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Archive for the month “October, 2011”

Writing Copy? Why Grammar Is Not Everything and What You Should Do About It

It may seem like a contradiction but grammar in writing, is indeed not everything when it comes to writing copy. When producing an article, news story or press release, there are various factors that have to be considered in order to write truly exceptional copy – the kind of copywriting that people will find useful enough to actually finish reading. Find out what these are and learn how to use them together in order to maintain balance in your written work:

Content matters, first and foremost!

Content in this context refers to substance – the overall worth of the write-up. It doesn’t refer to the number of words used or type of words you chose to write. What does your write-up say? What value can the readers get out of it? Are you substituting good grammar and big words because you have nothing else to say?

Although you shouldn’t be afraid of big words, it’s always better not to complicate things for your readers. Determine your target audience first – their interests, capacity, what writing they find useful and interesting – and then write for them. By placing more importance on what your readers can get out of your write-up, you will be producing more substance out of your copy. After all, what’s great grammar if there’s nothing good in what you have to say?

Focusing solely on grammar is distracting

One common mistake among writers is obsessing about grammar when they begin to write. As a result, they get distracted, derailed from their train of thought. Imagine having a really terrific idea and then worrying over where to place a comma or which clause to use first. The great ideas and content that could have come out of you as a writer and made your writing better can get lost or confused with other ideas and concerns.

When writing, don’t worry too much about grammar, at least at first. Write down words as they come to you. Don’t let the subject of grammar bother you when inspiration strikes. Only when you’re done should you then go over what you have written to check and improve it. Only then should grammar be a concern. After all, how can you proofread something you haven’t even written yet?

Even the greatest focused on substance and not on form

The great American writers Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner had a famous rivalry. Faulkner, a writer praised for his intricate prose style (that initially confused his readers), criticized Hemingway’s trademark simplicity.

Hemingway fired back, saying that there are ‘simpler and better words‘, even saying that Faulkner shouldn’t think that ‘big emotions come from big words‘. Refusing to give in and use what he called ‘10-dollar words‘, Hemingway continued to write in his simple, easy style. He is still well-loved and much-admired as an author today.

Grammar is not everything, but…

Grammar may not be everything but it is still a major component of good copy. You can’t just ignore the value of good grammar because it isn’t the be-all and end-all of writing.

Good grammar is equated to professionalism and is considered the true sign of a skilled and experienced professional. Furthermore, it’s also considered as one of the signs that what you have written is reliable. Bad grammar, on the other hand, is for amateurs, lazy writers and scammers.

Although grammar is not everything in writing copy, don’t ignore it. Use it as a means to improve what you have already written and progress as a writer.

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5 Ways to Write Copy and Avoid Being Clever and Critical

 

There are times when writing can inspire such strong emotions that you
find yourself becoming critical or overly clever. While it may sound 
or look good to you and a few people who know you, it may not always
have the same kind of reception with the rest of your audience. By 
using a tone of writing carelessly, you might not get the kind of 
results you want. Here are reasons why you should avoid being clever
and critical just to write copy and how to improve your writing 
instead.
 Being overly clever is seen as arrogance
You've probably come across writers who try too hard to impress their 
audience. You will agree that they often seem condescending and 
annoying. The reader's usual reaction is often, 'What, does this 
writer think I'm dumb?'  

By being too clever, you'll alienate your audience, who won't be 
too pleased at being subjected to a write-up that seems to insinuate
that they are ignorant. Instead, speak to them the way you would to a 
respected colleague and don't simply assume that you know better.

Being critical can ruffle the wrong feathers

There are writing styles and topics that call for a writer to use a 
critical tone. Satire, for example, is very often critical. However,
really great writers still manage to inject good humor into the 
writing, which is actually a sign of genuine talent.  

When writing reviews, for example, you also need to be critical in 
order to inform the reader the positive and negative points of the 
person, event or product being reviewed.  Being critical could be 
harsh but if you can phrase your sentences well, your write-up will
be easier and more fun to read.  

Be like Shakespeare

No, it's not about iambic pentameters and rhymes but being able to 
state the obvious without doing so. Instead of confronting the issue 
upfront by being clever and critical, find ways to describe, illus-
trate, critique or opine. You can add words, omit some, use metaphors
and other tricks of the language. The key here is to produce a well-
written piece.  Just don't overdo it, though or people will know you're
trying to be clever.

Avoid strong language

You don't have to be offensive just so people will know that you have
something to say. Sometimes, writers can't help using strong language 
when trying to be critical about something.  

Some writers may even use strong language in the hopes of preventing
boredom in their readers. However, this trick often backfires since
not everyone is appreciative of language used only in B action movies
and street fights. If you use strong language out of context, your 
readers might think that you are either trying to be clever or being 
overly critical.

Instead of falling into this trap, turn to useful references such as
a dictionary or a thesaurus for better alternatives.  You'd be sur-
prised at how well you can write copy that expresses exactly what you 
want to say using well-chosen words. You'll gain more respect for it.

Use humor instead

Instead of being clever and critical when writing copy, consider appea-
ling to your readers' funny side. Some of the best writing ever
produced used humor to express opinions and ideas even about the most
serious of topics. Doing so will allow you to explore a different
aspect of your subject and to offer your readers a means to see things
in a different light.

WRITING THE PERFECT ARTICLE

One of the best ways to solidify your reputation and credibility is by writing articles for print publications such as newsletters, trade journals, and magazines. This in turn creates an influx of sales as people gravitate towards experts and simply put, getting published makes you an expert! We naturally tend to have more confidence in those who get themselves into print. And who doesn’t want to create more confidence, and therefore more sales, from our target audience?

Being published is also free advertising. You can pay for the best, most expensive print ad, but nothing will create more results than the publication of your article. Your audience knows that you didn’t pay for it, you earned it, and that is the significant difference that will explode sales.

It may seem a daunting task to get published but in reality it is not difficult to attain. Many newsletters and trade journals are constantly looking for writers to contribute work. Consider these steps when planning your article marketing strategy:

1. THINK BIG BUT START SMALL

Rather than going for the large mainstream magazines, shoot for small focused publications such as newsletters or trade journals. These publications are more likely to accept your work and even help edit your articles to suitability. To locate these publications visit your nearest University library and ask for reference books that list trade journals or newsletters. Once you have been featured in these publications you can begin to build up to larger mainstream magazines.

2. ASK FOR GUIDELINES

Never submit articles without first understanding what the publication is looking for and will accept. You need to be aware of word count, spacing format, style, and the type of information each publication is looking to include. It is wise to ask for a sample publication to read the articles currently being run. It is a waste of an editor’s time to receive articles that in no way fit the theme of their publication. Consideration will go a long way to creating a good relationship with a particular editor.

3. DON’T WRITE AN AD

The most common mistake a businessperson makes when trying to get published is writing articles that read like ads. You must write articles that contain information that is useful and educational to the audience. You may also write articles that are inspiring or in some way adds to the reader’s understanding of a particular topic. Often giving away little trade secrets will increase your chances of getting published and build your credibility with both the editors and the reading audience.

4. BE PERSISTENT – NOT PUSHY

Article marketing is not for the weak of spirit. Put your pride aside and resist the natural tendency to be hurt when receiving a rejection. You will receive your share of rejections… every writer does. When you receive a rejection write a polite thank you to the editor for considering your work. This paves the way for future submissions. Consider calling and asking politely what you might do to further your chances of being accepted into their publication. Never, ever be rude or pushy with an editor. This will only insure you will never be considered for future opportunities. Editors are often inundated and they select writers willing to be cooperative. Kindness counts. Then keep at it. Set a goal to submit so many articles a week and stick with it.

WHAT IF YOU’RE NOT A NATURAL WRITER?

If you just don’t have the skills or time necessary to develop great articles, consider hiring a ghostwriter to help you achieve your goals. A ghostwriter produces work in your name so that editors see the articles as being your own. This is a common practice among corporations and businesses of all sizes. Sometimes our greatest strength is in understanding our weaknesses. The most successful business people understand this and hire that work out to experts.

Article marketing is not an impossible task and the rewards can be great. Quit paying for expensive ads that get varied results. Give yourself and your business the professional edge by submitting your information articles to the appropriate publication today. Then sit back and watch your credibility rise and your sales soar!

8 Types of Headlines That Sell

There are effective ways on how to infuse your visitors the sense of urgency your page is trying to convey. Since the most crucial part of your site is the part where the visitors land, headlines are very vital to bring to them your point at the most immediate time possible.

Writing the best headline is not too complicated as many marketers would think; it can be simple if you will follow the right process. Rather than thinking of how you should write your headline, think of what it should say to your visitors. To help you think about a possible headline, listed here are the types of headlines to choose from:

1.News Headline. If your service or product proposes something newsworthy, publicize it on your headline. You’ll naturally use this to present your new product or an enhancement on your existing product. You can make use of words like Now, New, Introducing, Just Released, Finally, At Last or Announcing to make your News Headline more appealing. For example: Finally! A New Diet Pill that Can Work For Just Seven Days!

2.Benefit Headline. Features do not sell but benefits do. To compose a winning benefit headline, you must be overly familiar with your market. This will let you offer them a compelling and powerful benefit driven headline that will easily entice your audience. Research on every little benefit that your prospects are looking for on a product or service. En example of a benefit headline is: Cleans and Whiten Your Teeth…

3.Guarantee Headline. These are headlines which present appealing benefits and guarantee results. If your product or service gives powerful guarantee, let your would-be customers know it by showing it on your headline. For example: Whitens your Skin in just 10 days… Money Back Guarantee!

4.How to Headline. There are many “How Tos” present either in books or sites so you wouldn’t be wrong on this type. Try placing “how to” on your headline and it will really be enticing for your prospects to know what solutions, information and advices you have for their problems. For example: How to Win Back Your Husband…

5.Testimonial Headline. This type of headline utilizes testimonials of customers for the headline. Your customers will sell for you since they will be talking of the benefits they gain from your products. For Example: I Earn A Lot By Just Purchasing this Self-Help Book

6.Question Headline. You must be cautious when using this type. You must be well informed of your market or you may blow your chances of winning them by this advertising drive. The good types of question headlines are those that encourage your prospects to be involved. For example: Have You Turned Your First Date into Disaster?

7.Command Headline. The type of headline which instructs your costumers on what they will do. The command must encourage action through benefit offerings that will really help them. Most effective headlines must start with action verbs. For example: Stop Your Financial Problems!

8.Reason Why Headline. This headline will give your prospective costumers particular reasons why they need to read your sales letter, your website or your ad. These headlines are effective since they include specific numbers and facts. For example: Easy and Fun Ways to Earn $500 From Home.

You can model your headline from the types listed above; but be sure to sizzle your headlines to compel your prospects to read your site. Move beyond the usual and create your headline at a different angle. Add up some new attention grabbing terms and see your sales surge up!

Freedom to write anywhere

Freedom to write anywhere

Simplicity Rules in Copy Writing

The adage”Simplicity is Beauty” does not only apply to individuals but it will also benefit you if you’re into copy writing. The simplicity rule should also apply on your copy. You can be a learned writer from your school but the style can be that which is impersonal, rigidly structured and formal.

To attract visitors to your site, being simple is good. Since readers are primarily interested on what you have to say, you may entice them to read on or discourage them and give up. Creating a simple yet concise and clear copy that is easy to read and comprehend is the best way to inform your clients of your point. Here are some easy tips to simplify your website and make it a winner:

1. Create simple and clean designs with a clear navigation system. You can repeat the images, colors, formatting and text throughout the site since guests will not wonder if they have unintentionally left your site.

2. For your background, use contrasting colors and avoid using light texts on light backgrounds. Dark texts are easier to read on a light background. Be careful with your background patterns since they can obscure the site’s content instead of flattering it. Avoid underlined or blinking texts. These texts may annoy and distract visitors. Your hyperlinks must be the only documents underlined on your site.

3. Make your copy easy to read, understand and use. Try your best to be lucid. Use simple words; those that are used for everyday speech. Use terms that are not to vague and very understandable. Don’t be too stuffy; remove pompous words and replace it with plain words. Minimize complicated gimmicks and constructions. If you can’t give the information directly and briefly, you must consider writing the copy again.

There are multi-syllable words that can be replaced by simple terms. For example, information can be replaced by a simpler word “facts”, demonstrate can be replaced with “show”, gratis with “free”, regarding with “about”, etc. Check each word and ask yourself if there are words that can still be simplified to lessen the syllable length. By this method, the words can easily roll off the readers’ tongue and they can easily remember them as they read.

4. Check your spelling and check spelling errors. This will not earn your site too many visitors. because this will make your page look unprofessional. You can utilize a spell checker such as the HTML Toolbox.

5. Don’t be over chatty and suspense killer. Surprises in the middle of one sentence is not informative, rather very irritating. Do not be too arrogant as well; don’t be too boastful in presenting your visitors of your intelligence and cleverness. This will not impress them but will surely bore them. Remember that your aim here is not only to present the readers of what you have but also to encourage them.

6. Do not be overly instructive. If you have so many words beginning with expect, consider, compare and imagine, the readers might think that what they’re reading are stylebooks or textbooks.

Writing a simple copy is vital since your goal is let your visitors understand what you’re trying to inform them with less effort on their part. The visitors wouldn’t want to spend long hours just figuring out what your site is all about.

You should aim to entice visitors to immediately click the order button without second thoughts. So write simple and win them all!

How to Put Action on Your Copy

Your brochures and catalogs are great. Your site is superbly designed and constructed; the content is simple and enticing. You just wait for your visitors to flood in but after long waiting hours, no one is still registering. You may now be asking yourself: “Why aren’t there any sales?” Think again! You maybe missing an important an important area which is: THE CALL TO ACTION.

A call to action is a web copy which instructs a reader on what you wanted him to do. This call to action can be in the form of a declarative, imperative and a command statement or just mere suggestions. With any marketing materials, it’s important to get your prospective clients to act… NOW! Here are several steps to follow to make a call to action that will definitely have your phones ringing and your sales increasing.

The first step is to do your research on the terms to be used for your call to action. The term must be associated with what your content is advertising. Chances are, the terms you maybe thinking had already been used by other copywriters and you should pay attention to this.

The second step is to write your content to lead to a straight call to action. Write the call to action clearly so that your visitors will know precisely what to do and how. Use phrases like “Register Now” or Click here” at an exact location where there is a button or a click through. Tell readers to call a toll number that is correct and still available.

Third step is to try to put your call to action on several locations on the web site, especially if there’s a lot of copy on your page. You can put the call to action after an introductory paragraph, the top of the page, and other parts of the site.

The fourth step is to make your site as direct as possible. Your visitors will want to know what they’re getting from your page as soon as they land on it. Get straight to the point immediately without having making your copy awkward.

The call to action may include a registration blank which ask for information such as the email address. The fifth step is to link these details to a shopping cart or an autoresponder to create your mailing list. Once you add a centered call to action to your copy, your efforts will make your web visitors to take your call to action.

As a word of advice, there are certain tips that you can apply. One is to start your call to action with a verb. To achieve clarity, keep the subject and verb close together; for example: “Ask your sales representative for details”. You must keep your call to action on your screen the entire time. If this would not be possible, you must let it pop several times so that irregular viewers may have a chance to see it. Lastly, inform yourself more about contextual relevance, serial position effect and chunking and coding.

Creating a simple, smooth and effective call to action is still an art. A straightforward and strong call to action can really bring a difference to your copy content and can convert it. The message on your call to action is really vital to the performance of your website. As an end note, always remember that a good copywriting will always include a call to action.

How Is Online Copywriting Different from Offline Copywriting?

To become an effective copywriter for the Web, the first thing you need to learn are the major differences between online and offline copywriting.

Who Reads It?

Offline copies are printed on various materials, and they’re something that some people may read just to pass the time. With no expectations, offline readers can afford to be more patient and forgiving.

Online copies, however, don’t have that luxury. More often than not, Internet users have a reason for visiting a website and they definitely have expectations when it comes to reading any online copy. And since they know what they want and what to look for, they’re more inclined to be impatient and wouldn’t hesitate to switch to another article if what they’re currently reading proves to be unsuitable.

One Chance from Start to Finish

Again, certain situations in the offline world give readers no chance to be choosy. Reading from a single magazine limits them to the contents of the magazine. If there are no other magazines available and they need to acquire certain information or, once again, they’re desperate to pass the time, they have no other recourse but to read the magazine from start to finish.

Second chances are rare for online copies and as such, you need to make every word powerful and significant from start to finish, beginning with your headline and until you finish your call to action.

Switching from one copy to another is also easier for online readers. With search engines more than ready to supply them with the next best link if your copy proves to be inadequate, the only way to keep their attention is by making every sentence worth their time.

Cost

Offline copywriters may occasionally have to worry about the costs of printing their works in a certain format. Too many paragraphs as well as larger fonts could make the cost of publishing escalate in an alarming rate, and for this reason, they’re forced to make adjustments, which are not always favorable to readers, to their works.

Online copywriters, in this case, stand to gain more from their line of work. Since text weighs little in terms of bytes, formatting rarely make a substantial difference to their work. As a result, they can afford to make more paragraphs and keep it short – exactly the way their online readers like it. Having large fonts aren’t a problem either. Indeed, they can change the color of the text and suffer from no additional cost.

Skimming

Online readers have a habit of skimming, and they do it more frequently than their offline counterparts. Web copywriters will, of course, have to adjust their work accordingly.

Skimming makes optional formatting techniques in offline writing necessary in online copywriting. Subheadings are one of them. Their presence ensures that online readers are still able to comprehend the gist of the copy even if they’re skimming. If you can supply one subheading for every paragraph, that can only work to your favor!

Now that you’re aware of the differences between online and offline copywriting, you can apply what you’ve learned the next time you write an online copy. These newfound tips may make writing more difficult at the start, but rest assured they come with greater rewards!

Remember to double-check for errors before uploading your work. Good luck on keeping the attention of your readers!

6 Secret Tips for Writing an Amazing Teaser Copy

A teaser copy is made of two to three short but carefully composed sentences and is similar to blurbs and extracts. In direct mail, they on the outside of a letter while in online copies, they commonly appear right after the headline. If your headline for your online copy isn’t able to do justice to the rest of your article, a teaser copy is definitely called for.

Introduce Yourself

If yours is a new company, your teaser copy could do with a bit more information about your business. If you have certain facts or figures to make your company more memorable, like having a product that’s the first of its kind in the market, or being the industry leader in a specific region, so much the better!

Remember: if you’re going to use a teaser copy to introduce your business, be sure to do so with a bang!

Be Entertaining

It’s hard to be funny, witty, or clever when you’re limited to just one sentence, and that’s often the case with headlines. You have greater leeway, however, with teaser copies so take advantage of it if you dare.

If you’re going to use humor, make sure that it’s in the sense that your target market – and not just you – stands to appreciate.

What? There’s More?

If you think that your products or services are very attractive to your target market and they just need that extra push to make a purchase, your teaser copy can give them just that. For this purpose, your teaser copy must include details that will not just complement but enhance what your headline said about your product.

If it’s a headline’s job to state the main benefit of your product, let your teaser be responsible for stating the additional but much-wanted benefits that only your product can offer and your target market is sure to desire.

Make a Connection

Headlines make people pay attention and teasers build on that by making a connection with the readers. Teasers can be used to create relationships between readers and the products or services you’re promoting.

If this is what you want a teaser for, it’s important to see the bigger picture. Imagine how a person’s life can change – gradually or maybe even instantly – simply by taking you up on your offer. Whatever it is, that’s what your teaser should contain!

Explain the Image

If a particular image is accompanying your online copy and it’s critical to what you’re offering, use the teaser to further explain what that image is about. Pictures may speak a thousand words, but these words can be used to create different meanings. Use your teaser to ensure you’re getting the right image across.

Tease

Last but not the least, use the teaser copy to tease. Give them a taste, but don’t give them all. Let them have a peek, but don’t let them see everything. Use the teaser to give readers tantalizing snippets of information, making it very clear all the while that the only way to get more is by reading the rest of your copy.

Teasers, like every other aspect of online copywriting, adhere to the same guidelines. As such, you need to keep it short, simple, but powerful. Do that and your teaser copy is sure to convince your readers to heed your call to action in the end.

How to Speak the Reader’s Language in Writing Copy

A common mistake that many people make when writing web copy or website content online is to assume that all their readers have all the time in the world to read a lot of words and go through an entire sea of text. Another common assumption is that people believe and remember everything that they learn online. However, the online writing arena is so much more competitive than the offline world: printed words are meant to be read, but online words are meant to be skimmed.

When you are writing copy, you need to speak your reader’s language. This requires knowledge of both tone and structure. In terms of structure, you need to follow your reader’s thoughts: your reader is thinking in terms of ideas, so present them quickly and in palatable shots. Have all your salient points ready and available in subheadings or bullet points. This can make it easier for your reader to skim through your copy and find what he or she needs. This also makes it more inviting for your reader to actually go through the work: by providing white space, you also give your readers’ eyes the chance to rest once in a while.

Now that you have drawn your readers in and made them stay, it’s time for you to speak their language. Now this is a rather tricky deal: a lot of different parts of the population speak language differently, and every single person has his or her own native language that he or she is most fluent in or most comfortable using. You will need to tap into the most general of these languages: this means research on your part, say by doing a marketing study by looking at how people talk in different forums and mailing lists. You need to look at how people talk and find a way for you to sound like them, but not too much: remember, if you try too hard, your writing will show it.

Here are a few more tips on how to make your readers hear themselves in you:

– You need to make your visitors excited about your products and services, so excited that they will shell out some of their hard-earned money to buy them. This means that you need to keep your copy excited: be upbeat and enthusiastic, and avoid language that is depressing or dull, or that is bland and commonplace. Avoid going for negative statements: say what a thing is, not what it is not; better yet, say what a thing can offer. Give statements of potential and promise, and entice your reader.

However, be careful, as being too exciting can actually make you look desperate and hard selling. Desperation shows up easily online, so don’t be too uppity-up. Upbeat does not mean hyperactive, and neither does it mean reckless excitement.

– Grab attention at the beginning of your copy and do not beat around the bush. You will reinforce this at the end, but start your copy so that people know the point of it immediately. The best content, therefore, should be at the start and end of your web page, in order to grab attention, and then keep it and allow your visitors to take something home. Moreover, keep your ending memorable and upbeat, as this is what your visitors will remember about you.

– Keep it short and simple. If you are able to get the ideas out in a few words without your website visitors having to scroll ever so many times to get what you mean, then you have it made.

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