Easy layout tips for your blog

By: Alison R Bowyer   Freelance Copywriter in Milton Keynes

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

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

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

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

  1. Consistent heading style

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

    Examples below:

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

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

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

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

  2. Inject some colour

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

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

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

  3. People love pictures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  4. Use short paragraphs

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

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

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

    So they keep reading.

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

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

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

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

  6. Don’t forget your call to action

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Work for free? Don’t you dare!

By: Alison R Bowyer   Freelance Copywriter  

If you’re a freelance creative, you’ve probably at some point been asked to work FOC (free of charge). 

You’ve probably already seen blogs and videos poking fun at the concept of working for free, the point being that you wouldn’t expect to be given a free takeaway on the promise you’ll pay next time if you like the taste. 

The same goes for writing (or designing, photography etc). If a client wants you to produce creative work, they must pay you for it.

There are some scenarios where working for free may do you some favours. For example:

  • Building a portfolio. Although it can be argued that you can do this just as well by writing a regular blog, which will also attract traffic to your website.
  • Writing test. I’ve done this once and I got the job. It was for a large brand and I figured it was worth the risk. Only you can decide when it is and isn’t appropriate to do this.
  • Charity work. Maybe there’s a cause close to your heart and you want to offer your services. As well as making a difference, you can feel warm and fuzzy inside. It’s also a great way to build up experience. Just make sure you set a few boundaries first.

 

just-say-no-pixabay
No need to over explain when turning down free work.

Despite those examples, I still believe that working for free is a bad idea. If you’re tempted to work for free, it’s easy to understand why. 

Getting those first few clients can be a tricky business, and you can sink into a sort of depression in the early days if the enquiries aren’t coming thick and fast. This is when you’re at your most vulnerable to falling into the black hole that is working for free.

Seasoned piss takers People that ask for free work often have a knack of making it sound very tempting. You should hear alarm bells if you hear any of these phrases:

“It will get you more exposure.”   Um yes, more exposure as someone who works for free.

“I don’t have any money to spend right now, but I’ve got big plans for future.” And so do you. Working for free isn’t going to help you achieve them.

“This is a big opportunity for you.” It really isn’t.

mug-pixabay
There’s no excuse for being a mug. You deserve to be rewarded for your time and expertise.

When you’re starting out and your confidence is a bit low, it’s easy to grab hold of one of these carrots and convince yourself that you’re working your way up to where you want your business to be. 

The trouble with doing this is you’re likely to lose more confidence, get treated badly and start to feel resentful. You may even give up on self-employment and slink back to full-time paid work, with your tail between you legs, feeling that you’ve failed.

If any of this sounds like you, have a word with yourself. Because working for free means that you are handing over your talent and expertise for the good of someone else’s business. Your pain, their gain. Where’s the sense in that? . 

There are plenty of things you can do instead that will increase your confidence, improve your business and get you on the road to finding good, solid, cash-paying clients.

  1. Update your website and social media channels Are you visible on line? Do you have a website with easy navigation, concise writing and a clear call to action? Are you listed on appropriate on-line sites for your industry (for example, Pro Copywriters’ Network for copywriters). Spend some time going through everything and improving it. Ask a friend or colleague for feedback, and spend time looking at other websites. Don’t copy them, work out how you can make yours stand out and make it different. 
  2. Get blogging If you’re working in marketing, copywriting or social media, the chances are you’re already advising your clients to blog regularly. So practice what you preach. Blog consistently, even if it’s just once a week or fortnight to start with. Deliver something that is interesting to read and useful. Give away free advice. Try to be helpful to others in the same industry as you. I know, it hurts to do that when you’re trying to acquire new clients. But you’ll be getting your name out there, and there will be a ripple effect. People will start to know you. And of course, adding regular content to your website will help you get found on search engines. Just remember to share your blog on social media. Don’t have a website or social media? Back to point 1! 
  3. Continuing professional development. Read, read, read. Always keep learning. Even if you think you have all the knowledge you need for your chosen field, there’s always new stuff out there. Train for a qualification if you have the time. But if you don’t have the inclination (or money), there’s so much information out there for free. Look for people in your chosen field and read their blogs. They’re probably handing out their own advice for free. Learn from it. But don’t get carried away and pinch their content. Think about how you can incorporate that information into your business without being a copycat.

    Podcasts are another fantastic tool for learning, especially when you’re on the go. I listen to them in the car, waiting for the kids to come out of school and when I’m cooking dinner. 
  4. Take a walk. Not very original, I know. But if you’re going through a quiet phase, do something that benefits you and your business. Walking is great for your physical and mental health, zaps stress and anxiety, and clears your head for new ideas. I recently sprained my ankle and had to give up walking for a few weeks and it made a huge difference to my productivity. So I no longer begrudge taking 45 minutes out of my business to walk every day. It keeps me fit, generates ideas and sparks creativity.

I’d love to hear your experiences about working for free or being asked to work for free. Do you have any ideas to add to my list of things to do instead?

Until next time.

Alison

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

 

Your or you’re

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

You’re always so helpful.

You’re a great friend.

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

Overkill on the last example!

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

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

Your green top matches your eyes.

It’s your turn next.

Isn’t about time you did your tax return?

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

It will be pretty obvious whether that works or not

For example:

Your you are green top matches your eyes.

It’s your you are turn next.

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

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

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

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

But do change it quickly before anyone else notices!

Alison

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

When copywriting and caring collide…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Acceptance

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

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

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

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

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

Secondly, acceptance about what you can realistically achieve.

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

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

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

  1. Self-care

Voice of experience speaking here!

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

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

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

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

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

Please don’t!

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

  1. Get help

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

helping-hands

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

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

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

  1. Make time for your heartbreak

I mean it.

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

chris-christmas
My beautiful boy.

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

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

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

  1. Be the best you can be

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

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

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

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

How does it work for you?

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

Alison x

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

Small business owner? Get blogging!

blog and stars
Blogging is a great way to reach out to your target audience.

If you’re a business owner and have your own website, I’m sure you’ve already heard that you should be blogging. And I agree; there’s great benefits for your business.

Not to be confused with full-time lifestyle bloggers, I’m talking about a regular blog page on your business website that draws attention to your product or service and gets your name known in your industry.

I understand the thought of writing a regular blog is daunting. You might be thinking: “How do I find the time?” or, “What can I write about?” and you may even be worried that your spelling and punctuation aren’t up to scratch.

Despite these fears, it’s really worth your while getting your blog out there; on your website and across the social media channels of your choice.

Adding good quality content to your website will help you to get recognised by search engines and raise the visibility of your website online.

I’m not going to talk about SEO; I’ll leave that to other experts. But what I would say is that I think it’s more important to get regular, good quality content out there than get too hung up on keywords and algorithms. If you’re sharing your content on social media, it’s a fantastic way to get yourself known and position yourself as an expert in your field.

Show that you’re a professional; that you know what you’re talking about. Add value to your reader by giving tips and advice. I know that sounds crazy; if you’re giving it away for free, who’s going to buy your service? But if you build up a regular audience, who keep coming back to read more; chances are they’re going to pass your details to their mates in the pub, their colleagues, their family and friends when the need for your service crops up in conversation.

Only yesterday, I shared the details of a local cleaning company with a neighbour. How do I know about them? Because they blog and engage on social medial regularly, making themselves very visible locally. And they’re quick to publish good feedback and testimonials.  So I feel I know enough about them to make a referral, if not a recommendation.

Blogging is a slow burner; don’t expect results overnight. But whether you’re investing your own time, or money if hiring a writer, it’s a worthwhile investment.

So you’ve decided to give this blogging game a go, but where do you get started? What do you write about?

Your blogs don’t have to be about your product or service all the time. Remember, this isn’t a selling device, it’s a tool for getting yourself known and trusted.

So while some of your blogs will be about your service, you can also link to current affairs (though be careful not to offend) or even write about something personal.

Sharing something about you, what makes you tick or how you came into your profession is likely to interest your readers (and inspire them).

When writing my blogs, I sometimes add a personal touch by talking about my son (who has autism). There’s lots of parallels to be drawn from parenting a child with autism and copywriting, so I’m able to link topics quite easily. And it shows I’m real. I’m not a faceless person, hiding behind my laptop; I have real life challenges and goals. And my son’s disability led me into freelance copywriting, so I have a story to tell too.

So how can you do the same?

Maybe you’re a cleaner, with ten dogs, so you could draw on that experience to give advice on cleaning up muddy paw marks. Or you might be a dog walker, who came into the job because you hated office life (which could lead nicely into a blog about working full-time and owning a dog). You may have suffered health issues and been inspired to becoming a therapist, after a particular treatment worked for you.

Can you see how these examples could lead the reader to become interested in your service, without directly selling to them?

Just be careful not to talk about yourself all the time, or people might think you’re just interested in yourself (and they’re more interested in how your advice can benefit them). Strike a balance.

Remember to include a clear call to action, visible on every page of your website. My contact details are clearly shown on the header of my website and every blog includes a statement about me at the end. So if you were interested in using my services, you can easily see how to make contact with me. And that’s what you need to aim for on your website.

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Your call to action needs to be visible on every page of your website and at the end of your blog. Leave your reader in no doubt about how to get hold of you.

My advice? Put pen to paper and do it! It doesn’t have to be perfect, but make sure the content is compelling and adds value (and don’t be tempted to copy and paste it from your competitors’ websites).  Remember to proofread too, as there is evidence to suggest that lots of mistakes can turn customers away. Show that you’re a professional in everything you do, including your blog posts.

So give it a go! Blogging is good. I’d love to hear how you get on.

Alison

Alison is a Freelance Copywriter in Milton Keynes offering a range of services for small and large organisations in MK and across the UK.

Stationery or stationary?

Bite-size writing tips for small business: Stationery or stationary?

Who doesn’t find this one confusing? I’m always seeing it misspelt and I totally sympathise. It’s a tricky one.

First of all, to clarify the meanings:

Stationery = writing materials (such as paper, pens etc)

Stationary = fixed in one place (for example, a stationary car)

But how can we remember which is which?

I learnt a simple trick a long time ago and it’s never left me.

Here it is:

envelope.png
Stationery. Think ‘e’ for envelope!

The only difference between stationery and stationary is one vowel. But how do you remember which one to use?  Easy! Remember ‘e’ for ‘envelope’, so stationery (with an e) is the right version for writing/office materials.

Simple! I hope this helps.

Until next time.

Alison

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

3 ways to cure writer’s block

Writer’s block has a tendency to hit at the worst times. A deadline will do it for me. It’s stressful when you need to write, and can’t. Here are my ideas to overcome it.

Walk the dog

walking labrador
“I want to go that way”

I’m not the first one to suggest this. But I’m going to be more honest about how it works. Not because you’ll get a great workout, pumping blood to the brain and unleashing waves of creativity. And forget admiring the beautiful scenery with your faithful friend.

Maybe it’s because my particular four-legged colleague is a Labrador, a silly breed. But half-an-hour ramble with him is enough to send me racing back to my desk.

Sniffing out food, taking chase after other canine pals, hiding in long grass, begging for treats. He’s ridiculous. It’s worse than being out with a toddler <shudder>. And don’t get me started on making small talk with strangers, while he sniffs their dog’s arse. Or worse. So do it. Take a walk with your dog. And you’ll soon realise. Anything has to be better than this.

(Disclaimer: my dog is the best dog in the world. I love him. But I stand by the above).

Do some colouring

colouring book
Remember to stay in the lines.

I know, I know. You’re thinking: “Grow up woman”. But bear with me on this one. First of all, it’s a great way to calm down an overactive mind. I swear that social media has speeded up my brain, and not in a good way. Just twenty minutes of colouring is enough to slow it right back down.

Creatively, it can generate ideas. Have a selection of books. Mine include stained glass windows, dragonflies, animals and flowers. Think about what you’re colouring in. For example, if you’re colouring a stained glass window, do a bit of research about them. Learn something new. Inspiration will follow.

I’ve never actually finished colouring a picture, but getting started on one is enough to get my brain looking at things from another angle. Before I know it, I’m ready to get back to writing. And I’ve also discovered a new interest in sketching; something I haven’t done since school.

Meditation

I’ve written copy for holistic therapists and I may have been a teensy bit sceptical in the past. Until I felt burnt out myself. So I decided to give it a try. I have quite a low level

meditating woman.jpg
White dress is optional.

of patience, so I’ve only dabbled with 5 minute guided meditations to music and I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

Again, it’s something to clear the mind. In my case, it’s usually 1 minute meditation and 4 minutes nap.

Doesn’t sound much, but it makes a significant difference. I feel strangely refreshed, ready to open my mind to new possibilities. And next time I write for a therapist, I will have a new outlook on the subject matter.

Finally, don’t panic. If you’ve tried the above or you’re having one of those awful days where nothing feels right, then switch off for the day. You might just be too tired. Get on with some mundane jobs and if you’re really struggling, have a sleep. Or at least get an early night.

Remember: writer’s block is temporary and this too shall pass.

Until next time.

Alison

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

start-up-2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time.

Alison

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yours sincerely or Yours faithfully?

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

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

So here’s the general rule of thumb

Dear Sir/Madam = Yours faithfully

Dear Sally/Mr Smith = Yours sincerely

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time.

Alison

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

 

 

 

 

 

There, they’re and their…

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

Why does the English Language have to be so complicated?

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

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

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

They’re (they are)

They’re going to the shops.

They’re never going to get home on time.

They’re in way too deep.

Their

Their car is parked on the driveway.

Their cousin is coming to stay for the holidays.

That’s their problem, not mine.

There 

My car keys are over there.

What time shall I be there?

There isn’t time now.

There is a new Indian restaurant in time.

You’re right there.

Is there any chance you can help me with this?

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

Until next time.

Alison

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