Entries from May 2012 ↓

How Useless is Your Website?

Normally, I write about how to create a strong website, but for the purposes of this post I want to concentrate on the 6 elements that signify your website isn’t working for you.Is your website useless?

For many people, internet marketing means having a website and that’s it.

But just because you have a website doesn’t mean you’ve got it made.

Even though it’s often a long and tortuous route to getting your website published, once it’s pushed live that’s when the hard work really starts.

So how can you tell if your website is useless?

6 characteristics of a duff website

1. Where’s the traffic?

If you’ve just launched your website and wondering where your traffic is, I have some bad news for you. Just because you publish a website doesn’t mean people will come flocking to your door. You actually have to do some work to help them find you.

Blogging, article marketing and social media will all help get your name out there and your website found. As will number 2…

2. Search Engine Optimisation

If your website and its content aren’t optimised, you won’t get found.

Make sure your web designer fully understands SEO and then start reading about it yourself. If you don’t have time to constantly monitor and tweak your website’s performance, invest in someone who can.

Being found in the organic search results is important.

3. Call to action

A website without any calls to action is like a sieve without holes.

If you want your readers to call you, email you or complete an enquiry form, tell them.

You might think they are intelligent enough to work out what you want them to do, but I can assure you, if you don’t spell it out to them they’ll merely wander off to another website.

4. You, you, you

Is your website content all about you?

Is it full of ‘we’, telling your reader all about your company, its achievements and staff etc.?

Well, guess what? They don’t care about you; all they care about is what you’re going to do for them. So make sure your content is written in the second person, concentrates on the benefits they will get and is totally focused on them.

5. Analytics

The last thing on my list is analytics.

Without those, you have no idea how your website is performing or where your traffic is coming from.

But, one word of warning, the new EU Cookie Regulations come in to force later this month (May 2012), so you must ensure your website complies by asking users for their consent to use cookies.

6. Being social

Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay.

Make your website social by adding links to your Twitter and Facebook accounts (you do have those, don’t you?).

Engage with your followers, chat with them and offer advice to help make a name for yourself as an expert in your field.

Over to you

Do any of those apply to you?

If so, your website may not be performing as well as it should.

5 Ways to Excel at Email Marketing

Email marketing and newsletters are the most cost effective methods to reach thousands of people quickly.Email marketing

Using your own home grown marketing list, it enables you to get great information and offers out to your targeted market.

But how can you be sure you’re making the most of this marketing opportunity?

Well, as you would expect, the content of your emails is crucial to your strategies success.

Here are 5 tips to make sure you get the most from each of your emails.

1. Length

No one wants War and Peace landing in their inbox.

Everyone is time-limited these days, so you must ensure that what you send is short, concise and to the point.

On average, about 400 – 600 words is plenty, any more than that and people will start to switch off.

2. Relevant

It’s important to tie the content in with what’s happening at the current time. Make sure you give spring offers in the spring etc. With the Jubilee on its way, create a newsletter around that. If you have a local event happening, try to incorporate that to boost resonance with your readers.

3. Get to the point

No one wants to read paragraph upon paragraph of waffle.

Make your point in the first paragraph so your reader knows the aim if of your newsletter. Also, make sure you include other sub headings so people can see at a glance what your newsletter covers. That way they can pick out the information they need without having to wade through everything.

4. Links

Introducing links to your text is a great way to a) shorten your emails/newsletters and b) drive more traffic to your website.

These are especially useful if you want to add a lengthy article to your newsletter. You can add an intriguing snippet and then link out to the rest of the article so the reader can click through to it at their convenience.

5. Be human

There’s nothing worse than receiving a boring, corporate newsletter. If you send out something like that, you’ll bore your readers rigid.

Inject some personality and be human. Write it in the second person and be chatty. You’ll find people are more likely to read something that’s friendly that something overly corporate.

If you’re still uncertain about how to structure your emails and what content to add, take a look at the emails you subscribe to and that you read.

What makes them stand out?

Why do you read them?

If you can capture the essence of those that make you stop and read them you’re half way there.

Copywriter’s Tool Kit: The Importance of Why

Any parent will know how annoying the word ‘why’ can be.Copywriter's tool kit - the importance of why

But, for a copywriter, it is one of the most valuable words in the English language.


As a copywriter, you are:

  • A master sales person
  • A wordsmith
  • A persuasive orator
  • A great writer

However, you are not an expert in every industry sector in the known universe.

It is important that is made clear to your clients from the outset.

I often hear people ask why they need a copywriter when they don’t know anything about their business. Well, that’s exactly the reason why they do need a copywriter.

Let me explain.

In the client/copywriter relationship, the client is the expert in their industry, but the copywriter is the expert in selling their clients products and services to their marketplace.

So long as neither party crosses those lines, the relationship will be harmonious.


When taking a brief from a client, the one word that should constantly be used is ‘why’.

Don’t be afraid to keep asking, especially if you’re dealing with a complex product or service.

The client will know their business like the back of their hand and therefore will have the tendency to talk in jargon only understood by their colleagues.

Your job as a copywriter is to break through that jargon to understand the product or service in layman’s terms. After all, if you don’t fully understand it, how are you going to be able to write about it and make your readers understand?

So keep asking:

  • Why?
  • What does that mean?
  • How does that work?
  • Why is that of benefit?…

Far from annoying your client, it will demonstrate your interest in their business and your determination to produce powerful and persuasive copy that will grab the attention of potential new customers.

At the end of the day, you can’t write about something you don’t fully understand, so keep asking ‘why’ until you get to the real nitty-gritty.


Time Management for Copywriters

Time management for copywritersThe life of a copywriter can be a lonely one.

They spend many hours alone, working their magic on the English language to create powerful and persuasive sales copy that will blow their clients’ (and their customers’) socks off.

By there lies a potential problem.

How can you make sure you’re working efficiently when you don’t have someone looking over your shoulder?

Below are a few tips on how to make sure you don’t end up wasting time.

1. Remove distractions

If you work from a home office, it’s very easy to get distracted. Whether it’s by visitors, home phones ringing,  that book you’re desperate to finish  or the temptation to pop out of the office to take care of a household chore or two, they must be ignored.

Having a dedicated office, is a must. You can organise it in a way to suit you without having to clear your things away every evening.

If you work from the kitchen table, just think how much time you waste every week setting your bits and bobs up to start work and then clearing them away again so you can use the table to eat with the family.

2. No Facebook or YouTube

Even though you’re sat in front of a computer most of the day, it doesn’t mean you can idly search the web for your entertainment.

And just in case you were thinking that if no one sees you it doesn’t matter – it does.

Make a rule for yourself that you only ‘play’ online once your working day is over. That way, you can remain focused on the projects you’re working on during the day.

3. Learn to say ‘no’

Unless you want to be working silly hours to try and get your work done and deadlines met, you’ve got to learn to say ‘no’ to those clients who just want one more thing (and usually don’t want to pay for it), to colleagues who just call for a chat, to family who make demands on your time (especially during school holidays) and to projects you know you really can’t squeeze in.

That might sound harsh, but when working from a home office it has to be done now and then.

Make sure your family understand that, even though you work from home, you are still working and they have to respect your work time. And, if you’ve decided you only want to work a certain number of hours a week, stick to it and don’t take on that extra project that’s going to eat into your weekend.

It’s all too easy to end up taking on so much work you’re at your desk 24/7. So be sensible, decide on the number of hours you’re going to work and stick to it.

4. Calendar

Keeping a calendar is a simple but effective way of making sure you hit all your deadlines.

When you’re working on several projects simultaneously, it’s all too easy to lose sight of when each section of work has to be completed.

It will also give you an overview of your capacity for future projects to help prevent you from over committing yourself.

5. Daily to-do list

Don’t laugh, it really does help.

At the beginning of each week I make a plan of what I need to do and when. That way, I make sure my blogging fits in with my client work and meetings. And of course, it also helps to make sure nothing slips through the next.

Yes, it does have to be flexible because you never know what might come in, but at least it’s a way to plan your week effectively.

6. Email watching

OK, hands up if you have that little annoying pop up thingy that appears on your screen every time an email comes in.

It’s so distracting I want you to turn it off immediately.

Limit yourself to checking your emails once, twice or even three times a day. That way, you can get on with the task in hand without being distracted by an intriguing subject line.

7. Timed work slots

This is a great way to make sure you don’t run out of steam during the day.

From your to-do list, you’ll know what you need to do each day. So, allocate a time slot for each task. Once that time is up, have a break – leave the office, make a coffee, wander round the garden or even take the dogs for a walk.

Then, you will return to your desk refreshed and ready to tackle the next task.

Over to you

These are 7 things I’ve found really useful since becoming a copywriter.

Do you have other ways of managing your time?

If so, leave a comment below.

What to do when the goal posts move

We’ve all been there.Dealing with moving copywriting briefs

You’ve been approached by a customer to create some copy for them; you’ve taken a detailed brief and provided them with a written proposal and quote – the work starts and just when everything seems to be going well, the client moves the goal posts.

So what do you do?

Is it in writing?

Let’s go back a few steps.

You did provide a written quote, didn’t you?

Verbal quotes are all well and good but, if things change, you’ll have nothing to refer back to when tackling the client about the changing brief.

That’s why it’s best to create a written detailed proposal and quote based on the brief received from your client, whether it’s from an email, briefing document or a face to face meeting.

It should include details of:

  • The aim of the project in question (what your client wants to achieve)
  • Your fee for the project and what that will cover
  • The hourly rate that will be charged for further meetings or additional rounds of amendments over and above those included in your fee
  • The services you will provide your client based on the brief they have provided
  • How the work will be carried out
  • When the first and subsequent drafts will be available and how quickly you’ll turn round the amendments
  • How payment is to be received

That way, when they want to make changes to the brief (i.e. they now want 10 pages of web copy instead of 3) you can go back to the quote that they agreed to and negotiate the way ahead for the extra work.

If you have nothing in writing it’s going to be an uphill struggle.

A professional way of working

If you think that all of this is just going to generate more work for you and you don’t have time to put formal proposal and quotation documents together, have a think about this.

Can you really afford not to?

After all, how many times have you agreed to extend the work you originally agreed because you either:

  • Had no way of proving what you thought had been agreed
  • You and your client had different interpretations of what was agreed
  • Felt uncomfortable going back and asking for more budget

If you provide a professional, written document outlining all aspects of the project, what your fee includes and an outline of what they will be charged extra should they exceed the scope of the original brief, you can refer back to it if required.

Plus, as they would have agreed to it in order to accept your quote in the first place, they can’t quibble.

Over to you

How do you go about defining the projects you work on?

Have you experienced moving goal posts? If so, how did you deal with it?

Leave a comment below and let us all learn from your experiences.