November 23, 2014

Beat Writer’s Block: Get Back to Your Writing Roots by Returning to Basics

Writer's BlockGuest Post by Samantha Stainsburry

Writing is a task that can be just as much fun as reading a book or discovering new information in the news. Many professional writers seem to have the easiest job in the world, but once they hit that brick wall of writer’s block, it can also become one of the most frustrating jobs in the world. If you are suffering from writer’s block, here are some techniques that may help you break through the wall and reach your creativity on the other side.

Find a New Creative Outlet

Being creative with words is a great thing, but after awhile it can limit your mindset to creative ideas that can only be expressed in writing. Instead of focusing only on the written word, find another creative outlet for some of your ideas. This can be through painting, sketching, completing crafts or making videos. Once your creativity is flowing again, you’ll find it easier to jump back into writing.

Get Your Ideas Down

If your writer’s block is based on a specific project, then writing something else could be the answer. You don’t have to spend a long time fleshing out your ideas, but if you just take one of your stylish leather notebooks or your tablet to a public place and just start writing down anything that strikes your fancy, you are clearing room in your mind to refocus on your current project. Save your words, phrases and ideas from this exercise to use as inspiration at a later date.  For some lovely leather notebooks that can be used, check out RusticoLeather.com.

Try Writing Exercises

These exercises are usually the first suggestions to beat writer’s block, but some writers tend to resist them. Writing exercises range from pre-written story prompts to scheduled time for free writing. It doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as you are writing. You can even choose to creatively interpret your otherwise mundane day for your journal, as long as you keep your writing muscles moving.

Change Your Schedule

If you have been written everyday at 3PM for the past five years, a change in your schedule might help you find a new stream of creativity for your writing. Although a change in schedule may seem minimal, writing early in the morning or late at night puts your brain in a different space, which may be more open to wacky ideas or directions you never thought you would otherwise take your characters. It can be an eye-opener to many who are strapped to a rigid writing schedule.

Writer’s block can be hard to overcome, but trying a few of these suggestions can help you get over the wall and back into the zone again.

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Samantha Stainsburry is a freelance blogger from Charlottesville, VA.  In her free time she enjoys hiking, reading, and finding new music among other things.

Stacey Mathis Copywriting in Association with MarketingProfs Offers Info-packed Content Marketing Crash Course

Making more money in your small business than you did last year is quite possible. The answer is to find a way to dazzle your prospects, wow your customers, and bowl over competitors. The answer dear readers, is content.
Online Marketing Diagram
New York, NY, December 03, 2012 — Stacey Mathis Copywriting is offering small business owners and freelancers a Content Marketing Crash Course whose broadcast kicks off on December 6, 2012. The course is presented by MarketingProfs, one of the Internet’s most respected authorities in marketing. What’s more, several of their high-powered bonus recordings are available the moment you register for the upcoming course.
“Many small business owners and freelancers are grasping at straws, desperately trying to figure out how to improve their revenue. Some, at this point, simply want to find a means to just stay afloat,” says Mathis. “Content, as many of the most successful business owners have learned, is a proven, affordable and practical means for boosting their business income, sending traffic to their websites and foot traffic to their brick and mortar establishments.” MarketingProfs University’s Content Marketing Crash Course is designed to do just that – – help business owners create lead-driving, business-building content.
MarketingProfs University for years has been a lifeline for so many professionals, providing the confidence they need to make the changes their freelance and small businesses require. MPU’s courses are swelling with up-to-the-minute techniques in online classes that are cost-effective and manageable.
“I’d recommend MPU to any B2B marketer. The class experience is easy to manage, well-organized, and supported by responsive ‘support ninjas’ ready to assist.” – Thorsten Strauss, Brussels, Belgium
“The MPU Websites That Work (2011) course was chock-full of excellent information delivered in a very digestible format. The instructors were very knowledgeable and taught their topics with great respect for the diversity of the students. As a non-Web designer, I can’t tell you how much this course has informed my approach to both optimizing our site and building consensus with my team members. This product is top shelf and I would recommend it and MarketingProfs to anyone.” – Nick Fortunatus, Philadelphia, PA
For more information on, or to register for MarketingProfs University’s Content Marketing Crash Course please visit us HERE.
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About Stacey Mathis Stacey Mathis is a copywriter and a freelance copywriting business coach who teaches marketing and copywriting techniques online to freelancers and small business owners. With a BA Degree in Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, she worked as a Family Law professional serving the domestic relations legal community for over 20 years – a career where she spent a large amount of her time on projects that required legal and business letter writing and editing.

There Really is a Content Marketing Crash Course with More Value and Info than You’ve Ever Dreamed Of

Content Marketing - SEO sign board

Are you sick of saying “This year I’m going to increase my revenue,” but still haven’t figured out a way to do it? Is being in a better financial situation than you were in last year on your list of personal goals?

Making more money in your small business than you did last year is quite possible. The answer is to find a way to dazzle your prospects, wow your customers, and bowl over competitors. The answer dear readers, is content. Content, as you may have heard, truly is king, and MarketingProfs University’s Content Marketing Crash Course will give you a hands-on plan for creating lead-driving, business-building content that connects with customers, again and again. You’ll learn everything from what changes to make in key marketing efforts, like customer engagement, to how to create content that drives sales.

 

Register Now

For each class, you’ll have access to:

• the class lecture (streaming media)

•the slide deck (PDF)

•the audio track (MP3, so you can listen to the lectures on other devices)

•a transcript (PDF)

•and a “cheat sheet” (PDF)

In addition to the above tools, as a Content Marketing Crash Course student, you’ll also receive close to $1,000 in FREE course materials and More!

There aren’t many places where you’ll get practical, information-packed, real-world, proven tactics with expert guidance from a leading and respected marketing authority in a crash course.

The Kickoff class broadcasts December 6, 2012

Register Now

 

 

 

 

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Increase Your Chance of Being Re-Hired as an Online Freelance Copywriter

Search for Freelancers, People

The online freelance copywriting industry is growing by leaps and bounds. More and more copywriters are realizing that finding online jobs is a lot easier than finding offline gigs.  This, however, means more copywriters will be vying for the same jobs. The competition is getting stiffer, so your overall work ethic, attention to detail and work habits must be fine-tuned.

Still, there is this sense that online commitments don’t have to be taken as seriously as in-person pledges.  Don’t make that mistake.  Copywriting projects are taken just as seriously by online employers as they are by offline employers

On that note, there are certain chinks in the armor of some freelance copywriters that turn employers off and which may be the deciding factor for rehiring you or recommending you over an equally qualified and similarly priced copywriter. Those bad practices include the following:

•You ask questions when the answers have already been laid out in the job posting

Read the job description and comments carefully before you ask the employer questions.  If it’s unclear or can conceivably have more than one meaning, then ask away.

•You ask for an extension at the last minute

Stuff that we can’t control happens to all of us. However, if you find that needing an extension has happened to you more than twice, forgo the gigs where the time constraint is likely to be an issue. You hurt the employer and you’ll begin to chip away at your reputation in the freelance arena.
•Offer to email an assignment long before a deadline to impress an employer, and then renege on that promise because the contract said you had more time.

 If you want to complete the assignment early, then do so, but don’t say you will unless you are going to follow-through. If your employer takes you at your word and schedules something based on that promise, you may be putting him in a bad position.  Yes, contractually, you have until the written deadline, but ethically, you’re wrong.  You don’t want that to be what an employer remembers about you. The same way freelancers discuss employers; employers compare notes when it comes to recommending freelance copywriters.

•Ask for half up front, do part one, then slack off for part two

Every leg of your project must be your best work.  Some freelancers have been known to put their best foot forward, initially, get paid, then slack off for the remainder of the project. Remember, the entire project represents your freelance brand.

•Ask basic questions that someone of your claimed expertise and skill set should know

If you hold yourself out to be a Tweet copywriter, then you should be very familiar with how Twitter works and with Twitter stuff.  Asking what he means by “hashtag” is not a good look.

•Hand in well-written fluff work product with filler phrases

Don’t use fluff, well-chosen words filler words and esoteric turns of phrase to meet a word count requirement because you don’t feel like exerting the energy to come up with something of substance.  Don’t kid yourself into thinking that just because you’ve included some and a few esoteric phrases, an employer won’t see through it.  She may not say anything to you about it, but in her mind, she’s saying, “never again.”


Request to be rated when your employer seemed dissatisfied

If your employer has demonstrated that you’ve disappointed him, especially more than once, don’t bug him to give you an online review or rating. What he has to say about you may do more harm than good. However, you have to clean up your act so that such work habits don’t become a permanent part of your routine.

  

Employers come to us because they can’t do it themselves or because they don’t have the time.  Let’s not disappoint them and risk our reputations by providing substandard work or by not living up to reasonable expectations.  Even if it is a pro bono assignment or an assignment for which you now feel underpaid (after contract), excellence is all you should be thinking and giving . . . nothing less.

Copywriting Tips for Writing Ad Copy for E-Commerce Sites

E-commerce - shopping button on keyboardGuest Post by Lisa Forester –

Compelling copy, particularly with product descriptions, will increase your client’s e-commerce conversion rates significantly. When crafting content that will eventually wind up on an e-commerce page or website, your copy should essentially strive to achieve two objectives:

  1. 1. Establish trust; and
  2. 2. Prove to visitors that your product is right for them so that readers to buy whatever it is you’re offering.

Here’s a look at certain elements you should keep in mind when writing ad copy for e-commerce sites:

Know Your Target Audience

Knowing your target audience sets the tone from word one. Your words must immediately resonate with your target audience.  For example, if you’re writing copy for easy-to-use software marketed to a mature target market, less computer-savvy users, the last thing you want to do is use a lot of technical jargon. It’s not what they’re after and they may be likely to bail from your website and find one that does speak their language – laymen terms.

Remember, the language your audience speaks is the language you must write.

Craft Unique Ad Copy

When the copy is unique, it’s not uncommon to see significant increases in website traffic -  30-100%, provided it’s unique for each of your products. Don’t be tempted to use the dull copy provided by the products’ manufacturers.  Your job is to create a unique competitive advantage for your clients. When you craft unique, quality e-commerce ad text you create that advantage for your clients.

One always triumphant and guaranteed unique feature of e-commerce is user-generated content in the form of product reviews.  In addition, it’s a good idea to persuade your client to index their reviews for search.

Show, Don’t Tell

All good writing is about showing your readers what you want them to know. This is particularly effective when writing e-commerce ad copy because readers, shoppers really, want to make their own decisions about their purchases and when they feel like they’re being told what to do, what to buy, which options to select, etc., they may push back.

If you sell cookware packages, simply describing each pot, pan, and skillet won’t work. Shoppers know about Teflon, and non-stick surface, and heat transference. They can also see what you’re offering. What they would be more interested in learning is how customer feedback on your excellent products resulted in the creation of this particular package. How it became important to add one additional sauce pan because customers were letting your company know that food preparation requires more sauce pans than skillets.

This is actually a true statement about cooking and cookware, and your potential customers will appreciate that you’ve responded to your customers’ feedback which resulted in a better cookware package. You showed them the value of your particular cookware offering and they’ll draw their own conclusions about your competitors’ products.

Establish the right verbal character – a balance between being engaging and informative while showcasing your product’s usability, functionality and convenience.

Remember, don’t bore your audience with stuff they already know. Show them the value of your client’s product.

Don’t Over-sell Your E-commerce Products

Today’s consumers are smart, and above all things, they do their homework. Your client’s website might not be the first website they’ve visited, but it’s your job as the copywriter to make sure it’s their last one. Getting your products into their shopping cart is the goal, but unless you’re selling a one-of-a-kind product available only through your website, this can’t happen by being pushy. Flashing constant “buy now” buttons all over the place can get old . . . fast. Overwhelming them with constant pop-ups, for example, is another turnoff for a variety of reasons, the least of which is your potential customer’s ability to sense BS.  Don’t make them suspicious or skeptical.  Provide the information they need, show them the value of your product, explain the advantages, features and benefits, and close the deal.

No one likes the equivalent of the high-pressure salesman.

Presentation 

When writing your e-commerce marketing copy and putting your web pages together, use the following tips:

  • Write short, concise sentences
  • Use bullets and numbers where appropriate
  • Avoid corny marketing clichés
  • Use the active voice and action verbs
  • Limit your use of modifiers
  • Write in simple, easy-to-understand language
  • Don’t use any unnecessary words

Consumers often skim a web page, which means you need them to see, and ultimately read, your words.  Bullets, short sentences, and action verbs will not only draw and hold their attention; they’ll also encourage them to read more of your copy.

Remember, presentation is everything.  Boring your readers with a lot of long sentences, paragraphs or too much content will send them to your client’s competitor.

Professional Writing

Nothing you’ve read above will matter at all if your writing is unprofessional.  If you use poor grammar, over-punctuate, and supply inconsistent copy from page to page, product to product, you’ll lose more potential customers than you can imagine.

Unprofessional writing will show your site visitors—right or wrong—that your client’s products must also be inferior.  After all, they couldn’t be bothered to write professional copy or have it proofread. You’ve given them no level of comfort about your client’s company and their products.

Remember, your ad copy is the window to the company. Write the best professional content possible and potential customers will become customers.

__________________________________________________________

About the Author:  Lisa of DRIVE NETWORK MARKETING has worked with many e-commerce sites helping to perfect their copy.  She most recently helped Satellite TV revamp their copy for an Internet page.

 

 

 

 

 

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mobile Marketing for Freelance Copywriters: 3 Rules for Quick Customer Engagement

SMS Text MessageMobile marketing has created a new challenge for copywriters. These days, a LOT of your clients are marketing to their clients using short SMS messages. This means that the copywriter who wins the loyalty of their clients will be the copywriter who can use very short SMS messages to get responses from readers. Here are four rules you can apply TODAY to become master of mobile copywriting and corner the copywriting market:

Master Your Headline Writing Skills

Almost all of your copywriting practice and study should revolve around writing great headlines. If you can write great headlines, you can write great sales copy. But if you can’t write great headlines, it won’t matter how good you are at writing the rest of a sales letter.

Don’t guess when it comes to writing great headlines either, copy what’s already working. Subscribe to the email lists of the most successful people in your niche and in your client’s niche and pay attention to their headlines.

Start a swipe file and start looking for common threads in their writing and applying them into your writing for your customers. Look for common words, common phrases and starting trying them out in your sales writing.

Make it REALLY Easy to Respond . . . and Urgency Helps

Great SMS copywriting isn’t just about getting someone to respond, it’s about making it EASY for them to respond. If your client hires you to write an SMS marketing campaign, don’t write a word until you find out the exact steps the customer has to take to say yes to the offer immediately.

Many times, you’ll find that your customers are creating a roadblock by making it complicated to say “yes” to their offer. This is where being a copywriter AND a consultant will prove to be really valuable to your customers. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and ask yourself how easy the mobile marketing offer is to respond to.

It’s also important to give the customer a REASON to respond NOW. Otherwise there’s no reason for them to stop what they’re doing. For example, an ad on a mobile application might look like this…

“60 second special! Get 50% off our custom T-Shirts, click here to order now!”

This kind of ad is more likely to get a response than an ad like the one below:

“Get 50% off our custom T-Shirts, email us at …@… to order now!”

That’s just one line of copy, but how it’s written could make a world of difference when it comes to getting responses.

Challenge the Reader’s (World) View

Curiosity is a great way to get people’s attention using just a few words. But you also have to challenge the reader’s view. For example, a message likes this…

“Is Your Car Cool Enough to Get You Out of a Speeding Ticket?”

…raises more curiosity than a message like this….

“You’d Look Really Cool in This Brand New Car…”

How cool does a car have to be to get you out of a speeding ticket?

That’s a story anyone would be interested in reading, even if they weren’t looking to buy a car. So when you’re using curiosity in your pop-up ads on mobile apps or in SMS messages, find a way to challenge the reader’s view.

Master your headline writing skills. Help your customers craft an offer that’s easy to respond to, and use a good mixture of curiosity and urgency.

 

 

 

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Why Copywriters Need to Take Mobile Marketing Seriously

Even if you never use mobile marketing to find clients, as a copywriter, you need to fall in love with it. You also need to develop skills for getting responses from customers using mobile marketing techniques, and you need to start doing it right now. Mobile Marketing on Smart Phone with QR Code for Shopping

Here’s why…

Like it or Not, the World is Going Mobile

The world is going mobile, and as it does, your copywriting clients are going to need mobile marketing to reach their customers. Consumers use their mobile devices a lot more than they use their lap tops these days.  Mobile devices are more convenient and people can get quick access to the information they want, so naturally people are not going to stop using them. Some copywriters think this is bad news because it means less advertising dollars will be spent on direct mail and online content marketing.

However, good copywriting will always be valuable because of one undeniable truth about marketing and advertising – images don’t sell, words sell. There might not be as much copywriting in an SMS message or a pop up ad on a mobile application as there would be on a long form sales letter, but that makes  good copywriting even MORE valuable for marketers.  If they can’t get the customers’ attention within the first few words, they’re not going to make sales. That’s why your clients need you. It’s also why you might want to reconsider how valuable your writing services are in the new mobile world . . .

Mobile Marketing is a Different Game for Copywriters

A lot of newbie copywriters are still charging customers by the word, ten cents a word, one dollar a word etc. But these days, less is more and copywriters who can get responses using 10 words might soon be just as valuable as those who used to write ten page sales letters. If your clients hire you to write Twitter messages, SMS messages or pop up messages for their mobile marketing campaigns, don’t be so quick to rate the project based on word count. It takes time to put together 10 words that will grab a customer’s attention, and ultimately, you’re not being paid to write words. You’re being paid to sell your clients’ products and services.

So, start working on your headline writing skills and practice compressing your messages into 10 words or less. You now have only a few seconds to get the job done, and copywriters who can say more with less will likely rule the world of mobile marketing.

Best Techniques for Enhancing Your Copywriting Skills

Techniques to Enhance Copywriting SkillsSometimes in copywriting, it helps to hear what other copywriters do to improve their skills.  Below I have featured some of your colleagues’ (from Warriorforum.com) favorite methods for improving their copywriting skills.  Enjoy.

1. Study the sales pages of other people. Analyze the writing style and type of wording used. Review the placement of testimonials  and “buy” buttons. Study the “angle” from which the writer is writing.  Repeat this process for emails,  forum signatures, banner ads, and anything used to entice you to DO something.

2. Split test different content and track what converts and what doesn’t, and go with what the target market is telling you.

3. Copying something by hand can trick the mind into thinking that you’re crafting it.

4. Research and get up to speed with good market research. For example, tap into Q & A databases, social chatter and blogs.

5. Pull out a good thesaurus and create a list of all the words you want to use. Dig out all the power verbs that hit the target.  Do that with every word.  Do this with every job, and you will always have a spectacular selection of words all ready and waiting for you.

6. Study the absolute best proven ads.  Write them out by hand.  Pick out the key elements, then rewrite the ads in your own words. Compare yours to the original. Toss into the trash can. Do it again, and again, and again. Use different ads by different authors.

7. Occasionally look at poor ads. Rewrite some of those. But do it in moderation because you don’t want to pick up their bad habits, even subconsciously.

8. Learn everything you can about split testing. Study the losers and winners on split-testing websites like “whichtestwon.com.”  The results are sometimes shocking. The benefit of such sites is that many winning writing styles are available to study. Split-testing your own ads will become easier, faster, and you will produce better results.

9. Learn how to do research beyond Google. Get to know your target prospect by becoming your target prospect; understand and appreciate their joys, their sorrows, and what makes them tick.

10. Write, write, write, daily. Your thesaurus should be dog-eared, tired, worn, and well-thumbed. Know words that sell, emotional trigger words, and phrases.

11. Learn to outline. A well-prepared outline is the foundation upon which everything else is developed.

12. Study marketplaces, results, ads, mailings, radio spots, techniques, websites, marketing trends, business trends, technology trends, psychology, and most of all, study people. Read all kinds of books, newspapers, magazines, white papers, and even spam, because the best ideas are often formed by seeing the connections between seemingly-unrelated bits of information.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. It’s simply another way to give your talent a boost.  I say, even if it’s completely unorthodox, if it works, do it . . . provided it’s legal, of course!

 

Happy Writing

 

Stacey

P.S.  I find that stopping and finding something completely unrelated helps to get the creative juices flowing again, thus improving my copywriting experience and proficiency.

Video Revealing Hot Digital Marketing Trends Freelance Copywriters Should Be Up On

These marketing thought leaders reveal the digital marketing trends they and their colleagues are following, including mobile marketing trends.

Streamline Mobile Web Content Writing

Copywriting for today’s mobile readers demands quick, short and strong text.  Even though mobile users spend a lot of time idling and doing frivolous stuff on their mobile devices, they still want to do it in a hurry.  And they get agitated when they can’t do it in a speedy fashion.


Also, mobile users want only the information that is absolutely necessary for them to achieve their immediate goal.  Reading on a mobile device is hard enough as it is, but then when you have to scroll through an unnecessary number of words to get where you’re going, it’s maddening.

This increases the writing challenges for the copywriter.  The copywriter now has to think in terms of digesting a copy message, not writing it in the traditional sense.  When you are crafting mobile copy and you have second thoughts about whether text should be there, it’s probably best to omit it.