Monthly Archives: November 2016

content writer

How important is your content?

Very!

I did a talk at the Gatwick Diamond monthly event today and part of the presentation focused on how important your content is to your business success. The research I did threw up some interesting stats which I’m going to share but first, here’s a quick reminder of how it is important (rather than how important is it).

Sussex blog writer How does your content affect your business?

The answer to that is in 4 different ways (two of them overlap but are worth a separate mention):

1. First impressions

Just for a moment think about your behaviour and thought process when you visit a website. Do you visit their blog or news page? If so, I bet what you find there, creates an unconscious reaction.

So for example, if they’re blogging regularly, it creates a positive impression. They know what they’re doing, their customers matter and they’re on it, sort of thing! You feel as if you’re in safe and professional hands.

But if they’re blogging infrequently or not all, what goes through your mind then? I tend to assume that they’ve either gone out of business or they just don’t care. And that’s not a great start!

You have only a few seconds to make that lasting first impression and just the fact that you aren’t blogging, may spoil that for you. Just a thought!

2. Professional development

Yes really. If you’re writing or creating great content on a regular basis, then the chances are, you’re spending time researching and reading around your subject. That can only be a good thing.

3. SEO – the big one!

If you’re writing blogs and other content frequently, using keywords intelligently (and naturally) and spending time on your Meta tags, then you and your content are going to get found more easily by search engines.

Think about your own behaviour again. if you want to prune your wisteria, you probably google, “How to prune a wisteria” and more often than not you end up on someone’s blog. Simples. I’ll share some stats about this in a minute but better search engine results is surely reason enough on its own to be blogging?

4. Sales and marketing

Great content is good for sales and marketing at every level. It’s about keeping in touch with your existing leads and clients, it’s about reaching out to new leads, it’s about raising brand awareness, building relationships and trust and becoming the “go to” business in your field. And that all makes your marketing and sales a whole lot smoother.

5. Still not convinced?

I promised you some stats and here they are:

  • “Adding between 21 and 51 blog posts to your site boosts traffic by up to 30% and when you’ve added at least 52 blog posts, your traffic increases by 77%!” (Traffic Generation Cafe)
  • Small businesses that blog get 126% more lead growth than small businesses that do not blog.” (Think Creative)
  • “The average cost to generate a lead through inbound marketing techniques such as blogging is about half the average for traditional outbound marketing, such as cold calling.” (Hightable)
  • 61% of consumers say they are more likely to buy from a company that delivers custom content they can trust.” (Custom Content Council)

Food for thought huh? These days content, be it your blog, your download, your podcast or your video, really makes a difference. Provided it’s done well.

I know it can feel like a time suck at times but just look at that stat provided by Hightable about costs. And think of the time spent at a networking event to generate maybe one or two leads.

Next time it feels like a bit of a grind, just check back in with the stats and keep writing.

Lucy 

 

content planniing

6 simple writing rules

George Orwell’s 6 writing rules writing rules

I can’t and don’t take any credit for this post. But following on from my recent copywriting update   (and you can sign up just to the right if you haven’t already), last week I promised you George Orwell’s 6 rules of writing. So here goes, with some humble annotations by me.

Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

There’s a low threshold here and I would also include any phrases or clichés that commonly appear in marketing material: phrases like “bring to life”, “tailored to” etc. We all do it, just try not to. 

Never use a long word where a short one will do.

So say goodbye to words like comprehensive and innovative.

If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

Be ruthless here. And avoid using words that mean the same thing, like “our full and comprehensive service”.

Never use the passive where you can use the active.

Our products change lives, rather than, your life will be changed by our products. 

Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

If we’re not careful jargon and industry speak are set to take over the world. Audit your vocabulary and weed out any naughties. 

Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous!

writing advice Orwell also advised us as follows:

A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:

  1. What am I trying to say?
  2. What words will express it?
  3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?
  4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?

And he will probably ask himself two more:

  1. Could I put it more shortly?
  2. Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?

From Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language.”

Slip a copy of these under your pillow. Clear, concise and simple copy is a great achievement. These should help.

Lucy 

how to write your 1 minute pitch

Write to inspire – your 5 ½ step guide

It is possible to learn how to write to inspire write to inspire

Some of you’ve heard me talking about this recently at a couple of events, so I thought it would be helpful to share this quick guide. As always, none of this is rocket science but it does take a bit of practice. So if you want to write in a way that inspires your readers, here are 5 1/2  things to work on:

1. Write about what you’re passionate about. And let your passion shine through

For most of us that should be easy. We’re small business owners, living the dream and doing what we love. So why doesn’t it happen?

Well firstly, many of us feel constrained and inhibited by what we learnt at school. We were taught it has to be formal. Remember those rules; never start a sentence with a conjunction (and, but, so), sign off using ‘yours sincerely’ and don’t use contractions ( cannot not can’t). And (did you see what I did there) if you’ve spent time in a corporate position or profession, the importance of formal writing was probably drummed in to you even more.

The result is that there’s a great big swathe of us who have formal writing as our default setting. It feels professional and right and you feel like you have to be professional when you write for your business. I get it. I’m half lawyer remember and formal is my middle name.

It’s also sometimes a bit of a confidence thing. The formality of our professional self is a mask and to drop it and be the new, reinvented, passionate you, can be nerve wracking.  I get that too. There’s no easy fix, you just have to take a leap of faith and give it a go.

Good news alert how to write copy

You’re allowed to be informal!! In fact, it’s really important that you are (unless your target audience is terribly formal) . You want your writing to feel conversational and warm, and when we talk, we break all sorts of grammar rules.

Know your rules of grammar and then feel free to play around with them. I love using “and” at the beginning of a sentence, and it often gives back some of the rhythm you lose when you use short sentences. And as I’m always saying, use the word “you” instead of phrases like “our clients” and it automatically helps.

If you struggle with being informal and finding your passion, try recording yourself as you explain to friend what you do over a bottle of wine, to capture some of your enthusiasm. Listen to yourself when you’re talking with excitement or just try a 5 minute rant into a Dictaphone about how brilliant what you do is. When you write your first draft, write it as you spoke and then just tidy it up when you edit.

Still struggling to find your passion?

I always think it’s hard to get excited when you write about what are often dry and sometimes technical features of a product or service. But if you make sure you think about benefits, then things start to warm up a little. How will your service change or improve my life? Tap into that and you may just find your passion. I can get really excited about saving someone time and making things a bit easier for them because I also know little things like that can make a big difference.

But don’t get carried away

There’s a big difference between writing with passion and loading your writing with words like fantastic and amazing.  Try to be genuine and accurate. Rather than say something is huge, say it’s 50 foot high. Ask yourself if it really is the most amazing and innovative product on the market or is there a more precise way to describe it? I’ll write more about this next week but remember, adjectives and adverbs are not your best friend, so don’t let them slip into your writing uninvited.

 2. Write with personality

I’ve blogged about this before. Now I want you to invest some time in thinking about your writing style and personality. Think beyond the obvious. Nearly every one I’ve ever asked has told me they’re fun but professional. Go deeper.

Have you got a dark sense of humour? Are you odd? What makes you mad or worried? What personality traits do you have? Are you modest, flamboyant, selfish, giving, volatile? Are you a little risqué? Strip yourself bare and see what you find.

It takes a little  time to get this right. But once you’ve nailed it, embrace it. When you write in your true voice (sorry, I’m going a little woo woo here) …you’ll get that core following.

3. Know your reader

know you reader Hand in hand with knowing yourself, goes knowing your reader and I’ve blogged about that recently too.

Why is it so important? Because when you really know your reader your writing possibilities are thrown wide open. If your target love making cakes at the weekend you can use cake and ingredient analogies and images. If they use certain risqué language, you can be a little risqué too.

It’s all about speaking the same language and finding the things that inspire and motivate your readers. Crack that and you’re cooking on gas!

4. Tell stories including your own failures

There’s more and more evidence about the psychological importance of story telling. Stories are compelling – we instinctively want to know what happens next. But they’re also extremely memorable. And the best stories of all? Triumph over adversity of course and that puts you in a great position.

In your journey, you’ve undoubtedly made some mistakes, got it wrong or had to regroup and start again. If you haven’t, then you probably have clients that have. These form the basis of some inspirational and memorable stories that also provide valuable insights into what not to do for your clients!

Use them and celebrate them because you’ve probably got more material there than you realise. I’ve made lots of mistakes and when I share them, I save my readers the agony of making the same mistakes as well as remind myself never to do it again.

5. Give them an easy action point…just one thing to help them on writing tipstheir way

With all the excitement and passion, it’s easy to throw lots of info and advice at your reader, especially if you’re following my mantra of “give them something useful, that they need or want to know”.

But wait a second.  As you painstakingly craft that 75 point blog post, crammed with useful tips, be careful not to leave your reader feeling overwhelmed. I do it all the time because I get so excited about sharing.

If that sounds like you, make sure you take a moment at the end of your post and give your reader just one easy and do-able action to help get them started.

5 1/2. So what’s the 1/2 point?

Well it’s less of a point and more of an important reminder. And it’s simply this…follow up! If you’ve given your reader one easy action to do at the end of your last post, in your next one, ask how they’re getting on. Did they have any problems? What were they? Can you help? It keeps the conversation going and helps them to achieve what you’re trying to help them with. All in all, a bit of a win, win.

So what’s my action point for you, I hope I hear you say?  Easy. I want you to go through the last thing you wrote and take out any unnecessary words. Remove any “innovatives, comprehensives and fantastics”. Just strip them out and notice how it changes your writing.

In keeping with this month’s copy update, next week I’ll share George Orwell’s 6 rules of writing. But in the meantime, remove any unnecessary or long words and keep it simple and clear. Then and only then, you can work through the above steps. Good luck.

Until next week, keep warm and drink plenty of wine.

Lucy 

PS. Sorry that was a long post, thanks for sticking with it!

sussex copywriter

10 easy ways to improve your content and writing

10 simple writing tips 

It’s all a bit mad from now on in isn’t it? From now until Christmas I mean. So I thought I’d keep

 copywriting tipsthis week’s blog super simple.  It’s just a quick list of things to do or think about which if you haven’t done before, will improve your writing. I ran this as a presentation at the Newhaven Basepoint back in September and they liked it, so here goes:

1. Make sure what you write is useful, interesting or informative, so that your readers are glad that they chose your blog or newsletter to read and not the 100 others in their news feed.

2. Research your ideal reader in detail and write specifically and uniquely to them!

3. Write personally and informally. Make it conversational.

4. Use “you”. Check your ratio – as a rough guide try to use “you” 3 x more than “I” or “we”.

5. Think about benefits but don’t forget your features.

6. Don’t be afraid of long copy. Do be afraid of long, sloppy copy that’s full of waffle.

7. Think carefully about your headline and CTA. Allow enough time to work on these. Include keys words and emotion to make them more effective.

8. Use stories to inspire! Think of your own experiences or those of your clients. Stories can be both memorable and compelling.

9. Listen for the rhythm. Good writing should have a natural ebb and flow and be easy to read. If your reader has to keep frowning to work out what it means, you need to re-write.

10. Be consistent and monitor your results. Choose how frequently you are going to write and in what format and keep at it!

That’s it! Drop me a line if you’d like any help with any of those or want me to have a look at what you’ve been writing. Feel free to share how you get on…the highs and the lows. And enjoy!

Lucy