Archive | Writing Without Waffle

Why writing your own copy is like waxing your own legs

LegsEver had your legs waxed? It’s painful. Hot wax is applied in strips and then ripped off, pulling out your hairs by the roots. Multiply the feeling of removing a sticking plaster by about 100. Very ouchy.

Copywriting can be painful too.

You might think it’s something you can do yourself – but it will probably take longer than you hoped.

Yes, you might know your business better than anyone else – but there is a danger that you’re too close to it. A good copywriter will translate what you want to say into language that your customers will respond to.

When you’re busy running your own business, you need to find uninterrupted time to write. Writing is quicker and easier for a professional copywriter – after all, it’s our job.

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Dear Carpetright,

Thank you so much for your quote.
 
The calls to action in your quotation email are many and splendid.
 
Thank you for offering a free home consultation (I’ve already had one).
Thanks for offering free samples (I’ve already had those too).
Also, thanks for offering free inspiration and tips.
Details of your price promise and fitting service are fascinating.
And the message that ‘you’re here for me’ is a delight.
 
However, the one thing I need – just one little thing – is information about how to place my order.
 
#AskForTheSale
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“Good writing works!”

Daniel was a delegate on the ‘copywriting for recruiters’ course I run every month or so with Mitch Sullivan. Here’s what happened next:


A LinkedIn post for a Business Development Manager on 14/12/16 (edited on the course) got 900+ views = a personal record
We had multiple approaches direct and to the hiring manager
This resulted in 11 applications
Arranged 8 first stage interviews
A shortlist of 3 for final presentations
A verbal offer made on 12/12/16 and accepted 14/12/16.

Cost = £0 ( apart from time and resource)
Time = 4 weeks
Start date = 23/1/17

Notably, a high quality / calibre of applicant; some active and some passive.

Thank you again – this course has completely reinvigorated my general attitude to my job!

Daniel Grinsted
Recruitment Manager
KR Group

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Beginner’s guide to WordPress

wordpressAccording to Wikipedia, WordPress was used by more than 26.4% of the top 10 million websites by April 2016. That’s more than a quarter of the world’s websites, including this one.

You can use it to run a blog or even a whole website, whether or not that website includes a blog.

In WordPress jargon, ‘posts’ go on your blog (one long page with the most recent post at the top), and ‘pages’ are static.

There are thousands of options so you can make your site look and behave exactly as you want. But it’s a target for hackers. If you don’t want to unexpectedly find your site selling Viagra or promoting the Bristol Gerbil Society, it’s wise to do regular updates that add the latest security patches.

There are two flavours of WordPress. Both are free. Yes, free! Confusingly, both have the same name.

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Are you writing for humans or spiders?

People or spiders

Who’s your reader?

Human beings search the internet for specific ecommerce products, information and/or entertainment.

Search engine spiders crawl the internet looking for content to match the search phrase that has been typed in (because it’s the World Wide Web, ha ha!).

Before you write each blog post, you need to decide on your objective.

Are you trying to demonstrate expertise and add value for human site visitors, or are you writing in the hope that your content will be found (and ranked highly) by Google?

The art of a professional copywriter is to craft words that influence, persuade and change behaviour e.g. making someone click a ‘buy now’ or or ‘subscribe’ button.

The art of an SEO copywriter is to help a webpage or blog post appear in the organic (aka natural or free) search engine listings.

I can do both, but if you’ve read my articles before, you’ll know I prefer writing for people than for machines.

Read my SEO articles to find out more:
http://jackiebarrie.com/tag/seo/

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The day I went to an improv workshop and fell in love.

heartIt was December 2014. I was at PSA London. And John Cremer was running an improv workshop.

At the start of the session, he said something like: “At the end of the session, four people will improvise a play, totally unscripted, and it will be brilliant and hilarious.”

I thought to myself: “I’d never do that in a million years.”

We played some improv games including one-word storytelling and three-line scenes, and I was thoroughly enjoying myself. “I can do this,” I thought. “This is just like the games we play as a family every Christmas.”

How restful and relaxing it was to turn off the bit of my brain that edits everything I say and do. What a joy to unleash the playful part of myself. What a delight to let go and laugh and have fun in a completely professional setting.

We got to the end of the session, and it was time for the play. I’d completely forgotten about that.

Three volunteers sat on the chairs John had placed at the front of the room.

I was stunned when my legs disconnected from my brain, and walked me up to sit on the fourth chair. My face was frozen with fear. My mind was shrieking: “What the f*** do you think you’re doing?!”

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Homepage headlines

GrabTranscript from a 5-minute speech

I could grab you with my first few words – or I could lose you.

With a website you have less than three seconds to grab attention and make an impact.

But what impact do you want your website to make? What’s the objective of your website? What’s the point of having one in the first place?

Most of my clients tell me it’s to be found on search engines, and/or to convert site visitors into enquirers or clients. And how do you do that?

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4 x 4 x 4 approach to enhancing your homepage

4 objectives for your homepage, 4 words NOT to use, 4 elements to include

In the Lewis Carroll book ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’, Alice fell down the rabbit hole, where she met the Cheshire Cat.

‘Pray, tell me, where should I go from here?’ she asked.

‘That very much depends on where you’re trying to get to’ he replied.

‘I don’t really care where I get to’.

‘Then it doesn’t really matter which way you go’.

Marketing is all about objectives. That’s so important I’m going to say it again: marketing is all about objectives. If you don’t know where you’re trying to get to, it doesn’t matter what you do; it doesn’t matter which way you go.

The main objective of your homepage is to get people to click the ‘buy now’ button or contact you. (Top right is the standard place for contact details, as that is where people will look.)

Aside from that, here are four more key objectives.

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How a call to action saves lives

In Kenya, you take your life in your hands when you travel between towns in a matatu – a small bus or minivan. They are notoriously driven fast and furiously, contributing to one of the highest road death rates in the world.

The Kenyan government tried a number of expensive options, including:

  • lowering speed limits
  • repairing damaged roads
  • encouraging the use of seat belts
  • installing speed bumps
  • cracking down on drunk-driving

Then two economists came up with an ingenious solution.

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