October 31, 2014

The Art of the Sales Letter [Infographic]

Writing a Sales Letter

 

These masters of persuasion perfected the art of the sales letter starting in the 19th century with copywriters like Robert Collier and Leo Burnett. Along came such greats as Claude Hopkins, David Ogilvy and Joe Sugarman to perfect the art of the sales letter. Hear what the masters of persuasion had to say about crafting a winning sales letter — apply this wisdom to your landing pages and other offers.

The Art of the Sales Letter

Get Paid to Write Articles

Get paid to Write Articles & Make Money

Courtesy of Greenleaddesigns/freeditigalphotos.net

One of my favorite places to hang out online is in my various writing groups on Linkedin.com. One of the reasons is that there is never a shortage of great information being shared.  This week a member of one of the copywriting groups I belong to shared the following list which I think is perfect for new freelance copywriters and for those writers who are simply looking for a bit of cash flow. It’s a list of places online that pay writers for article submissions and tutorial contributions.  Take a look:

Crazy Leaf (Web Design Blog)

This web design blog accepts contributions on the following topics: tutorials, graphic design, web design, Flash, Photoshop, vectorial graphics, design inspiration, programming, print design, design resources, photography or just a “Top 10″ article.  Your article should be a minimum of 500 words and should include two images. Their pay rate depends on the length of your article as well as the quality.

Developer Tutorials (Cutting Edge Programming and Design)

If you are a writer who can create unique, high quality tutorials and list-based articles for web design, Developer Tutorials is the place for you! Their payments range from: $50-$100 per tutorial and $30-$50 for each list-based article.  If you submit a tutorial, it must be at least 1000 words and has to include illustrations.  A list-based article must target web developers or designers. They must include a solid description of each item in the list and screenshots or graphics when applicable. You will more than likely need a PayPal account, since they use PayPal  as their method of payment.

Dollar Stretcher (Living Better for Less)

Many writers are blessed with the gift of being financially savvy and good money managers.  If this sounds like you, then Dollar Stretcher is definitely a site you’ll want to check out. They are looking for articles that provide their readers with tips to save time and money. Payment is at the rate of $0.10 per published word.  Each article must be in the 500 to 700-word range.

Drop Zone (Skydiving Content)

Do you skydive?  Well then, you’re in luck. Drop Zone is looking for skydiving-related articles, including, general information pieces, reviews, event articles, press releases and photographic reports.  Writers must contact Drop Zone by email at editor@dropzone.com to discuss compensation.

Metroparent (Local Stories of Interest to Local Parents – SouthEast Michigan Moms)

Are you a mom, dad or have a child-related background or experience?  Check out Metroparent. They love well-written articles related to parenting.

Their payment structure is as follows:

Features 1,000-2,500 words: $150-$350, depending on complexity of topic and number of sources required to do the story justice;
Department columns: $50-75;
Parent Pipeline pieces: $35-50; and
Reprints: $35

Payment is upon publication.

Net Tuts (Web Developer and Web Designer Tutorials and Articles)

Yes, there are writers out there who are also techies.  And lucky for those of you who are:  Net Tuts wants extensive tutorials and/or screencasts on the following topics:

  • Javascript techniques
  • HTML / CSS techniques
  • jQuery or similar libraries
  • CMS’s – WordPress, Expression Engine, Joomla, etc.
  • Simpler PHP & Rails techniques

They also use PayPal, and the rate depends on the type of tutorial you submit.  Rumor has it, they pay $50.

PSD Tuts (Photoshop Tutorial Blog)

Do you like talking about photoshop?  This site wants tutorials or content that photoshop enthusiasts enjoy.  Send your tutorial or content to PSD Tuts, and get your contribution published.  You will be paid an agreed USD rate for each item published. They also accept offers, so, by all means, make one! They pay via PayPal or Moneybookers and, better still, they pay within the first week of the month following publication.

Rock Solid Finance (Strategy and Finance for Entrepreneurs)

Looking for another financial-related blog?   Well, here it is. Rock Solid Finance focuses on  corporate finance, fundraising and growth strategies.   If you enjoy teaching people to “make, measure and monitor” the money in their business, submit an article to Rock Solid Finance.  They make offers of either fifty bucks or two contextual backlinks.

SpyreStudios (Design Blog)

Depending on the type and the quality of your blog post, you can get $50 to $160 writing articles for the SpyreStudios web design blog.  That is, of course, if you like writing about typography, design trends, inspiration, CSS, HTML, WordPress, jQuery, minimalism and that sort of stuff.  This site is great for tutorials, posts/articles and how-to’s. And SpyreStudios uses PayPal.

WorldStart (Computer Tips)

Are you a computer aficionado?  WorldStart is for writers who are able to provide tips to their email subscribers about . . . yes, computers.  Payment depends on the quality of your article, its length, and the usefulness of the tip or topic.

Approximately 250 words-$25
Approximately 400 words-$40
Approximately 600 words-$45
Maximum length is approximately 800 words-$50

They use PayPal.

Writers Weekly (Blogging About Making Money from Writing)

Do you want to write about selling the written word?  In other words, are you interested in making money writing?  If you’ve read this far, you are.  Submit your 600-word article to Writers Weekly.

Writers Weekly pays $60 for non-exclusive electronic rights for your submission. For freelance success stories (approximately 300 words), they pay in the neighborhood of $40.   E-mail your query to angela (at) writersweekly.com.

In addition to getting paid to write, you can use this opportunity as a great marketing method, because these sites, which have many subscribers, allow you to include a link back to your website.

Final Note: Please contact the site owners first before submitting your articles, because most of the sites ask for a pitch before accepting your contribution.

Happy Writing,

Stacey

 

 

 

We have Top-Copywriter to thank for this score!

10 Places to Look When Your SEO Skill Set Needs a Tune-Up

SEO Basics

As copywriters, we all know that SEO is integral in positioning your clients’ companies as industry leaders. This requires us to stay on top of the most recent developments in SEO
techniques.

The following list is by no means exhaustive, but following these thought leaders will certainly keep you in-the-know.

Search Engine Land

Distilled

Hubspot

Marketing Experiments

Marketing Land

Matt Cutts

SEO.com

Search Engine Watch

Search Engine Journal

Search Engine Roundtable

To ensure your clients get found and maintain an edge, copywriters must embrace SEO.

22 Ways to Create Compelling Content

Even the most talented writers have trouble every once in a while coming up with fresh topics to discuss.  Our friends over at copyblogger.com graciously allowed us to share this infographic with our readers.  It provides 22 ideas for creating compelling content. Enjoy!
22 Ways to Create Compelling Content - Infographic
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

Hey Copywriters . . . Connect with the Folks Reading Your Copy – – Be Real. Be Personal. Be You.

 

Two Friends Talking

Image courtesy of Aleska D FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Your level of writing success has a lot to do with how your readers react to your copy.  People connect with the product or service because they relate to what you’re saying to them.  They want to feel that your copy is specifically crafted with their interests and needs in mind.  In other words, it should feel personal. Following are three ways to help your readers identify  and connect with your message:

1. Before You Write, Get to Know Yourself First.

When you understand who you are,  your writing is more inclined to genuinely fuse with the product’s message. When you are an unsure writer, it’s harder to trust your own belief in the message you are writing about the product. You can create a stronger and more compelling message if you start with you first, then tackle the project.  It’s easier to bring out the brand when you know yourself. Your confidence comes through your writing making your copy more engaging because your insecurities aren’t getting in the way of the flow of the message.

2. Don’t Be Something You’re Not. Be You.

Many writers make the mistake of trying to be something or someone they admire.  It’s okay if someone’s influence shows through your writing. However, because it’s not your authentic voice, when writers blatantly and repeatedly attempt to mimic the voice of another, it sounds scripted and unnatural.

Every writer has his or her own signature rhythm, traits and mannerisms.  Yes, that includes you.  Find and leverage your own self-expression.  Success is easier to repeat when you already own its source and it’s not borrowed from somebody else. I’ll add that, in the quest to find your own voice, it’s okay to emulate someone you admire when you start out, but don’t try to be them.

3. Speak to Your Readers Through Your Writing

Imagine that your reader is a personal friend of yours and that you are engaged in a real conversation. What would you tell her about the product or service?  Explain its benefits in the same way do when you are trying to convince a reasonably intelligent friend to make a purchase of a particular item. You want the flow of information to feel and sound real.

Know their problem. Empathize with them. What are they likely to be thinking. What are they likely to want or need from this product or service. Find that hook.

I’m sure you have a checklist of your own and you’re ahead of the game if you do.  But, if you don’t, once your copy is written, at the very least, before turning it in, check to see that you’ve got these three keys covered.

Stacey

How a Copywriting Niche Can Help You Make More Money

Target Audience

I recently came across a video that cogently explains the advantages of having a copywriting niche. Take a listen.

 

There are always numerous ways to make money in the field of copywriting and the choices are growing by leaps and bounds, but niche marketing certainly gives you a leg up when you strive to become the “go-to” writer in a specialized area.

12 ‘Appalling’ Copywriting Tips From David Ogilvy, Our Original Mad Man

David Ogilvy - Advertising CopywriterDavid Ogilvy, the original Mad Man, called his notes appalling; I call them invaluable!

April 19, 1955

Dear Mr. Calt: On March 22nd you wrote to me asking for some notes on my work habits as a copywriter. They are appalling, as you are about to see:

1. I have never written an advertisement in the office. Too many interruptions. I do all my writing at home.

2. I spend a long time studying the precedents. I look at every advertisement which has appeared for competing products during the past 20 years.

3. I am helpless without research material—and the more “motivational” the better.

4. I write out a definition of the problem and a statement of the purpose which I wish the campaign to achieve. Then I go no further until the statement and its principles have been accepted by the client.

5. Before actually writing the copy, I write down every conceivable fact and selling idea. Then I get them organized and relate them to research and the copy platform.

6. Then I write the headline. As a matter of fact I try to write 20 alternative headlines for every advertisement. And I never select the final headline without asking the opinion of other people in the agency. In some cases I seek the help of the research department and get them to do a split-run on a battery of headlines.

7. At this point I can no longer postpone the actual copy. So I go home and sit down at my desk. I find myself entirely without ideas. I get bad-tempered. If my wife comes into the room I growl at her. (This has gotten worse since I gave up smoking.)

8. I am terrified of producing a lousy advertisement. This causes me to throw away the first 20 attempts.

9. If all else fails, I drink half a bottle of rum and play a Handel oratorio on the gramophone. This generally produces an uncontrollable gush of copy.

10. The next morning I get up early and edit the gush.

11. Then I take the train to New York and my secretary types a draft. (I cannot type, which is very inconvenient.)

12. I am a lousy copywriter, but I am a good editor. So I go to work editing my own draft. After four or five editings, it looks good enough to show to the client. If the client changes the copy, I get angry—because I took a lot of trouble writing it, and what I wrote I wrote on purpose.

With the exception of number 9 (because I can’t drink and write) and number 11 (because I can type, and I’m already in New York), I often follow this or variations of this method.

I’d advise you to do the same, unless you already have a system that works.

Three Must-Haves for Succeeding as a Freelance Copywriter

Guest Post by Michelle Rebecca

Learn to Earn More Many as a Freelance CopywriterThere are freelance copywriters who earn as low as $35,000 – full-time. However, some freelance copywriters regularly earn a six-figure salary. How do you go from the low-end of the compensation scale to the high-end? You’ve already got one plus in your corner: your innate skill at creating great content.

Many writers also consider themselves “artists,” and artists are notoriously laid back and not as driven as other professionals, like top-ranked attorneys and Wall Street traders. You need to bridge this gap.  A flourishing freelance copywriting business demands that you’re both a phenomenal writer and an ambitious businessperson. Check out these three tips for doing what  you love where you love, and generating a salary that makes you smile.

Diversify Your Portfolio

There are naturally some markets that are more profitable and areas where you’re naturally interested in the subject. Sometimes, however, what pays well is not what you like writing about. It’s time to get over it because, quite often, it’s the technical fields or corporate clients that pay what you’re worth. For example, working for an SEO company is often much more profitable than an entertainment blog.

Whether or not you’ve firmly committed to a niche market, it’s always a good idea to keep your options open and be prepared to work in other markets. This is especially important when you are just starting out so you don’t get bored as you build your portfolio and so you can showcase your diversity. There may one day be a fantastic job that requires experience in real estate.  You will want to pick up that real estate project (or opportunities in a variety of other industries you haven’t tapped into) to maximize your future portfolio.

You Have to Know SEO

More companies are requiring search engine optimization (SEO) knowledge, and in today’s market it’s something you can’t avoid if you want to snag the best projects. If SEO is new to you, you’re going to have to work your way up. Take a project that might not pay what you’d like in order to get your feet wet. If you can write solid SEO copy, you’re way ahead of the competition.

While you’re at it, explore Google tools like Analytics and AdWords. A little crossover into marketing can help you broaden your scope, not to mention further your career. Companies don’t just want a writer to provide great content; they want a professional who can help their site succeed. SEO and Google tools have a steep learning curve, but it’s a necessary step.

Stay Hungry

A successful freelancer is always looking for new projects and clients even when the current workload is immense. You never know when a project will suddenly end. Carve out a block of time every weekday to scour the ads for new opportunities. It doesn’t hurt to have as many feelers out there as possible.

Update your resume, bibliography, and professional social media sites regularly. Companies looking for freelancers really do reach out on sites like LinkedIn. Invest in a professional headshot and update your projects as they come in. Otherwise, it’s easy to overlook that short-term investment blog you updated, and you might lose out when a bank is looking for a content writer.

____________________________

Michelle is an aspiring writer and blogger with a passion for the Internet, specifically social media and blogging. She loves how social media connects people across the globe, and appreciates that blogging gives her the opportunity to voice her thoughts and share advice with an unlimited audience.

Looking for serious copywriting inspiration and words of wisdom, simple, yet cogently put?

Watch Tony Brignull – “Finding Inspiration as a Copywriter – 1 Minute to Leave Your Mark.”

You never know where that gem, that hook is going to come from, which is exactly why what Brignull says is invaluable.  This is the copywriting process at its best.

 

Happy Writing!

 

Stacey

 

Start Your Freelance Copywriting Life Off Right

Start Now ButtonIn June and July of 2006 I committed to doing three things: (1) buy and read Bob Bly’s book The Copywriter’s Handbook, Third Edition: A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing Copy That Sells; (2) buy and read Steven Slaunwhite’s book Start& Run a Copywriting Business; and (3) start a freelance copywriting business by September 2006.

And I did.  Starting my own freelance copywriting business was easier than starting a small business typically is because I started off right – emotionally and managerially.  I quickly embraced my new reality – that launching and running this copywriting business was going to be a fun and challenging experience, but that starting off right meant, I needed to fix my mind-set.  Although this business was going to be a big and important part of my life, it was going to have a life of its own; it would be my freelance copywriting life, and I needed to be prepared for everything that promised to come with it (you know, the highs and the lows:  the first huge client payment of $2,500.00; then the frozen computer on the day of a “can’t miss” deadline; the ecstatic customer with the glowing testimonial about your work and who sings your praises to powerful decision makers; then the late arrival of your business cards before your meeting with JP Morgan Chase’s marketing team . . . and you have none left – you know that stuff).

So there.  Strapped with my borrowed, yet reliable mantra “Just do it” and these few tidbits, I stepped out on faith:

•Don’t let poisonous folks whisper in my ear, even the well-meaning ones;

•Develop and follow a simple strategy and stay focused;

•Don’t let things get overly complicated and stay focused;

•Allow only one captain to steer the ship – me – and stay focused;

•Keep tweaking things along the way when they need modifying;

•Launch this thing, and learn the rest along the way . . . WHILE STAYING FOCUSED.

And I did.  And I still am.

Following are practical business reminders I learned that helped me tremendously in starting my freelance copywriting life off right and keeping it right, and I am confident you will find them helpful too:

Your Passion . . . Not!

Don’t wait for that mythical fixation called “your passion.”  Some of the most happily successful people have found it.  Most happily successful people, it’s safe to say, have not.  What the two groups of happily successful folks have in common, however, is: they have a knack for what they do and they find enjoyment in some aspect of what they do.  If you wait for this passion thing to materialize, you may never get that freelance copywriting business off the ground.

Perseverance and the Threat of Rejection

One of the most common hindrances to perseverance is fear of rejection.  I don’t like guarantees, but this one is unmistakable, so I’m going to share it. You will experience rejection in one form or another.  If dealing with rejection is a challenge for you, then from the outset, you have to find a mechanism to help you cope with it.  It could be anything from Yoga to meditation, from training for a 5K to venting in a supportive online community.  Whatever you choose, just monitor the strategy, because if it’s not working, you need to tweak that plan.  And, speaking of supportive online communities – there are loads of them out there for copywriters and freelance copywriters from linkedin copywriting groups to warriorforum copywriting threads.  It behooves you to join one or more. Besides being comforting, they can be quite informative,  and great places to get educated feedback on copy drafts you’ve done, or to simply hang out, “coffee clutch” or network.

Make Good Habits a Habit

Contracts

Unless you are crafting a flyer for your grandmother’s church picnic, use a contract.  An elaborate contract is the safest bet, but a simple contract can work also, provided all of your bases are covered. Heck, if her church has a board of directors, you may want to use a contract for that church picnic flyer too.  Nothing personal grandma!

At the very least, your contract or agreement should contain:

♦the date of the agreement;

♦your name and address, the name and address of the business hiring you and the signer’s name;

♦a detailed description of the project, including the medium and format of the work;

♦the number of pages, if it’s a print document;

♦the various parts and stages of the project;

♦the number of edits and revisions you will allow;

♦the dates of delivery for each stage of the project, if more than one stage;

♦your fee and its due date(s);

♦a list of terms and conditions; and

♦both parties’ signatures.

Keeping Records – Phone Calls

No one remembers everything, especially when you are busy.  When you speak to a client, particularly if you verbally agree to do or not to do something, it is a very good idea to memorialize the phone conversation in a follow-up email. This serves a number of different purposes. It jogs yours and your client’s memory. It solidifies what was said. It helps you recall what you said you’d do or not do. It creates a paper trail in the event something happens and you need proof.

Keeping Records – Billing

If you do nothing else, spare yourself some stress by having some place to drop your receipts and records of incoming payments. If this is too much of a hassle for you and the thought of even doing this much organizing stresses you out, then use as few ways to make purchases as possible.  For example use one credit card and one Intuit Merchant or Paypal account. This way, when it’s time to sit down with your accountant, all of your financial information is in only one or two places. The ideal solution is to keep your files organized in off-line or online folders, categorize them and use one of the gazillion simple accounting software programs out there like Lessaccounting.

Networking and Marketing

Yes, I used to hate this too – networking.  But, I soon learned that I was really good at it. I still don’t love it, but it works wonders and brings me in a lot of business, sometimes more than I can handle alone.  Whether you do it online or off-line, marketing your business is a must. And don’t be fooled into thinking you only need to market when business is slow.  Any self-respecting freelance copywriter will tell you that the optimal time to market your business is when you have customers coming in the door.  This way, you are more likely have  steadier stream of income.   And, by the way, marketing your freelance copywriting business needs to be a big percentage of the time you spend on your business – around 35% of the time.

In addition to networking, there are myriad ways to market your business:

-Article marketing.  Write and publish a few articles on sites like ezinearticles.com or goarticles.com.  Include your URL in your resource box.  The resource box is a section at the end of published online articles where you get to promote yourself and your business;

-Bartering.  You can, for example, offer to consult with a business that agrees to plug your freelance business in their newsletter;

-Cross-promotions.  You promote a local business on your site in exchange for them promoting yours;

-Distribute a press release on a few free press release directories like Press Method (www.pressmethod.com); Free Press Release Centre (http://www.free-press-release-center.info/); SB Wire (www.sbwire.com);  or PR.com (www.pr.com), just to name a few;

-Free classifieds (e.g., craigslist); and

-Social media (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin).

Stay Relevant

Take your eyes of the marketing media road for more than a month and you may feel completely lost when you turn your attention to the trends again.  Between social media, mobile media, cloud this and cloud that, the marketing media environment is growing by leaps and bounds!  It’s imperative that you keep learning. As a part of your routine, subscribe to (and read), a few newsletters or blogs that keep up with the trends of copywriting, freelancing and best small businesses practices. To keep on top of what’s trending, you can monitor Twitter hashtags like #smallbusiness using any number of free tools like Hootsuite.

 

Check Yourself

Check your site and make sure your information is still relevant. Make sure your links all work. Sometimes, unbeknownst to you and for a number of reasons, a link will suddenly die. This happens with WordPress blogs on occasion, so check them periodically just to be sure everything’s in working order.

Check your online business image.  Make sure you’re not tagged in that photo you took at your cousin’s wedding with the chandelier on your head where you’re drunk and dressed only in your bra or boxers. Put security limits on the accessibility of your personal Facebook page(s) so that only folks you want looking at it can see it.  Business people will definitely go searching for your personal Facebook page. So, if you’re doing anything on your personal social media page that could offend your customers and make them go elsewhere in search of a different copywriter, put some blocks in place.

Part of checking yourself, includes checking your competitors.  You want to stay a  step ahead of them or appear to anyway. There is competition out there for almost every copywriter, but particularly for narrowly niched ones. If you are one of 10 copywriters in your niche, definitely keep your eyes on your competition. One way to legally spy on them is by using Google alerts and Twitter alerts by signing up with sites like Tweetbeep.  You can use these sites to have emails sent to you when Google or Twitter finds things like web pages, news articles, blog posts,etc. that match your search item (i.e, your competitor’s name and the name of their business).  It only takes about 3 minutes to set each of them up initially, and they’re both free.

Oh yeah, and do this: Unfollow small fries who aren’t following you back on Twitter. Don’t look socially desperate.  If they don’t respect you enough to follow you back, unfollow them.  You don’t want to be one of those Twitter members who is following 500 people, but who only has 90 people following them back. Businesswise, that’s not a good look.

Even with its ups and downs, the freelance life, as so many people will testify, can be a great experience, and the best way to do that is to start out right. Go in with the proper mind-set and with realistic expectations.  Decide you are going to give it your all, but that you are not going to lose yourself in it.  Whether you choose to do it full-time or part-time, if you have the knack for it and enjoy copywriting and want the freedom that comes with self-employment, get your mind-set, make sure you have a plan you can live with . . . then JUST DO IT!

Happy writing,

Stacey

P.S. Some of the blogs and websites that keep up with the trends of copywriting or freelancing or small business best practices are as follows:

http://contentverve.com/

http://www.nickusborne.com/

http://blogs.targetmarketingmag.com/

http://www.marketingwords.com/blog/?cat=4

http://www.WonderBranding.com/

http://www.seocopywriting.com/blog/

http://blog.crazyegg.com

http://www.awaionline.com/blog

http://directanddigitalmarketing.com/

http://www.psychotactics.com/

http://blog.smallbusinesscopywriter.com/

http://contently.com/blog/

http://www.perrymarshall.com/

http://simplystatedbusiness.com/

http://sparksheet.com/

http://thewordchef.com/blog/

http://www.mpdailyfix.com/

http://www.webinknow.com/

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/

http://www.copyblogger.com

http://blogtyrant.com

http://smallbiztrends.com/

http://www.startupnation.com/business-blogs/

http://www.chrisbrogan.com/

http://thebrandbuilder.wordpress.com

https://be.freelancersunion.org/blog/

http://freelanceswitch.com/blog/

http://freelancefolder.com/

http://www.warriorforum.com/copywriting-forum/

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The Well-Fed Writer Blog

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Dr. Freelance

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Ajeva Freelance!

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