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Why you should write the story behind your personal brand

“Everything is copy.” Nora Ephron

Have you heard of Nora Ephron? She 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 above phrase. 

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 do not 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. You are your business’s USP.

Let’s be honest – there are hundreds of people offering the same product or service as you. What you do isn’t special, but you are. 

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 build your personal brand in many 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 and your words will resonate with thousands of other people).  

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 or be over dramatic. Nobody likes a drama llama! 

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. 

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

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.

Want to work with a copywriter who cares about your business as much as you do?
Get in touch 

 

Featured

Why your business blog needs World Book Day

world book day
Image credit: Pixabay

If it’s snowing heavily in your neck of the woods and your child’s school has declared a snow day, you could be forgiven for secretly thinking “I got away with it”.

World Book day that is. All that fretting about making a costume or searching Ebay is over. You can forget about it now and frolick in the snow.

Think again.

Somewhere along the line, the meaning of World Book Day has been lost.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to harp on about how important reading is for your child.

You already know that.

I’m talking about you.

And more specifically, your business blog.

Because if you’re going to commit to writing regular high quality content for your website, then the best thing you can do for yourself is read regularly.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others; read a lot and write a lot.”  Stephen King

The above is a famous quote by the famous novelist Stephen King (author of IT, Needful Things and Misery to name a few).

If you’re a copywriter, or any type of writer, you will have heard this quote many times and probably used it in your own blog posts.

As a small business owner feeling the fear about blogging you may be thinking “I don’t want to be ‘a writer’ – I just want to work on my business”. 

Relax.

Nobody’s suggesting you have to read the old classics you read in school – or emulate their style. Writing for business isn’t about that.

It’s more about being human and relatable. And if you want to write well, then reading is one of the best ways to improve your skill and help you find your own tone of voice,

why your business blog needs world book day

Image credit: Pixabay

Reading doesn’t have to be confined to lengthy novels.

Look at the junk mail that comes through your door. Read the adverts in your magazines. Buy two or three different newspapers and see if you can spot the difference in writing styles.

If you’re nervous about your spelling and punctuation, there’s no better way to improve it than read regularly. Read something that genuinely captures your interest and engages you and you will naturally start to pick up good habits.

As well as having benefits for your business blog, reading can benefit you in several others ways:

  • Make you a better writer (just in case you didn’t pick up on that ; )
  • Broaden your vocabulary
  • Improve your memory and general knowledge
  • Reduce stress
  • Get you away from your phone

So once you’ve finished building a snowman (or clearing your drive), why not wrap up warm with a hot drink and a book or magazine.

You don’t even have to dress up.

Unless you want to – I won’t tell anyone.

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

Featured

How to tell your story without being too me, me, me…

me me meImage credit: Pixabay

One of the hardest things to take on board when writing website copy and content is the suggestion 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.

Here are 3 ways you can help your reader get to know you without losing the key messages you want to put out when promoting your business:

1. A separate About and Home page

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

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 in 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

“I’m the nosey type, so I would be straight there to find out about you. And on a serious note, I like to know where my money is going. If you’re going to be my therapist, I want to be sure you’re the type of person I can feel a connection with.”

If you’re a plumber, I do 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.

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.

2. Write a personal blog

There are two ways you could do this. You may wish to have an ongoing personal blog on a separate site to your business website. In this case, you can write about whatever the hell you like – just make sure there are visible links from your blog to your business site if you want to send your readers that way.

Alternatively, if you have a blog on your business website, there’s no reason why you can’t write the occasional personal blog, the trick is to find a way to link it in with your product or service.

The whole purpose of writing a business blog is to add value to the reader, built a rapport and establish yourself as an expert in your field. So it’s tempting to believe that every article should be focused on giving advice to potential customers.

Don’t forget, however, that adding value can come in different forms. The three most commonly talked about are inform, entertain and inspire.

Maybe you have a funny story to tell. Or it could be that a deeply personal experience led you into your profession.

story behind the business
There’s a story behind every business. You can tell yours and still keep your focus on the reader.

I wrote a blog a couple of years ago about combining my copywriting career with caring for my autistic son. I knew it wouldn’t appeal to the masses, but felt that it would help someone, somewhere.

I recently had an email from someone on other side of the world who is in exactly the same boat as me and now, finally, have a contact who is navigating their way through the same minefield.

Did this bring me new business? No. But it has added value to me and my new contact. I’ve met someone out there who gets it. And that helps both of us to drive our businesses forward.

3. Tell your story on social media

Increasingly, I’m noticing that business people are allowing the mask to slip as it were.

Whereas in the past, we were all told to look professional and act professional at all times, keeping our private side completely separate and hidden away, there seems to be a genuine desire for people to show their whole selves.

“As someone in my 40s (yikes) I suspect I’m supposed to agree with the traditional view but I don’t really.

I like to know a little bit about a person before I work with them.”

Social media can be a great tool for this, particularly visual platforms such as Instagram where you have the option to record more informal stories, giving a behind the scenes view of your day, as well as posts.

I’ve seen some great posts on here where the business owner has published a lovely photo of themselves (not a blurry selfie in a bar or on holiday) and shared story behind their business. 

I think this can be really positive and build a genuine warmth and rapport with followers who may not be at the buying stage yet.

So there you have it – my slightly different view on an old topic.

I would love to know what you think.

Am I just a nosey parker or am I onto something? Do you prefer to cut to the chase and find out what’s on offer? Or do you need warming up and if so, do you like to know more about the person behind a business?

Until next time. Happy writing.

Alison 


Want to work with a copywriter who cares about your business as much as you do? Get in touch. 

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

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).

How to 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 her!

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.

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 rather than writing it down with pen and paper (or finger and keyboard).

This is a great way to identify your natural, conversational tone and then you transcribe it into written words (and you can edit out all the ‘umms’ and ‘ahs’ if you speak like me!)  

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.
  • Similarly, think twice about being controversial. Not everyone will agree with me on this one.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).

 

 

 

 

Why blogging beats ‘in your face’ marketing

By: Alison B Copywriter

As a small business owner or start-up, you don’t need me to tell you that it’s important to market your business.

But have you heard of inbound marketing? And do you know what it means for your small business?

What is inbound marketing?

Whereas in the past, attracting customers was all about selling your business through traditional practices such as paid adverts, cold-calling and face-to-face selling, inbound marketing is about using content to attract potential customers through building positive relationships with them and establishing trust.

The goal is to make yourself helpful and valuable to people, so they’re more likely to choose you when they’re ready to invest in a product or service.

At the heart of your inbound strategy should be a commitment to treat people well, at every single stage of your business relationship with them.

And this doesn’t just apply to paying customers. You can use your inbound strategy to network and build meaningful relationships and mutual trust with other professionals in your field.

How can blogging help your inbound strategy?

Blogging can form a big part of your inbound strategy. If you already have a live website and you’re active on a few social media channels, then blogging is a brilliant way to engage with your readers and encourage traffic to your website.

It will also help you stand out as a professional in your field. Scroll through any social media feed and you’ll see many posts advertising the same services that you offer.

The chances are most people will scroll straight past them, writing them off as just another advert.

But give them a reason to visit your site and you’re one step ahead.

What are the benefits of blogging?

  • Adding regular fresh content to your website will make it more visible to search engines, so you’re more likely to be found on-line when people search for your service or product.
  • Visitors to your website are more likely to come back if they find interesting content that help them to solve their problems.
  • You can demonstrate your expertise and knowledge through your blog, effectively proving that you know what you’re talking about.
  • Sharing your blogs on social media gives people a reason to visit your website and come back.
  • You can use calls to action on your blog to encourage further engagement with your reader.
  • You can share knowledge and information with other professionals in your field, building meaningful relationships.

why blogging beats in your face marketing

What on earth can I blog about?  

The trick is to be helpful to your readers. So think about what problems they might have and how you can help them to resolve them.

Primarily, you will want to write articles that are interesting to your potential customers.

But don’t rule out writing for other professionals in your field. By doing this, you can demonstrate the level of skill and knowledge that you have.

It helps you to build mutual trust with other professionals and this, in turn, shows potential customers that you have integrity as well as ability.

You might find it useful to read my earlier article: Seven blogging tips for start-ups.

Where does social media fit in?

Social media is a fantastic tool for sharing your content on-line to your target audience.

A common mistake is to use it as a selling platform. This can be annoying for readers and even come across a bit desperate.

But sharing your blog is a brilliant way to engage with readers and an opportunity to show them that there’s more to you than empty sales patter.

So rather than publish a slightly desperate sounding message asking for work, share a blog post that will actually interest the reader and demonstrate that you’re the real deal.

SOCIAL MEDIA IMAGE INBOUND ARTICLE PIXABAY

It’s perfectly okay to share blogs and content from other professionals in your field, as long as you don’t pass it off as your own work.

Credit them and you’ll probably find they do the same for you. Again, it’s all about building good relationships.

I hope you’ve found this overview of inbound marketing and blogging useful.  If you’re a small business owner or start-up,

I’d love to hear your feedback on this article. Just drop me a line alison@mkwordstudio.co.uk and tell me what you think! (There’s also a contact form below).

Until next time.

Alison x

Credit: Thanks to Pixabay for images.

 

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. 

Complete the simple form on my Get in touch page and I’ll get back asap.

 

Six simple tips for starting your small biz blog

blog post image unsplash.jpg

Image credit: Unsplash

  1. Figure out who you’re writing for (and why) 

Blogging isn’t just useful for attracting new clients. It’s also a great way to establish relationships with people in the same industry as you.

The first thing to remember is that you’re always writing for the reader, not yourself. But think carefully about who the reader is for each blog post. And always keep in mind why you do what you do. 

If you’re writing for new clients, accept that they’re unlikely to buy your product or service the first time they read your blog.

Selling isn’t your main goal here. Writing your blog is more about building trust and demonstrating your ability to do what you do.

At this stage the reader may not be ready, or have the funds, to buy from you. So your blog posts will need to be valuable or entertaining enough for them to come back and visit again.

And it does work. I have a long wish list of products and services I want for my business. I know exactly who I want to buy them from too. And it’s all down to content I’ve consumed online (blogs, social media posts, podcasts) over a longish period of time.

As well as writing for clients, consider writing for other professionals in your industry. Yes, that does mean writing for your competitors! But try not to think of it that way.

Think colleagues, future collaborators, new best friends and the prospect of writing for them will become much more appealing!

These are the people who are likely to share your content on social media, help you out in return and tip you off about new opportunities and referrals.

2. Work out what you’re going to write about and when 

blog post writer unsplash.jpg

Image credit: Unsplash 

Blogging is part of a bigger picture – your content strategy. Whoah! Buzzword alert! Content strategy sounds scary, right?

But let’s break it down and really you’re just talking about what you’re going to write, how you’re going to share it (social media, email, community groups etc) and when. 

Get a plan in place and you can tie your blog posts in with campaigns and offers, seasonal highlights of the year, key dates across the year (for example, if you’re a dentist you could plan a blog post for National Smile Week or if you’re a vet, National Smooch Your Pooch day. You get the gist.) 

And finally, you can use your plan to hold yourself accountable. 

Finding the time to write blog posts is hard, especially when you have hundreds of other jobs to do that seem more relevant to your day to day business. But a plan can help keep you on track. That’s the idea anyway. I’m working on it too. Ahem.

3. Write *helpful* headlines

I’m not a huge fan of clickbait headlines that don’t deliver on their promise or deliberately stir the pot.

My take on it is this: Do you want customers or trolls? Collaborators or attention?  If it’s trolls and attention, or you just want to go viral, I’m not the right person to advise you! Life’s too short for drama.

If you want to attract positive connections and paying clients, then being helpful is the way to go. Write headlines that are valuable, inspiring and entertaining (and deliver what you promise in the blog post, even if there’s a twist).

There’s nothing wrong with being funny. As long as you actually are. Which is tricky, as humour doesn’t always translate. So again, it’s all about knowing your audience really well.

And don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to write ultra clever, witty/sarky headlines.

Sometimes it’s better to write a headline that, as Ronseal famously put it,  “does exactly what it says on the tin”. You’re not trying to win a creative writing award. You just want to attract good, solid, contacts and customers.  

The secret is in the value of the post. If you’ve helped, inspired or entertained the reader in some way, they’re more likely to remember you and come back to read more. 

3. Include eye-catching images

blog post six tips camera unsplash.jpg

Image credit: Unsplash

As a copywriter, I guess I should tell you it’s all about the words and only the words. But I’m a sucker for a great picture. (As an ‘autism parent’ I also know the value and power of visual communication.

So I think it’s fair to say that words and images go hand-in-hand. 

Nobody likes to read long, uninterrupted blocks of text. Alongside short paragraphs and eye-pleasing white space, images help to break up text and can be used to showcase products and illustrate points.

If you have a creative business with beautiful products or designs, then it makes sense to use your own photography as it provides an extra opportunity to show off your work.

Whether you take the pictures yourself or use a professional photographer will depend on your budget and skills.

If your budget dictates DIY photography, you can get pretty good effects with iphone cameras. And bloggers cameras (such as the Olympus Pen) can capture stunning results without breaking the bank. 

If you’re a service based business, you might want to consider using stock images. You can pay for these from sites such as Fotolia and Shutterstock or sites such as Pixabay and Unsplash offer them for free.

Word of caution – always check the accreditation/licensing rules for pictures. Never steal someone else’s photography and don’t just nab an image you like from Google.

Oh and one final word on stock images. Please, I beg you, don’t use the ‘random businessman in suit, phone in hand, gazing through conference room blinds’ image. So impersonal. If you’re going to publish people pictures use people in the business, not some random (sorry conference room guy). 

GOOGLE SEARCH PIXABAY IMAGE

Image credit: Pixabay

4. Write SEO friendly copy but don’t forget it’s for humans 

SEO. Heard of it? It stands for Search Engine Optimisation. And it can mess with your head if you let it.

If you haven’t heard of SEO, you’ve almost certainly wondered how you can get your site on the first page of Google.

There’s no easy answer to this.  There really isn’t. I’m constantly learning about SEO (I’ve taken advantage of free training with Hubspot and Yoast – check them out) but I’m the first to admit I’m not an expert. Is anyone? 

But I can tell you that adding a blog to your website will help. Especially if you add content on a regular basis and share it across social media.

Think about what people are likely to search for on Google (for example, clients that contact me via my website tell me they searched for Freelance Copywriter Milton Keynes).

If you write your blog posts around your key service or product offerings, you can include keywords (and similar words) in the title, headings, subheadings and main body of your blog content.

Try to do this naturally though. Don’t add keywords in the for the sake of it as it will interrupt the flow of the text, irritate the reader and won’t do you any favours with Google.

There are tools that you can use for writing SEO-friendly copy. For example, I have the Yoast SEO plugin for my WordPress site (I’ve also completed their free training SEO for Beginners).

Such tools are useful, but I always keep your eye on the flow of the writing. I think we can get so hung up on writing for search engines that we can ruin the quality of writing if not careful. It’s a fine balance between the two. SEO is important but always keep the reader top of mind.

5. Add credibility by using quotes and stats 

55% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority. (HubSpot, 2018) (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)

Use quotes and stats from experts and industry leaders. It shows that you do your research and you’re engaged with what’s going on in your field. 

Don’t try to pass off quotes and stats as your own. Make sure it’s really clear that it’s a quote or a stat or you’ll make yourself look silly.

Use speech marks, a different font and name the source to make the quote stand out as I have with the Hubspot stat above. 

6. Remember to include a clear call to action 

So you’ve spent all that time writing and perfecting your blog post and now you’re ready to share it across social media. 

But wait. Where’s your call to action?

Writing blog posts isn’t easy – you’ve probably put your heart and soul into writing your blog post. So don’t miss the opportunity to forge a longer lasting connection with the reader by providing a clear call to action. 

This could be a number of things:

  • A contact form to subscribe to your email list (if you have one)
  • A discount code for an event or promotion 
  • Contact details to make an appointment for a free consultation with you
  • A link to another blog post or page on your website (which is also good for SEO)
  • Or even just a simple statement with a contact number or email address for further questions/enquiries (as I’ve done below) 

Just make sure it’s crystal clear what you want them to do and how to do it. 

So there’s six tips to get you started. What’s stopping you?! 

Until next time. 

Alison R Bowyer
Freelance Copywriter

I hope you’ve found this blog useful. I’m always happy to hear constructive feedback so do get in touch. Emai: alison@mkwordstudio.co.uk

How to brief your copywriter

By: Alison R Bowyer     Freelance Copywriter in Milton Keynes

If you’re a small business owner and you’ve approached a copywriter to write clear, persuasive content that promotes your business, the chances are they’ll ask you for a brief.

What is a brief?

The brief is the process of giving your copywriter a set of instructions about what you want them to write.

You may brief the copywriter face-to-face, over the phone, answer questions on an email or complete a brief questionnaire that your copywriter has prepared.

It’s all about giving the copywriter as much information as possible, so that they can write content that works for your business and target audience.

Why is the briefing stage so important?

Briefing your copywriter properly saves time in the long-run. If your copywriter has a clear idea of your vision for the content, then it’s more likely that you’re going to be pleased with the first draft.

It also helps them to plan properly, which is a huge part of a writing project. Without it, things can go wrong pretty quickly.

Think back to your school days. Did you ever write a story or essay that lost its way? Did you ever run out of time and end a story abruptly with the alarm clock ringing and the protagonist realising that it had all been a dream? (Not just me, surely?)

If this ever happened to you, it’s probably because you didn’t plan your writing in advance. (Me too, but I was only 12).

Before they get writing, copywriters spend a huge amount of time researching and planning a project to ensure it achieves the goals the client has set. The more information you provide, the more successful this planning phase will be.

Some copywriters will share the plan with you before writing (or once they’ve written a short section) so you can see if their interpretation of your brief works for you.

At that stage, if you’re not happy with the way it’s going, you have the opportunity to say so early on in the project and gets things back on track.

But I don’t know how to brief a copywriter!

Don’t worry. Your copywriter will know all the right questions to ask (and if they don’t ask questions, don’t hire them).

If they ask you lots of questions, think of this as a good thing. It means they’re taking the time to understand your business and client-base, so they can write something that works.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but your copywriter will probably ask for the following information:

  • What you want them to write
  • Information about your business (what you do, how long you’ve been in business, number of employees)
  • Information about your product/service
  • Who is your target audience? (who is this content being written for)
  • Your USP and why customers should choose you
  • What are the benefits of your product/service?
  • Your desired tone of voice (friendly, formal, casual etc)
  • Keywords you want included in the content
  • Approximate length of copy (pages, number of words etc)
  • Your call to action (what do you want to happen next, ie email, call, form etc)

If you don’t have time to meet in person or chat on the phone, most copywriters will be able to send you something called a Brief Questionnaire, that you can complete and return to them.

Be prepared to receive a follow-up call or email to clarify any points. Again, this is a really good thing. It shows that your copywriter is taking the time and care to produce high quality work.

brief blog mk word studio.jpg
A detailed brief will give your copywriter the tools they need to write copy that works for your business

I didn’t realise there was so much to it. I just want to hand it all over to someone to write for me and get on with my day job.

It does seem like a lot, but you’re paying your copywriter to write something that communicates your business message effectively.

It makes sense to put the necessary thought and effort into providing information and direction about what you want, so that your investment brings the returns you’re looking for.

Your copywriter will thank you for it and you’re more likely to be delighted with the content they produce.

Win-win.

Until next time.

Alison

 

That typo just cost you a client

proofreading-blog-image-from-pixabay
Dull, but necessary. Proofreading is important. Coffee might help. I recommend chocolate too.

By: Alison R Bowyer     Freelance Copywriter in Milton Keynes

Let’s talk about proofreading.

I’m sorry.

It is dull.

Like it or not, proofreading is important.

Even if you’re fantastic at what you do, your website and other marketing materials send out a big clue about how you run your business.

Taking care to publish clear, accurate written communications shows that you are serious about doing a good job.

It’s another way of building trust with your prospective clients.

To be honest, not everyone will notice if your website is full of spelling and punctuation errors. And some people won’t care.

But many will.

And that could affect their decision about whether to spend their money on you or your competitors.

It’s that simple.

The good news is that you don’t have to write as if you’re taking your English A Level. Copywriters break lots of grammar rules to create more of an impact.

But you do need to concentrate on the basics.

Check for obvious typos and punctuation mistakes.

Use a consistent layout and make sure that your paragraphs and sentences aren’t too long.

Look for duplicated or missing words (reading your copy out loud can help you to identify these).

Spellcheck has its place, but don’t rely on it to pick up every single mistake. It won’t necessarily pick up words  that are used in the wrong context.

Allow some time between writing your content and publishing it, so you can review it with fresh eyes.

If you can’t stretch to using a professional proofreader or copywriter, ask a colleague or geeky friend to help you out.

If you do notice a mistake after you’ve published your page, don’t beat yourself up about it.

There’s a huge difference between a sloppy piece of work littered with mistakes and a high quality, researched article where one typo has slipped through.

Just correct it quickly, forgive yourself and move on.

Until next time.

Alison


Alison is a Freelance Copywriter based in Milton Keynes. For more information about Alison, click here.

Easy layout tips for your blog

By: Alison R Bowyer   Freelance Copywriter in Milton Keynes

As a Freelance Copywriter, I’m the first to say that words are even more important than design.

But I’m not going to deny that the visual appeal of your website is super important in the digital age.

If you’re a small business owner, the chances are you’re building and updating your own website to keep costs down. But just because you haven’t paid out for a swanky designer-built website (yet), that doesn’t mean yours can’t look good.

So when it comes to writing your blogs (you’re blogging, right?), there are a few easy steps you can take to make your blog look good.

  1. Consistent heading style

    There’s no right or wrong way to display a heading.Some people prefer Title Case, Where Every Word Begins With A Capital Letter whereas many prefer Sentence case where only the first word begins with a capital.

    Examples below:

    How To Clean Your Oven   Title Case
    How to clean your oven  Sentence caseThere are people out there who have the time and inclination to argue about which is the correct approach.

    I don’t think it matters.
    The important thing is that your heading style is consistent. So if you prefer sentence case (me too!) then stick with that style for every heading you use.

    It’s all about the detail and creating a visual effect that is pleasing to the eye. Not everyone will notice inconsistencies, but those that do will be distracted away from your content.

    This is the point where you risk losing their interest, so it’s worth choosing one style and sticking with it, so the reader can focus on your message rather than the style.

  2. Inject some colour

    Despite all the funky colour options on my website builder, the slightly disappointing truth is that it’s easier for most people to read black text on a white background.  I don’t want to alienate potential clients who may struggle to read my content, so black on white it is.

    However, changing the colour of headings, quotes, statistics or short chunks of text can make the content more visually appealing and it’s a good way to make key messages stand out.

    I keep it simple, choosing purple for my name, introductory paragraph, key messages and call to action.

  3. People love pictures

    Using an image that is pleasing on the eye helps to illustrate a point to your readers and breaks up the text. People love pictures; why fight it?

    Depending on the nature of your business, you may use your own photography or hire a photographer.

    If this isn’t for you, there are plenty of good websites for stock images. And the good news is that some of them are free.

    I use pixabay.com – it’s easy to use and the images are free, with no attributions (although there is the option to make a donation if you’re able to).

    tips-for-small-biz-blogs
    If you’re using a stock photo, use one that reflects your message. Top tip: avoid the ‘businessman standing in an office looking through venetian blinds’ style image. It’s meaningless and everyone’s seen it a thousand times!

    Copyright is an important issue, so don’t be tempted to copy an image from another site. This is a big no-no and could land you in hot water.

    The same principle goes for copying written content; just don’t. It’s okay to get inspiration from other sites, but the content needs to be in your own words and style, with your own spin on it. Be original.
     

  4. Use short paragraphs

    Some people believe that humans actually have shorter attention spans now, due to the all the time they spend looking at screens. It may be true; who knows?

    But I think the design and layout of the content has a huge part to play in the length of time the reader keeps reading.

    So breaking up the content into shorter paragraphs is just another way of making the content pleasing on the eye; and accessible and digestible to the reader.

    So they keep reading.

  5. Now read the same message again, with no paragraph spaces:

    Some people believe that humans actually have shorter attention spans due to the rapid development of the digital world. It may be true; who knows? But I have a hunch that the design and layout of the content has a huge part to play in the length of time the reader keeps reading. So breaking up the content into shorter paragraphs is just another way of making the content pleasing on the eye, accessible and digestible to the reader. So they keep reading.

    This is still quite a short paragraph but, at first glance, it’s unappealing; just a big block of boring text.

    Imagine a chunk of content 3 or 4 times longer with no breaks, images or colour changes. How long would you last reading that? I’m not sure I would even bother to try.
     

  6. Don’t forget your call to action

    Remember, the purpose of your blog is to build trust and rapport with your potential clients and professional network. Be helpful. It’s not a selling platform. Save that for your Home page.

    But… if your reader likes what they read and they’re already thinking they might like to contact you some time, make it easy for them. It doesn’t have to be too long or clever, just a short description of who you are, what you do and how you can be contacted.

    You can see mine below, just after my name! 😉
    Alison

    Alison is a Freelance Copywriter based in Milton Keynes. She specialises in web content and business blogging. For more information about Alison, click here.