February 11th, 2015 — blog, blogging, blogging for business
One of the toughest things you’ll be faced with as a blogger is the need for a constant stream of ideas for blog posts.
You audience are a demanding bunch and will want fresh, high quality information from you regularly.
So what happens, after a few weeks, when your ideas start to dry up?
That’s where this post will come in handy.
What follows are 8 sources of inspiration that will make sure you never run out of ideas.
1. Check out your FAQs
The chances are you’re faced with a lot of questions from your customers and I bet you get asked the same thing over and over.
Those questions will provide you with a list of potential blog topics. After all, if several customers have asked the question you can bet there are loads more out there thinking the same thing.
Not only will you have an endless list of ideas, you’ll also be improving your customer service by providing advice on the things that concern your customers the most.
2. “How to”
The humble “how to” post is a great way to cement your expert status.
Whether it’s the best way to train a dog, how to wear a tie, or how to get the most miles from a tank of fuel, your audience will love your advice and draw in a loyal readership.
3. Question and answer
Bringing in the point of view of others is a great way to add interest and depth to your blog.
Interviewing an industry expert, employee or even a customers will give a new dimension to your posts and could open up a whole raft of topic ideas for you.
Writing it in a Q&A format will also provide a change of pave to refresh your normal content.
4. Company news
Although your blog is not there for overly promotional posts, if you have an employee who’s done something extraordinary, or whether your company is involved in a charity event, there’s no harm in writing about it.
The employee angle is especially relevant as it gives an insight into your company and the people who work for you.
Your knowledge is valuable.
People are searching the internet every day for information about what you do, so make sure you’re the one writing about it.
It doesn’t have to be exciting, but it does have to be interesting and relevant.
One of the most popular types of blog post are the top lists.
A list means there’s a lot of information in one place. Whether it’s like this one, or a list of useful websites, or products, it will prove to be a valuable resource guide.
7. Product reviews
OK, I’m not suggesting you give your product a favourable review and trash the competition, but if you have just found a new product or service that’s useful to you, think about whether it would be useful to your customers too.
Perhaps you researched several options before buying. If you did, think how beneficial that advice would be to someone with the same needs.
When looking for products your customers want expert help and who better to give them that help than you?
8. Use your YouTube videos
Rather than letting your YouTube videos gather dust, create blog posts around them. Perhaps they can be used to illustrate a particular point? If so, top and tail them with great content and before you know it you’ll have an informative blog post ready to be published.
Hopefully, these suggestions will get your creative juices flowing.
Do you have any other ideas for blog posts? If so leave a comment below and share them with me, I’d love to hear what you come up with.
Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd
February 4th, 2015 — Branding, copywriter, copywriting tips, Copywriting tone
What is a brand voice?
Basically, it’s the way your brand sounds to your readers.
That’s as clear as mud.
OK, look at it this way. When it comes to branding, the look, feel and words that you use have to work together to create an overall impression.
You probably have a pretty good idea of how you want your audience to see you. It could be as a high end brand, one that is innovative (Apple springs to mind) etc.
So where do words come into it?
Well, they have to paint a picture that is in line with your imagery, but there is one very important thing to remember.
What is it?
Even though you know how you want to be perceived, it’s just as important to understand how you want your customer to feel.
You may have lofty ideas of the type of language you want to use, but is it going to be right for your audience?
Think about who they are, why they would be interested in what you’re offering and what’s important to them. When you know that, you can tailor your writing to show them how you’re going to help them live the life they want to live.
It’s also important, especially when branding for a high end product, to show them why it’s so good. That doesn’t mean justifying the price tag, but rather highlighting the benefits it will bring:
- A sign of discernment
- Professional image
- Improve performance
It is the words that you use that will evoke an emotional connection to your brand. They will show your audience that your values are the same as their values and that by supporting your brand they are showing the world they are aligned with what you stand for.
Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd
January 28th, 2015 — copywriting, copywriting tips, Copywriting tone
Every copywriter in the land loves creating content.
Every copywriter in the land hates the editing process.
It’s very easy to be objective with someone else’s writing, but when it comes to your own taking a red pen to it can be like severing a limb.
The problem is every piece of content you generate will need editing. If you don’t edit you’ll never turn your good content into great content.
So where do you start?
The long and the short of it
When you start on a project, just write. It doesn’t matter how bad it is, write everything you can think of because it’s much easier to cut during your edit than add.
Once you’ve finished the editing process all the phrases and sentences that made you cringe will be gone, leaving you with the most powerful words.
All writers are guilty of having a favourite phrase, sentence etc., in their writing. It may be something that came to you in a flash of genius that you just had to get into the piece you’re writing, but does it add or detract from what you’re trying to achieve?
During your edit you have to be ruthless. Keep the focus of your writing in your mind at all times and if it doesn’t fit it’s got to go.
That is especially true for the start of your content. Most writers will spend the first paragraph warming up. Take a look at the beginning and think is that the right starting place or is there a better introduction a few sentences in? It’s important to make an impact from the outset rather than gently leading the reader by the hand, because they may let go and find something more interesting to look at.
Think about your words
The easiest writing to read and understand is that which uses simple words, short sentences and short paragraphs. When you’re trying to sell, your writing has to be snappy, concise and to the point. That also means keeping your punctuation under control. Numerous commas in a sentence slows the pace and can lose a reader, oh and never, ever finish a headline with a full stop because you’re asking the reader to stop, and that’s the last thing you want them to do.
The tone of voice in a piece of writing refers to how it sounds when it’s read aloud.
Copywriters are in an odd position; the are the writers, but the message is coming from their client. Therefore the tone they adopt must fit with the company and it must also appeal to the audience.
As you edit, think about who you’re writing for, the types of phrase they would use, how they want their customers to see them and make sure you use the right tone and language to reflect their personality.
The use of active verbs can breathe life into any piece of writing, so take a good look through what you’ve written and make sure you change any areas of passivity to active-go-getting-ness.
Whichever way you look at it editing is painful, but at the end of the process you’ll be left with content that’s powerful, engaging and that will drive results.
January 22nd, 2015 — website design
You’re in the market for a new website.
After doing a bit of research you’ve whittled it down to two web design companies. Both have great reviews and testimonials, both have impressive portfolios. So which do you choose?
Company A meets with you and shows some ideas for your new site.
Its glorious full colour images far outweigh everything else on the page.
Eye-catching it definitely is, but you’re slightly concerned about how easy to use it will be.
There’s no obvious navigation. Users have to explore the image to find the links to the sub pages.
Company A tell you that this is the latest design technique that all the major players are using. If you have the same for your website you’ll be seen as an edgy, dynamic company. You like that sound of that.
Then you are visited by company B.
Their design is all together more traditional.
There are some nice touches and it looks very professional, but it doesn’t have quite the same eye-candy appeal as the other one.
They explain that it’s been designed with your customer in mind. It’s simple yet elegant navigation makes it easy for the user to find their way around. Each page has enough text on it to show the user what you do and, more importantly, what you will do for them.
You can see their point, but you’ve been dazzled by company A.
What do you do?
Well, the chances are if you go with company A, although you’ll have a stunning site no one will use it, because:
- They won’t be able to find it because the image heavy design limits it’s SEO potential
- If they do find it they won’t have a clue about how to find the information they’re looking for
Company B’s design might not win you (or rather them) any design awards, but it will get ranked (provided you have a great SEO strategy) and your customers will love it.
Every thing you do must be done for your customer. That means your website must give them what they want.
Remember, you’re investing in your companies future, not the award-winning potential of the web designer.
January 14th, 2015 — Building a business, copywriter, copywriting, marketing, Press releases
It’s the age of the entrepreneur. Businesses are springing up everywhere, so how do you get yours noticed?
As a start-up you have no track record, no testimonials, no social proof. That might sound like a brick wall, but if you can prove to the media that you can change the world you will get your story heard.
Your pitch: I can change the world
The usual course of action for a new business trying to get noticed is to write umpteen press releases, but journalists are inundated with them so how about trying a different approach?
Writing a pitch, tailored to the journalist you’re targeting, will help you stand out, but only if you write it from a benefits point of view rather than as a sales document. Give them everything they need, from your logo and contact details to ideas for your story. Remember though, as I said earlier, this isn’t a sales document. You must prove you can change the world.
What do I mean by that?
Your business, whatever it does, will solve a problem, create wealth, make someone smile or take their pain away.
Because if it doesn’t have a tangible benefit it’s not a business.
Your job is to understand that and show the reader (in this case the journalist you’re pitching to) how you change people’s lives. The “people” are their readers, so if they can smell a great story you’ll have their attention.
Who do you contact?
It’s all well and good creating a great pitch, but who do you send it to?
Every newspaper, magazine, TV and radio channel has it’s own audience. Your job is to do your research to find the journalists who write about the problems your company solves.
Because their audience will be the people who will buy your product or service.
If you want to maximise your coverage you have to match the journalist with your message.
Once you have your list, don’t just send cold pitches because they are likely to be ignored.
It’s all about who you know. Look at your contacts, is there anyone who can help you? Perhaps there is someone who can make an introduction for you?
Get in touch with journalists and build a relationship with them. See if you can help them out before pitching to them. Try to meet them in person. The stronger the relationships you forge, the more likely they are to run with your ideas.
Did they say yes?
If they say yes and run with your story, fantastic, well done. Keep in touch with them and let them know your areas of expertise and that you’re interested in being interviewed or happy to contribute to future stories.
If your idea doesn’t get picked up don’t hound them. Chase after about a week, sending your story again just in case they didn’t receive the first one. If they’re still not interested, don’t just give up. Try sending it to a different contact, even one within the same outlet – just because one person wasn’t interested doesn’t mean no one will be.
If you want people to talk about your business you have to show how you can change people’s lives.
There are too many press releases out there that try to sell. The trick to getting noticed is to show yourself as a company that puts its customers first by highlighting the benefits they receive.
Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd