in other words

Ten Reasons to Hire a Copywriter

Coralie Fernando - Saturday, January 13, 2018
Finding the best copywriter for your precise copywriting needs can be tough, particularly if you haven’t worked with one before. How do you know that they’re going to do the best possible job? That they’ll ‘get’ you and won’t waste your time and money?

Before you hire a copywriter for your next job, bear the following in mind when asking about their approach.

1. They study their subject before making a start

Of course, there are many copywriters who specialise in certain subjects and may not necessarily need to do this. The majority of generalists, however, will take the time to research the subject about which they are writing before making a start.

2. But they know when to stop

A strong copywriter knows that they don’t need to be an expert in the field; they only need to know enough. This will include the important messages that need to be conveyed, what that means for the end consumer, and the benefits - if applicable. Once they’ve got what they need, they will stop, so you’re not wasting money on unnecessary time spent.

3. They study their audience

At the briefing stage, your copywriter should ask probing and in-depth questions about who your target audience is. I sometimes ask clients to literally describe the ideal person they are looking to engage with. This might include where their ideal customer lives, what they like to wear, what they watch on TV, their job, how much money they earn, and so on. All this helps me to understand the target audience’s motivations, which is essential to being able to craft key messages.

4. They get under the skin of the audience

Once a copywriter has understood the target demographic, they will then employ basic psychological techniques to better grasp what that audience will respond well to. Given most buying decisions are based on emotion, a strong copywriter will employ language that triggers reactions. Regardless of whether those are negative or positive, they will be pushing them to engage with your product or service.

5. They spend time on the headline

90% of content that I write nowadays is published online, rather than in print. We all consume so much online content now, more so than ever before. It’s unusual for us to really take the time to read our emails or online articles. More often than not, it’s a quick skim read. To stand out then, you’ll need a great headline to grab their attention.

6. They repeat themselves

Because these skim readers will be unlikely to pick up your key message the first time, second time or even the third time around. While it might seem incredibly dull to you, if you want to drum home the message, repetition is necessary.

7. They define the USP

Once a copywriter has completed their research into the subject and target audience, and met with you for their briefing, they’ll consider the unique selling propositions that are most likely to engage. Once the USP is agreed, all the copy will be centred around it - reinforcing the message again and again.

8. They tell the audience what to do

Nine times out of ten, a good copywriter will tell your readers what you want them to do by ending with a call to action at the bottom of your web page, advert, social media post or blog.

9. They’re thick-skinned

An effective copywriter should be stand by their principles, however they will also realise that they might not always be right.

10. They continue to improve themselves

Good copywriters will stay on top of market trends, keep themselves in the loop with emerging technologies, and enjoy partnering with other creative experts. This is all to ensure that their content achieves the cut-through and engagement.

Looking for a freelance copywriter in London or further afield? Get in touch with me today.

Blog Series: Create a Winning Blog | Part Three: Writing Shareable Blog Content

Coralie Fernando - Monday, January 26, 2015

Welcome to Part Three of the Three Part Series: How to create a winning blog! Have you read Part One and Two yet? Make sure you do before reading on! In the third part of the series, I’m focusing on execution: That means creating engaging blog posts that will have your readers sharing and promoting your wise words! There’s quite a bit to get through, so I’ve narrowed it down to ten easy steps:

1. Write an eye-catching title

Chances are, people will stumble across your blog via social media, your website, or a through a search engine result. This means that the first impression is the headline and a short description. Make it count! If this is the difference between them clicking through or moving on, it needs to be eye catching.

2. Don’t be afraid to get personal

Blogging is a great way to speak to your audience in a more informal voice than you might otherwise employ across other media. It’s expected, and will instantly build a stronger rapport. Share personal experiences that might be relevant to the subject matter you’re writing about. It will endear your readers to you and bridge the gap of ambiguous formality. Keep the tone light, so it’s easy to read. When I blog, I imagine I’m speaking to a friend over a coffee.

3. Quality, not quantity

This is absolutely key! Keep your points concise and avoid wandering tangents – this isn’t the place for a dissertation! Ideally your readers should be able to read one post within about 10 minutes, and certainly no longer than 20. Long posts, no matter how significant the information, will not be read. Use examples to illustrate your points, and embrace visual imagery to keep the content interesting.

4. A picture says a thousand words

And data indicates a video will be shared three times as much as a copy-only blog post. Keep in mind consistency of image and video styling, and try not to have the placeholder take up too much space. Infographics are also a great way to tell a story. If your visuals aren’t original, be sure to reference the owner.

5. Consistent style and design

Branding is, of course, of paramount importance. Make sure your blog is consistent in tone of voice, design and style. If you have different bloggers writing for you, keep tabs on them to ensure they’re on track. This also means consistent treatment of heading, hyperlink, body copy and number styles.

6. Review, revise, rewrite. Repeat.

I’ve always been envious of writers who can crack out a jaw dropping article in one sitting, but just because I couldn’t, it didn’t sway me from becoming a writer. Everyone will have their own way of doing things: I prefer to write the post in one go, and not worry too much about the details initially. I need to do this just get the ideas out on the page. I’ll then take a walk and think about something else before revisiting, reviewing and tweaking. If possible, I’ll give it to someone else for editing. Fresh eyes are incredibly important!

7. Call to Action

While a blog is an informative piece designed to educate or entertain, it also provides a fantastic opportunity to call your readers to action. If you have a service or solution to the issue that you’re writing about, ensure you have a link to that area of your site. Never assume the reader will find their way there! Short CTAs are great ways to direct readers to other places on your site that they may find interesting.

8. Optimise

You optimise by using key words in your title, headings and sub headings, meta tags, meta description, anchor text, first sentence and concluding paragraph. This means your blog posts will actually be found by people searching for information relevant to your post. While your engaging headline should contain a few keywords, if it sounds forced, leave it. It’s better to have an engaging title rather than one created by a robot.

Meta tags are the keywords assigned to your post based on their content. These tags inform the search engines what your blog post might be about, and will help to determine the relevancy of the post when someone completes a search query. Meta descriptions are the short blurbs that appear under the titles in search engine results. They’re often the second thing people read after the title, so it’s crucial to captivate them in under 160 characters or less. Key words will ensure the relevancy of the post to search engines.

Images and videos too, can be optimised by the alt tag and file name. Since search engines can’t read images, these tags help alert them to the relevancy of your visual content as well.

9. Share the love

Every article you write should be promoted through as many channels as possible. Extract an interesting snippet or sentence from the post and use it as a hook to encourage your readers to click through. Ensure each blog post has clear social media sharing tools so that your readers can also independently share the posts online. With time, your analytics will demonstrate which social media channel is working hardest for you, and which posts are most popular. This data will be extremely powerful in helping you to determine what works and what doesn’t, and you should revise your blog plan accordingly.

10. Engage and respond

As with social media, if you allow comments after your posts, make sure you respond! Sometimes you might get negative comments. Don’t ignore them. Address any concerns, answer all the questions and be as transparent as possible. Apologise if necessary and follow up within a few weeks to see that all their questions were answered.

So, that concludes my Three Part Series on How to create a Winning Blog! Did you enjoy it? Please don’t hesitate to tell me if so, or if there is anything else you’d like to know about. If you’re thinking of starting a blog but don’t have the resources or time to write one, get in touch today to see if I can help.

Image courtesy of cavan images

Blog Series: Create a Winning Blog | Part Two: How to Get Started

Carte Blanche - Monday, January 12, 2015

Welcome to Part Two of How to Create a Winning Blog! In case you missed it, please ensure you catch Part One before reading on...

So you’ve made the decision to create your blog, now it’s about putting a comprehensive plan in place to guarantee its success. How frequently can you afford to post? What will you write about? How will you find out what your audience wants to know? Like any key business strategy item, if your blog is to be successful, it takes some careful planning before diving in all guns a-blazin’!

What do you want to achieve?

Set out some achievable goals. As time progresses and from one year to the next, you’ll find that these evolve, but initially it’s always a good idea to think about what you hope to gain within a 12 and 24 month period. Then, review these goals every 6 months or so to see that you’re on track. If unforeseen circumstances dictate that your business starts to head in a different direction, simply revise them.

Some initial questions to help determine your blogging goals might include:

- What’s the company’s mission? What are the vision and ideals founded upon?

- What do you want to tell people about your business?

- Put yourself in your clients’ shoes. Which questions are asked most often? What would they like to hear more about?

- How would you normally convert a warm lead to a sale, and how could you apply this to your blog?

- Identify the gaps that exist in the market at the moment. How will you capitalize on them?

While this list isn’t exhaustive, hopefully it will get you started with developing some rudimentary thoughts on paper and, from there, a rough draft of topics to write about. Make sure this process happens with all the relevant business employees / writers. It’s really important you’re a) on the same page, and b) writing in the correct (and consistent) tone of voice suited to your business.

Do your research

Take a look at your physical competitors’ blogs i.e. the ones you hear about from customers, clients or general reputation. What are they blogging about? How are their posts being received? What’s generating the most buzz? Now look at your online competitors. These are the guys who have invested in their online marketing. You’ll know who they are just by tapping in a few key words into the search bar and seeing who pops up on the first page of results.

Notice how the search words relate directly to the blog post topics?

Now, go back to your rough plan and revise the blog topics again.

Stick to a schedule (no excuses!)

Developing a schedule or a calendar of blog posts is absolutely crucial if you want your blog to succeed. How often you blog is dependent on your resources. Larger companies with content teams might blog several times a day, but for a smaller business it’s totally acceptable to post once a week, or at a minimum every fortnight.

Google favours blogs that are posted regularly, on the same day – and if possible – at around the same time. The added bonus to this is that, as you start to develop a following, your readers will know to look out for your blog post at the same time each week. Build the anticipation in the lead up to the publication via social media. At the end of each post, give them a taster of what to expect in next week’s blog.

Once the schedule’s locked in, ensure all relevant parties have access to it and are clear on their respective roles. Excel works best for me, but if you’re more of a visual person, a hanging calendar works just as well!

Weave your wondrous web

With each blog post you publish, try and link a piece of it to another post or webpage within your site. Think of your blog posts as a huge intertwining web rather than a linear collection of articles. For SEO purposes, Google favours posts which link to other blog posts or web pages on your site. And for the average user, they’ll be more inclined to explore your site, in turn discovering more valuable information about you!

For example, let’s say you’re publishing an article on 10 Top Trends you expect to see within your sector next year. As you’re writing the blog post, you realise you’ve previously written articles about some of the specific trends you’re predicting. Make sure you hyperlink back to these posts. As you start to weave your web, you’ll dovetail and revive material whilst simultaneously encourage browsers to spend more time on your site.

Think about how you’ll promote it

So the content for your blog is planned, and the schedule in place. Now, as part of your extended content marketing plan, you’ll need to promote the blog to ensure people know it’s there and have an easy link with which to reach it. This may well include an email that’s sent out to your database, but it should also take into account social media.

There exists a plethora of differing opinions when it comes to social media and its effectiveness on professional businesses. If I’m honest, I was very hesitant when it came to creating my Facebook page. It’s called ‘social media’ for a reason, after all, and I didn’t expect to generate any direct returns from it. But… social media provides a forum with which to promote your blog (and other fun things), and makes it super easy for people to click straight to it. Google is also a fan, and the more it sees people clicking through to your site from external pages, the higher you’ll rise in its organic rankings.

As part of your social media plan then, ensure you allow for promoting blog posts through your appropriate social media channels. Sharing is caring!

Next stop: My top tips on writing blog content in the final part of of the series “How to create a winning blog”!

Can I help you with your blog? Get in touch. I’m very friendly.

image courtesy of erinzam

Five Reasons to Hire a Freelance Copywriter

Carte Blanche - Friday, December 12, 2014

To set the record straight, copywriters don’t automatically assume they’re the only ones capable of stringing a sentence together. And clearly, when it comes to knowing your business, no one knows it better than you. So why, having already invested sums of cash on graphic designers, web developers and sales specialists, would you pay for a freelance copywriter to boot? It’s not as though you need any fancy software after all.

Open a Word Doc, bust out the synonym tool and a few thought provoking adjectives: Voila!

It’s a valid question, and one asked more often than I’d have anticipated. But – the more projects I take on, the more I realise just how much potential value a freelance copywriter can add. So, without further ado, here are my top five reasons to outsource to a freelance copywriter!

1. To make sense of the jargon

As simple as it is, one of the main bonuses to engaging a copywriter is the benefit of an outsider’s perspective. When you’re so involved in your business, the lingo and service/product offerings become part of your everyday speak. And when that happens, it’s easy to lose sight of what your audience actually understands and what will have them losing interest in befuddlement. When you start to lose this perspective, assumptions are unconsciously made that risk alienating your audience. My role here lies in giving structure to your content and distilling the important information into bite size portions your audience understands. If they don’t get what you’re saying or why you’re saying it, they will almost certainly not do whatever it is that your call to action asks of them.

2. An objective point of view

Unless you’re a one-man band, chances are there will be differing opinions about what should be included within your marketing copywriting and why. Do your customers need to know you’re ten years old? Is it relevant? How significant is the size of the business? That it’s locally owned? The turnover? All too often, marketing copy drowns in varying versions of ‘See how awesome we are? You’d be mad not to buy from us!’ But, if your copy doesn’t speak from an authentic place that engages directly with your target audience, it won’t work. That’s where the objective perspective comes in handy. By outsourcing to a professional (that’s me), you’re removing any internal factions with differing opinions. Once the style, tone of voice and plan is in place, at the end of the day it’s just about good copy.

3. Meeting your deadline

When someone internally has copywriting on their to-do list, it’s often left to the last minute. Whether it’s a case study, a blog post, or a social media plan, it will almost certainly be booted out in favour of other urgent ‘real’ projects that clients are waiting on. When you hire a copywriter, you engage someone whose only job is writing. My profession is solely about writing quality content that meets your deadline. And when your deadlines are met, the plan runs to time, and your business goals are fulfilled.

4. Quality content

When a business has heavily invested in designers and web developers, I find it so disappointing when the copy has clearly been left to the eleventh hour. Remember, it’s the content that describes to your clients what you do, how well you do it, and why they need it! If you have something amazing to share with the world, it’s crucial to ensure your content faithfully portrays your product or service in a way that gets people excited and promotes confidence. Would you trust a new acquaintance if they bored you, used words you couldn’t understand or changed personalities each time you met them? Would you buy from them?

5. Content is the future

Almost every marketing and comms professional agrees: content marketing is progressively important in the role it plays within marketing strategies. Consumers are increasingly hungry for information, and are in a position to make informed decisions like never before. Relevant and up-to-date content makes a confident statement about your position as a subject matter expert, and it’s this confidence that will inspire trust. While a holistic content marketing strategy includes much more than copywriting, words form a major role in conveying your key messages, connecting with your audience and ensuring you stay firmly front of mind.

Anything I’ve missed or want to know more about? Email me on info@carteblanchecopy.com

Image courtesy of simpleinsomnia