Entries from December 2009 ↓

Marketing For A New Decade

crystal ball

Marketing is always changing and evolving.

It wasn’t that long ago that the staple diet of the professional marketer was newspaper ads and Yellow Pages entries. Today, if you want to be found you have to be on line.

The age of the web has developed the art of copywriting to a new level. Now copywriters have to be able to create compelling copy that convinces people to buy and spiders to rank them within the search engines. The art of the SEO website copywriter is one that is mystical and magical – it is no longer about writing nicely. Today you have to know what keywords to use, where they should be put, how you should link effectively between websites and web pages… they truely are magicians of the modern day.

If you don’t keep up with the changing fortunes of marketing your company will be left high and dry.

Keeping up with the copywriting ‘Jones’s’

Whether your company has its own inhouse copywriter or hires a freelance copywriter – hang on, you do use a copywriter don’t you?

You don’t? You could be heading for trouble then.

A recent post from Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg & Associates on What Marketing Skills Will be Needed in 2010 and Beyond? highlights the importance of the copywriter.

Copywriting is vital for businesses to survive in an increasingly competitive market place. I illustrated this in an earlier post called 4 Reasons Why Copywriting Servcies Work.

In this post I talked about the Kelloggs effect:

During the depression of 1929-33(ish) Kelloggs in the USA (whose cornflakes were a health food at the time) continued to promote as heavily with adverts, posters etc as they had been doing before that. By the time the depression was over there were no other breakfast cereals that anyone had heard of and Kelloggs achieved almost instant market domination, a position they’ve held ever since.

So what are the 4 reasons why copywriting services work?

  1. They keep your product/service visible in the market place and therefore in the forefront of your customers’ mind.
  2. Well written copy will increase your credibility within the market place.
  3. Professionally written persuasive copy will help you by increasing your sales through targeted leads and web traffic.
  4. By hiring a professional to write for you will free up your time to do what you do best.

Therefore it is a no-brainer. To make your company thrive and stand out in the market place you need to invest in professional copywriting services.

What Is Social Media Anyway

Dragon

For many people social media is a still this mythical creature that soars around cyber space breathing fire on anyone who misueses it.

OK, we all know it doesn’t do that but for many people who just ‘don’t get it’, it might as well.

Many people still see it as a waste of time. They don’t have time to Tweet or Digg, they don’t have time for forums, they don’t have time to blog. But it’s not a waste of time if it’s done right.

Yes, if you don’t have a strategy you can waste a lot of time ‘messing’ around with social media but if you have a clear methodology you’ll win hands down.

It’s just like setting time aside to do your accounts or writing an advert – but I bet time spent building relationships through social media will get you a higher return for your cash than that old fashioned advert will.

As a freelance copywriter most of my clients find me through my social media activities – whether its blogging, facebook or twitter. Engaging with people online is vital to build trust and credibility.

I found a great post on weblinknow which explains social media marketing in 61 words:

You can buy attention (advertising)
You can beg for attention from the media (
PR)
You can bug people one at a time to get attention (
sales)

Or you can earn attention by creating something interesting and valuable and then publishing it online for free: a YouTube video, a blog, a research report, photos, a Twitter stream, an ebook, a Facebook page.

Brilliant!

Now do you get it?

Copywriting – It’s All In The Words

magic

Words can be a powerful force when used correctly.

In a novel they have to conjour up an image in your head so you can visualise the characters and scenes they are playing out. In the world of marketing they have to be direct, simple and to the point.

This is something I frequently have to remind my clients – not all, but a few.

A while ago, I was writing for one client and nothing I produced seemed good enough. It was frustrating because I knew what I had written worked. No matter how many times I explained my reasons for using certain layouts and words, it wasn’t good enough.

The reason…

“I thought you were supposed to make me sound more intelligent.”

Eeek! And there was me thinking the whole purpose behind copywriting was to generate sales.

So what does a freelance copywriter do?

Working as a freelance copywriter, it is my job to create great copy which will be interesting and sell – but without being ‘in your face’ super sales hype.

I write all sorts of copy from SEO website copywriting through to reviews and just about everything else in between.

Let’s take website copywriting as an example. If you could ask someone what their reaction was when they landed on your website, which scenario would you prefer?

Scenario 1

Reader – “Gosh, what a superbly written site. You are obviously incredibly intelligent and well edcated.”

You – “Why thank you, and what did you think of our product?”

Reader – “Product? Oh, were you selling something too?”

Scenario 2

Reader – “Amazing, that’s just what I’ve been looking for. It’ll solve all my problems.”

You – “Great. What did you think of the writing on the website?”

Reader – “Writing? Oh, I don’t know. I was too interested in your product and how it would help me.”

I think I know which one I  would perfer.

Invisible writing

It sounds rather strange that your writing should be invisible to your reader, but that’s how it should come across. The words you use have one purpose only – to convince your reader the product you are selling is the one for them.

Becoming blinkered by your own writing ego is the fastest way to churn out redundant copy. If someone is reading your website or brochures, they are doing so for one reason only – they want to know if your product is a fit for their needs. If they can’t find that our quickly, they’ll move on to the next company’s product.

Clear, conscise and simple – that’s it. No frills, no sparkles and no sequins.

Website Copywriting–It’s All in the Headers

If you are a website copywriter or have a website and have dabbled in producing your own content, you’ll probably have used the HTML H1 – H6 tags in some way, shape or form.

But do you fully understand their SEO capabilities?

We all know that a solid block of text on your website isn’t going to attract anyone. Your reader will see it and head for the hills. It’s just like when you were a little kid getting excited about the mystery present under the Christmas tree with your name on it. Eagerly you’d run your fingers around the paper trying to guess what was inside. When your finger found a seam that wasn’t covered in sticky tape, you’d rip the paper away. As your excitement grew it suddenly faded as the book fell in your lap. Even worse, it fell open to show page after page after page of text – no pictures!

OK, I got a bit carried away but you get the idea. Solid text is about as welcome as an angry skunk in a phone box. If you want people to read your website, it has to have loads of white space and be divided into bite size chunks. And the best way to do that is by using headings and sub headings.

Where do I stick my H1 tag?

Tempting…

OK, being serious for a second, your H1 tag – if you’re unsure – is normally used in the main header of a web page because it creates the largest font size. But not only that but it takes precedence over other text types when the search engine spiders come crawling by.

Because of this the H1 tag should:

  • Appear only once on your web page
  • Be at the top of your page content
  • Contain your most important keyword
  • Help your reader understand what your page is about.

What about the other tags?

The H2 – H6 tags are given slightly less priority over H1 but are still important. You often see the H2 and H3 tags being used for sub headings in web pages. These therefore should contain your longer tail keywords.

Of course the added bonus in getting used to using these tags means you’ll break up your text into smaller sections. This will increase the amount of white space on your page and consequently make it easier to read.

Your headings will act as sign posts so your reader can easily scan your page to find the information they are looking for.

How do I add these tags?

You’ll probably be using a WYSIWYG editor to enter your text which looks a bit like this one:

wysiwyg

To choose your heading click on the button highlighted and you’ll see a choice of font types appear. Just type in your text, highlight it and then click on the text type you want.

headers

Position is everything

You see, when you are preparing your copy for your website there is a lot more to think about other than what words you’re going to use.

You also have to consider what SEO features you want your site to have and exploit the positioning of your keywords to the max.

If you are using a freelance copywriter they should be able to advise you on this, but if you’re going it alone, hopefully this post will give you a better understanding of where to place your keywords and why.

The H tags are only a small part of on screen SEO but I hope that this blog post will help you review your current website and make a few changes to squeeze a few more drops out of your SEO.

Starting Out As A Freelance Copywriter

7x5 72dpi 0276 (Small)One question I am frequently asked is how I got started in the world of freelance copywriting.

Whether you’ve worked as a copywriter in an agency or company or whether you are looking to break into the industry from another direction, the thought of going it alone can be very daunting.

  • Where do you find your clients?
  • How do you get a steady stream of work?
  • How do you find leads?

A bit about me

This is how I got started.

Before writing for a living I’d worked in the financial industry and charity world. Writing had always been a bit part of these roles, especially learning how to take on someone else’s voice. But it was my time with the charity that lead me to discover a talent for direct mail and persuasive writing.

While my children were small I did a BA(Hons) degree in English Language and English Literature with the Open University. That was the hardest 6 years of my life – trying to juggle studying with small children. But I graduated in 2007 with First Class Honours and it was at that point that I decided to take the plunge.

I wanted to work but, with a young family, I also needed to be around for them – becoming a freelance copywriter was a perfect fit.

How do you start without a budget?

Yes, I was in that boat too.

The one thing I realised (even with my limited knowledge of the internet) was that I had to be online if I was to succeed. All I had was a lap top.  So I invested some time into building my own website – without any HTML knowledge – boy was that fun! Talk about a verticle learning curve (can you have a vertical curve?) but with a bit of perseverance I got there.

Then I began researching every freelance profile and directory site and listed my details anywhere and everywhere. I didn’t realise it at the time but this would help my SEO later because of all the backlinks I was creating.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, work began trickling through. And I do mean trickle – this suited me, I didn’t need a huge income straightaway. That wasn’t why I began this venture. For me, my copywriting business is about helping people – the money is almost secondary. I get a lot out of helping other businesses – especially when I can see how much better their website would perform if it was professionally written (or their brochures, emails, newsletters etc.).

As my business grew I was able to invest in a new website and the rest is history.website [Compatibility Mode]

The word of the blog

It wasn’t long before I realised that the best way to build content and links was by blogging. My initial tentative steps into blogging was using a wordpress blog. That was fine as far as it went, but after a huge wakeup call courtesy of WordPress, I realised I needed to get my own blog with my own URL – hence this blog.

The effect was amazing. It had only been going for about 6 months when it was picked up by oDesk in their top 100 freelance blogs. The resulting link catapulted my website onto the front page of Google for several of my keywords.

My blogging and article writing had positioned me as an expert in my field. People could instantly see I knew what I was talking about and my business grew rapidly.

10 top tips to get started

So what are my 10 top tips to break into the world of freelance copywriting?

  1. Get online – make your website eye-catching and get your copy right. If your copy doesn’t sell you, how will you write powerful copy for your clients?
  2. Start blogging
  3. Submit articles to directories
  4. Build backlinks
  5. Join social networking sites and participate in forums
  6. Start tweeting
  7. Get out and network with local businesses
  8. Get to grips with SEO – it will help you and your clients
  9. Don’t be afraid to write for an industry you’ve no experience of – you’ll bring something fresh and new
  10. Grow a thick skin

That’s just my story. Today I work with companies all over the world over a vast range of industries. My leads come through this blog and my website plus referrals. I no longer have to go out and find work – it comes to me.

I’m thankful to be able to do something I love, get paid for it, and know that it is helping other businesses (of all sizes) succeed too.

A resource for new writers

Has my story inspired you?

You may also be interested in a guide I recently came across called  Freelance Superstar by Monika Mundell and Gobala Krishnan. It is a complete guide to get started with freelance writing. If you are just starting out it will give you some handy tips on how to set up, find business and cope with the freelance way of life.

Good luck – and if you need any advice just drop me a line.

Sally

http://rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping