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Posts Tagged ‘effective writing’

1186845_pen-friendMy last post touched on the fact that companies need to look at content as crucial to the success of their website. However, it occurred to me that not everyone knows why that is. This topic fit in with the theme of Webflo Studios, where I provide content writing services, so I wrote a blog over there about the reasons for good website content. Check it out and let me know your thoughts, whether you disagree or have another reason for good content.

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1138273_button_for_web_pages_1If you’re ever unsure of where to place those darned hyphens, I recently came across a helpful guide regarding hyphenation. A “friend” on Twitter posted it, which is just another way that site can help you progress in your chosen industry.

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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


concise2ndlarge1This 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


1172286_pen_and_lineI 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


1Adding 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 buzzword_largethe 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


1117094_basic_math_1Use 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!

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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


decisionsBusiness 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


143066_hold_my_hand1This 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


9853_54270506If 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


28987981_15115946Once 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


dsc02065_copy3As 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


nokia-60701Now 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 1-1198868561ji9a1it 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


1163743_important_letterThe 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 the33722631_43484502 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


29992_marking_on_the_cyberbus_1You 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!

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Find out the top 5 traits of good content at my blog for Webflo Studios. I write about mainly content writing services on that site, but I also occasionally delve into marketing and design topics. It’s fun stuff. Feel free to comment any ideas for good content that you can think of.

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Whether you are a professional copywriter or just wear several hats in your company, there will come a time when you need to drum up more business as soon as possible. One of the most well-known, effective ways to do so is to send out a sales letter to your target market.

If you are like me, the idea of selling to strangers is intimidating. If you are going to spend money on paper and postage, along with hours of time researching and writing, you’d better make it worth it. Though I have provided plenty of content writing services for several industries, I just wrote my first official sales letter today.

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To prepare for this, I performed some research, and spent lots of time squinting at the screen and erasing entire paragraphs after a few read-throughs. In fact, I have two drafts of my letter; one was created before I did much research, and the other was edited to take into account what I’d learned.

As a writer, research is part of my daily routine. In a single day, I might write about the joys of motion detectors, how to find the appropriate gymnastics equipment, and the best diet for diabetics. In fact, that describes last Tuesday for me. Does that mean I’m a natural expert at any of these subjects? Not exactly.

It simply means I know where to find information, which is definitely fortunate for me. I majored in Journalism, not Knowing It All (though I would have majored in that if it were available).

Anyway, before you get lost on the Web during your journey to find sales letter tips, know where to look. Here are the main venues I checked out prior to adding sales letter experience to my slew of available content writing services:

1. Blogs

If you’re reading this (and you are), then you already know how informative blogs can be. Whether they’re all about sales or just about writing in general, you can learn a few things from blogs written by both professionals and fellow writers who are still learning. After Googling several phrases involving the words “how to” and “sales letters,” I came across plenty of blogs written by writers and sales gurus. Even if they weren’t extremely helpful, most of the blogs I read were at least entertaining, which has got to count for something, right?

2. Lists

I am pretty sure I am not alone when I say lists are awesome! Clearly, I struggle at making them (see verbose paragraphs above), but I am slowly learning. Let’s face it; there are so many resources online that if you can’t find what you need within a few seconds, you say “Bzzz…Next!” out loud (or maybe I’m alone on that one). If you are as impatient as I am, you might even use the “cache” feature on your Google search, opening several tabs at once and checking out each one while the next loads. When it comes to researching sales letters, lists abound, enabling you to scan each one and pick up ideas. In fact, you will likely find a top ten list in my next blog, just because.

3. Samples

I learn best by checking out examples first. Luckily, there are plenty of sample sales letters available for free online. Simply Google “sample sales letters” or “top sample sales letters” to view pages of successful letters written by companies big and small. Templates will also pop up on such searches, which can be helpful when it comes to formatting. A template serves as a good example of where to put the address, greeting, closing statements, etc. Checking out samples and templates can get you started on your letter, but be sure to truly make it your own once you get the hang of it.

So now that you know where to start when it comes to research, be sure to check out the next blog in this series to gets some more specific writing tips.

Autumn

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