Entries from March 2012 ↓

How Google+ Can Help Your Business

If, like me, you’re still fumbling around with Google+, not entirely sure how it can help your business, take a look at this cool infographic that I discovered on the lovely Chris Brogan’s blog.

Image created by BlueGlass.

You Need Website Copy – Who Y’a Gonna Call?

Exciting times!Power of website copywriting

You’ve decided your business needs a new website, so it’s time to start planning and budgeting. For many companies, their website shopping list is a bit like this one…

  • Find a great web designer
  • Get a photographer on board for some arty shots
  • Think about keywords
  • Come up with a colour scheme
  • Think of some cool graphics

But there’s something missing, something very important – what about the words?

Nine times out of ten, website copy is overlooked. After all, it’s not that important – anyone can throw a bit of text together…can’t they?

Why web content should be at the top of your list

Why do I need a copywriter? I know my business better than they do.

There’s no denying that, but copywriters don’t profess to know your business better than you because they’re not experts in your business. But they are experts in creating copy that sells.

If you’re still not convinced about the importance of your website copy, think of it this way.

[You’ll need your imagination for this bit.]

Your website is your online showroom.

The design, colour scheme, photos and graphics are your shop fittings – what makes it look inviting.

The copywriting is your sales team patrolling the shop floor, ready to help your customers.

Now, if you write your own copy it tends to be focused on your business, the features of your products and contains lots of ‘we’. That is the equivalent of your sales team huddled together, chatting about what they did last night while your potential customers mill around, get bored and head for the door.

When your copy is written by a professional copywriter it is focused on your customers, their needs and highlights the benefits of your products and services. That is the equivalent of a sales team that:

  • Greets your customers as they come through the door
  • Offers advice about which product/service that would suit their particular needs
  • Counters any buying objections they may have
  • Closes the sale

I know which sales team I’d rather have.

Make your website work

If you don’t make your website copy a priority and get it written professionally, the chances are your website won’t perform.

It won’t attract visitors, it won’t inspire them to do business with you, it won’t answer their questions – basically, it won’t sell.

By understanding the power of words and investing in good professionally written content, you’ll create a website that:

  • Attracts visitors
  • Answers their questions
  • Convinces them to buy
  • Closes the sale

It’s a no brainer.

Content Marketing – How to Use Freelancers Effectively

Kevin Cain of OpenView Blog has kindly agreed to allow me to re-post his blog Deploying the Troops: 5 Tips for Using Freelancers Effectively in Content Marketing on Freelance Copywriter’s Blog.Kevin Cain

Kevin Cain oversees content strategy at OpenView Venture Partners, a Boston-based venture capital firm that invests in expansion-stage technology companies. With expertise in corporate communications and content marketing, Kevin has spent the past ten years working with large international financial services companies and consulting firms. Learn more by checking out his content marketing blog or following him on Twitter @kevinrcain.

In my last blog post, I described the important role that freelancers can play in executing a content marketing strategy and provided some tips for building a freelance team. Of course, assembling a team of great freelance talent is just the first step. You then need to figure out the best way to use that talent to get the results you need. While there’s no single right answer, following these rules of the road will help:

1) Put them to the test, onboard the best

Any time you’re working with new freelancers — no matter how impressive their credentials or how highly they’ve been recommended — always start off with a test assignment. The idea is to start them off with a small project that either isn’t a high priority or that you have the time to redo if necessary.

This approach may seem a little counter-intuitive at first — after all, if you’re paying for their time, you want to get something out of it. Even so, you’re much better off testing the waters, rather than finding out that the very important content you’ve entrusted a new freelancer to write needs to be completely redone at the last minute. Your strongest freelancers will quickly prove their worth, and from there it’s easy to start engaging them on meatier projects.

2) Go broad, then get organized

Always try to have a variety of freelancers in your network with different backgrounds, skills, and expertise. Doing so will make the team much more valuable and allow you to create a broader range of content.

Use a spreadsheet to help not only keep track of important logistical details, such as your freelancers’ rates and availability, but also to catalog the types of projects they are best used for and any specific strengths or weaknesses they may have. This is also the place to keep tabs on their performance. I assign a grade to every freelancer I work with, so I know who to send my most important projects to (the A-listers), who are best suited to handling the low-hanging fruit (the B-listers), and who I probably won’t use again (everyone else). Unlike in school, when it comes to creating great content, a C isn’t a passing grade.

3) Provide Structure and Guidance

Freelancers aren’t mind readers or magicians. If you want them to create good content, you have to position them to do so. Set clear expectations, ensure that they have access to the right tools and resources (such as your company’s editorial style guidelines), and make yourself available to talk through ideas and answer questions. While you don’t want to micro-manage, any time you engage a freelancer, be collaborative and invest the time necessary to ensure that you are both on the same page from the start.

4) Use Flat Fees if Possible

Negotiating flat fees for specific projects often makes the most sense. Doing so, rather than simply letting your freelancers bill you for however many hours they work, encourages them to manage their time more effectively and keeps everyone’s expectations in check. That said, there can always be unexpected hiccups that significantly increase the time it takes to complete a project, so offer to adjust fees accordingly. Trying to nickel and dime your freelancers, even when budgets are tight, is rarely a winning strategy.

5) You’re the Boss, Act Like It

It’s up to you to enforce deadlines and standards, provide honest and constructive feedback, and to take action when a freelancer isn’t performing. It’s important to build great relationships with your freelancers, and one of the best of ways to do so is by always providing leadership and direction.

Do You Get Pinterest?

The social media landscape is constantly changing.What is Pinterest?

The latest offering is Pinterest, a virtual pinboard that allows you to organise and share things you find on the web.

If, like me, you’re not really up to speed with this yet and can’t really see how it would benefit you, this handy post on SocialMediaExaminer.com might help.

It takes a look at 26 tips for using Pinterest for your business.

Grab a coffee and have a read –26 Tips for Using Pinterest for Business

Over to you

What do you reckon?

Is it going to be the next big thing?

Are you already using it?

Leave a comment below and tell us what you think.

Generating Ideas for Your Online Marketing

Marketing your business involves a lot of writing.How to generate ideas for your online marketing

Whether you do this in-house, or by hiring in the expertise of a copywriter, you’ll need one very important thing – lots of ideas for content.

Ideas can come from anywhere at any time, so here are a couple of tips to make sure your ideas keep flowing.

1. Paper and pen

Because you never know when inspiration will strike, make sure you have a pen and paper with you at all times (or a digital voice recorder).

During your working day, ideas will come at you from all directions:

  • Comments from customers
  • An article you’ve read
  • A news item
  • Mail shots
  • Emails…

So when an idea strikes, write it down. It could be the start of a blog post, article or newsletter item.

Customer feedback is particularly important. If you’re scratching around for an idea for your next blog post, or newsletter, where better to look for inspiration than your customers?  If they contact you with a question, you could create a ‘how to’ or ‘top tips’ article based around their enquiry.

By keeping a record of ideas like this, you’ll never be scratching around for inspiration.

2. Swipe file

One word of warning – a swipe file doesn’t mean you are free to plagiarise other people’s work.

Every day you are subjected to hundreds of sales messages. You probably subscribe to several newsletters, receive loads of direct mail and read magazine and newspaper articles. Some of which you’ll read and some you’ll ignore.

But with the ones you read, think about what it was that made you take notice of them:

  • What was in the headline that made you read on?
  • How was it written?
  • What type of information did it contain?
  • What tone was used?

In other words, what was it that captured your attention? Once you discover that, you can reproduce that effect in your own marketing materials.

What it comes down to is this – online marketing is a continual process. We’re talking about newsletters, emails, web copy, blogs and articles – all things that have to be done regularly to keep your business in your customers’ line of sight.

By regularly jotting down notes, you’ll never be short of ideas for your online marketing.