep your writing conversational you won’t go too far wrong.

[Comment From Tasha]
Some copywriters have argued that more text is better, as people will read it if they’re interested, but other people have said that short and sweet is better. What do you think?
Sally Ormond:  Hi Tasha,

Really it depends on what you are writing. Indeed most DM that you see is very long and works (although I never read that stuff as I don’t have time!). Basically it should be as long as it needs to be to get your message across.

Personally I prefer keeping things short and sweet – the punchier the better.

[Comment From NikkiPilkington.com]
Hi Sally, obviously copywriting is becoming more and more important in terms of SEO and how Google views a site – how do you ensure that your copy has the right amount of keyphrases for Google but still reads OK for the reader?
Sally Ormond:  Hi Nikki,

Yes, copywriting is incredibly important for SEO. I always write webcopy with the reader in mind and not Google. That isn’t to say that it is not SEO’d to the max.

Always use your keywords in your H1 headings and sub headings and in the first line of copy following these headings. Then they should appear within the content too – you should look for a density of arounr 3 to 5%.

If you follow that, your writing will remain reader friendly whilst being SEO friendly too.

[Comment From NikkiPilkington.com]
What are your thoughts on the American Sales Letter type of copywriting?
Sally Ormond:  American Style sales letters – personally I can’t stand them, but they do seem to work.

If I read anything like that I switch off immediately, but that’s just my opinion. In my view, you sales pitch should be strong and to the point. Sell the benefits let them know what the features are and a strong call to action – that’s all you need.

[Comment From Sarah Thompson]
The most difficult part of any copy is the beginning for me, trying to write something in a way that will grab the attention of the reader so they will read on. Have you any tips on how to do this more effectively?
Sally Ormond:  Hi Sarah,

Headings are always difficult – you need to grab their attention by identifying what you are selling and why – give them a hook, something that will draw them in, whether its a price cut, discount, guarantee, your unique selling point.

It’s not easy and probably is the hardest part of any writing, but done well it will work.

If you are stuck list the benefits and find the one that really catched your attention and lead with that one.

[Comment From Maggie]
For those of us not in the know – Whats an American Style Sales letter?
Sally Ormond:  Hi Maggie,

The American Style sales letter is those that tend to go on rather a lot – you’ve probably seen them. In print form they can be several pages long. You can also find web pages written in the same style – they are the ones you seem to be scrolling down forever which different font colours and sizes with the CTA right at the end.

[Comment From Sian]
I also hate the American style sales letters – are there any stats on how they work? I can that they might to a very small market, but is there any research comparing them with other styles? (Which I suppose leads me to a wider question of whether you can recommend any good research sites/orgnaisations who provide stats like that)
Sally Ormond:  Hi Sian,

I’m not aware of any sites that provide stats like this – it would be interesting to see something like that so if anyone knows of any perhaps they would be good enough to post the link here.

[Comment From Nik]
I see you writing lots of articles, which obviously promote you – would you recommend that people who want to do some article marketing use a copywriter, or try and do it themselves? Won’t people KNOW if my articles are being written by someone other than me?
[Comment From Maggie]
Thanks Sally – Yes I have seen those – Very dull in my mind! No time to read through it all.
Sally Ormond:  Hi Nikki,

Yes, I write loads of articles and yes, it’s agreat way to get my name out there into cyberspace.

If you have the time and patience then definitely write them yourself. However many companies simply don’t have the time to do this type of promotion. Therefore they hire someone to do them for them.

[Comment From Maggie]
Hi, Like Sarah I also have trouble with the start, but for me it’s really the Headline that I will spend ages trying to write. Is there a good formula for writting a catchy headline?
Sally Ormond:  Hi Maggie,

Here is a quick headling writing guide:

1. What are you selling? – be specific and make it interesting
2. How much is it? – use this in your headling if the price is important
3. What is in it for them? – this is the hook
4. What happens if it doesn’t work? – do you give them a guarantee

An example of an excellent headline that followed thi formula is the Dominoes PIzza Add headline:

Hot Pizza Delievered to Your Door in 30 Minutes or Less or It’s Free!

[Comment From Jo]
What are your top three do’s and don’ts of copywriting?
Sally Ormond:  Hi Jo,

Always write for your reader
Avoid using jargon
Always sell the benefits of your product/service

[Comment From Henry]
What is your take on having a different copy on the website (online retail) compared to a direct mail piece?
Sally Ormond:  Hi Henry,

Your direct mail piece doesn’t have to worry about SEO for a start. Therefore you can perhaps be a bit more creative and unrestricted in what you write.

The direct mail also has to be strong enough to draw your reader to your website for example if that is where they have to got to buy or sign up for your service.

Your web copy has to also ‘look right’ – people tend to scan read web sites so that is something else that you have to bear in mind when laying out your copy online.

They are very different modes of communication and therefore this is bound to be reflected in the writing style adopted for each.

[Comment From Tom]
Hi. How much time per week would you suggest is put aside for writing blogs, newsletters etc? I know it is a must do, I just keep running out of time to get it done!
Sally Ormond:  Hi Tom,

Time is always an issue. Blogging can be time consuming. Normally what I do, is that I have a book next to me so whenever inspiration for a blog hits I write it down. Then I maybe spend 20 minutes a day (or thereabouts) writing the blog posts. They don’t have to be long, so I can knock one or two out in that time. Then I just add them to my blog and schedule them.

For newsletters, assuming this is going out to your customer base, you need to spend more time on these to ensure you are getting the right message across and the right content.

Normally I take a week to write mine, when working with clients I normally give up to 2 weeks to make sure then end product is what is required.

It is time consuming but something that is necessary and will pay dividends if done well.

[Comment From Peter]
For a web page, is there an optimum number of words you should use in your copy for maximum attention?
Sally Ormond:  Hi Peter,

Normally for web pages I would say use as many words as necessary but without going to far beyond the scroll down point. There is nothing worse than a web page that is about 1000 words long.

I would say about 300-400 words would be a good length. You wouldn’t really want to go beyond that.

Make sure your copy is broken up with plenty of headings, sub headings, bullet points and white space – that will make it much easier for people to read.

[Comment From Sian]
Not all copy is directly selling. Is there anything in particular you should bear in mind when writing for a newsletter/report for example, other than the general tone of your brand and your all important audience?
Sally Ormond:  Hi Sian,

Make it interesting – that is the key. If it doesn’t capture their attention then they won’t read it!

Provide benefits (there’s that word again), and advice that will make your readers’ lives easier.

[Comment From Maggie]
Following on from Henry’s question, where do emails sit in this mix? Should they be treated like direct mail?
Sally Ormond:  Hi Maggie,

Emails are like mini newsletters – the art with these is to provide information, capture attention and get the reader to act all in the space of about 100-200 words max.

You need a stong headling (which is your subject line), a powerful first line with a hook that will get them to read on, and finally a stong call to action – normally a hyperlink through to your sales web page.

[Comment From Richard Peacock]
It has become quite fashionable to write in the ‘innocent’ style of being, er… innocent, open and quite homemade. As everyone jumps on the bandwagon will this style become clichéd and do you forecast any future trends in copywriting?
Sally Ormond:  Hi Richard,

The problem with any style that becomes popular is that eventually it becomes cliched.

Trying to come up with a unique approach is difficult so I would recommend that you write in a style that is reflective of you and your company.

I find that writing that is conversational works best – it helps to build rapport with your reader. As for future trends…if I could forcast them I would be doing them now and be ahead of the game , but seriously no one knows what’s round the corner and it will be interesting to see what happens.

[Comment From Maggie]
Thanks Sally, great tips
Sally Ormond:  My pleasure Maggie, I hope you find them useful
[Comment From Tom]
Thanks Sally, do you have any thoughts on the use of images in newsletters? Do you find they perform better with or without them?
Sally Ormond:  I think newsletter are strengthened with images.

Mainly because a sea of text is rather daunting. It becomes more palatable when images are used. Of course, they should be relevant to the content of your newsletter and should add something to it rather than just being there to be pretty.

[Comment From Peter]
Hi, me again, following on from Tom’s question about images, what about the use of video. Would you use text copy and video together?
Sally Ormond:  Hi Peter,

It would rather depend on the medium you were using.

If it is for a website then definitely, video is a great way to interact with your audience. You have to remember that not everyone likes to take on board information through reading text alone therefore visuals and videos are great to add variety.

It can either be embedded and referred to within the text to make a point clearer or it can simply be added to a side bar (like the one on my blog).

Personally I don’t think it would work for newsletters – but I am always ready to be convinced otherwise.

[Comment From Tom]
Thanks Sally!
Sally Ormond:  That’s ok Tom, hope you are finding this useful
[Comment From Sian]
Can you recommend any good courses for people wanting to learn more about writing copy in the UK? Or books?
BT Tradespace:  Hi All, We have ten minutes left with Sally, so if you have any more questions, post them quick 😉 Thanks – Amy
Sally Ormond:  Hi Sian,

There are lots of copywriting courses out there if you search on Google. I’m not sure how good any of them are though.

The same goes for books but I can personally recommend “Write to Sell, the Ultimate Guide to Great Copywriting” by Andy Maslen and also “The Well-Fed Writer” by Peter Bowerman. If you want something more specific to web copywriting ans SEO then “Content Rich” by Jon Wuebben is also good.

[Comment From Maggie]
Hi again Sally, one more from me. When blogging I find it hard to get the balance between showing my products and just general info to get people reading. I don’t want to seem like I’m selling all the time – any tips?
Sally Ormond:  Hi Maggie,

Yes, that can be a difficult balance to achieve. Perhaps you should look to write ‘my 10 top tips for…’ or something like that. What is it that you sell?

[Comment From Jo]
Thank you Sally. That was great.
Sally Ormond:  Thank you Jo for your questions
[Comment From Anna]
I’ve been allocated 1 day per month to write a newsletter at my company, do you think that is enough time?
Sally Ormond:  Hi Anna,

It depends on the length and content – it can be done in a day. but really the more time you have the better. Often you will need to produce several drafts of the newsletter before it really begins to gel.

[Comment From Maggie]
Hi Sally, I sell handmade Childrens clothing, I like the idea of a Top tips post, hadn’t thought of that – thanks
Sally Ormond:  That’s Ok Maggie – also think of keywords that your customers will be looking for and write blogs on those too. Good luck with it.
Sally Ormond:  Thank you to everyone who dropped by to take part in this web chat. The questions have been fantastic and I hope that you have all found my responses useful.
BT Tradespace:  Thank you to everyone for joining us today, and a big thank you to Sally for sharing your advice with us.

If you missed any of the chat, you can replay it in full from the blog.

Best wishes, I’ll now close this chat.

[Comment From Sian]
Thanks Sally!