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How writing cured my writer’s block

Photo by Plush Design Studio on Unsplash

You want to write for your business, but you simply can’t get started. It’s more than writer’s block. You can’t even muster the energy to pick up a pen or switch on your laptop.

Maybe it’s time to look at it from a different angle. Stop thinking about your business for a second and try writing just for you.

You see, like exercise and meditation, writing is actually good for your mental health and productivity. The very process of writing (especially if you do it by hand) helps ideas to form in your mind and relieves stress. Who knew?

Earlier this year, I was feeling blocked with everything. My mind was racing in different directions – kids, business, health, money – and the more I thought about things, the less I could focus on taking action.

The trouble was I couldn’t get started with intentional writing, or writing with purpose (which copywriting is all about). There was too much stuff in the way. I’d lost direction. And confidence in my writing.

How ironic that the answer to not being able to write was – drum roll – to write?!

I knew that journaling, gratitude lists and morning pages (an exercise from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron) were recognised and popular methods of self-care, but I hadn’t taken them seriously.

In the end, out of sheer frustration, I picked up one of my many notebooks (did I mention my stationery addiction) and a pen, and just started writing all the random crap in my head. Writing without intention. Creating without purpose.

The first few days, I filled several pages. They were mainly outpourings of irritation, anxiety and frustration. But there was also the day-to-day life admin that was taking up too much space, as well as questions. What do I want to do next? Where will I be in 10 years? What’s stopping me? And fears too. What’s going to happen to my disabled son when he grows up? Will we ever pay off our mortgage? What if one of us gets sick?

It all sounds a bit negative doesn’t it? But weirdly, I felt better. And pretty soon, the basis of the written pages changed. Instead of irritation and frustrations, self- awareness was revealed and boundaries were formed. The scary life admin became a pretty manageable to do list. Questions became ideas. And fears were replaced with plans.

Crucially, anxieties were exposed as the nasty little imposters they were.

Pretty amazing in this digital age that a simple pen and notebook can be so powerful. And the best bit? I’m not struggling to write at all now.

Maybe it’s time you gave it a try too? Once you’ve experienced the benefits of writing for yourself, I reckon you’ll see the potential benefits for your business. What do you have to lose?

Thank you so much for reading this blog post. I do hope you’ve enjoyed it and found it valuable.

Alison x

Alison B Copywriter

Want to work with a copywriter who cares about your business as much as you do? Get in touch! I’d love to hear from you.

Email me: alison@mkwordstudio.co.uk and I’ll get back to you within 24 hours.

Featured

How to write like a human

Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

In this digital age of SEO and algorithms, it’s easy to get caught up in the notion that writing is some kind of wizardry with a set of secret formulas.

But the truth is, much as it’s important to optimise your writing for search engines and social media, it’s a human being that’s going to read your writing (and act or wander off to another site).

It makes sense to write with a real life human in mind, right?

So how do you write for humans? And why the heck do we even need to ask that question?

I reckon there’s two things going on here. The first is the underlying anxiety that Miss Clarke, English teacher 1970s/80s/90s (& beyond – hello young people) triggered in you when she went rogue with the red pen on your Of Mice and Men essay.

And secondly, there’s so much noise out there convincing you that your writing won’t crack the secret code of that there internet that you’ve given up before you’ve even started.

And there you have it – past and present working in cahoots together to convince you you’re not worthy, you can’t do this writing thing and you should give up right now.

Let’s just take stock for a moment. Miss Clarke was just doing her job. She’s not a bad person. And anyway, you’re not writing for her. Are your prospective customers English teachers? Probably not. So, relax.

And the internet. Oh my, where do we start? SEO, algorithms, social media – they are a thing. And they are important. Don’t let them defeat you though. You can learn that stuff as you go along. Here’s a fact – if you do nothing, then you won’t get found. People can’t read what doesn’t exist.

Done is better than perfect. So, get writing and get some stuff out there. Here’s some tips on how you can write for that mysterious creature – the human being.

Write as you Speak

WAYS (an acronym for write as you speak) is a known formula amongst copywriters. Increasingly, I’m seeing it referred to as Write like you speak which kind of proves the point it’s trying to make.

Always think of your writing as a conversation. How would you tell someone what you do? What type of language would you use? How do your sentences flow? How do they start and stop? Clue – probably nothing like the way you’ve been taught to write English.

A good trick is to record yourself explaining your product/service and processes as if speaking to a friend and then transcribe it into writing (do take out the umms and ahs though).

Use contractions

Don’t worry – no baby talk here. By contractions, I mean the shortening of two words (such as can’t instead of cannot, won’t instead of will not, shouldn’t instead of should not – you get the gist).

I am a copywriter. True. But if I was chatting to you, I’d almost certainly say I’m a copywriter. Just flows better doesn’t it?

Apologies but I cannot come to your networking event. Sounds a bit blunt doesn’t it? Or a bit too formal at least. Sorry, I can’t make it to your networking event has a better ring to it. And it’s warmer somehow.

That’s the thing with contractions. They sound less formal, more friendly and warm. More human.

Ditch fancy words and jargon

Back to that goddam school essay. Hands up if you ever wrote a sentence at school/college and then got the thesaurus out to look up some big, impressive words? Yep. Me too.

But the point is, you had to look them up because you’d never heard of them. So your audience probably won’t either.

The trouble with big, fancy words is your average person doesn’t understand them. Big words make ordinary people feel stupid. Nobody needs to feel like that! Language isn’t about making other people feel small or disconnected. Especially when you’re trying to sell them something.

I have a 12 year old son with autism and the most important thing in the world is that he understands me when I speak to him. That I use language that he relates to – language that includes him. And it’s the same with copywriting.

(The exception to this is if you’re writing stuff for other people in your area of expertise (B2B business to business) then there may be a case for using jargon. It may be necessary to do so to demonstrate your level of competence and expertise.)

Be helpful, friendly and polite

Not everyone will agree with this one. Writing controversial copy that triggers, disrupts and aggravates is a method used to get attention. I dunno. Maybe it’s just me, but surely there’s a better way?

Personally, I prefer the helpful, friendly and polite road. You’re providing a product or service and you want the buy to trust you enough to buy from you.

The same goes with swearing. I’ll tell you now, I swear like a trouper when I’ve stubbed my toe or the dog’s been sick on the carpet. No judgements here. But it’s rare that you’ll come across that type of language in my copy. Maybe sometimes. I’m not so worried about causing offence but I do understand that some readers may feel threatened and, in my mind, that doesn’t build trust.

It’s your call though – always keep the audience in mind and don’t lose sight of what you’re trying to achieve.

Be authentic

Possibly the biggest buzz word around right now – everyone’s talking about authenticity and trying to work out how to achieve it.

Crazy really when being authentic should mean simply to be yourself. The key is not to create a phony persona that you can’t keep up. People will see though it. And who can be bothered to keep that up anyway?

Stick to your true self and work within your own values and you can’t go wrong.

Word of caution though. There’s a fine line between showing your true self and working to your own values and sharing every tiny part of you and your life. Again, the choice is yours. I think it’s great to include personal elements of your life and journey – that’s how you create a story. People respond and relate to real life stories. I love them.

But don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re obliged to share everything about you and your personal life. Social media is fab, but it has a lot to answer for!

You can set your own boundaries depending on your own comfort levels.

I do hope you’ve found these ideas a useful starting point. As a human yourself, did you find my writing easy to understand? Do tell! I’m always open to constructive feedback.

Want to work with a copywriter who cares about your business as much as you do? Get in touch! I’d love to hear from you.

alison@mkwordstudio.co.uk

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What’s the difference between copy and content?

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

You may have noticed that some people call themselves copywriters whereas others refer to themselves as content writers. Content creator is another popular title (although this tends to refer to content that uses visuals as well as
words).

So, what is the difference between copy and content?

There’s no correct answer to this as such and different people have different views, but the best explanation I’ve come across is this:

Copy sells
Content tells

Writing copy is the act of writing promotional words to sell, using tactics designed to attract attention, create interest and longing for the product/service and persuade the reader to take action (preferably a sale but at the very least, making first contact with the seller/service provider).

Traditionally, this type of copy was written for adverts and the promotional leaflets and flyers that came through your door. Of course, the internet is where the main (but not the only) action is, so copy is frequently written for the pages of a website or online sales tool.

Copy is often referred to as content and vice-versa but it’s good to know the different roles that copy and content play (regardless of what you call them).

In this digital world, content plays a crucial role in warming up
potential clients and keeping them interested. That’s where a business blog comes in handy (not to be confused with an influencer/personal blog, though increasingly these worlds are overlapping).

The beauty of a business blog is you can build up a relationship over time – building rapport and trust with your reader.

The best way to do this is to write regular, consistent content that’s valuable to the reader. What do I mean by valuable? Being helpful is a great (arguably the best) start. Write stuff that solves problems for the reader and provides useful tips – but keep it relevant to your business area (no point telling them how to clean an oven if you’re a hairdresser).

Helpful and useful are the way to go because the reader is getting something for free just by reading your blog, meaning they’re more likely to come back and read more.

But you can shake things up a bit too, by writing a piece that entertains or inspires. The occasional piece that tells your personal business can be interesting too – people are curious about other people and increasingly they want to know about the human behind the business. This too can help build a relationship with the reader, but keep the main focus on them rather than you.

I don’t think it matters whether someone refers to themselves as a copywriter or content writer – what is important is that they understand the difference between sales copy and blog content and know how to use the appropriate writing techniques. So, don’t be afraid to ask this question before you hire someone to write for you.

Want to work with a copywriter who cares about your business as much as you do? I’d love to hear from you.

Email me alison@mkwordstudio.co.uk and I’ll get back to you within 24 hours.

Featured

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 

 

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How formulas can help you write better 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.

 

 

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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. 

Imposter syndrome sucks

Photo by Ian Keefe on Unsplash

I feel like I’m jumping on a bandwagon here. Imposter syndrome is a hot topic at the moment. Everyone’s talking about it. The trouble is, every article I read about imposter syndrome makes it worse. How does that work exactly?

It goes something like this.

I see an article or caption about imposter syndrome, and I think: Fab, something I can relate to.

It always starts out well. The author feels the same as me. Like a failure or a fraud. Worried they’ll be caught out. Exposed as being rubbish at what they do. Tick. Tick. Tick. I get this person.

But then it takes another turn. “Despite my 2 Oxbridge degrees, I still feel like an imposter.” Hey?! I don’t have 2 degrees.

“By the time I was 30, I was an award-winning millionaire. But I can’t shake off the feeling I’m a fraud.” Flippin’ eck! I can’t remember being 30. And where are my millions?!

“I parent my 6 children by day and run my charitable foundation by night. And still find time for the gym. But I feel like a failure.” Bloody Nora. Not much hope for the rest of us then.

Is it just me that feels this way? I’m not here to criticise high-flying legends that seem themselves as failures. I don’t want to undermine anyone’s feelings. Feelings are feelings. They’re always valid, whoever you are.

But, where are the regular folk? The ordinary guys and gals, plodding along, just doing a decent job of what they do and still feeling like an imposter?

I was pretty average at school and too much of a chatter box to focus on academic success (my 15 year old son thinks I’m joking when I say I bunked my maths O Level). I had a series of boring admin jobs when I was younger. I gave up work to look after my babies because it was just… easier. And, financially, I could (which was a huge privilege I know). I’m a mum of a disabled child. I’m in my 40s. And I haven’t been to the gym since 2003!

Imposter syndrome has snapping at my heels on and off for the last 4 years. And it gets in the way of stuff.

Once I received an enquiry from a recognisable brand and I cried. Yep. Actual tears. Of happiness? Nope.

“They must think I’m better than I am!” I wailed at the long-suffering husband.

“Why?” said he.

“Because they want me to do some work for them.”

“Well they must think you’re up to it.”

“But that’s just because they’ve read my stuff.”

“Stuff you’ve written?”

“Exactly!!” More sobs.

“Exactly.” said he.

I come back to this story all the time.

They wanted me to write for them because they liked the stuff I’d written for myself. And that made me feel like an imposter. Ironic, huh.

You see, all that other stuff I mentioned doesn’t matter. They weren’t interested in my lack of academic qualifications (although I have done extensive self-development in copywriting/content marketing). Didn’t give two shits that I was over 40. Funnily enough, they didn’t ask about my BMI, resting heart rate or how many kids I’d popped out.

They just wanted me to write some stuff. Because they liked my writing. End of.

And this is the thing about imposter syndrome. It messes with our heads and skews our perception of our own worth. It’s all about self-belief. And I guess an award willing millionaire can doubt themselves just as much as an average, middle-aged bird who can write a bit.

So, now I’ve put that lot out there, I’m hardly qualified to give advice on imposter syndrome, am I? But I will say this.

Forget the noise. Stop thinking about what you should have done or could have done. Forget what you look like. And don’t compare yourself with anyone else. Concentrate on you and what you do. Are you good at it? Bet you are. Could you do better? There’s always room for improvement. Just keep going. Day by day. Do a bit more. Learn a bit more. And keep believing.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this – I nearly didn’t publish because, you know, imposter sydrome. I do hope you’ve enjoyed it though.

Want to work with a copywriter who cares about your business as much as you do? Get in touch! I’d love to hear from you too.

Email: alison@mkwordstudio.co.uk and I’ll get back to you within 24 hours.

How social proof can help your business

Photo by Tim Bennett on Unsplash

Social proof is a fab way to promote your business and build trust with prospective clients.

“Social proof?” you ask. “What’s that?” No worries, I’ll give you the lowdown. Grab a cuppa and read on.

Social proof is a marketing technique to help you build credibility and trust around your brand.

Sure, you may have your website up-and-running and maybe you’ve paid for other forms of promotional literature or advertising. All good stuff but we’re living in an age where the consumer wants more. Nobody is going to just take your word for it that you’re fabulous (even though you are).

And this is where social proof comes in.

Some examples of social proof:

Testimonials on your website

Someone pays you for a product or service. You do a good job. They’re happy. They pay. Goodbye. But wait. Don’t miss the opportunity to get a written endorsement from them that you can publish on your website. This can feel uncomfortable, but it’s worth asking. A good way to get past that is to ask them for anything they think you could’ve done better. Risky, I know, but demonstrating that you care about their experience is more likely to get a positive outcome and future sales/work.

Case Studies

Similar to a testimonial, but a bit more complicated. A case study looks more in-depth at what you’ve done for the customer, starting with their problem, how you solved it and what their business has gained from the experience. The beauty of a case study is that you can really tell a story of the customer’s experience, which will be interesting to the reader (particularly if they have the same issues).

Visual storytelling

If you have a product or service that can be demonstrated visually, you’re one of the lucky ones. Visual platform such as Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook are your friend. You can upload pictures of your product or service. As a hairdresser or orthodontist, for example, you can show before and after pics, with the client’s consent of course. And if you make a beautiful product (jewellery, stationery, clothing) you can create that longing with a picture and short caption.

Blog posts

There seems to be a question mark over blog posts lately, but to overlook blog posts as an effective form of marketing and social proof is to miss a trick.

You can tell the story of your business through blog posts, write useful hints and tips for your customers, share valuable insights and keep your readers informed about what’s going on in your business.

The fab thing about a blog post is it’s yours. It lives on your website. And you can go back and update/repurpose it many times. Whereas a social media post disappears almost immediately (and is subject to algorithms) a blog post is there for as long as you want it to be, and you can promote it in several ways.

Adding regular blog posts to your website can only be a good thing in terms of SEO (search engine optimisation, which is all about being found on Google) and it gives people a reason to visit your website (as long as the content is useful and interesting).

Social media

The biggie. Love it or hate it (probably both), everyone needs to be on social media. Social media is central to all the suggestions on this page, as this is where you can share and promote your content.

Influencer marketing/endorsement

Influencer marketing is another way to use social media/blog content, but the content is published on the influencer’s account (or blog) rather than yours.

You can use a social media influencer to promote your product by gifting it to them or you may pay them to produce content and promote it on their social media channels or blog (often both).

The key thing is to find an influencer with an audience likely to be interested in your product or service. Influencer marketing is relatively new, and lots of people have lost their head a bit about the number of followers an influencer has. There’s a lot of debate about the authenticity of influencer promotions but if you find the right fit, it can work well. Make sure you’re fully aware of the ASA guidelines around this form of marketing (the influencer needs to make it clear to the audience that it’s a paid promotion/endorsement) and don’t be tricked into paying an influencer who has bought fake followers. Your ideal influencer is someone who has built up an organic, loyal and engaged audience over time.

I do hope you’ve found this a useful starting point for coming up with social proof ideas for your own business. Thanks, as always, for reading.

Want to work with a copywriter who cares about your business as much as you do? Get in touch! I’d love to hear from you too.

Email alison@mkwordstudio.co.uk

6 easy-peasy ways to enhance your small biz copy for SEO

Photo by Charles 🇵🇭 on Unsplash

That question: “Can you get me to page number one of Google?”

As a copywriter who is focused on writing and communication, the simple answer is no, I cannot guarantee to get you to page one – SEO is a long game. How many people will say that out loud I wonder? But there are things I can do when writing copy to help you optimise your content for Google and other search engines.

And if you fancy having a go yourself, I’ve listed six easy-peasy(ish) things you can do to help you write SEO-friendly copy.

As a small business owner, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and procrastinate. Don’t get too hung up about writing the perfect thing (do make sure it’s useful though). After all, if you write nothing at all you definitely won’t get found. The beauty of web copy and blog posts is you can go back, edit, update and repurpose as many times as you like, so do the absolute best job you can now in the knowledge you can keep learning and improving as you along.

Write readable copy Sounds obvious doesn’t it? But what do I mean by readable copy and how do you know if yours is? In basic terms, keep your sentences and paragraphs short. Use plain English and avoid fancy words and jargon, so that your reader can understand what you’ve written and relate to it. Write in the active voice (blog post coming soon on this) and avoid passive sentences. Keep the focus on the reader – more you than I and we. And write in a clear, conversational tone – imagine you’re talking rather than writing.

There are some tools you can use to help with readability. If your site is a WordPress site you can use the Yoast free plugin, which prompts you to make improvements to your copy with a traffic light system.

As good as this is, do still read the copy to make sure it flows well and appeals to humans! (You might like my blog post How to write like a human).

If you’re a Microsoft Word user check about the readability stats option which will grade your copy for readability score (60 is the magic number) reading ease and it even tells you the percentage of passive sentences.

Use internal links

You may have noticed by now that I’ve included several internal links to other blog posts on my site. Why have I done this? Because I want you to stick around! And what better way to do so than to show you how to quickly access other awesome tips and content I’ve created.

You’re happy (hopefully) because you’ve found more useful content. And I’m happy because I know that search engines will regard my site favourably for having done this – providing more useful content and keeping you engaged longer.

You can do the same with your site. You’ll need more content to link to, so it’s worth getting your head down and creating a bank of blog posts that can link to each other.

Use featured images that include alt-text

We all like an attractive image to accompany a blog post, right? There’s a feel-good factor. The image can provide a clue to the subject matter or create a mood to accompany the story.

But it’s not just about looking good. The use of the image, particularly if you add alt-text, is another point in your favour as far as search engines are concerned. Keep it short and simple, and aim to include some keywords (and similar words, sometimes referred to as synonyms) that relate to your industry.

Leave plenty of white space

White space is a pretty good description for… white space.

It’s the gaps/spacing between paragraphs, headings, images etc and it makes your reading experience more enjoyable. Imagine this blog post without spaces, headings and images. What a stressful reading experience that would be. In truth, it wouldn’t be a reading experience at all because you’d get the hell out and go somewhere else.

I recently heard someone say they need plenty of white space in their life (presumably meaning time and space to process) and I can definitely get on board with that idea!

Include keywords and phrases in your copy

You can do some simple keyword research by simply using the Google search tool that you’re probably already using in your everyday life.

Example, if you’re a window cleaner, search window cleaner. That’s the obvious search term but it doesn’t narrow things down much (imagine how many window cleaners there are in the UK!) Window cleaner in your area will provide a narrower search. But there will be other words and phrases directly relevant to your service offering – gutter cleaning, conservatory cleaning, reliable window cleaner, industrial window cleaner).

Think of all the things you do and find a way to include these phrases in your web copy and blog content. These are just basic examples, but spend some time thinking about what you would search for (ask friends and family too).

Don’t overdo it with keywords. Allow them to appear naturally in your headings and copy. Variety is key, so use similar words that are relevant to your industry. Using the same keywords over and over won’t help you, the search engines will know. (This isn’t a good thing…)

Share on social media

Eek! You mean, write something, put it out in the public domain and then shout about it? Yup! Feels uncomfortable, doesn’t it? As an introvert, the biggest block I have in business is visibility (which is kind of awkward when you want people to read your stuff). But you’ll do yourself a massive favour. If people don’t know it’s there, how will they know to read it? (Yes, I know we’re talking about SEO here but sharing on social media is part of that and, as I said before, it’s a long game…)

Also, don’t just share your own stuff. That guy in the next street who does the same thing as you? Surely I’m not going to say share his stuff too? I’m afraid I am. It’s the way it’s done now. Community over competition. No need to compete, undercut or trash the competition. Support each other and let people make up their own minds about who to hire. There’s enough work to go around. There really is.

By supporting your competitors – actually, let’s call them colleagues, you’re demonstrating professionalism and integrity. Plus, you’ll probably find you can help each other out, refer work to each other (we all get enquiries for stuff we don’t fancy doing, right?) and maybe just have someone to moan with if you have a bad day.

So, there you have it – 6 easy-peasy(ish) ways to enhance your copy for SEO. I must stress, I’m not a techy SEO person, so these are tips I’ve learned along the way from researching and studying basic courses (Yoast and HubSpot are excellent for keeping up-do-date with SEO tips and tricks).

My final tip in all of this, though, is to remember you are writing for people! Always keep that in mind, otherwise you’ll end up sounding like a robot. And robots don’t rule the world. Girls do. 😉

I do hope you’ve enjoyed this blog post and I truly appreciate you taking the time to read it. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any thoughts (and especially if you have tips, we all need all the help we can get).

Want to work with a copywriter who cares about your business as much as you do? Get in touch! I’d love to hear from you.

Email alison@mkwordstudio.co.uk

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. 

Want to work with a copywriter who cares about your business as much as you do? Get in touch. Email alison@mkwordstudio.co.uk I’d love to hear from you.