Monthly Archives: December 2014

Sussex copywriting

3 steps to help you make sure your content is not just king but roc-king!

Make sure your content is a show stopper – Part 4 of SC’s foundation level copywriting skills.

You’re writing your own material for your business, whether that’s a blog or a page of web content. You’ve read up on it and you know your content is all important but frankly, you’re not sure how to go about writing it, so that it rocks. Well fear not, because here’s my easy to follow, 3 point plan to keep you on track for creating some killer content:

1. Know your objective and have a plan.

You really need to plan what you’re going to write, rather than just sit down and try to churn something out and it will also help as you approach both your research and the direction your writing is going to take. There are many things for example that you can write about moving house if you’re are a removals company, but if you plan out what particular topics you’re going to cover when, it will help streamline your research and allow more time in advance for creative thinking. And that’s before you’ve even got started on planning and structuring your actual article, blog or page.

Hand in hand with knowing what the meat of your writing is going to be, is knowing your objective. Whatever you’re writing, you’re writing it for a reason. It might be to make a sale, to get people to subscribe to your newsletter or just to help establish your authority on a particular topic and build relationships with your clients. But whatever your objective is, you will find it helps you keep your writing focused, if you have identified the objective and have it clearly in your mind as you plan and write.

2. Research your niche. 

There’s no shortcut here. Good content takes thought, time and research. If you’re writing about a topic that is popular, then try and find your own particular angle (if you haven’t already) and the more you can read around your subject and research it, the better. You need to write something that is unique and interesting or at the very least, if you’re writing about something that’s been written about many time before, then you need to find a new angle or a new voice.

Some practical tips may help here: (I) Keep a notebook with you all the time so you can jot down any gems of inspiration as they occur and keep a cuttings file / bookmark of any articles you’ve read that might be useful. (II) Don’t limit your research and ideas to just your topic – is there some overlap with a completely different area? Can a dietician write in a way that focuses on gardening? Probably. (III) Think about seasonal, local, national or international events – do they give your topic a new lease of life? (IV) Get out and about. Talk to clients and other entrepreneurs, join forums, walk the dog and take up a sport. All these things are like to help your creative juices flow or be a source of great ideas.

3. Remember, remember – it’s not about you!

It is so, so important to try and think about your writing in terms of, ‘what the reader is getting out of it’. After all, your reader is busy. They may have dozens of other things to read or do. So make it worth their while reading your content. Give them something they need or want to know, that means they’re somehow better off for having read it. If you’re an osteopath, maybe write about a really effective exercise they can do, if you’re an accountant give your clients some tips on an easy but effective receipts system and if you’re a cake maker, give them that, “Oh god the shops are shut and I have to make a cake tomorrow” recipe. But whatever you do, don’t just talk about you, your qualifications and experience (unless it’s your About page but even then try and liven it up).

And at the same time try and make it utterly irresistible. Remember the baker, tempting you in with a tray of delicious cakes in the window and a lovely aroma wafting through the door? She did not stick a list of her cooking qualifications in the window and hope someone would bother to read them and stop by. Make your readers feel it, live it, want it or need it. And how do you that? Well for a start you learn as much as you possibly can about your ideal reader: how old they are, where do they live, are they male or female, where do they go on holiday, what are their hopes, dreams and fears! The more you know, the better you can fine tune it to hit that nerve.

 

OK that’s enough for now, because I know you’re busy too what with Christmas next week. But in the next post (which will be in the new year), I’ll be giving you some more tips for thinking about tone and style as you write your content, as well as some different ways to grab your reader’s attention.

Need help with your content? Tieing yourself in knots over keywords or just want someone to give you some pointers as to how you’re doing?

Email me today (lucy@stroodcopy.com) and I’ll get right back to you.

 

Sussex copywriting

King Content – is it really that important?

The ever increasing importance of content – Part 3 of SC’s foundation level copywriting skills.

If you’re doing your own marketing (and even if you’re not) then unless you live with your head in the clouds, you’re likely to have heard innumerable copywriters and marketers talking about the importance of content. And trust me, it’s not just because they want the work. And last week I was blogging on the Fabulous Women website about why content is quite so important and why you really do have to invest some time and passion into it but in case you missed it, here’s a quick re-cap:

1. Search engines.

If you read my last blog about keywords, you’ll know how important they are in terms of making sure a website page or blog gets found. The bottom line is people use keywords to find your site and the search engines use keywords to rank your site and how relevant your keywords are to your content. If people find your site using a certain keyword (but your content is boring, poorly written or irrelevant to the keyword) then the chances are they’ll quickly click away. And they’ll be unlikely to share that content or back link to it. So your content is not only the place where your keywords live and hang out but it’s your chance to shine to the search engines and show them that your site is really interesting and relevant. Do that, with well optimised and dynamic content and hey presto! Lower bounce rates, more shares, maybe even some back links and all that leads to better search engine results.

2. People.

People buy into a brand and so your content is performing an important but dual role. It’s helping you build awareness and relationships with your consumers, so that you become someone they know, like, trust and want to do business with. But it’s also helping you to establish a reputation as someone who really knows their onions. It’ll help you become the resource they go to when they need some tips, advice or information on your niche and that in turn makes it easier for you to do business. Without the hard sell.

3. Your other marketing activities.

Well planned and written content and copy is an integral part of your other marketing activities and is likely to drive your social media campaign and possibly even how you do that one minute pitch at a networking event too. What’s more, by default, that actually makes your life easier, because it helps you plan and pull together a cohesive marketing strategy on all fronts.

You can read the full blog at www.fabulous-women.co.uk. but in my next SC blog, I’ll be looking at that all important question –  how do you make sure your content is king.

Need help with your content? Tying yourself in knots over keywords or just want someone to give you some pointers as to how you’re doing?

Email me today (lucy@stroodcopy.com) and I’ll get right back to you.

 

Sussex Pages – A business networking and marketing hub.

sussex Pages Sussex Pages – the Business Marketing Network is a unique and social advertising and marketing agency designed to be a bit different. With alternative services, like its Saturday Morning Networking Club (with Pop up Play for kids), it’s new style of online directory which places quality companies in instead of quantity and various other digital marketing services like web design, social media management and video design. Sonny Cutting is the founder and Managing Director. 

Website: www.sussexpages.com

Last roundup of the year.

This is probably going to be the last Strood Copy roundup of the year (unless I get the chance to share some bad poetry with you next week), so I wanted to grab a moment and wish you all a whole load of happiness for Christmas and the new year.

But before I do that and as things are still busy here at Strood Copy, here’s what I’ve been up to this week: I’ve been writing about the importance of content on the FW website – now more important than ever before – and about LinkedIn over at Women in Business (thanks to Philip Waite). And as I know many of you have presentations coming up in the new year, here at last is the link to my article about writing your speech – Sussex Pages. There should be enough material in those 3 features to get your creative marketing juices working over the holidays so that hit the new year with lots of ideas and resolve (be that of the resolution type or the indigestion type)! I’ve even had time to do a quick mayhem  which might cheer up those of you who are fighting with the madness that is this time of year. December 2010 004

I’ve got lots and lots of exiting plans for the 2015 which apart from the various speaking engagements, include a fantastic new executive package. But before we get to that, have a lovely Christmas (here’s hoping for a little snow on Christmas eve – well a girl can dream) and don’t over do it at NY. I hope to see you all on the 23rd January FW or in my inbox very soon.

 

 

 

Sussex copywriting

The what, why, where and how of “keywords”.

How and why you must research and use keywords in your content – Part 2 of SC’s foundation level copywriting skills.

Keywords and SEO. Love them, hate them, understand them or slip into a coma at the very thought of them? Keywords and SEO are an absolutely essential part of your pre-writing research and your content once it’s written. If you really can’t bear the thought of getting to grips with them, well now is the time to give up writing your own content and pay some one else to, but if you’re still determined, here’s what you need to know and think about as you sit down to write your copy.

1. What are keywords?

Well I’ll presume most of you have a fair idea about this. Keywords are of course the words or phrase you’d type into a search engine if you’re looking for something. And in similar measure, that means that search engines use keywords in order to rank your content. Sometimes the keywords for a particular piece of content may seem obvious but more often than not, keywords are highly competitive (in other words, lots of other people are trying to rank well in the search engine results for those keywords) or not obvious at all and under used.

2. Why do you need keywords?

I hope from paragraph 1 the answer to why they’re important is clear. But so often I hear people say that they don’t want to use keywords in their content because its going to look salesy or “crowbarred”  in and artificial. Or they say that they’ve tried that PPC (pay per click) stuff, spent a small fortune and they don’t want to go there again! But optimising your content is quite different from PPC and if it looks artificial and crowbarred, then frankly you’re doing it wrong.

The better optimised your content is with your keywords, the easier it is for search engines to rank it and for people to find it. Or put another way, the more relevant your content is to your keywords and the more skilled you are at sewing keywords naturally and unobtrusively into all the right places of your content, the better optimised  your content will be and the better that content will perform in the search engines results. And although it does take skill and some know how, it’s free and it’s a crucial.

Keywords tell the search engines what your site is about and without them, how are the search engines or anyone else supposed to find you? And what’s more, thinking about and researching your keywords will actually help you, the writer, refine and focus on the aim of a particular piece of writing and that, in my experience, can only be a good thing. Good, natural optimisation combined with content that is interesting, of value and relevant to your keywords is not only going to help your search engine results, it’s also going to ultimately mean more readers find you and that in turn can ultimately help with backlinks and social media shares. And guess what? That means better search engine results. It’s win, win.

3. So where do I find my keywords?

Well the good news is that there is lots of help available for this. Start by thinking about what you would use if you were searching for your service or product. Remember, depending on what your business is, some people may not even know that it’s you they’re searching for. So what is that issue that they’re looking for the answer to, the answer that you can provide?

Check out your competitors and see what they’re using  and then you probably need to narrow the field. For example, the chances are that there are an awful lot of estate agents in the UK, so it’s going to be hard to rank high up for the term estate agents UK. But if you’re an estate agent in the little town of Horsham in Sussex, there’ll be much fewer, so you might want to use the phrase West Sussex estate agent instead or even Horsham estate agents.

Then there are lots of online tools which are really helpful as you get down to the nitty gritty and they’ll tell you all sorts of information, like how many daily searches for a particular keyword as well as suggesting alternatives. Check out the free tools at Wordstream or Google Adwords as a starter and don’t rule out the many paid for keyword research services available both online and offline if you still don’t feel confident.

4. How to use your keywords.

It goes without saying, I hope, that once you’ve established what your keywords are, you need to use them. It’s a good idea to have one lead keyword per page of content with maybe a couple of others too. Try to use them in your heading and URL and then naturally throughout the body of your content. And the yard stick which you need to measure it against – well does it read naturally? If not, start again. This part should be easy if your content is well written and relevant but don’t forget to try and include keywords in links and formatted copy like bold and sub headings as well as at the beginning and end of your article. And above all else don’t neglect your Meta Title which really must include your keyword, (if you’re not sure what this is, just drop me a line).

I don’t pretend to be an SEO expert and I appreciate that SEO is a world that can seem technical and intimidating. But there are steps which you can take as I’ve outlined above which aren’t complicated and can make a difference and it’s an area you really can’t afford to neglect. If you’d like me to have a look at your website or blog and audit and review it for you, just drop me a line or feel free to share your favourite keyword tools in the comments section. Next week, I’ll be looking at content and not only why it’s so important but how to get it right but in the meantime, keep warm and happy researching!

A quick peek at what’s coming up in the new year.

20141117_083412_AndroidHalf empty or half full? A time for new beginnings, not endings.

Well this week I’ve had to concede that we’ve moved into winter and Christmas is unmistakably in the air. It’s a time of year when I get genuinely excited, not just about the prospect of lots of excuses to over indulge but also because I’m a big fan of new beginnings, new year resolutions and new aims and ambitions. I’m already thinking about what I want to achieve in 2015 and for me that definitely involves more public speaking and taking that to the next level. With that in mind, I already have lots of events lined up in the new year including the 3rd January at the Sussex Pages event at Hurstpierpoint, Basepoint in Crawley on the 14th, Sussex Women in Business on the 15th and Fabulous Women in Guildford on the 20th and again in Reigate during February. I’ll be posting more details nearer the time, and giving you lots of information about copywriting, blogging and more, so if you need some help with your writing, watch this space.

What else?

The re-launch of the Horsham FW will be on the 23rd January at the Boar’s Head and I’ll be sending out invites for that and confirming the first speaker really soon. I’ve also finally launched my resources page although I’ve still got a few teething problems with the feed and comment sections – bear with, as they say. This week’s Lucy’s glance at France blog is out which you might find helpful if you’re planning a holiday in France this year and my Sussex Pages blog this month is all about planning and writing your presentation speech – what else (although they’ve got problems with their website this week so bear with it again if you think that may be of interest). I’ve also been doing lots of “mayheming” as usual but just haven’t had a chance to put pen to paper – I promise to do so soon for all you mayhem mother fans. That’s another one I’ve got high hopes for in the new year.

Last week was all about copy-editing here at SC so I’m delighted to be back at the writing coal face this week. There is still time to get that pre-Christmas content written and your  website reviewed so just drop me a line if you need a hand with that – the festivities are a great reason to get in touch with former clients and luke warm prospects, so don’t miss a trick, get writing. And don’t forget to check out my new resources page before you start!