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How formulas can help you write better copy

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

Don’t know where to start?

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

Image credit: Pixabay

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

I get it.

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

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

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

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

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

What does AIDA stand for?

Attention
Interest
Desire
Action

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

Here’s a breakdown:

Attention pretty much speaks for itself.

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

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

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

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

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

Interest

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

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

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

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

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

copywriting formula ideal customer

Be clear on your ideal customer. Who are they?

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

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

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

Think about this from their point of view.

Why should they?

What’s in for them?

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

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

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

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

For example:

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

And finally, Action. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time.

Alison x

I do hope you found this blog post valuable.

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

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

I’d love to work with you.

 

 

 

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Why your business blog needs World Book Day

World Book Day. Don’t you just love it?

If you’re a parent of a primary school child you can be forgiven for grumbling about it.

But wait. World Book Day isn’t just about making costumes (or panic buying from Ebay).

It’s a good reminder that reading is important. For you, as well as your child.

And especially your business. Read on to find out why.

world book day
Image credit: Pixabay

World Book Day. The day that parents love to hate.

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”.

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.

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 (but I won’t judge you if you do).

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…

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

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

me me meImage credit: Pixabay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time. Happy writing.

Alison x


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

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

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Copywriting goals for 2018

Hurrah, January is out of the way and I’m ready to focus on the year ahead.

Read on to find out what plans I have for my copywriting business in 2018.

We’re already into February and it’s time to review my copywriting goals 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).

My copywriting goals for 2018

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 (so not always available for networking events) and partly because I believe I communicate more effectively in writing.

 

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.

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

I do hope you enjoyed reading about my copywriting goals for 2018. 

I’d love to hear about you. You can use the form below to tell me about your plans for 2018 and if you have any questions, I’ll do my best to help.

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? Please  complete the form below and I’ll be in touch within 24 hours.

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My January blues survival kit

Sod the new year’s resolutions. That can wait until spring. Here’s how I’m surviving winter and sticking two fingers up to the January blues.

If you suffer from January blues, you probably have a familiar feeling right night – here we go again.

The decorations have come down. The mornings are dark. And suddenly, it’s not socially acceptable to eat chocolate for breakfast.

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 some of this. 

And 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 was 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, January blues or not.

It’s harder if you have the choice (I remember those pre-dog 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.

E38B0B2B-D7FB-4534-996B-FE7C5306BA88

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 overcome the January blues 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 the January blues. What works for you?

I’m open to ideas.

Alison 

 

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

About me: I’m a Freelance Copywriter based in Milton Keynes offering website copywriting and business blogging.  You can read my story at Who am I?

If you’d like to give feedback on this blog post, tell me your experiences or discuss a copywriting project, I’d love to hear from you.

Just complete the form below and I’ll get back to you within 24 hours. 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With me so far?

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

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

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

Me: “I’m a copywriter”

Imaginary friend: “So what?”

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

Imaginary friend: “So what?”

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

Imaginary friend: “So what?”

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

Imaginary friend: “So what?”

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

Imaginary friend: “So what?”

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

Imaginary friend: “So what?”

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

Imaginary friend: “So what?”

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

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

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

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

Your turn now.

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

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

Alison

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forget about them!

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

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

Think about your reasons for writing in the first place.

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

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

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

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

Write
As
You
Speak

So what do I mean by Write As You Speak?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some examples:

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

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

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

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

Feel free to give feedback and add further suggestions.

Happy writing.

Alison

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Why inbound beats ‘in your face’ marketing

You’ve heard of inbound marketing but don’t know what it means for you.

And everyone keeps telling you should be blogging, but you still don’t know why.

Stick around and I’ll get you up-to-speed.

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

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

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

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

How can blogging help your inbound strategy?

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

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

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

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

What are the benefits of blogging?

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

 

why blogging beats in your face marketing

What on earth can I blog about?  

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

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

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

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

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

Where does social media fit in?

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

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

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

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

SOCIAL MEDIA IMAGE INBOUND ARTICLE PIXABAY

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

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

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

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

Until next time.

Alison x

Credit: Thanks to Pixabay for images.

 

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

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

Complete the simple form on my Get in touch page or call me on 07809 599055 (if it goes to voicemail leave a message and I’ll get back asap).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seven tips for starting your business blog

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If you have a new website, or you’re in the process of getting one built, you’re probably already aware that you need to write a business blog to attract traffic to your website. 

But what if you’ve never written a blog before,  have no idea where to start or can’t think what to write about?

Don’t worry! I’ve put together seven simple tips that will help you to get started on your business blog today. So take a deep breath, grab a cuppa and enjoy.

1. Work out a content strategy

Don’t panic! Although not everyone will appreciate me saying this, your content strategy is really just a plan of what you are going to write and when.

Before you get started on your business blog, it makes sense to think about the subject matter for future blogs.

The beauty of this is you can work out how your blogs are going to fit together, think about some subjects that will fit in with seasonal highlights across the year and decide what your target audience would like to read about.

Set yourself a target to write 10 blogs initially. It’s not as scary as it sounds!

Sit down with a pen and paper, and think of 10 useful subjects that will be helpful to your readers.

For example, if you’re a cleaner, you might write a blog about how to get red wine stains out of a cream carpet or felt tip off the wallpaper.  Think of what problems your readers might have and how you can help resolve them.

The secret is to think of evergreen content that can be used again and again – this is when your blog has real value. 

I know it sounds daunting, but once it’s done you’ll have a bank of blogs to share with your audience on a regular basis. You can share them continually and they’ll be a permanent presence on your website, which is great for search engine optimisation (SEO).

Don’t worry that you’re giving away your trade secrets. That’s exactly what you should be doing. It builds trust with your potential clients and establishes you as the ‘go to’ person in your field. If your advice is good, they’ll come back for more.

And when their mates ask them if you they know a good cleaner, who are they going to think of?

You.

2. Write *helpful* headlines

Forget about being overly creative or clever when you write headlines for your blog. Instead, think of something clear but attention grabbling. Something that makes the reader think: ooh I must open this blog. An eye-catching image will help too (see point 3 below).

Your headline might tap into their curiosity (3 life-saving cleaning tips) or fears (why you should never use bleach on your laminate) or offer them something that promises to save money or time (clean your whole house for less than a fiver). 

I’m not a fan of click-bait headlines that fail to deliver what they promise or controversial statements that have the potential to stir up all sorts of issues.  Your business blog is there to attract people, not repel them so stick with helpful, valuable and entertaining.

3. Use eye-catching images

Although it’s my job, as a copywriter, to tell you that words are more important than pictures, the truth is they’re equally important.

Don’t think you need to get your camera or iPhone out to produce one of those glorious photographic masterpieces we all admire on Instagram (unless you’re promoting your photography business, in which case do).

Stock images are the way to go. There are loads of sites where you can purchase them, such as Shutterstock and Fotolia. Make sure you understand the licence and attribution rules before you publish them on your business blog. 

I’m guessing your budget isn’t huge. Maybe non-existent. That’s okay, because the good news is you can also get stock images for free.

No, I’m not talking about doing a Google image search or pinching a picture from someone else’s website. Do not do this, unless you fancy getting yourself into all sorts of legal hot water. 

I use Pixabay, but type ‘free stock images’ into your search engine and you’ll be spoilt for choice.

It’s surprisingly time-consuming choosing and downloading suitable stock images, so grab yourself a drink and sit down for an hour or so.

Choose a number of images that are relevant to your business area and download them in bulk. Now you have a batch of images that you can access quickly when the urge to blog strikes.

4, Sort out some keywords

GOOGLE SEARCH PIXABAY IMAGE

As a new business owner, you’ll be wondering how you can get your website performing on search engines.

There’s no easy answer to this.

If you already have a website presence and business email, you’ll have already received lots of SPAM messages promising you the No 1 spot. on Google. Your mail trash folder is the perfect home for emails like these!

If you do have money to spend, there are plenty of reputable SEO (search engine optimisation) and social media experts out there that can help you with your keyword research and social media presence. Good professional advice is always worth investing in. So if you have the cash, go for it.

But if circumstances dictate a DIY approach for now, there are some things you can do yourself to get your website SEO friendly. It’s not going to happen overnight, but your business blog will play a big part in getting you there,

First of all, think about your target audience and what they might type into a search engine. For example, if you’re a window cleaner in Milton Keynes then you may want to use window cleaner and Milton Keynes in your website copy and content.  They’re the obvious ones. Now think about other words that are relevant to the services you offer (maybe carpet cleaning, conservatory cleaning etc).

Sit down with a pen and paper and think about what you might type into a search engine if you were looking for the services you offer. It’s hard to be objective because you’re so close to your own business so ask some friends and colleagues too. Don’t overthink it. Often, the first word that comes to mind is the first word that you would use on a search.

Once you’ve established some keywords, work them into any content that you write. Current opinion is that your keywords should only make up 5% of your body text.

So be extra careful not to ‘stuff’ your content full of your keywords. Search engines are sophisticated and they look for high quality content, so this approach is more likely to have a negative effect.

It’s more important that your content makes sense, is written well and that your keyword appears naturally within the content. Always think quality over quantity.

There are lots of other things you can do to optimise your business blog for search engines, I will cover these in a separate blog.

5. Quote your heroes and heroines

There’s nothing like a meaningful quote to give your blog the feel-good factor.

 It shows that you’re engaged with what’s going on in your industry, and that you’re aiming high. Don’t try and pass it off as your own wisdom though. You might get yourself in trouble and you’ll definitely make yourself look foolish.

6. Get serious with stats

Maybe it’s because I have a deep-rooted fear of numbers, but I think stats add a serious element to any blog, making it more credible and (forgive me for this) more grown up.

You can use stats in many ways. They can support a message, add credibility to your message or play on fears.

Taking that last one (fears) as an example, I read a report a few years back about business owners losing customers due to spelling mistakes on their website.

The statistic was scary, something like 50%. Imagine that. Losing 50% of potential customer, just because of a few spelling errors! Enough to have you googling the nearest proofreader (or hiring the clever proofreader that included that statistic on their home page).

Don’t overdo it with stats though. Your business blog needs to be readable and digestible to a time-poor audience. So one or two well-placed stats to illustrate a key point should be more than enough.

7. Add a clear call to action

This is really important, Every page on your website, including your blog, should have a call to action. Whatever page of your website your reader is on, they should be in no doubt about how to contact you.

Your blog is not a sales pitch though, so don’t keep referring to your business or contact details within the body text of your blog. Keep it entertaining, informative and inspiring, but not pushy.

It is perfectly acceptable to have a paragraph or line about you at the end of your blog providing more information about you and your contact details, so make sure you include this. 

The most important thing about your blog is that it should be clear, error-free copy that projects the professional image you’re aiming for. It shows that you’ve taken the time and care to create something really good, indicating that you’ll take the same care with the product or service you’re promoting.

So there you have it! Seven simple tips that you can use today for your business blog. What’s stopping you?

If you’re a start-up or small owner, I’d love your feedback on this blog. Did it help you feel more confident about getting started?

And send me a link to your business blog when you do get writing.  I’d love to read it and see how you’re getting on.

Until next time.

Alison x

 

 

 

 

How copywriters cut through the crap

By: Alison R Bowyer     Freelance Copywriter

Have you ever been short of time and stuck in a conversation with someone who goes on a bit too long?

You know the type. What could be a 2 minute story takes 20 minutes and you’re obliged to listen.

It goes something like this:

They tell you about their journey into town. The traffic they hit. How little Timmy said he wanted a wee half-way there. How it was busy in the high street. That they nearly  walked past the shop because they were keeping an eye on little Timmy. How they finally found what they were looking for. But it wasn’t in their size. Only it turned out they did have their size. So that was lucky. They weren’t sure if they should go for the black or red. But they settled on the red because it went with their red top. If only they could afford both. But the red will be perfect for the Christmas party. And just as they were paying, little Timmy wet himself…

Painful isn’t it?

What you really wanted them to say was this:

“I bought a fabulous pair of red shoes in town on Saturday. Too bad little Timmy wet himself while I was paying.”

Or even better:

“I went to town and bought some red shoes on Saturday. They’re perfect for the Christmas party.”

The End.

But you’re polite. So you listen. You nod. You laugh in the right places. You might wet yourself too if they don’t hurry up. But you hang in there. Because you’re nice. And a good friend. And in this situation, it’s probably the right decision.

But imagine you were reading their story on their blog or in an email. Would you carry on reading? Or just find something better to read?

Now imagine that your friend is a business and you are a potential client looking at their website or blog. It’s full of long-winded, waffly sentences and unnecessary detail. Social niceties and loyalty don’t come into it. You’re bored and irritated. Nothing they’ve written has convinced you to use their service. So you’re off; to check out their competitors.

Many business owners write their own content. Some reason that it will save time and money. Others are so passionate about what they do, they just want to talk about it. And most are so focused on how pretty their website looks that they forget about the power of words.

Why is this a mistake? Because ultimately words are still the most effective tool to communicate your message clearly and concisely.

That’s where a copywriter comes in.

A copywriter has emotional distance from the business. They’re focused on the customer’s experience. So they write it in such a way that the reader feels that there’s something in it for them; that they count.

Sentences are shortened. Flowery, unnecessary words are slashed. And pointless information is removed (of course Timmy wet himself, he’s 2).

A copywriter knows that your audience wants you to cut to the chase. Communicate your message clearly. Tell them about your service. And how it will benefit them. Together with a clear call to action. So they contact you. And not your competitors.

They will weed out passive sentences that make your content sound wooden and detached. And check for readability stats, to ensure your content is written in plain English that’s easy for any demographic to understand and relate to.

Your copywriter will check that your content is visually appealing. They’ll use bullet-points, line-spacing and quotes to break it up. And check that factual information is correct and relevant.

And when that’s done, they’ll proofread it again and again. They might read it out loud. Or backwards. Some even hire an extra pair of eyes in the form of a proofreader or editor.

romance-crap-blog
 

 

Ultimately, your copywriter wants the same as you; they want your business to succeed.

Until next time.

Alison