After all the hype surrounding social networking sites, you might have finally signed up. Now what? How do you go about promoting your content writing services business with, say, Twitter? Well, my blog over at Webflo sheds some light on the best reasons to tweet about your business. Let me know if you think I missed any reasons to post a Twitter update.
Archive for April, 2009
If you have recently made the switch from print writing to Internet writing, you might notice there are a few differences between the two. Though good writing skills and interesting topics are popular anywhere you go, Internet readers do have different expectations online than they do when reading a newspaper or magazine article. Be sure to keep the following facts in mind when writing for the web:
1.) Be Concise
This is one of the web writing rules I sometimes struggle with, but it makes sense. People go online to get things done; they are typically looking something up and want to find the answer ASAP. When a Google search takes them to your page, you’d better have their answer staring them in the face or they will hit the “back” button within a few seconds. If you can say it in a short, sweet sentence, do it.
2.) Illustrate Your Point
I never used to believe it, but pictures do help when writing for the web. They break up your page into sections, which makes it easier to scan. That means it is more Internet reader-friendly. Even if you can’t find a picture that refers to your content directly, throw in a few icons, or perhaps a pretty image of your logo.
3.) Use Informative Subheadings
Adding subheadings also breaks up your content into scannable sections. Whether you’re writing your own blog or providing content writing services for another website, remember to use subheadings that clearly summarize in a few words what that section is about.
4.) Stop Using Buzzwords
Recent studies have shown that readers can easily see through much of the marketing jargon that populates the web. I have heard that one of the most overused words in the corporate world within the last few years was “synergy.” According to many tales, the very hint of this word now causes most employees to spin into an Office Space-inspired rage involving an on-the-fritz copier. Other severely disliked terms now include “win-win,” “solutions,” “paradigm,” and “value-added.” Feel free to add your own terms, but you get the idea. If your content writing services ever lead you to write for a professional website, please be sure to banish those words from your vocabulary.
5.) Use Facts
Use facts as often as possible, and when you do, make it obvious. For example, rather than write out a number under 10 like we were all taught to do, use the numeral. Linked sources are also good, as readers love both facts and the proof to back them up.
Just consider the websites you visit when you’re in a hurry. Think about what you like to see on the sites you actually stop to read, whether you’re looking for a way to prove a friend wrong on a point or just researching for an article. Have any other web reader-friendly ideas? Post them up!
Those with full-time jobs often have ways of dealing with their day so that it is more enjoyable, particularly if they are not happy with their career. Though many freelancers are quite happy with their choice of jobs, work is work, and they therefore still need some help in getting through their day. I love writing, but there are definitely days I can’t seem to get started, or perhaps can’t finish what I did start before my break. I have a few ways of making both my jam-packed and more boring days a little more fun (and not to mention more organized).
1.) Desk Calendar
Though I am always on the computer, I find I prefer to make notes and appointments by hand. It is probably more time-consuming and less organized than simply making a Notepad document full of notes. However, it’s just how I work. I decided to compromise and clean up my desk a little with a giant desk calendar. Not only can I write deadlines and things to do on each day, but I can also take notes about writing assignments. In fact, before I write any business guide for a particular company, I jot down the three main points to write about on some area on my desk calendar. By the end of the month there is so much chicken scratch on the calendar it’s ridiculous, but it definitely beats the piles of Post-it Notes covering my desk.
2.) A Good Monitor
I was getting along fine with my 15-inch monitor for years (actually, 6 years to be exact). But when my husband bought me a 22-inch monitor for Christmas, my vision seemed to improve enormously. I can now put two web pages side-by-side on my monitor and still read them easily, which helps when researching while providing content writing services. I could have chugged along for a few more years on my old monitor, but this one just makes my job a little easier. My eyes are thanking me, as well.
Though I wouldn’t say I’m addicted, I do appreciate the increased mobility my BlackBerry has brought to my business. I can email clients from the store, or even when I’m out with friends. I have also done research for projects while waiting for my car’s oil to get changed. The only issue I’ve found is that it makes it a bit more difficult to separate work from free time. However, when you have your own business, you likely find that sometimes personal issues come up during your normal business hours, as well, so it usually evens out.
I listen to much more music now than ever before, thanks to being alone in my office all day. I find that many people that provide content writing services do the same. I usually alternate between Pandora and the 2500 or so songs on my PC. I find my favorite artists to listen to while I write are Jack’s Mannequin, Something Corporate, Death Cab for Cutie, Mae, Splender, Lifehouse, Jimmy Eat World, and Keane (to name a few). Of course everyone has different taste, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that some of my favorite authors listen to many of the same bands as I do when they write. Maybe listening to these bands enough will inspire me to write the next great novel. If not, at least I have some good music to listen to while I work.
I don’t know if it is a mental thing or I am just addicted to caffeine, but I typically have some sort of caffeinated drink before I write. Last year the drink of choice was Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper, but it was recently discontinued. Since then, I have taken up drinking coffee instead, and I am pretty sure I am not alone on this. I can get through the day without it, but a tasty drink that happens to boost energy doesn’t hurt.
What are your pick-me-ups throughout the day? Whether you’re a freelancer, a business owner, or work the typical 9 to 5 shift, I want to know what gets you through your day.
I recently wrote a blog about how to prepare to write a great sales letter. Most of those tips were based on both experience and the research I dug up prior to writing one. Along the way, I also found more specific tips about what to put in an eye-catching sales letter. The following are the tips I found to be the most helpful when writing:
1.) Abide by the WIIFM Factor
Business owners are too busy to search your sales letter to find out why they should go with your company. Make it obvious by stating why they should buy from you in either the headline or the first sentence of your letter. This is referred to as the WIIFM concept, because most people reading your letter will be thinking “That’s great, but what’s in it for me?”
2.) Build Trust
This might sound difficult to do through a sales letter that’s obviously meant to, well, sell the potential client on your product or service. However, most salespeople build trust without their audience even knowing. The simplest way to do this in a letter is use the words “you” and “your” often. Using the words “I” or “we” can alienate the reader, so keep them to a minimum. Use your words wisely, addressing the reader by name at the beginning of the letter when possible, and speaking directly to their needs.
3.) Promote Your Company
If you have testimonials or endorsements from large companies or recognizable clients, use them to your advantage. You can sprinkle them throughout your sales letter, or have a separate section for them. Either way, make sure they stand out so that even readers who skim your letter will notice them.
4.) Show How You Can Be Useful
Once you’ve established what’s in it for the reader, throw in why your company can solve the reader’s problem. The second paragraph is a good place to explain your company, specifically how you have helped other clients and what you could do for this reader. Be concise and unique.
5.) Make it Pretty
As much as many providers of content writing services prefer to focus only on the words, other details do matter. Pay attention to formatting, colors, font size, and even paper type. Chances are, once you print out your letter, you will realize your paragraphs are too big, your font is too small, or your logo looks out of place. When you are satisfied with the look, walk away from this project and come back to it a few hours later. Take note of your first impression after your first glimpse at it in hours; you will probably notice some other details that bother you. The formatting and overall look should catch the reader’s attention, and the quality content should keep it.
6.) Include a Call to Action
Now that you have the reader’s attention, you need to tell them what you want from them. Include a sentence towards the end of the letter that requests for them to call or email you. If you plan to follow up with them in a few days, mention that so they can be prepared.
7.) Include Incentives
Though you might hate coupons and special discounts when it comes to your business, most consumers love them. How many times have you decided to get pizza from a particular place just because you had a coupon? A discount could be the final push the customer needs to choose your company over another one, especially in this economy.
8.) Create a Sense of Urgency
The best way to present special pricing is to mention that the reader will get a particular percentage off if they contact you by a certain time. Don’t make the deadline too soon or too far in the future. A month is a good amount of time to expect a response from a reader for them to receive the discount.
9.) Include a P.S.
It seems like most sales letters have a P.S. at the end. You might wonder why they didn’t just throw that bit of information into the body of the letter; you’d think by now they’d realize they kept forgetting it. However, a postscript is a great way to keep your main point fresh in the reader’s mind. Usually it has to do with the deadline to receive their discount. This section also works well for those who skim letters; studies have shown that many people read the postscript even if they don’t read the rest of the letter.
10.) Write Appropriately
You probably already have an idea of how to write professionally, but that is not all there is to it. Your sales letter introduces potential clients to your company. Therefore, you need to write in a style that matches your company. If you are a somewhat hip web design company, your sales letter should reflect that style. If your company image is very corporate, don’t sound too casual or trendy in your letter. On the flip side, if you sell clown noses or bounce houses, an overly serious letter might seem out of place.
These were the major ideas I gleaned from several websites and my own experience. Got any other tips for writing sales letters, or something to say about my list? Let me know!