Entries from November 2012 ↓

Website Checks to Make Before 2013

As yet another year draws to a close, isn’t it about time you gave your website a quick review to make sure its ready for the New Year?

There are many great sites out there that are bursting with powerful and persuasive web copy, eye-catching images and uber-friendly navigation. But on the flip side, there are that have useless content, dire navigation and as for the images…

What follows are 8 quick tips to help you make your website a nicer place to be for your visitors. They have been compiled from my pet hates and the things that I see done badly time and time again.

1. About Us

Copywriters around the world speak with one voice when they tell clients that their web copy has to be written for their readers. That means no ‘we’ and lots of ‘you’ and benefits.

A lot of business owners have a real problem with that because they just want to shout about their company and what they’ve achieved. Well, to cheer you all up, the About page is the one on which you can talk about yourself – kind of.

Your About page should tell you readers what makes you different to everyone else, your ethos, why you do what you do and also some personal information about you (to show that you’re human) and your team along with a few mug shots (to prove you’re real).

It shouldn’t just start ‘We’ve been in business since 2001 and are the best thing since sliced bread…’

2. We’re here

If you want people to do business with you, why are you making it so hard for them to find you?

Make sure you provide your physical address and a Google map so they can find you. Plus, pictures of your premises are a great idea so they recognise it when they arrive.

3. Hanging on the telephone

How many times have you been on a website only to get thoroughly frustrated when you can’t find a phone number?

Make it easy for your customers and potential customers to get in touch with you. Have your phone number clearly visible in the top left hand corner of your header.

4. Banish typos

Proofreading is sooooo important. Typos could well put people off getting in touch with you so make sure, before you publish any content on your site, that you get it proofed by someone.

5. Rules

This one is for all you site owners out there with customer logins. Now, the Internet is a wonderful thing as it means you can get all your Christmas shopping done without having to fight your way through town.

The downside is most sites want you to create an account in order to shop with them (or use their service). If you’re site is one of these and you have rules about how many letters passwords should have and whether they have to be a mixture of numbers and letters, please, please, please tell the user before they think of something.

There’s nothing more annoying than having come up with a password only to be told it’s not long enough or doesn’t contain the right combination of characters.

So if you must have rules, make them known.

6. Mobile

More and more people are using their mobile devices to access the Internet. In fact, mobile devices account for over 20% of all traffic to e-commerce sites and 1 in 3 mobile users access the Internet through their phones.

That’s why it’s so important your website is mobile friendly. After all, if they try to access your site and it’s slow or unreadable, they’re going to head off in search of another site that’s easier to use.

7. Social

Yes, social media is taking over the world.  Unless you want to be left behind, you must make sure your site is social.

Offering customers the ability to share your stuff with their friends is vital to spread the word. Twitter, Facebook and other social sites mean customers can talk to you easily and help promote your amazing service (it is amazing, right?) by telling their friends.

It’s here to stay so get with it.

8. Fabulous photos

How many websites have you seen with woeful photography or stacks of stock images?

Come on people be a bit more inventive. Don’t be tight, splash out and get some decent shots taken of your premises, stock, people etc. Make the images on your website unique.

Right, that’s your homework for December – check your website and make sure it’s firing on all cylinders for the New Year.

Ghost Writing: Working With Your Client

The following guest post was written by Joshua Danton Boyd. The author’s views are entirely his own and may not reflect the views of FreelanceCopywritersBlog.com. If you are interested in producing a Guest Post for this blog, please get in touch with your ideas.

For several years, we’ve been writing about every aspect of copywriting, marketing, social media and what it means to be a professional copywriter, but one thing we’ve not discussed is ghost writing – well, let’s set that straight.

Ghost writing can often mean having a very interesting project on your hands. This can be especially true if you manage to land the job of writing a particularly juicy biography. The thing is that the smoothness and difficulty of the project will Ghost writingrely heavily on whom you’re writing for. A good relationship with your client is key to great ghost writing as, in most cases, they’re the ones with all the information and it’s their story you’re telling. Mess up with them and the writing will be in trouble.

Preparation is Key

You need to do as much prep as you possibly can before starting off on the project. Meet with the client in person if possible. It’ll make it easier to get to know them and understand exactly what they and their job are all about. If you can’t meet in person then a video chat will be the next best thing. The more meetings you can have the better. Every time you discuss the job at hand it will take better shape in your mind and it will all seem a bit clearer. Ghost writing often starts seeming dark and a bit muddled, so the sooner you shed some light the better.

It’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t your book/article or whatever. You’ll have the urge to slip into the style you usually use when writing under your own name. This is another positive of good preparation and regular meet ups. It will help you get into the mind of your client and write in the way they want you to. They will almost certainly have an idea of the way they want things to be portrayed. It’s your job to express that properly.

Continuous and Clear Communication

Once you have all the information you think you need, you might be tempted to just knuckle down and get that first draft finished. This can be a big mistake. The longer you go without talking to your client the further removed you’ll get from their tone and input. You need to be keeping in touch regularly even if it’s just a phone call a couple of times a month. This means you can keep the client up to date on how you’re doing and to make sure they don’t want to give you any extra info.

If you get stuck with a certain part then that part should now become your priority. If you start saving up problems for the next time you talk to your client you’re going to have issues with just writing the thing. Not knowing what to write means you’ve either lost the direction you were going in or you have missing data. This needs to be fixed before you go any further. Do not be afraid to tell your client when you’re in trouble.

Also, always encourage your client to come to you with any extra details or memories that may pop into their heads. Some will do this automatically and bombard you with constant email updates, while others may be shyer and feel like they’re badgering you. Be sure to make it clear to your client from the start that the more information you have, the better. Tell them that even if it might not be useful it will still offer extra insight which is hugely valuable.

Remember That You Are the Writer

Obviously, this is the client’s project as such and therefore they do have a great deal of input, but that doesn’t mean you can’t exercise some force. You have been hired for a reason. Whether it’s due to your employer being unable to write anything with even a hint of quality, or that they don’t have time, they have bought your service. The reason you offer this service is because you are good at it. This means at times taking charge and being able to say, “I’m the writer and I’m saying that won’t work.”

This can be hard and a little nerve-wracking. Your client is essentially your boss and, if they wish, they can get rid of you. It is all about knowing how to deal with the person paying your wage. Don’t ever shout them down and disregard their input. Always consider it and discuss it properly with them. Never just say no, you will always need to explain why fully and clearly. Even if their ideas aren’t worthy of a five year old’s attempt at a novel, you still need to show them some respect.

In the end though, you need to retain some control of this project. You want it to be the best it can be for yourself and for your client. Be firm and remember; you have the expertise, skill and experience. Do not be afraid to speak your mind in something of a forceful manner. If you allow your client to take complete control you’ll end up with a messy, incoherent jumble of words with little structure. It is their input you are after, not their direction.

Joshua Danton Boyd is a copywriter for the online accounting firm Crunch and the company forming service Go Limited.



SEO: Why Not Tackle it Yourself?

The following guest post was written by Vicky Fraser. The author’s views are entirely her own and may not reflect the views of FreelanceCopywritersBlog.com. If you are interested in producing a Guest Post for this blog, please get in touch with your ideas.


SEO: search engine optimisation. It strikes fear into the hearts of some; cynicism and distrust into the hearts of others. However, if your business has a website and you need to generate leads, you’ll ignore it at your peril.

Firstly: a warning. Anyone who tells you that they can shoot you to the top of Google overnight is either lying, not terribly bright or using dodgy techniques like ‘spamdexing’ (which will get your site blacklisted).

Tackling it yourself

For those who want to undertake SEO themselves, there are a few things to think about. If this is your first foray into SEO, it’s worth spending a little time learning about it.

A video is worth quite a lot of words on this subject, and this is a great little introduction to SEO from those clever guys at Search Engine Land:


When you’ve sussed out your meta descriptions, chosen your URLs, set your keywords and (this is important) written your image ‘alt’ tags, it’s time to think about the copy itself.

It’s not just the search engine spiders you’re writing for; it’s your customers, too. And the search engine spiders know that. New algorithms are popping up all the time and they are getting more and more intelligent. The spiders can recognise good, relevant, useful content and they are more likely to rank it highly.

However, it’s not just about algorithms: the more relevant, interesting and engaging your copy and content is, the more likely it is to be shared, and the more likely it is to be ranked highly in the search engines. Be honest: if you’re not a good writer, employ one. It’s an investment you won’t regret.

Use the tools available to you, as well. There are quite a few good freebies around. HubSpot has an excellent ‘marketing grader‘ tool that gives feedback on a variety of aspects of a website. The SEO snippet tool is a brilliant wee thing for writing your Google snippets and URLs. And SEOQuake is great – offering a suite of widgets to diagnose individual webpages.

Once your site is optimised – don’t leave it alone! SEO is not a ‘job done’, it’s an ongoing task. Start a blog, and update it often. Fill it with relevant, useful content that people want to share – the search engines love it.

Make social media work for you too – more and more, it is searched and indexed by those spiders. The search engines are recognising what valuable sharing and search tools social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are.

Employing someone to tackle SEO for you

The advice above is very brief, and is the tip of the iceberg. If it feels like more work than you can take on yourself, pay an expert to do it for you.

There are many SEO bods out there with a variety of skills, and you may not want or need someone to take care of the whole shebang. Take a good look at your site, using the free tools mentioned above, and decide which areas need your attention most. Then spend your budget on those areas, and tackle other areas yourself.

If you have a little experience with the back end of websites, and know how metadata works, this is a relatively simple (but fairly time-consuming) task, and one that you could tackle yourself. Don’t underestimate, though, the skill involved in boiling each page down to 156 characters for the meta-description (that’s the snippet that appears in Google’s listings. It’s not terribly important for rankings, but a well-written snippet will stand out from the rest on the page and is more likely to be clicked)…

Perhaps your website copy needs rewriting and optimising for search engines? It is not simply a case of stuffing keywords in there; in fact, doing so is likely to harm your rankings and it certainly won’t do your customers any favours. As mentioned above, and this cannot be overemphasised, your website copy needs to be interesting, useful, relevant and informative – as well as easy for the spiders to recognise and rank using keywords.

Maybe you’d like a regular blog, but you just don’t have the time? Or perhaps you’d like to embrace social media, but you don’t know where to start…

Getting the best from your freelancer and the most from your budget

You’ll be paying for the copywriter’s expertise, and a good one is worth their weight in cheese. However, you can keep costs down by doing some of the legwork yourself.

  • Do your research yourself. Ask your customers, your friends and family, your colleagues and even complete strangers what they would search for if they were looking for your product or service.

If you can pass on a decent list of keywords and keyword phrases to pass onto your freelancer, you will save them time. That is not to say that they won’t do their own research if necessary, but they will quote accordingly.

  • Compile a full list of your competitors – local and national – and pass it on to your freelancer. They can do some keyword research, investigate their blog and take a good look at their use of social media to see what works in your industry.
  • Trust your freelancer: they will be able to look at your business from the outside, and talk about what your customers (and potential customers) want to hear. This will probably not be the same thing you want to say! Your customers want to know what you can do for them, not how great you think you are. It may be painfully honest, but it will be honest and it will do your business good.
  • If you’d like to employ a copywriter to blog for you, you can save them time (and reduce the bill) by providing a list of topics, and writing an outline. Researching blogs takes time, so if you do the research for us and provide a skeleton article, the costs will come down.

SEO isn’t that scary. Honest. It does require skilled writers, and an investment in time. Either way, if your business relies on inbound leads from the internet, you can’t afford to ignore it. Dive in – and do it properly!

Vicky Fraser is a freelance copywriter and marketeer based in Warwickshire. Being a science nerd undertaking a physics degree, she specialises in simplifying and clarifying scientific and technical copy but writes about all manner of things for a wide variety of clients. She blogs about science, freelancing and writing – amongst other things.

Marketing Your Business with Foursquare

Over the past few months, we’ve looked at different ways of using social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, to market your business.

But how about Foursquare?

You’ve probably seen updates from other people through Twitter and Facebook checking in using Foursquare – so what is it?

Well, it’s a way of helping you and your friends make the most of where you are. You can share details about where you visit and leave recommendations for your followers.

But more than that, it can also help you manage your brand and attract new visitors. Plus, with over 1,000,000 businesses on Foursquare isn’t it about time you started using it to?

Foursquare marketing tips

To help you get the most out of this platform, socialmediaexaminer.com have compiled a list to 10 ways you can market your business using Foursquare.

So if this particular platform has left you scratching your head, now’s the time to pop over there and have a read.

Grab a coffee and take a few minutes out of your day to find out how to marketing your business using Foursquare.

How to Make Your Copywriting Invisible

Invisible?Invisible copywriting

Why on earth would you want to make your copywriting invisible? After all, as a professional sales writer, you’ve spent hours crafting your carefully chosen words – you want people to love them.

The problem is, if that is your motivation (wanting people to love your words) your copy is unlikely to perform as it should.


OK, let’s look at it this way. If you are a fiction writer you want your readers to marvel at your prose. You would expect them to tell their friends about your amazing writing ability and story telling prowess. But that’s ok, because you’re writing fiction: a story that must entertain and enthral.

However, as a copywriter you are not writing for yourself. As a copywriter your role is to take on the voice of your client and to sell their products or services. Your writing becomes secondary to the sales message it conveys. In short, your writing shouldn’t distract your readers; they should just be able to concentrate on its message.

Copywriting aims

Your copy should convey meaning and connect with your readers. It has to satisfy their needs, influence, empathise with them and persuade them into taking a specific action.

There’s no room for your style or views in your copy; to be successful, you must immerse yourself in the style and views of your client – nothing else matters.

Yes, you must bring your persuasive writing skills to the table, but you must remember that you’re not writing for yourself. Keep that for the unfinished novel that’s sitting under your desk.

Copywriting qualities

To succeed in your copywriting career there are a few qualities that you must possess:

  • Flexibility
  • Ability to work to strict deadlines
  • Excellent research skills
  • Ability and willingness to learn from your mistakes
  • Being able to think and write like someone else
  • Being able to empathise with and understand different markets

But above all you must have a very thick skin. Sales writing is difficult and often clients won’t ‘get it’ straightaway, so you must be able to explain why you’ve taken the approach you have and give examples how it has worked for other clients.

So remember, your writing skills are secondary when it comes to writing great copy. The most important thing is the message; it must connect with your readers and get them to take an action.

If they are left admiring your writing instead, it’s time to switch careers!