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Why you should write the story behind your personal brand

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

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

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

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

But things are changing.

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

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

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

The simple answer is by being you. 

Because being you is your business’s USP.

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

It all goes back to your why.

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

You can tell your story in several ways:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you think?

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

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

I’d love to hear your comments.

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Time-saving copywriting formulas for small biz owners

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 know what they’re getting from the off.

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

Interest

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

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

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

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

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

copywriting formula ideal customer

Be clear on your ideal customer. Who are they?

 

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

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

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

Think about this from their point of view.

Why should they?

What’s in for them?

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

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

Avoid words such as ‘amazing’ and ‘brilliant’ to describe what you offer (if it is, they will tell you in reviews and testimonials). Instead, paint a picture of how it will improve your customer’s life.

For example:

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

And finally, Action. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time.

Alison x

I do hope you found this blog post valuable.

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

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

I’d love to work with you.

 

 

 

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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.

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

me me meImage credit: Pixabay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time. Happy writing.

Alison x


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

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

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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.

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

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

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?

Do drop me a line alisonbcopywriter@gmail.com – I’d love to hear your opinion.

Until next time. Happy writing.

Alison x


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

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

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My 2018 copywriting goals

So we’re already into February and it’s time to publish my plans for the year ahead.

I deliberately set out not to set 2018 new year’s resolutions and, more controversially, not to put together a business plan until that first, tricky month was out of the way.

Experience has shown me that too much expectation in January tends to result in broken dreams and feelings of failure. Silly really. So I’ve been focusing my energies on getting updating my business processes and giving proper consideration to the year ahead.

Before I make myself accountable for my future plans, a little bit of background:

I set up, very quietly, as a freelance copywriter in 2015 and since then, I’ve worked on a number of projects. I started off by doing a few freebies for family and friends and then signed up to a freelance site to build confidence and get experience under my belt.

It didn’t take long to start getting direct enquiries via my website, which surprised me as I was new to copywriting and had taken quite a lengthy career break before. So over the last couple of years, I’ve worked for small businesses and a couple of bigger brands (who unfortunately requested I signed a Non Disclosure Agreement, so I can’t name them).

Looking ahead, I want to continue working for small and medium businesses. Mainly because that’s what I enjoy the most and, as a parent carer who works part-time, I’m wary of the time commitment bigger companies will want from me.

My main offering will be content for business websites and business blogs, but I’m happy to consider other projects (for example, last year I wrote a series of guides for an accountancy firm).

How I want to improve my copywriting business this year

Networking and marketing my services

Firstly, I need to get much better at promoting myself. It’s been a real block for me that I’ve struggled to ‘put myself out there’ despite having good review from the clients I’ve worked for.

This is partly due to logistics, as I am a parent carer to a child with autism and partly because I believe I communicate more effectively in writing.

Funny that!

Branding 

I started out trading as MK Word Studio – a name I came up with and went with because I loved it. With hindsight I think the name wasn’t quite right as the word ‘studio’ has a bit of an agency feel, resulting in the wrong type of enquiries. 

So rather than continuing with a business name as such, I’m simply going to market myself as Alison B Copywriter, which is the handle for my social media channels and better for SEO purposes.

It’s easier to remember, makes it clear I’m a one-man band and not a company and has more of a personal touch.

Continuing Professional Development

My best learning has been through working with clients and consuming the huge amounts of helpful content aimed at copywriters in the form of blogs, podcasts and downloads.

I’m planning to publish a diary of my ongoing CPD efforts for social proof and for general information purposes, so don’t miss that. There’s so much information and advice out there – I want to share it with you.

I do think it’s good to undertake some formal training every year  (previous courses include The Complete Copywriter, Breakthrough Copywriting and Hubspot Academy inbound marketing).

This year I have my eye on a couple of new courses. I don’t plan to offer social media management as a service, but I do want to get better at using it myself and to be able to offer added value to my clients by improving my own knowledge.  I love social media but I know I could be doing more with it.

I’m planning on completing the Hubspot Academy social media certificate, which is being released in the spring.

The other biggie is SEO. I’ve consumed so much content and information about SEO over the last couple of years and the only constant I have found is that there is no constant! It’s ever changing and the advice varies massively. 

I can add value to your SEO strategy through writing high quality content, naturally including keywords and relevant synonyms and optimised for readability.

I do want to increase my knowledge and although I will never market myself as a techy SEO expert,  I think I can add further value by increasing my knowledge.

As well as keeping up with current advice from experts such as Hubspot and Yoast, I have my eye on some SEO Copywriting courses to formalise my knowledge. There’s a lot of views around whether it’s necessary to complete a copywriting SEO course – the main argument being that you can learn it all online anyway – however I don’t think it can do any harm and it will add further proof of my knowledge and skills in this area.

Website updates (including pricing)

I’ve created a lot of new content for my website in order to target the right clients. The most crucial change is pricing. In the past I haven’t published fees as each project is priced individually.

However, I know that I can be reluctant about making queries when there is no ballpark figure to be found so after much thought, I have gone ahead and published my fees.

The fees published are not set in stone – prices will still vary depending on the type of project, research required, complexity of subject matter and word count. But potential clients will have a much clearer idea of the possible cost.

Personal goals

So that sums up my business plans for 2018. What about my other life?

Although I shied away from the usual 2018 ‘new you’ rubbish, I am putting health and fitness at the top of my personal list. What I’ve had to come to terms with over the last few years is that raising a child with autism isn’t an easy gig.

avocado-goalsblog

Image by Pixabay.com

My son is vulnerable and he relies on me. So health and wellbeing are more important than ever.

I’ve already been making dietary changes throughout January and upping the amount of exercise I get. Sleep and drinking water are top priorities too. They’re all obvious steps, but they do make a massive difference. The problem with me is that once I start to feel good, I let things slide. And then I’m back at square one. So I’m making a big commitment to myself to remember self-care and I hope you will too.

I’m also taking time to indulge myself with a few creative hobbies – photography and   calligraphy. Both for fun, rather than professional purposes, although never say never… Creativity is good for the soul!

olympus pen camera

Image by Pixabay.com

I love Instagram, which is a great place for sharing creative outlets and making new connections – if you fancy looking at my photographic efforts (some are better than others), getting to know me and day-to-day snippets of my life please do follow me there: alison_b_copywriter  There are no sales pitches, just one link to my business website – my account is for engaging with other humans, which is important when working alone. If they turn into clients, that’s a bonus.

And of course, the important one: family life. Having a child with special needs has changed everything forever. I think we’re doing okay – both boys are happy – I just need to keep my eye on the ball and remember that they are my ‘why’.

Everyone has to have a why!

So, will I actually do all of this?

I’ve built my knowledge and experience slowly over the last couple of years. It’s been difficult. I’ve had to stop at times to get on top of things. But I’ve never let a client down, always delivered on time and always worked hard to create good content.

Despite setbacks and the occasional confidence issue, there’s still a consistent voice in my head telling me: “You can do this. You’re good at what you do.”

I’m giving that voice the respect it deserves. And if you’re a small business owner, I suggest you do the same. 🙂

Alison x

That’s enough about me! If you made it this far, thank you and I won’t make a habit of publishing lengthy articles about myself.

Let’s talk about you instead. I would love to hear about your plans, goals and dreams for 2018 and what you are going to do to overcome any difficulties.

Enjoy this blog? Please do share on Twitter or Instagram, or with anyone you think would get value from it.

Want to work with me? Here’s a link to my  Get in Touch page. 

 

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Why I still haven’t set goals for 2018

So today is national Ditch Your New Years Resolutions day.

Right now, ‘they’ are cancelling their gym memberships and giving up on diets in their droves.

And for those who were brave enough to set business goals and resolutions, the dark mornings and financial hangover are already working their magic, whispering “give up” into the ears of self-doubters who, in reality, just need a burst of sunshine and a decent meal inside them.

That last one resonates with me. And that’s why I don’t set new year’s resolutions and goals – because I know I won’t achieve them. Not between 1st and 14th January anyway.

When you think about it, why would anyone set goals at the hardest time of the year? It doesn’t make sense.

So my 2018 goals list has remained blank for now.

I’ve been focussing on getting straight after Christmas, keeping the kids’ spirits up (anyone else feel like Cruella de Vil when dragging kids out of bed on dark mornings?) and giving the coming business year some quiet contemplation.

And it’s worked for me.

We’re three weeks in and I don’t feel like a big fat failure. I just feel grateful that I’ve got through it, that spring’s on the way and that a new year of possibilities lies ahead.

Goal setting has been way down my list.

But not for much longer.

Apparently, there’s a full moon on 31st January and, although I’m not a serious moon lover, its associations with new beginnings suggest it’s a good time to start making plans for the year.

Please come and see me again in a few weeks so I can share them with you.

Alison x

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My January blues survival kit

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So here we are again. It’s January. The decorations have come down. The mornings are dark. We’re all suffering withdrawal of some description – mine is chocolate.

So far so predictable.

So how can we get through it and breeze past the ominous ‘blue Monday’ that’s looming?As a lifelong sufferer of winter blues, I’ve learnt a few tricks along the way that help. Read on if you’d like to find out what helps me and I’d love it if you can leave a comment with your own tips.

So here’s what’s in my personal January survival kit:

Porridge

It was only last year that I discovered the benefits of porridge, which include:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduced cholesterol
  • Stable blood sugar levels
  • Minerals and vitamins galore

I wanted all tbis for myself.

Even better, I discovered that eating a bowl of porridge every morning stopped me from feeling hungry mid-morning and raiding the biscuit barrel. Fab when you’re trying to shed a few Christmas pounds.

The only downside I’ve found is that I don’t always feel like eating it first thing.

If this is you, I’d say persevere. It is hard if you’re not naturally a breakfast person – but the benefits of doing so outweigh that first, slightly forced, spoonful.

As well as feeling more full and the knowledge that I’m benefitting from all the above, I definitely feel less anxious. My mood is more balanced – I’m a better version of myself with porridge.

Winter walkies

This one’s obvious, I know, but it works. Again, the hard part is taking that first step. It’s cold outside. And gloomy. Don’t let that put you off.

Dress appropriately and the cold won’t touch you. If you can run to a pair of decent hiking shoes you can walk pretty much anywhere. I’ve gone for some Merrell Sirens which were just £45 in the sale from Amazon, so pretty affordable. But wellies or trainers will do, depending on where you want to walk.

Winter doesn’t have the obvious beauty of the other seasons – but it is there if you search for it.  The gloomy weather is perfect for capturing moody, atmospheric pictures – your camera phone is perfectly adequate if you don’t own a camera.

Adding a creative element to your wak is bound to lift your mood and give you incentive to keep getting out there. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA EPL8 Photography by me Alison R Bowyer


As a Freelance Copywriter living in Milton Keynes, I’m fortunate to have open countryside on my doorstep and I have to walk our Labrador every day.

It’s harder if you have the choice (I remember those days) but imagine how great you will feel after – promise yourself a treat when you get home, a big mug of hot chocolate or your favourite soup.

Walking is underrated in my opinion. It’s not a tough workout but it gets you moving and is a good start to your fitness regime  if that’s what you’re into. For me, walking aided my recovery when I injured my ankle last year and I now walk approximately 5K every day.

And it makes me happy – a negative or anxious mood is completely turned around after just 45 minutes in the great outdoors.

Vitamin D supplements

I only discovered by chance last year that most of us in the UK are deficient in this vitamin. It’s obvious really – but why does nobody tell us this stuff? I take a supplement from Boots every day but there are other things you can do to up your intake.

Getting outdoors during daylight is probably the best way to do it. This is a challenge when the days are so short but you can also increase your intake in the food you eat. 

A quick Google search shows that vitamin D can be found in fatty fish (tuna, salmon, mackerel), orange juice, cheese, liver and egg yolks. 

If you’re really worried about your vitamin D levels, as with any other issue, consult your GP for advice.

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Treat yourself!

I’m not talking about reopening the Christmas chocolate tin (although I  won’t judge you if you do…) 

A bubble bath is a good place to start – that works for me. But it could be treating yourself to a trip to a coffee shop, reading a book, listening to music or starting a new hobby. Something that makes you feel good.

And be kind to yourself too. It’s a great time of year to set goals and measure achievements but give yourself a break.

This is winter! We’re all in it together.

Let’s just do what we can to make it enjoyable and we’re more likely to come out the other side ready to smash spring.

Then we can talk goals and resolutions.

I’d love to hear your tips for surviving winter. What works for you?

I’m open to ideas.

Alison 

 

Enjoy this post? Feel free to share on social media and fellow sufferers of the winter blues.  

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).

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).

I’m a copywriter (so what?)

If you’re struggling to explain your services in words on your website, blog posts or social media updates, here’s a simple test that you can try to challenge yourself and find inspiration for new ideas.

It’s called the ‘so what test’.

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).