Why you should write the story behind your personal brand

Have you noticed that more business owners are sharing their personal story as part of their business branding?

I think it’s great. It’s an opportunity to get to know the business owner and understand why they do what they do.

People buy from people!

But some business owners are uncomfortable with the idea and prefer to keep their business and personal lives separate.

Read on for some tips on how you can tell your story without selling out, invading your own privacy or alienating colleagues and friends.

Have you heard of the late author Nora Ephron (who wrote the script for the film When Harry met Sally, as well as many books and articles)?

About a year ago, I watched a documentary about Nora and learnt that she was famous for the phrase: Everything is copy. 

Basically, she felt that anything that happened in her life was fair game and it was okay to write about it (and she did, ruffling a few feathers along the way!)

I think Nora was ahead of her time, because I’m Generation X (born in the ’70s) and I was definitely raised to believe that you don’t wash your dirty laundry in public!

But things are changing.

I don’t agree with categorising age groups – we’re all just people – but the increase in blogging and influencer marketing, arguably dominated by millennials, shows a massive shift towards people sharing their personal story as part of their business brand.

And the trend for content and social media marketing is very much geared towards sharing valuable content and storytelling, with the mindset that people buy from people.  

So how can you share your story as part of your brand in an *buzzword alert* authentic way? 

The simple answer is by being you. 

Because being you is your business’s USP.

Let’s be honest – there are thousands of people offering the same product or service – but they’re not you. 

It all goes back to your why.

Why did you start your business? What life events led you to your industry? And how have your personal experiences shaped the way that you work?

You can tell your story in several ways:

  • Choose a business name or logo that has a deep meaning connected to your story (you’ll need a professional designer for this).
  • Publish your story on your About page on your website (keep it separate from your home page though, that does need to focus on your customer).
  • Write relatable blogs that link your personal story with your business. 
  • Guest blog on other people’s websites or pitch to appear on their podcast.
  • Refer to your story on your social media posts and make connections with people who have had similar experiences.
  • Use tools such as Instagram stories to chat about your daily life and show what goes on behind the scenes of your business. 

If, like me, you’re a private person, it doesn’t mean you have to disclose every tiny detail of your life. It’s up to you how much you share. 

And your story doesn’t have to be tragic or unusual.

It may be as simple as wanting to work from home to be there for your children (in which case you’re part of a huge community).

Or maybe you have a fitness or educational goal that you want to share with the world. 

If your story does have an element of tragedy, trauma or sadness, you don’t have to alienate friends, family and  colleagues to tell it in an authentic way.

For example, if you started your business because you were made redundant, don’t word it in such a way that you sound bitter or critical of your previous employers (however tempting). 

If you became self-employed after a relationship breakdown, don’t waste your time and energy slating your ex.

Focus instead on the positives and how you turned a difficult situation around to create a better life. 

People love to see someone pull through difficult times. It gives them hope.

After all, if you’ve pulled through a low point in your life to build a business, maybe they can too.

If you come across as bitter or angry, it might work against you – use words to inspire people. 

Ultimately, it’s all about communicating your true self in a way that isn’t fake.

Don’t be tempted to make something up – it doesn’t matter if your story isn’t out of the ordinary.

If it’s true, you can weave it through all the strands of your marketing and social media engagement, showing prospective customers the real person behind the business. 

What do you think?

Are you drawn to business owners who let their guard down?

Or do you prefer clear boundaries between professional and personal  lives? 

I’d love to hear your comments.

Enjoy this blog? I do hope you found it enjoyable and valuable. Please feel free to share with your friends and colleagues.

Further reading. If you’re keen to tell your business story you may enjoy my blog Write as you speak – your readers will love you for it where you’ll be pleased to find out you don’t have to swallow a thesaurus to write good copy.

About me I’m Alison, a Freelance Copywriter living and working in Milton Keynes. The experiences of raising a child with autism and losing a parent to dementia remind me to value the power of words and communication. I believe in writing  clear, conversational copy that everyday people can relate to. 

Feel free to get in touch if you’d like to work with me. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How formulas can help you write better copy

Can’t find time to write copy for your marketing materials?

Don’t know where to start?

Read on for part one of my three-part series on copywriting formulas that will time and help you write effective copy.

Image credit: Pixabay

Something I often hear from business owners is that they can’t find the time to write copy and blog posts for their website and marketing materials. And even if they can find the time, they have no idea where to start.

I get it.

Writing effective copy and content does take time. I love it but I still find it draining and I’m always shocked at how much faster the clock ticks when I’m copywriting.

And I know only too well how easy it is to start writing and lose direction.

Like most things, it’s all in the planning and in this three-part series I’m going to share some copywriting formulas that will not only save you time but help you get organised and write copy that packs a punch.

I’m going to start with an oldie but goodie: AIDA.

If you’re a copywriter or marketing type, you’ve almost certainly heard of this one. It’s the first copywriting formula I learned when studying The Complete Copywriter with the Writer’s Bureau. (I later went on to study Breakthrough Copywriting with The Copywriting Academy and Hubspot Inbound Marketing).

What does AIDA stand for?

Attention
Interest
Desire
Action

“Okay” you’re thinking “But what does that actually mean?”

Here’s a breakdown:

Attention pretty much speaks for itself.

It’s the first opportunity you have to get the reader/potential customer’s attention, so it has to be good.

Usually, the headline is the first thing to catch attention, although increasingly superb imagery is needed too, particularly for on-line copy.

Avoid click-bait headlines that don’t deliver on their promise. Probably the best way to get the reader’s attention is to think about what your ideal customer wants to know, so that your headline offers help.

There’s nothing wrong with a headline that ‘does what it says on the tin’. At least your reader knows what they’re getting from the off.

You may choose to be controversial or humorous, but think carefully about how this will translate to the reader. Shock-tactics might get you the wrong sort of attention and do your business more damage than good.

Interest

So the reader needs to have a reason to keep reading. The mistake many people make is to instantly start talking about themselves and what they do.

Bit of a turn-off, yes? But easily done.

A better strategy is turn the attention round to the reader and work out why they should keep reading.

Look for their point of paIn. What problems are they having? What impact is this having on them emotionally, physically, financially? What are their fears? Hopes? Dreams?

You will need to have a pretty good idea of who your ideal customer is to be able to tap into these emotions. If you’re unclear about who you’re trying to attract, you might want to take a step back and get really clear on who you’re writing for first.

copywriting formula ideal customer

Be clear on your ideal customer. Who are they?

Desire This is the point at which you influence your reader to want what you are offering.

Again it’s easy to start talking about what you do. Of course your reader does need to know what you have to offer, but you need to move swiftly on to what your product/service is going to do for them – how it will benefit them.

You want your reader to spend their hard-earned money on your product or service.

Think about this from their point of view.

Why should they?

What’s in for them?

For example, if you’re a massage therapist, don’t just tell them you offer great massage therapies and waffle on about all your massage qualifications. (You can always do this on a separate About page).

Help them visualise why they should get a massage. What are the benefits of having a massage? How are they going to feel after?

Avoid words such as ‘amazing’ and ‘brilliant’ to describe what you offer (if it is, they will tell you in reviews and testimonials).

Instead, paint a picture of how it will improve your customer’s life.

For example:

  • Get a great night’s sleep
  • Feel less anxious or depressed
  • Get relief from back or shoulder pain
  • Feel more confident and focused
  • Enjoy some time and space away from their responsibilities  
  • Feel happier and healthier

And finally, Action. 

This relates to Call to Action and it’s super important because if your reader has decided they do want to get in touch, you need to make it easy for them to do so.

Make sure your contact details, preferably a telephone number, are clearly see on every page of your website, not just the contacts page. And make sure they are clear and easy to read.

If you have a contact form, make sure it’s right there in front of them. (I’m going to write more detailed blog posts about calls to action in the coming months so look out for those.)

AIDA is probably the most well-known copywriting formula around. Some consider it old-fashioned and cumbersome.

I think it’s pretty good but in my quest to consume as much copywriting know-how as I can, I’ve discovered some other formulas which I believe to be easier and more effective than AIDA.

I‘m going to share these with you in parts two and three of this series – coming soon.

Until next time.

Alison x

I do hope you found this blog post valuable.

I’m always open to constructive feedback so please get in touch if you want to discuss. And feel free to share with your friends, contacts and social media.

Want to hand over all that time-consuming copy to someone else? Drop me a line: alisonbcopywriter@gmail.com or complete the simple form below and tell me about your project.

I’d love to work with you.

 

 

 

How to write your About page without being too me, me, me…

Some experts will tell you that you shouldn’t write about yourself, it’s all about the customer. And only the cutomer.

But how do you build a rapport with your reader and show them you’re someone they can trust?

me me meImage credit: Pixabay

Your About page is one of the hardest pages to write and many experts will tell you that you should focus purely on the customer and not write about yourself.

It’s a bummer really. You’ve spent years getting to where you are, sweating blood and tears, training, retraining, making mistakes, learning from mistakes…

So the suggestion that your reader doesn’t want to know about you is disappointing.  

Traditional copywriting advice recommends that you focus on the reader and how your product or service can benefit them. And when it comes to writing blog content the focus is on giving value to the reader.

I think rules are there to be broken and so, in my view, you can tell your story without losing the interest of the reader. 

And in some cases, I believe that doing so can help you build more of a rapport with your audience.

When people refer to your About page, they often mean the first page a visitor lands on when they visit your website (the home page). 

Arguably, this is the most important page and its job is to attract attention and guide the reader to take action.

This page needs to hook your reader and make it super clear what you do and what’s in it for them. They should be in no doubt how they can get hold of you, so a visible call to action (such as a contact form or telephone number) is vital.

Your home page isn’t the place to ramble about yourself. You’ve got a short window of opportunity to interest the reader. And so the focus needs to be on them.

But… there’s nothing to stop you having a second page where the reader can find out more about you.

To avoid confusion you can call it something more interesting than “About”. Here are some suggestions:

Who I am
My story
Why I became a copywriter/plumber/therapist

As a consumer, I do want to know who I’m working with before I part with my money.

If you’re a plumber, I want to know about your training and experience, so I can be sure my loo is going to work properly. And if you’re going to teach my children to play a musical instrument or help them with maths tutoring, I want to know more about your background.

On my Who am I? page, the first thing I do is give the reader the opportunity to opt out and go straight to my services page.  I give a short, bulleted version for those who just want a quick overview. And for the nosey types (like me) I suggest they settle down with a cuppa so they know they’re in for a longer read.

There’s a big focus on storytelling right now and I think your story, if relevant to your product or service, can play a key part in promoting your business and building trust with your client.

So I think it’s okay to get more personal in your About page, but remember to keep the Home page focused on the customer. Win win.

Until next time. Happy writing.

Alison x


I do hope you found this blog post valuable. I’m always open to constructive feedback so please get in touch if you want to discuss. And feel free to share with your friends, contacts and social media.

Want to work with me? Drop me a line: alisonbcopywriter@gmail.com or there’s a simple form on my contacts page.

The so what test – what it is and how it can improve your copywriting

Sometimes it’s hard to find the words to explain the benefits of your product or service to your potential customers.

Here’s a fun way to drill down into the detail and uncover new selling points.

If you’re struggling to explain your services in words on your website, blog posts or social media updates, try the so what test to challenge yourself and find inspiration for new ideas.

I’m not sure where it originates from (if you do know, please should and I’ll include a reference) but it’s a really useful tool for drilling down into the detail of what you actually do and how you can communicate it to your customers in the written word.

Before I explain how to do the ‘so what test’, something to bear in mind is that when you’re writing content you should be thinking about the benefits of your product/service as well as the features.

There’s a theory that your writing should be all about the benefits – meaning, what’s in it for the customer. (I’m not 100% convinced about this, but I’ll tackle that another time.)

So, if you run a decorating service you don’t just use the best paint (feature), you save the customer from committing crimes to DIY, you free up their weekend, you take away the stress and mess of painting, you save their marriage from the effects of yet another DIY disaster. These are benefits.

With me so far?

The so what test can help you really think about your business, what you offer, what’s in it for the customer and why they should choose you.

If you have a trusted friend or colleague, you might want to rope them in to help you with the test. You could even record it if you fancy a laugh.

I’m going to demonstrate the test here using my role as a copywriter and an imaginary friend:

Me: “I’m a copywriter”

Imaginary friend: “So what?”

Me: “I write copy for websites and content for business blogs.”

Imaginary friend: “So what?”

Me: “So that when customers visit the client’s website they read clear, persuasive copy that explains the purpose of the business.”

Imaginary friend: “So what?”

Me: “So they can understand how that service/product will benefit them.”

Imaginary friend: “So what?”

Me: “So they can read blogs about the business and find helpful tips that might help them.”

Imaginary friend: “So what?”

Me: “So they can get to know the business and start to trust them.”

Imaginary friend: “So what?”

Me: “So they visit that website again or recommend to their friends.”

Imaginary friend: “So what?”

“Me: “So when they’re ready to buy a product or invest in a service, they’re more like to choose that business”.

So that’s a pretty short example. The longer you go on, the more you will uncover about what you do.

My imaginary conversation could have gone off at several tangents. I could have talked about the benefits of high quality content for SEO, using appropriate keywords, optimising paragraphs and images to accurate spelling and eye-pleasing layout.

Instead, I focused on the importance of clear, persuasive copy and helpful content that builds trust with the prospective client.

Your turn now.

Just keep going and really drilling down into the detail of what you do and then think about how you can use that information to write great content for your website and marketing materials.

I’d love to hear how you get on. Did you uncover any selling points that you hadn’t previously thought about or used?

Alison

Enjoy this post? Feel free to share on social media and with anyone you know who would find it useful.

About me: I’m a Freelance Copywriter based in Milton Keynes. If you’re struggling to find the time, or inclination, to write engaging blog posts for your website, I’d love to help. 

There’s a simple form on my contacts page or you can call me on 07809 599055 (if it goes to voicemail leave a message and I’ll get back asap).

Write As You Speak – your readers will love you for it

Why plain English and your own tone of voice are better than long words and jargon.

In this article you will learn about the copywriting formula WAYS which stands for write as you speak.

Do you find the prospect of writing your own copy scary? Do you still have nightmares about that prim and proper English teacher who was only too happy to scribble across your homework in red ink?

Forget about them!

If you’re one of those business owners who thinks that your English language skills are not good enough to write content and blogs for your business, I have good news for you:

You don’t have to swallow a thesaurus to write good copy.

Think about your reasons for writing in the first place.

You probably want to sell, yes. But more importantly, you want to communicate your business message clearly to your target audience.

Before anyone is going to buy from you, you need to gain their trust and your content strategy (relax, I just mean your blog) goes a long way in helping your achieve that.

Clear, concise copy in plain English is more likely to resonate with your audience (any audience) than stiff, formal  language stuffed full of pretentious words.

And the easiest way to achieve this is to use a copywriting technique called WAYS:

Write
As
You
Speak

So what do I mean by Write As You Speak?

When writing, imagine you are having a conversation with your reader.

Think of it as talking to them, rather than writing for them.

If you suffer from writer’s block, you can record your message and then you can translate it to truly write as you speak (and you edit out the ‘umms’ and ‘ahs’ if you speak like I do!)

Here are some further tips to help you achieve this less formal style of writing:

  • Don’t use long words and jargon that nobody understands.
  • Write in short, simple sentences.
  • Keep paragraphs short  – lots of white space is visually appealing to readers.
  • Don’t be afraid to start sentences with “And” and “But” (Shakespeare did it, and so can you).
  • Describe your product or service in a factual, honest manner. Explain to the reader what it is and how it will benefit them.
  • Don’t tell the reader your offer is “fantastic” or “amazing” –  if it is, they can tell you when  they come to review it.
  • Use simple punctuation and break up your copy with bullet-points.
  • Keep in mind the saying “Humour doesn’t translate”. Tread carefully with the funny talk and consider your audience.
  • There’s a train of thought that it’s good to be controversial – it’s a quick way to attract attention. It’s your call, but personally I think life’s too short for trolls and hassle. There are better ways to get attention than being deliberately provocative.

Finally, remember the importance of focussing on the reader – don’t constantly talk about yourself (trust me, I know how difficult this is).

Think about your reader’s problems and needs, and what you can do to help.

Some examples:

Instead of: “With 10 years experience, I can write content and copy to a high standard.”
Try:  “Boost your site with engaging copy, optimised to increase your chances of being found on search engines”

Instead of: “I pride myself on taking amazing photographs.”
Try: “Breathtaking imagery to bring your site to life.”  

A good rule of thumb is one “I” for every three “yous” but don’t take this too literally! Just make sure the focus is on the reader and/or their business.

You are there to provide value to them, not tell them how great you are (hopefully they will do this for you soon enough).

Feel free to give feedback and add further suggestions.

Happy writing.

Alison

Enjoy this post? Feel free to share on social media and anyone you know who would find it helpful.

About me: I’m a Freelance Copywriter based in Milton Keynes. If you’re struggling to find the time, or inclination, to write engaging blog posts for your website, I’d love to help. 

There’s a simple form on my contacts page or you can call me on 07809 599055 (if it goes to voicemail leave a message and I’ll get back asap).

 

 

 

 

Your or you’re

Do you struggle to work out the difference between you and you’re?

Are you secretly worried that you’re using the wrong version and people are laughing at you?

Relax. Life’s too short to worry about grammar rules.

Here’s a simple explanation to get you up-to-speed and an easy-peasy method to work out whether you’re using the right version in your writing.

 

Do you struggle with the use of your and you’re?

Lots of people do. I even spotted the wrong version being used in a blog about writing good quality content! So, for those of you who are unsure:

You’re is just a shorter way of saying you are. For example:

You’re always so helpful.

You’re a great friend.

You’re going to frighten away potential clients if you don’t proofread.

Overkill on the last example!

Your is about possession. You may be thinking: What the hell does that mean? I hate explanations like that too, it’s like being back in English class. And some grammar rules are there to be broken (I’m doing that right now)

So instead of boring you with a long-winded explanation that you’ll probably forget, I’m going to show you some examples instead.

Your green top matches your eyes.

It’s your turn next.

Isn’t about time you did your tax return?

If you’re struggling to remember which one to use, just read the sentence back to yourself and use the words you are instead of your.

It will be pretty obvious whether that works or not

For example:

Your you are green top matches your eyes.

It’s your you are turn next.

See what I mean? When you say you are, it’s obvious that it doesn’t work in the context of these sentences. So the right word to use is your. It’s an easier way to work out which word to use.

It’s always important to proofread your work. A spell-checker won’t necessarily pick up mistakes like these, as they’re not spelt incorrectly. So it’s worth taking your time to thoroughly check what you’ve written. Ask a friend or colleague to help out (or hire a proofreader).

The beauty of writing for the web is that you can always go back and correct mistakes.

There’s a big difference between a sloppy piece of work that’s littered with mistakes and a carefully crafted article where a small typo has slipped through, so don’t beat yourself up if this happens.

But do change it quickly before anyone else notices!

Alison

 

Enjoy this post? Feel free to share on social media. 🙂

About me: I’m a Freelance Copywriter based in Milton Keynes. If you’re struggling to find the time, or inclination, to write engaging blog posts for your website, I’d love to help. 

There’s a simple form on my contacts page or you can call me on 07809 599055 (if it goes to voicemail leave a message and I’ll get back asap).

 

 

 

 

When copywriting and caring collide…

If you’re a parent carer running a business, or thinking about it, this is for you…

I’ve read many articles about juggling parenthood with running a business. And I love them. It’s great to share thoughts and ideas.

I can relate to some of the experiences and advice, but my parenting issues are a bit different to most. My son has autism and learning difficulties.

I’m not saying my life as a working parent is harder, but it’s certainly different.

And when I read articles about juggling parenting and self-employment, there’s a tiny voice in my head saying, “What about me?”

Lately I’ve been wondering how many other self-employed peeps there are out there, simultaneously navigating their way through the world of business and special needs parenting.

All our children are different, and our experiences are different but I’m hoping some of the following would be helpful. At the very least, I’d love to hear your own experiences or tips.

  1. Acceptance

This could be a whole blog in itself! What do I mean by acceptance?

Firstly, I mean acceptance about your child’s disability. That means accepting that they won’t change their behaviour or needs to accommodate your business and schedule. You’re going to have to work around them!

Because their care comes first, always; so it’s a case of working out when you can focus on your work and how much time you have available.

For me, this means only working on client stuff when my son is at his special school. He’s extremely well-supported, so I can drop him off at 9am secure in the knowledge that I’m unlikely to hear from them during the day.

He sleeps well at night. This is a huge bonus, because it means I get to sleep too. In the early days, I would take advantage of this time to work on my business (more about this in point 2!) but I’ve come to realise that sleep is super important, and my productivity during those school (client) hours is far greater if I get 7 solid hours of zizz.

Secondly, acceptance about what you can realistically achieve.

In the early days, that might mean just one or two hours a week. That’s a good start.

Don’t worry if it’s a tiny amount of time. Just focus on what you want to achieve and try your best to do it. Yes, it might take longer than you would like. But it’s something. And in my view, something is better than nothing.  Even if you just manage to read one 10 minute blog about setting up your dream business, that’s a step in the right direction.

I’ve given up thinking about how much more I could achieve if I wasn’t a parent carer. To be honest, if it wasn’t for my son, I doubt I would have had the guts to go freelance anyway. I’d probably be 9-5ing in some faceless corporation by now, and bitching about Bob from Accounts. I have a lot to thank my son for!

  1. Self-care

Voice of experience speaking here!

You might be surprised just how excited you feel about starting your business, especially if you’ve felt dragged down by the stress of sorting out a diagnosis or suitable education for your child (experiences will vary hugely depending on the disability).

So what do I mean by self-care? I’m talking about the basics! Sleep, eating at the right times, drinking water and getting some exercise. I know how challenging this can be. The needs of your child can be overwhelming. But it’s important to try.

balance
A retreat would be nice! But I’m talking about the basics here – eat, sleep and exercise.

It’s surprising how invigorating thinking about something new can be. If you find time to study, read and plan your business, you might find that you have a new lease of life.

And that’s when it becomes tempting to neglect your basic needs in favour of putting everything into your business, on top of your caring role.

Please don’t!

Your child and business depend on your health. Take care of yourself the best that you can.

  1. Get help

You can’t do it all yourself. So get help if you can. This will mean things to different people.

helping-hands

My greatest help is having my son educated in a special school. He’s well supported, so I can relax when he’s away from me and his anxiety at home is reduced. I also take advantage of the playscheme his school offers in the holidays and as he gets older, I have will have options available for after-school club and further respite.

I also pay out for extra help with the mundane stuff. That means paying someone to help with the ironing during busy times, and someone to help with the dog walking. That’s enough for now, but my son’s getting older and what I need will change.

If you can’t justify paid help, try negotiating with family members. Draw up a rota of who does what. If you have other children, get buy-in from them. My older son (who doesn’t have a disability) has assigned jobs in the house, for which he’s awarded merits that go towards treats or experiences in half-term.  (Update: he’s now hit the teenage years, so increasingly this means cash incentives!)

  1. Make time for your heartbreak

I mean it.

Your child has a disability. It hurts. That never goes away. The fears for their future, wondering what caused their disability (I’m speaking as an autism parent here) and absorbing how much your world has changed. It’s always there, just underneath the surface.

chris-christmas
My beautiful boy.

As time goes on, you don’t think about it all the time. But every once in a while, something happens or someone says something, and reality of your situation slaps you straight in face. Sometimes when you least expect it.

However busy you are, however successful your business is, whatever other great things happen – just respect your own feelings about this.

It’s okay to feel really shit about this thing that you just can’t change; your child’s disability.  Sometimes you’ll be cool about it. Other times you’ll feel sad, angry, frustrated, depressed. Acknowledge your feelings. They’re real – as real as it gets. And only by accepting that, can you embrace your situation and build a positive life (and business).

  1. Be the best you can be

Be yourself. And be good at what you do, at work and at home. Work hard at building your business, and giving your child the care and quality of life they deserve.

Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t be open about my caring role. Life has shown me that it changes people’s reactions towards me. It might even lose me business from time-to-time. But I’m okay with that.

Over time, I’ve come to realise that being a parent carer is a strength, not a weakness. And clients like to know who they’re working with. I’m the reliable type, so if I think I can’t meet a deadline or put the amount of work needed into a project, I don’t take it on in the first place.

Parenting a child with autism has taught me about communication, patience, empathy and given me the courage to carve out a different life to the one I thought I was going to live. My achievements might be small, but I’m proud of them. 

How does it work for you?

If you’re a parent carer, who also runs a business, I’d love to hear from you. What are your challenges and coping strategies? Do you have any tips to share?

Alison x

 

 

Enjoy this post? Feel free to share on social media and with anyone you know who would find it useful.

About me: I’m a Freelance Copywriter based in Milton Keynes. If you’re struggling to find the time, or inclination, to write engaging blog posts for your website, I’d love to help. 

There’s a simple form on my contacts page or you can call me on 07809 599055 (if it goes to voicemail leave a message and I’ll get back asap).

 

 

 

Writing website content? Tips for start-ups and small biz owners.

start-up-2017

By: Alison R Bowyer     Freelance Copywriter     alison@mkwordstudio.co.uk

Bite-size writing tips for small business owners: how to write content for your start-up website

So you’ve had a great idea and you’ve decided to take the plunge and become self-employed. 

One of your first priorities is to work out how best to market your business. Maybe you’re already networking like mad, dabbling with social media and eagerly awaiting your new business cards to arrive in the post. Exciting times ahead.

And now you’ve got your head round that website builder and you’re having loads of fun designing a cool website to promote your service. Everyone needs a website, right?

It’s easy at this stage to get carried away with the look and design of your website. But don’t underestimate the power of words.

When a reader visits your site, there’s a very small window of opportunity to grab their attention and keep them interested.

Design is important, but ultimately it’s the words that have the power to engage your reader and persuade them to choose you over your competitors.

Your Home page will need to grab attention and compel your reader to keep reading. The About page is an opportunity to tell the reader more about you and your business, while your Services page should go into more detail about what you offer and crucially, the benefits of your service to your reader.

It’s important that your writing is accurate and grammatically correct. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it needs to read like an essay for A Level English. Grammar rules can be broken to create more of an impact (such as starting a sentence with ‘And’).

It’s okay to inject your own personality into your writing and write as you would speak to your clients. Whether you’re writing B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer), it shouldn’t really matter.

The point is you’re writing for your fellow human beings, so write in a clear, concise style that’s easy to read and understand.

It might help you to thing about it as talking rather than writing. Think about the words and language you use in everyday conversation and go with that.

There’s no need to pull out the Thesaurus and find a posher word for the one you want to use (notice I said ‘use’ not ‘utilise’).  Use everyday language that the reader can relate to.

Show a clear call to action on every page, so your reader knows exactly how to contact you. Make it easy for them!

get-found
Show the world you’re a professional at what you do.

I’m no expert on design and my own website and blog are deliberately simple in design, so that the focus is on my words.

But here are a few basic tips (for more advanced advice, look out for blogs by website designers):

  • Black print on white background is easier for most people to read.
  • If you have a background image, make sure the writing isn’t obscured by it (one of my clients had their contact number in dark blue text on a lighter blue background, but it was almost impossible to read).
  • Break your copy up into short paragraphs. Too much block text is off-putting to some readers.
  • Check links work properly and that your website is easy to navigate. Again, if it’s a DIY website, ask a friend or family member to check it and give feedback.
  • Images can support your writing and make the page more attractive to the reader, but make sure they work well with the words. And if you don’t do your own photography, be careful of copyright (don’t steal images from other websites or Google).I use Pixabay, which is an excellent resource for restriction free images. There’s no charge either, though there is an option to make a donation via Paypal.

Be original. It’s okay to get ideas from other websites, but don’t pinch the content. Think about what you want to say and put it in your own words. If it’s an old idea, try to approach it from a different angle.

Finally: proofread, proofread, proofread. There’s evidence to suggest that errors on your website can lose you business. So take the time to read it carefully. If you know someone who spots spelling errors a mile away, ask them to read it for you. A second pair of eyes is invaluable; it’s always easier to spot other people’s mistakes.

Taking the time to write clear, persuasive content for your web pages will give your site the best chance of turning readers into customers. And once your site’s gone live, remember to keep adding fresh content to build your following and get found on search engines.

This is your opportunity to show the world that you’re a professional at what you do. Grab it!

Until next time.

Alison

Alison is a Freelance Copywriter in Milton Keynes specialising in web content and blogging for business. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yours sincerely or Yours faithfully?

Bite-size writing tips: How to sign-off letters and emails

This was drummed into me about a hundred years’ ago and I’ve never forgotten it, but I know it causes lots of people angst when writing letters.

So here’s the general rule of thumb

Dear Sir/Madam = Yours faithfully

Dear Sally/Mr Smith = Yours sincerely

There is some debate around signing off Yours faithfully if it’s the first time you have written to a person (even if you have named them). I think you can’t go far wrong if you stick to the above rule though, as people who are sticklers for this type of thing will probably favour the traditional approach.

Of course, the digital age has put a new spin on this as so much communication is conducted by email, and even this seems outdated with the rise of other social media channels.

Email seems to be a halfway house between traditional letter writing and instant social media communication. It’s not as formal as a letter, but it is an important business communication tool. And because its been around for a relatively short time, we haven’t inherited formal rules about how to sign-off an email.

This puts us in something of a dilemma.Yours faithfully and Yours sincerely look out of place (and in my experience are often used in SPAM emails). Some people like to be more creative, or mysterious and include inspirational quotes or memes as part of their sign-off.

I like to stick with something polite and to the point. Best regards is polite and respectful without being too formal. Kind regards and best wishes are equally inoffensive, though the latter might be over familiar, so tread carefully.

Assuming you want the recipient to get in touch, the most important thing is your call to action which includes your name, contact details and position.

So a straightforward sign-off will lead nicely into this vital information and not draw attention away from it.

Until next time.

Alison

Alison is a Freelance Copywriter in Milton Keynes offering a range of services for small and large organisations in MK and across the UK.  For further information visit www.mkwordstudio.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

There, they’re and their…

Bite-size writing tips for small business: There, they’re and their…

Why does the English Language have to be so complicated?

There, they’re and their seem to be 3 words that confuse the hell out of most people. Are you one of them?

There’s no shame in not knowing which one to use. A great way to get up-to-speed is to simply read more. When you read, your mind absorbs good writing like a sponge. And eventually, you will know which one to use because it ‘looks right’.

To help you out, I’m going to give you some straight examples of how to use them correctly. And if you get stuck next time you’re writing your blog or other business communications, you can refer back to this page.

They’re (they are)

They’re going to the shops.

They’re never going to get home on time.

They’re in way too deep.

Their

Their car is parked on the driveway.

Their cousin is coming to stay for the holidays.

That’s their problem, not mine.

There 

My car keys are over there.

What time shall I be there?

There isn’t time now.

There is a new Indian restaurant in time.

You’re right there.

Is there any chance you can help me with this?

These are just a handful of examples, but I think you’ll find them useful if you’re in doubt. It’s always worth taking a few moments to proofread (or ask a friend or colleague to help you) to weed out any obvious errors. So your written words reflect the level of professionalism you want to project to your audience.

Until next time.

Alison

Alison is a Freelance Copywriter in Milton Keynes offering a range of services for small and large organisations in MK and across the UK.  For further information visit www.mkwordstudio.co.uk