Tuesday, September 27, 2022

How to Spark Your Content Writing Engine

If you're tasked with writing content for your business's website, blog, newsletter or press releases, you're writing content for professional use. And if you're tasked with doing enough of it enough of the time, you'll start to feel the pressure sooner or later, no matter how years of experience you have at it. What do you do when the blank screen suggests absolutely nothing to you? How do you get literary blood out that overworked cerebral turnip? It's a question we all have to contend with. Here are a few suggestions that I've found helpful.

Stop Thinking

Zoning out is more productive than you might realize. It might take the form of mild daydreaming about your writing project -- a process Kurt Vonnegut liked to call "woolgathering" -- or it might be closer to a Zen-like state in which you simply think of nothing at all. These practices are highly beneficial to a locked-up, stressed-out creative mind. It not only gives the gray matter a rest, but it also silences the merciless self-critic behind so many cases of writer's block. There's a reason Ray Bradbury kept a sign above his typewriter that read, "DON'T THINK."

Go for a Walk

Many of the great creative minds in history could just as well be dubbed "creative feet," favoring lengthy walks as they pondered the morning's work or the evening writing session to come. It makes a kind of sense if you think about it. The light exercise stimulates cardiovascular performance, pushing oxygenated blood through your brain and improving your mental efficiency. Walking can also be highly inspiring or about as interesting as watching paint dry -- and believe it or not, either of these reactions can give your creativity a boost. You might become charged with ideas from observing the local flora and fauna, or you might find your surroundings so deadly dull that you have nothing to think about except your writing. Walking can also relieve muscular tension, another potential distraction.


"Sleeping on it" is more than just an expression; it's aalso a legitimate way to solve nagging questions and issues when you're working on a writing project (or any other project that requires creative problem solving). Many times my head has hit the pillow in a state of utter confusion, only to wake up with a sense of absolute clarity, the answer to my problem suddenly resembling child's play. Whether your subconscious mind pulled an all-nighter while you slept or your conscious mind just wasn't seeing the obvious due to nighttime fatigue, plenty of sleep can solve plenty of writing worries.

Write Anyway

If that writing project is due tomorrow and your brilliance engine just won't engage for love or money, sometimes all you can do is grit your teeth and write the thing. If you have the technique, you'll still manage to turn out respectable, professional-level work. If you're still learning your craft, the result might be rough around the edges -- but hey, that's what revisions are for. Feel your client out on this issue; some want the deadline treated as holy writ, while others will want you to take that extra day if it'll make a significant difference in the first draft. But writing reasonably well even when you're not "feeling it" is the hallmark of a pro.

One last note: Sometimes the best thing that ever happened to a creative project is the addition of a second point of view. If you feel like it's time to get another writer on board, you know who to call! I'll be sure to come running -- unless I'm busy daydreaming, walking, sleeping or writing, of course.

Monday, September 12, 2022

How to Get the Most Value From Your Digital Marketing Content

No one will deny that marketing is hard work. Digital marketing can prove especially tricky due to the extra technological elements and other moving parts involved. Of course, when it pays off in the form of heightened brand awareness and increased sales, you're not likely to complain about all that time and effort. But if you're spinning your wheels and getting nowhere despite countless hours of grinding out marketing content, you might feel like you have every right to just throw in the towel and proclaim that digital marketing doesn't work. In reality, you may just need to work smarter instead of harder when it comes to your marketing content creation and implementation. Here are some useful tips to help you get maximum value from your digital marketing content efforts.

Follow the Numbers

One tremendously useful aspect of modern digital marketing involves all the metrics it can generate -- metrics that you can study and use to your advantage. A glance at Google Analytics can show you which of your web pages generates the most traffic, for instance, and which pages might not be attracting the crowd you'd anticipated. Since the four web pages that typically enjoy the most traffic include the Home, About, Contact, and Blog pages, you might want to pay special attention to refining the content there. Other important data to follow include your website's bounce rate (the rate at which visitors immediately "bounce" away from your pages instead of sticking around), retention of returning visitors, post engagement in the form of comments from blog readers, and the number of backlinks from other websites.

A/B Test Your Content

Maybe you've spotted some apparent weaknesses in certain parts of your digital marketing campaign, or maybe you're creating an all-new campaign. How do you know what works and what doesn't? One smart way to find out involves a technique called split or A/B testing. You can apply A/B testing to any element of your online presence, from the user interface and page layouts to the written content that drives those pages. In the most basic form of this strategy, you prepare two variations of a given web page or marketing email, showing one variation to half your target audience and the other variation to the other half. You then examine the response rates and other metrics to see which variation delivers the most promising results. Your web developer will probably know how to set A/B testing up for your site, or you can avail yourself of one of the many A/B software tools on the market.

Blog More Frequently

Sometimes the only way to make a proven content marketing strategy work is to do more of it. Blogging serves as a case in point. How frequently you ought to blog depends on what type of business you run and what goals you mean to achieve. HubSpot notes that a small business mainly trying to raise its brand awareness might get results from just one blog post per week, while a company trying to boost incoming web traffic might need to produce several times that blog volume. Creating piles of blog articles can feel like a colossal task, especially if you're doing all the marketing creation yourself or you have a small, overburdened marketing team. Fortunately, you already know an experienced freelance copywriter who can supply you with an endless stream of professional-quality content at affordable rates. So contact me today, and let's talk about how we can turn your digital marketing efforts into digital marketing successes!

Monday, August 29, 2022

Writing Your Own Marketing Content? Avoid These Common Pitfalls

I know many entrepreneurs and other businesspeople who, for whatever reason, have taken it on themselves to write their own marketing content. Some of these individuals have brilliant communication skills, can give an eloquent speech on a moment’s notice, and genuinely enjoy writing. But if you feel the need to compose that web page, blog article, or video script on your own, watch out for common little lapses in judgment that can render your writing less effective than it should be. 

As my writing teacher used to say, “There’s no such thing as good or bad writing, only stronger or weaker choices.” So let’s look at some of those weaker choices with an eye toward avoiding them.

"In order to" -- Only one of the words in this phrase matters. Can you find it? I knew you could. After all, if you're going to say “to,” what’s the point of also saying “in order” except to pad out the text meaninglessly?

"You should," "Be sure to," "Make sure you," “You may want to consider” etc. -- This is the imperative that isn't. I see these phrases pop up a lot, and I suspect Grammarly has something to do with it. Grammarly apparently hates it when the writer actually orders the reader to do something and will suggest these weak-kneed phrases to soften the statement. Well, some of us are trying to market here, yeah? If you want to tell the reader to do something, just tell them to do it. They won’t burst into tears.

"Very" -- This word is like a volume knob with no indicator markings. How much is "very?" Let's say you want to communicate that a film conveys a powerful message. Does "very powerful" really make the point more clearly than "powerful?"

"Great," "Terrific," "Fabulous," etc. -- More garbage words in the grand tradition of "Very." Let's go back to our film review example: "This movie is great!" What the heck does that mean? Why is it great? How is it great? Is it deeply mournful, crackling with dramatic tension, sweet-natured and amiable, refreshingly silly? "Great" means whatever the reader wants it to mean, thus introducing unwelcome ambiguity into your marketing message. State what you mean in no uncertain terms.

As the old song tells us, little things mean a lot. A few smart tweaks and second thoughts can make the difference between strong marketing content and not-so-strong marketing content. If you eventually decide that you’d  rather let a professional copywriter or editor worry about all these details, contact me. In the meantime, let’s be careful out there!

Monday, August 15, 2022

How to Write the Perfect "About Us" Page

When you're shopping for products and services, you probably want to know at least a little about the provider of those products and services, right? Even if whatever you need is a basic commodity that you can get anywhere, you'd rather obtain it from a reputable enterprise, one that hopefully offers better support and higher customer satisfaction than the competition. In a world where we can buy anything from anybody at the click of a link or button, it's often the unique virtues of the seller that sway our final choice.

Well, the same holds true for anyone looking to buy services or products that you happen to sell. When these folks visit your website, you'd better have an "About Us" page that makes a strong positive impression and addresses any potential concerns about your priorities, skills, or experience in the field. So let's look at some key steps in creating that "About Us" page content.

Give Your Company Its Own Bio

"About Us" doesn't just refer to you and other leaders at your company; it also refers to the company itself. I've mentioned previously that a brand can be considered a business's persona, the public face it shows to the world. It stands to reason, then, that your company deserves its own bio blurb. Consider introducing your "About Us" page with an introductory paragraph or two that lays out your organization's status and reputation in the industry, what it sells or does, and why site visitors should care.

State Your Mission, Vision, and Values

This section of the "About Us" page can have its own separate section, or you can simply append it to the company bio section. Either way, it will make a major impact on many prospective buyers who care about the motivations behind the businesses they patronize. The mission statement simply clarifies why your company exists and explains why you do what you do. The vision statement expresses your dreams, hopes, and plans for your organization's future. The values statement lets the world know what you stand for, the rules you play by, the ethical standards you uphold, and your attitude toward your customers.

Spotlight the Team

Now it's time to throw the spotlight onto your key players, ideally starting with the founder or owner. If this individual's educational, work history, special skills, and industry experience have the potential to dazzle your visitors -- then dazzle away! You can repeat this process with a few of your C-level leaders, but you probably don't need to compose elaborate biographies for everyone. Other team members may not need more than a satisfying paragraph that shows them to best advantage. (Keeping these supporting bios short as a general rule will also help hide discrepancies in skills and experiences from one team member to the next.)

Don't Change the Subject

I've seen "About Us" pages that threatened to become "About Everything" pages. It's all too easy to veer off into descriptions of your products and services, sales pitches, and other stuff that more properly belongs elsewhere on the site. Try to keep on message throughout the "About Us" page -- and by the same token, try not to let bits and pieces of your "About Us" page content drift onto other pages.

Writing the ultimate "About Us" page becomes a lot easier once you know what points to make, how and where to make them, and how to maintain the content's focus. Want to know another helpful tip for writing this page? Here you go: Don't write it yourself at all. Instead, hire a professional copywriter to do it for you!

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

4 Great Things Your Blog Content Can Communicate

Why do people and companies blog? The answer to that question may depend on whom you ask. Some may blog mainly to increase their online authority with the major search engines, and that's a perfectly fine (and potentially very effective) strategy. Others may blog because they feel an intense personal need to express their opinions and insights. Still others may blog simply to keep up with their competitors' marketing efforts and stay top of mind with their target market. Blogging can help accomplish all of these goals, but it can also communicate certain key points about your brand identity, your business practices, and even your competence as a solution provider.  Take a look at four great things your blog content can communicate about you and your business.

Great Thing #1: You Understand and Empathize

You may have heard marketers employ the term "pain point." A pain point states a common problem, challenge, or frustration that your audience probably suffers from. Pain points serve as useful conversation starters, not just for blogs but other forms of marketing content as well, because they give readers something they can instantly relate to -- something that hits them where they live. These pain points often drive people to seek answers by performing online searches. If you've just written a blog post on that very pain point, your post may pop up near the top of those search results. If you address that pain point in a manner that shows your empathy for your reader's troubles, you position yourself as a friend who wants to help. Who wouldn't want to read on and find out what form that help may take?

Great Thing #2: You've Got the Answers

Once you show that you understand your audience's pain, you have a golden opportunity to present your products or services as the solution. Think about it: When you need to learn how to fix a problem, you want to uncover informative articles that actually offer answers, whether they include DIY solutions or point you toward the right professional solution provider. If you happen to be that professional solution provider, you just gained a customer. Meanwhile, as you continue to build a blog archive rich in solutions and recommendations, you demonstrate that you don't just have an answer; you have tons of answers. Readers may then come to rely on you as their go-to guru on your particular industry or profession.

Great Thing #3: You Follow the Latest Information

Some blog posts feature "evergreen" information that will prove helpful, correct, and meaningful for years to come, while others focus on more transient topics. Ideally, you want to bounce back and forth between both types of posts. In addition to those essential unchanging pillars of truth, you also want to show that you're up to speed on the latest trends, breaking news, and current events that affect your target audience, especially when it intersects with how you can help that target audience. Topical posts can make a big splash during that initial spike of interest in the subject at hand. Deliver your own take on the hot headline of the day, and you may just attract a whole new crowd!

Great Thing #4: You've Got Your Act Together

Blogging on a regular, consistent schedule communicates some important points about how you run your business. For one thing, it shows that you care enough about your readers to keep providing them with helpful, interesting content. It also says something about your team's organizational, management, and implementation skills. Last but certainly not least, it reminds and reassures your customers that you're still open for business, bubbling with fresh insights and ideas, and ready to deliver the goods. In other words, you're a business that your target audience would actually want to do business with.

Yes, blogging can do your image (and your bottom line) a lot of good, but only if you pursue it diligently and competently. So contact me today for the professional copywriting you need to take full advantage of this powerful business booster!

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Building Your Audience Through Content Marketing

Have you ever generated a big marketing push, spending hours on content creation that you hoped would move the sales needle, only to find that your hours of content creation went nowhere? Maybe you got an initial response, followed by the sound of crickets chirping. Does that mean the content itself failed? Well, maybe, but it more likely means that you didn't pursue a smart, effective content marketing strategy. Let's look at some basic aspects of content marketing so you can see where you might need to adjust your approach.

Hunting Versus Farming

We networkers use the phrase "hunting versus farming" to describe the careful process of establishing an identity and building trust with potential buyers, as opposed to just making a big splash and grabbing whatever instant business there is to be had. Think of the difference between holding multiple in-depth conversations with people and simply throwing business cards in every direction at a chamber event. Content marketing works the same way. By posting or distributing multiple pieces of relevant, meaningful content that reveals your mission, message, and ideals, you slowly but surely forge a bond between your brand and your target audience. This strategy could make all the difference between one big but short-lived "quick kill" and the creation of an ever-broadening base of repeat customers. 

Don't forget the power of referrals as they relate to content marketing. The more authenticity you establish, the more frequently your audience will share your content and recommend you to other interested parties.

Adding Value Through Relevance

What sets you apart from your competitors? Of course, you might just be better, faster, or cheaper than the other guys. But let's say you sell the same products and services, at the same price and quality level, et cetera. All other things being equal, what additional "special sauce" might you offer? Perhaps the answer lies in the quality and quantity of your content marketing.

Regular blog posts, videos, email articles, and other tidbits of genuinely useful information can provide legitimate added value. Think about all the times you needed quick, free advice or guidance on a particular subject. Chances are that you went online, did a search, found a brilliant video or article, and bookmarked the source of that information for future reference. Maybe you even came to rely on that provider as a trusted expert. That's the power of relevant content. The more helpful your content proves, the better the odds that your impressed, grateful audience will choose you as their go-to source for related products or services.

Reinforcing Your Image (With Variations)

I once fielded a query from a client who wanted to produce an email that would say everything there was to say about her company and produce a massive one-time response. I pointed out to her that (a) that level of information belonged in a landing page, not an email, and (b) content marketing works by feeding the audience small chunks of easily-digested content, one bite at a time.

Imagine how overwhelmed (or even annoyed) you'd feel if a company tried to ramrod everything you needed to know about them down your throat all in one go. Even if your potential customers welcomed that level of information overload, they'd probably retain only bits and pieces of it. So why not introduce those bits and pieces individually? With each new article or video, you can either expand on the piece that preceded it or introduce a new concept, building a complete picture of your brand over time without ever tiring, boring, or confusing your crowd.

Now that you know how to make content marketing work for you more effectively, all you need is the content itself. If you'd rather let an experienced freelance copywriter take that burden off your shoulders, contact me today!

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Content Writing for Email Drip Campaigns: 3 Key Points

If you're like the average businessperson, your contact lists, email boxes, CRM platform, and business card holders contain a wealth of prospects, some of whom might quite willingly be converted into customers if they encounter the right marketing content at the right time. Unfortunately, not everyone reads blog posts or peruses online videos as voraciously as you might hope, cutting off possible paths to pursuasion. But don't throw in the towel just yet, because those same folks probably check their email just as regularly as you check yours. That gives you a golden opportunity to grab their attention, build their trust, and influence their buying decisions through an email drip campaign. Let's take a look at three key points you should absorb if you want to put the power of email marketing to work for your organization.

1. A Drip Campaign Involves Multiple Touches

Yes, in an ideal world you could send out one earth-shattering email article or sales message that would sparkk an instant firestorm of purchases or requests for further information. But in case you haven't noticed by now, we don't inhabit an ideal world. A traditional sales rep might have to knock on the same door or call the same prospect on the phone time and time again before getting a response. A successful email marketing campaign relies on multiple touches, with emails sent out on a regular, recurring basis until your respondents either capitulate or filter you into that electronic Twilight Zone cornfield, the spam box.

Of course, it doesn't make much sense to send the exact same email article or message to the same people over and over. In a drip campaign, you send out a series of email messages, with each email message building on the impact of the previous one by explaining some additional aspect of your products or services. Eventually the cumulative impact of these multiple touches finally sways the recipients to respond.

2. Cold Emails and Warm Emails Call for Different Approaches

If you want to mount a successful drip campaign, you need at least two sets of email messages -- one for cold prospects, and the other for warm prospects. Cold email messages don't presume any actual interest on the recipient's part, at least not at first. You might start with a friendly greeting that introduces your company and includes a casual call to action such as, "I'd like to tell you more about how we can help you. Please contact me and let me know when we can set up a chat." Subsequent emails address various problems you solve or features you offer, always closing with a request to communicate.

Once a prospect actually responds, that prospect "graduates" from your cold email list and starts receiving your warm emails. These messages can go into much greater informational depth and detail because you already know the prospect is at least slightly interested. Your calls to action can get a little more aggressive at this stage as well.

3. Email Content Should Intrigue, Inform, and Compel

What kind of content should you pack into your drip campaign emails? Well, as noted above, the warm prospects get more content per email than the cold ones. Generally, however, even the cold emails should point out this or that specific problem that your business helps its customers overcome. The warm emails can include the same kind of content you'd normally create for blog posts. At this point, you're composing mini-articles that can include case studies, industry statistics, and other information likely to hold your recipients' interest. By the time you've cycled through your entire set of warm email messages, you should start getting results as long as you've aimed the right content at the right people.

If creating all that email content sounds like a lot of work, well, it is. The good news is that you don't actually have to do it yourself or tie up your marketing team with it -- not when you can hire a skilled, experienced freelance copywriter. Contact me today, and let's capture your target market's attention!