in other words

Three simple tricks to spring clean your copywriting

Coralie Fernando - Monday, February 23, 2015

With just a few moments to make an impact and a lasting first impression, words can play as much of a role in your reader’s visual journey as graphical or photographical imagery. To pack a punch with your content, use words that get straight to the point. By being direct, you’ll not only promote confidence; you’ll build credibility with your audience. Support your key messages with visual cues and you’ll also tap more deeply into your readers’ psyche, engaging them in a more profound way.

You could be selling robots that tear through the ironing whilst simultaneously massage your temples and serve you espresso martinis, but if you draw out and complicate your language, chances are your audience won’t take the time to read about it, let alone buy it. With this in mind (and spring around the corner), I’ve put together a few pointers to spruce up your copywriting and help you pack a punch in the first round.

1. Edit. Edit. Edit.

While there are many writers proclaiming to nail it in the first draft, I know I’ve never been one of them, especially when it comes to long copy. Sometimes my best ideas come to me in the middle of the night, or I could be inspired by something completely random out on a walk. Rarely do the gems come to me in one sitting at my laptop.

Let your stream of consciousness flow in the first run just to get your ideas out on the page. From there, take some (mental) time out to let the mind wander a little. Then, come back to it with fresh eyes and edit, edit, edit.

2. Eliminate ‘There is/are’

This phrase contributes zero to your content if you’re looking to inspire! Obviously, feel free to use them in the first draft when you’re getting your ideas out on the page. When it comes to the second round of editing though, you really want to banish the ‘ises’ entirely. Usually this simply entails readjusting your sentence structure slightly. For example:

'There is a new potato chip on the market that’s fat free and tasty.' Consider instead:

'Don’t miss out on the latest fat-free and delicious chip, available now!'

Everything that was needed to keep the sentence strong already existed. Removing ‘there is’ simply strengthens the sentence and delivers more impact.

3. Get verb-acious

Creative and smart verb usage immediately adds oomph and pizzazz to your writing. We are so lucky to communicate in a language packed with them! So for your first edit, proof read and highlight all uses of the verb ‘to be’ and make a point of replacing them with something a little more descriptive. By employing more powerful verbs, you’ll instantly create a more visual image in the mind of the reader, thereby inspiring their imagination. With a plethora of verbs available to us, one of the biggest challenges can be knowing which ones to use and when. Your choice of verbs will absolutely frame the image you wish to portray. Consider, for example:

‘Coralie ate her burger’ versus the following:

- Coralie wolfed down her burger
  • - Coralie nibbled on her burger
  • - Coralie gnawed at her burger
  • - Coralie pecked at her burger

Painting a more colourful picture with your writing needn’t be too daunting a task. The right verb can totally transform your key message, and if you have mere moments to make an impact, it can be significantly more effective than a long drawn-out description.

These are pretty simple tricks, but hopefully you’ll find them useful. I do! Get in touch on info@carteblanchecopy.com if you have any questions or would like some proof reading help.

*image courtesy of full aperture

Blog Series: Create a Winning Blog | Part One: Why Blog

Carte Blanche - Monday, December 29, 2014

Blogging can be incredibly valuable to both individuals and businesses alike, for a host of compelling reasons. For the purposes of not boring you to tears in encyclopaedic fashion, I’m focusing on just one: How a blog will directly win you customers and grow your business. In my writing for clients’ blogs, as well as researching for my own, I realised that it took quite a bit of time to develop the necessary groundwork – so, I thought it might be a good idea to break down the jargon and share my thoughts and ideas. A blog really can have a direct and positive impact on the growth of your business!

In Part One, I explore the reasons WHY every business needs a blog, but make sure you stay tuned for Part Two: How to Plan and Research, and Part Three: How to Write Shareable Content.

Why blog?

Starting a blog can sometimes feel a little daunting. It’s a window into the personality of your business. What if people don’t like you or what you have to say? What if your competitors see your musings and hijack your ideas? And… how will you find anything to write about?

While all valid questions, blogging has become so instrumental to a successful digital strategy that only companies who would not want to grow their business, would deliberately choose not to have one. Just to clarify in case you missed that: If you don’t want your business to grow, you won’t need a blog! Blogging as a marketing activity, has grown instrumentally since it first came on the scene, and it’s still continuing to grow. Reasons businesses prioritise blogging include loyal readership, increased brand loyalty and improved lead conversions. 82% of marketers who blog daily, and 57% of marketers who blog monthly, acquired a customer using their blog (HubSpot State of Inbound, 2013).

Writing a blog breathes life into your business, and gives your customers another vantage point from which to understand you. By offering tips, sharing articles and proffering opinions on your area of expertise, it demonstrates a subtle confidence to be respected, as well as an insight into your personality that builds a closer bond with your audience.

Plus, while all this feel-good stuff is happening, blogging simultaneously becomes a fabulous lead generator.

Still not convinced? Check out the facts:

• 84% of inbound marketers - compared to only 9% of outbound marketers - cite organic sources (blogging, SEO, social media) as rising in importance. (HubSpot State of Inbound, 2014)

• 86% of consumers stated that using a search engine allowed them to learn something new or important that helped him/her increase his/her knowledge. (Pew Research Center, Search Engine Use 2012)

• 79% of companies that have a blog report a positive ROI for inbound marketing in 2013. (HubSpot State of Inbound, 2013)

How do blogs increase web traffic?

The reason for the increased web traffic and leads stems from improved search engine optimisation (SEO). Your blog posts increase the amount of indexed pages related to your business, which Google subsequently presents to prospective clients when they search for relevant topics. In other words, the more regularly and frequently you post on subjects relevant to your industry, the more Google will recognise you as a subject-matter expert, thereby improving your organic rankings during searches. When 60% of all organic clicks go to the organic top 3 search results (Business2Community), would you agree this was marketing activity worth investing in?

By optimising your titles, tags and descriptions with targeted key words, Google indexes the posts and drives traffic to your website. The best bit is that blogging is a gift that keeps on giving! Unlike an ad, your blog post stays live on your site until you physically remove it, so prospective clients can continue to find you months, and even years, after you post. The long term ROI far outweighs that of above the live advertising activity.

How do blogs generate leads?

SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate (Search Engine Journal). This is because a blog provides a safe place for prospective clients to read about your business and services / product. As a forum where they’re not being directly ‘sold’ to, and one where they’re learning something that is of interest, casual web browsers are more likely to engage with your call to action, in turn becoming a qualified lead. Data indicates the majority of us would prefer to learn about a company through an article, compared to an ad, which makes sense! A blog then, provides valuable real estate for a call to action, as you’re communicating directly with an already captive audience who trust the information you are setting out.

Interesting content will win over your clients

Why does anyone follow a brand, business or individual’s activity online? Because it inspires, educates or entertains. By tapping into your audience’s motivational triggers, you can create content that will keep them coming back to your website for more. (Make sure you read Part 3 of the series for tips on what content works!) Bear in mind that blogging is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to gain traction with Google’s indexing process, as it relies on regular posts by you on varied topics relevant to your sector. Your blogs will have a highest return when they are published consistently over an extended period of time.

Check out my web and blog copywriting services here, or if you’d like to have a conversation about how I can help you with your blog, please get in touch! And don’t forget to keep an eye out for Part Two – How to Plan and Research your Blog!

Could bad grammar be stopping you from meeting your next customer, or worse still… your soul mate?

Carte Blanche - Monday, December 01, 2014

A good friend of mine, single at the time, once told me he was really struggling to meet women.

"That's crazy", I said. "You're young.. attractive.. successful. They would be lining up to go out with you".

"No, no. That's not it", he said. "I don't have an issue meeting them. It's the aftermath of texting that puts me off".

Bemused, I asked him to elaborate.

"It really bothers me when they don't use the right grammar and spelling in a text".
"But, that's nuts", I laughed. "It's a text, not a love letter. It's supposed to be short and full of abbreviations! And anyway, what's grammar got to do with you going on a date with someone you like?!"

"Yes, but it's still a mark on their level of intellect as to whether they're using 'there', 'their' or 'they're'. I can't help it. It's a massive turn off."

I've never quite been able to get this conversation out of my head. I started to wonder about all the seemingly smart, beautiful women out there who would have no idea they were rejected on the basis of a clumsy 'I think your so hot'.

Which begs the question, what incredible opportunities have you unknowingly missed out on as a result of bad grammar? The dream job? The perfect client? Imagine the hordes of grammarphobes choosing someone else's product further to dismissing your semi-colon with an identity crisis.

Good grammar could quite literally be life-changing - for an individual OR a business.

I was a recruiter way back when, and I will shamefully admit that a single typo in a resume would be enough to have a finger twitching towards the 'reject' button. It works both ways, of course: It wasn't uncommon for clients' job descriptions to be littered with careless apostrophes and slapdash to and toos (nothing short of catastrophically unprofessional for the grammar grinch).

The point, at the end of the day is this: Good grammar equals credibility. In advertorials, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on your website - words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence. And, for better or worse, you will be judged if you can't tell the difference between your itses.

Is it harsh? Possibly. True? Absolutely. With an impending deadline, it can be tricky to find another pair of beady eyes to proofread when you Just. Need. To. Get. The. Thing. Out. But one thing's for sure: It will be impossible for you to claw your way back from the irrevocable damage to your professional integrity and brand, if you don't.

And who knows - That grammar grinch you were texting may just agree to a follow-up date as well.(Or at the very least, after reading this you've realised you should review the autocorrect function on your phone.)