10 Copywriting tips

Given to you by leading copywriter Bill Fryer:

1 Review your copy. Do it over and over. Six or seven times or more.

2 Do not use long Latin words like “information” – use short Anglo-Saxon words like “facts”. These words have more punch.

3 Avoid being clever and cryptic. Sometimes I see ads that take me weeks to work out what they mean. We are all too busy to be bothering with the clever stuff. If it can be understood by a half-wit with a two second attention span you probably have a winner.

4 Do not be handicapped by thinking that everything has to be “grammatically correct”. When you are copywriting all that stuff goes out the window. Say it in the simplest way possible.

5 Use short sentences. And only contain one idea in every paragraph. Do not spend ages constructing enormously complex sentences with millions of clauses and sub-clauses. Also, be specific, state real figures, avoid things like “up to 5%” or “over 1,000”. Avoid percentages and state real sums of money instead

6 State the facts and focus on the benefits the customer will get when he buys the product. Do not waffle. Every word needs to be earning its place in your copy. Do not be worried by length of copy. Testing shows that long copy sells more than short, and long headlines sell more than short. Your copy should be as long or as short as it needs to be to sell the product.

7 Speak the reader’s language. Do what a salesman would do. Think about how you would sell the product to someone. The best copy often has a kind of speech type “you-and-me-talking” quality about it.

8 Visualise a person and write to them. Better still write as if you are writing to someone you already know who fits the target audience: Your Mum, a friend, whoever.

9 Use simple words that everyone understands then everyone will understand. Good copy is often criticised for having a childlike quality. This is deliberate; if a simple person can understand it, everyone can understand it.

10 And finally: read books on the subject. Study the work of the great men of advertising. Write, write and re-write. The way to get effective advertising is to test everything. Do not use full stops in headlines. And remember: good copy is like a river; you should be able to jump in at any point and be carried along by the flow.

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Why you need the might of a copywriter.

image of red telephone

A couple of weeks ago, one of our guest writers wrote a post about a powerful copywriting technique that can be used to get great results even if you aren’t a professional copywriter.

In fact, we write a lot of posts on Copyblogger about how entrepreneurs can apply the techniques used by professional copywriters. Strong calls to action, compelling benefits, fascinating bullet pointsmagnetic headlines.

With all of this information, no one should ever need a pro, right?

Well … I wouldn’t say that.

Sometimes it can make sense to do it yourself, and sometimes it’s a very good idea to call in a professional writer. Today we’re going to talk about five scenarios when you’ll want to bring in a pro.

1. You just aren’t any good at it

Talent is about 90% a function of putting in the work, but it’s hard to put the work in for something you don’t feel any connection with. Plus, sometimes you have a pressing need where you don’t have time to get good enough to do it yourself.

Lots of people hate to write. If it’s just a phobia about hitting those keys, you can try speech recognition software, which can be a fantastic time-saver. But if the thought of writing is about as appealing as dental surgery, you’ll never put the work in to get good.

Do more of what you’re good at and less of what you hate. If writing isn’t for you, hire or partner with a really good writer to make sure that part of your business is getting the attention it needs.

It doesn’t matter how fantastic your product or service is if you can’t communicate that to customers. Every company needs to communicate a powerful message — and that means you need strong writing.

2. You don’t have the bandwidth

Even if you love writing, there’s a limit to how many words we can consistently get onto the page or screen every day. Marathon writing sessions can work for some people, but they can also lead to burnout and sabotage your productivity in the long term.

Copyblogger Media is a writing-based company. All of our founding partners have written their own content at various points in our business lives. And of course, Brian Clark built Copyblogger in the early days purely on the strength of his own writing.

But as our business has grown, we’ve needed to grow our writing staff with it. We pulled in additional writers to help us out with the sheer volume of content and copy we need to create.

Professional copywriters know “the more you tell, the more you sell.” And that’s even more true in the content marketing world — the more high-quality content you can create, the more authority and customer connection you can build.

Just realize that you need to understand the strategy behind the content you’re creating. Don’t add a writer for the sake of getting more words generated. Understand the business purpose behind all the copy you create, whether or not you do the actual writing.

3. You need particular expertise

You may create really good daily content for your blog, but you need a persuasion specialist to write sales letters that convert fans into customers.

Or you may need a subject matter expert to write a white paper.

Or a strong SEO copywriter to write content that both serves your business needs and can rank well in search engines.

Realize that you’ll pay more for a copywriter with specific expertise, rather than a generalist … just like you pay more for a Mercedes mechanic who’s been in business for 30 years over some kid at the quickie oil change who’s always wanted to try fixing a Mercedes.

4. You’re too close to the topic

The reason it’s so hard to move from features to benefits is that it can be really tough to be objective about your own business.

You know all the blood, sweat, and tears you put in to make your product or service great. (In other words, the features of your business.) You understand the details behind the scenes.

But your customer may have no interest at all in those things. In fact, they might care deeply about something that’s barely on your radar.

Sometimes a pair of outside eyes can be just what you need to communicate your most important benefits. Your winning difference could even be something you take for granted, but that your customers find wildly impressive.

Just make sure that your writer is looking at real customer feedback. This could come from survey responses, from social media listening, or from conducting interviews with customers. Your copywriter should have direct access to real customer language about why people like doing business with you.

5. The stakes are high

If you’ve got a big launch or an important marketing campaign, you need to make sure your copy is making a great impression.

  • That means a terrific headline that gets attention immediately.
  • It means well-structured content that conveys your authority.
  • It means writing that gets to the point without a lot of fluff or verbal clutter.
  • It means customer-focused copy that clearly conveys valued benefits.
  • It means making sure you know the difference between your and you’re.

Professional copywriters are perfectionists about language. They’re obsessive about tone, subtle shades of meaning, copy structure, and the finer points of grammar and usage.

If that’s not you, you may want to bring in some help. Clunky, error-filled writing is a serious credibility killer.

But … the message still belongs to you

While a talented, well-trained copywriter can help you find your strongest possible marketing message, ultimately that message does need to come from you.

You know the customer you want to reach. You know the little details that will make your copy more interesting. No one will ever know your business like you do, and you need to recognize the hidden remarkable benefit that becomes your best marketing story.

That’s why it pays to study copywriting and marketing even if you turn over every word to someone else. A terrific copywriter can make you sound fantastic — but as the business owner, you’re the one who’s ultimately responsible for your story.

 

About the Author: Sonia Simone is co-founder and CMO of Copyblogger Media. 

 

How To Write Effective Headlines In 5 Simple Steps

It’s been argued extensively that your web pages’ headlines are simply the most important component of the page. In many instances, this assertion is absolutely correct… and even when it’s not do or die, it’s still notably important. Here are the basics of writing effective headlines in five simple steps.

 

Rule One: Your Headline Doesn’t Have To Be Gimmicky.

Sometimes it’s easy to get all caught up in the notion of trying to be catchy, witty, or just plain brilliant when coming up with the next headline on your website. Here’s the thing to remember — most of web visitors simply won’t get it. Don’t get too caught up in creating the best headline ever to be seen on the web — and definitely avoid using humor that others might not get. Controversy sells, but using it for your site’s content in any way also comes with a price that’s mostly likely not worth paying.

Rule Two: Use Your Keyword Phrase In The Headline.

This is essential. A must do. Use your keyword phrase, in the exact order/sequence as you’ve identified it in the first place. And if at all possible, use it as the first few words of the headline. Doing this helps in a couple of ways — both with SEO and by enhancing the potential visitor’s perception.

Rule Three: Keep It Short And To The Point.

As often with web writing, short and to the point is the rule, not the exception. This is particularly important when crafting a headline to suit the need. Becausesearch engines only give you so much space to work with, it’s best to keep it under about 65 characters or less (again, characters… not words).

Rule Four: Get The Click.

Because your page’s headline is often used as its title Meta tag, this also means that it will oftentimes be displayed by the search engines as the link that visitors click on to your site from the search engine results page. So you’ve already optimized well enough to get your listing to show up for this certain search — care to guess what the next step is? Yep, you’re right if you said to get the click through to your site. You can do this by using your headline to leave searchers eager to learn more or even by asking them a question. Point is, to get the click, you’ve got to be compelling and not just make a statement.

Rule Five: Take Advantage Of Formulas That Work.

It’s impossible to overuse a successful headline template. And there are many good ones. For example, “How To ____” is always among the more effective headline techniques. Also perpetually popular is the “7 Ways To ____” style headline. The psychology of the typical web surfer tells us that headlines that promise an easy to review list-type article is awaiting work time and time again.

Get the headline right and the rest of the page is easy. In fact, your headline, even in just a few words, can even serve as the perfect little outline for building out a page full of content. Oh, and just one more thing really quickly… remember, practice makes perfect.

Until Next Time.
George Chaney

Five Grammatical Errors that Make You Look Dumb

by Brain Clark

One thing blogging and good copywriting share is a conversational style, and that means it’s fine to fracture the occasional rule of proper grammar in order to communicate effectively. Both bloggers and copywriters routinely end sentences with prepositions, dangle a modifier in a purely technical sense, or make liberal use of the ellipsis when an EM dash is the correct choice—all in order to write in the way people actually speak.

But there are other mistakes that can detract from your credibility. While we all hope what we have to say is more important than some silly grammatical error, the truth is some people will not subscribe or link to your blog if you make dumb mistakes when you write, and buying from you will be out of the question.

Here are five mistakes to avoid when blogging and writing web copy.

1. Your vs. You’re

This one drives me insane, and it’s become extremely common among bloggers. All it takes to avoid this error is to take a second and think about what you’re trying to say.

“Your” is a possessive pronoun, as in “your car” or “your blog.” “You’re” is a contraction for “you are,” as in “you’re screwing up your writing by using your when you really mean you are.”

2. It’s vs. Its

This is another common mistake. It’s also easily avoided by thinking through what you’re trying to say.

“It’s” is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.” “Its” is a possessive pronoun, as in “this blog has lost itsmojo.” Here’s an easy rule of thumb—repeat your sentence out loud using “it is” instead. If that sounds goofy, “its” is likely the correct choice.

3. There vs. Their

This one seems to trip up everyone occasionally, often as a pure typo. Make sure to watch for it when you proofread.

“There” is used many ways, including as a reference to a place (“let’s go there”) or as a pronoun (“there is no hope”). “Their” is a plural possessive pronoun, as in “their bags” or “their opinions.” Always do the “that’s ours!” test—are you talking about more than one person and something that they possess? If so, “their” will get you there.

4. Affect vs. Effect

To this day I have to pause and mentally sort this one out in order to get it right. As with any of the other common mistakes people make when writing, it’s taking that moment to get it right that makes the difference.

“Affect” is a verb, as in “Your ability to communicate clearly will affect your income immensely.” “Effect” is a noun, as in “The effect of a parent’s low income on a child’s future is well documented.” By thinking in terms of “the effect,” you can usually sort out which is which, because you can’t stick a “the” in front of a verb. While some people do use “effect” as a verb (“a strategy to effect a settlement”), they are usually lawyers, and you should therefore ignore them if you want to write like a human.

5. The Dangling Participle

The dangling participle may be the most egregious of the most common writing mistakes. Not only will this error damage the flow of your writing, it can also make it impossible for someone to understand what you’re trying to say.

Check out these two examples from Tom Sant’s book Persuasive Business Proposals:

After rotting in the cellar for weeks, my brother brought up some oranges.

Uhh… keep your decomposing brother away from me!

Featuring plug-in circuit boards, we can strongly endorse this server’s flexibility and growth potential.

Hmmm… robotic copy written by people embedded with circuit boards. Makes sense.

The problem with both of the above is that the participial phrase that begins the sentence is not intended to modify what follows next in the sentence. However, readers mentally expect it to work that way, so your opening phrase should always modify what immediately follows. If it doesn’t, you’ve left the participle dangling, as well as your readers.

P.S. You may find it amusing to know that I, like David Ogilvy, have never learned the formal rules of grammar. I learned to write by reading obsessively at an early age, but when it came time to learn the “rules,” I tuned out. If you show me an incorrect sentence, I can fix it, but if I need to know the technical reason why it was wrong in the first place, I go ask my wife.

Article source:  http://www.copyblogger.com/5-common-mistakes-that-make-you-look-dumb/

The magic of copy

Who we are:

Rent-a-Writer has been founded recently seeing the dirth of content/copywriters in our market. With 6 years of experience under our belt we have worked with some of the greatest clients including RBS, DCD, Apple, DawnNews, to name a few.

Rent-a-Writer is an initiative that provides corporate companies, small businesses, entrepreneurs or even advertising agencies a service that lets you outsource your content and copywriting needs to the experts who know their way around words.

How can we help you? Well, here’s an overview of what we do:

Strengths:

Writing

Rewriting 

Reconstructing copy

Creative concepts 

Tone of voice 

 

Covers:

Websites

Social media

PR

ATL and BTL marketing

At Rent-a-Writer, we are result-oriented and believe that the power of selling lies in the content and the use of right words, no matter what your product or service.

Reaching the audience is not difficult; making them listen to you and believe what you are saying is what counts and wins you their loyalty and in-turn excellent results.

Remember, tomahto tomayto – there is a big difference when you write it, phonetically.

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