Category Archives: Website Content

Style Guides and Building Your Own

By Erica Dix

How do you know whether to write April 5, 2002, April fifth two thousand two, Apr. 5, 2002 or 4/5/02? That’s when it’s time to consult a style guide.

Style guides are created for writers in various situations to make decisions on how to express their writing in the most readable way possible for their audience. When most people hear the term style guides, they think MLA (Modern Language Association)  or APA (American Psychological Association). They think about creating bibliographies in school for essays and presentation. In reality, style guides are not really about citing sources, they are templates for creating content that is professional and readable.

Many people don’t know that style guides are actually an important tool for any business or brand that wants to maintain consistent style across all of their brand materials and content. Some businesses rely on an existing style guide but some companies prefer to throw the style guide out the window. Let’s talk about style guides and how you can start to develop your very own.

Common Style Guides and Their Uses

Before you start your own style guide, it is useful to understand which style guides exist for what  kinds of content. By understanding how the most widely used style guides are developed specifically for their audience, you can use them as inspiration for your own brand style guide.

MLA Handbook and APA Style: These are often the first style guides that people learn about from their high school English and Social Studies classes. MLA is made for the academic world, and takes a more formal and stylized approach compared to other guides. For example, MLA will spell out almost all numbers, only using numerals for numbers that would be more than one word, like 342 versus three forty-two. APA is also primarily used in academia, and is designed for the social sciences, with specifications for headings and footnotes. The differences in APA and MLA are centered around footnote and endnote styles. For example, MLA capitalizes every word in the paper’s title, whereas APA will only capitalize the first word of the title, and any proper nouns.

Associated Press (AP): This is the preferred style guide for magazines and news outlets. It encourages users to be quick, to the point, and media-savvy. For example, AP style does not use the oxford comma, which is the last comma in a list, since it may increase the word count, which is an important factor in journalism. AP also has different abbreviations for states and dates so be sure to check your work carefully if using the AP guide.

Chicago Manual of Style (CMA): This is a general style guide that covers a lot of the grammar details that other guides do not address. It is one of the most comprehensive and detailed guides, often used in publishing. They have less information in their citations, because the grammar and style of the body is much more important in publishing. Many corporate publications and branding guides rely on the CMA.

American Medical Association (AMA): This style guide is specific to medical writing. It focuses on accuracy and details, and is aimed specifically at people in the medical field. They include a lot of specifications regarding medical terminology that is not addressed in other guides, with updates that keep up with the ever-changing world of medicine.

If one of these style guides sounds relevant to your business, I encourage you to do more research and find out more about the recommended grammar and language rules that guide uses for its audience. In many cases, however, businesses elect to start from scratch and make their own guide, tailored especially for their needs.

  1. Audience Language. Does your business serve a community of professionals? You will want to adjust the style of your language depending on the type of people in your audience.  If your readers are accountants or engineers, you may want to use numerals instead of spelling out numbers. Consider the level of education and background you are speaking to, and impression that you want your business to make on its audience. While jargon is usually seen as something to avoid, when you are writing specific to an audience, it may be perfectly acceptable. Consider this as you develop your style guide.
  2. Company Identification. Believe it or not, there are companies that refer to themselves inconsistently in their marketing communications. Are you Widget Company, Widget Co., Widget Company, LLC or WCL? While you don’t have to use your registered legal name in every mention, you should be consistent about how you casually mention the company name.
  3. How will you write headings or titles? Choose a format for your headings, and make sure it is consistent throughout the document. When you name the titles of books, presentations, or other works, will you underline or use italics? Both are grammatically acceptable, but adding this distinction to your style guide will make your content sharper and more easy to read. Consult the best possible guide for you.
  4. Oxford/Serial Comma? Grammar details are an important part of a style guide. Does the koala eat, shoots and leaves (no serial comma) or does the koala eat, shoots, and leaves? Whether you embrace that last comma or not, you should establish consistency in your content for comma usage, capitalization of proper nouns, and other common grammar considerations.
  5. How do you want to write dates and numbers? This is a critical style choice that is often neglected by content creators. There are several ways to write dates, with varying levels of details and readability. (Mar. 3, 2018; March 3rd, 2018, 03/03/18, etc.) Depending on your audience and industry, your audience might have an easier time reading a date one way or another.
  6. If you are writing for a bilingual audience, will you include any translations or footnotes? First, decide if and how you will translate. You have a variety of options for how to do this. You can put the translation in parentheses after the foreign phrase, or use a footnote with an asterisk or superscript number.

Creating a brand is more than just a set of fonts and slogans. Every detail you present to your audience contributes to a bigger picture that tells your story. If you don’t have a style guide, your content will be riddled with inconsistencies, which will weaken your impression on your audience. If you need help developing a brand style guide for your business, Big Ideas Writing can help. Contact us today!

Big Ideas Begin with Writers

By Erica Dix, former BIW Writer

They say that you can do a lot of different things with a degree in English. Some routes are obvious to everyone, like becoming an English teacher, or going on to law school. However, many students choose English because they have a passion for writing. Of course, not everyone is cut out for writing the next great American novel, so what’s an English major to do?

The fact is, writers are in high demand, and bringing creativity to writing is a truly marketable skill. As an English major, the important thing is to know that your writing is valuable, and to explore where it will be valued.

I enjoyed learning about great literature and critiquing fiction, but I never guessed it would translate to the world of marketing communications. However, in English class, we are taught to come up with big ideas, create content from prompts, and analyze text for meaning and direction, which is exactly what is necessary to be an effective writer who can create engaging content for websites, blogs and more.

Enter Big Ideas Writing

While I was a student at DePaul, I was lucky enough to intern at my mom’s company, Big Ideas Writing, a marketing strategy and content marketing firm. I learned the basics of freelancing, and how to work independently.

One of the toughest skills I learned was how to focus myself and stay motivated even when the boss isn’t around, and you are working at home, surrounded by distractions. I learned to meet deadlines despite the allures of Netflix or the constant barrage of unanswered texts and emails. I also learned that people who are good writers have many job titles like Marketing Strategist, Social Media Manager, Project Manager, and Communications Specialist.

Every person with a liberal arts degree can turn those essay-writing skills into a great career in marketing communications if they are willing to learn a few things outside of the classroom. Here are some practical, tangible skills that Big Ideas Writing taught me, that many businesses are looking for right now.

How to write a press release. Like the iambic couplets I studied in Shakespeare class, I learned to write press releases within certain parameters to convey information in a specific way. Press releases are designed to provide information to the media, and they have to be as straightforward and informative as possible, all within a word limit. Being able to write within a very specific set of rules can be very rewarding, and hone your creativity.

How to create social media posts for business. Companies like writers who can put together a creative Facebook, Instagram or Twitter post. When you write for social media, you have to be brief, pointed, and keep your eye on the prize: increased exposure for your client. Like the essay outlines we are taught to create in English class, social media calendars and posts help us hit the objectives of our campaign and organize our ideas into relevant content.

What SEO keywords are and how to use them. Search Engine Optimization is not something that they teach in English class, but if you have a way with words, knowing a little about SEO can get your digital content found on the internet. As English majors, our attention to detail in grammar and style makes us experts at inserting SEO keywords in a natural way.

How to write a “share-worthy” blog post… like this one! In the classroom, the professor that we English majors write for is a captive audience. With a little creative problem-solving, writers can produce an informative, persuasive or disruptive blog that reaches the public and generates those views, likes and shares. Creating online content will bring your writing into the 21st century!

How to edit my own work. Everyone likes to imagine that their first draft is perfect, but anyone who rereads their first draft the next day will realize that it’s not. For many writers, that journey begins in college where professors have students rewrite essays. The novice writer is easily frustrated by revisions and criticism, but by graduation, English majors have the humility and patience that it takes to revise like a pro.

How to always look for new opportunities. Having no boss sounds like fun… until you realize that you have to become your own boss. If you’re too easy on yourself, you will never meet deadlines and strive to be your best. The only way to succeed in freelancing is to be disciplined and passionate. Never stop searching for your next project, always promote yourself, and think from the client’s perspective. Figure out what clients need, and make it available to them.

Speaking of looking for opportunities, I am currently on the hunt for my next big one. I sadly say goodbye to Big Ideas, but the skills that I learned while working there are ideal for work with a marketing agency or association, preferably one in science, medical or environmental issues. I have always had a mind for science, and minored in Environmental Studies, so I am especially interested in work that is related to science and health. I also live in Chicago and am interested in loop locations. You can check out my work portfolio here. I will always be thankful for the lessons I learned at Big Ideas Writing, and I am excited to launch a long and prosperous career in content writing and marketing.

If you are interested in referring me for a position working in content writing, please email me at erica@bigideaswriting.com.

Why Content Writers Create Great Marketing Strategy

 

I was speaking recentlyMagnet with the owner of an agency who helps companies with the creation and implementation of corporate marketing plans. We were discussing the possibilities of using my services to manage some of his marketing projects. As we discussed ideas, he said something I had never heard verbalized before: “You know, content writers make the best program managers,” he said.

I knew exactly what he meant.  Yet I had never put it that way myself. Then after thinking about it, I decided to think it through and it makes perfect sense. Why?

Content writers are all about the message.  Let’s face it, if you are creating a marketing communications piece, you want to send the right marketing messaging to the right audience. You can put out all the blogs, videos, etc. you want but if they don’t speak to your audience, nothing will happen. Content writers understand this, and it is the bread and butter of what we do. We craft the messages that get your audience to do something…and now!

Content is at the root of many a marketing program. When I started my business four years ago, I strictly sought editorial, content writing, editing and proofreading jobs. Now, at the request of my clients, I manage marketing programs that feature content like blogs, Eblast campaigns, social media campaigns and more. Content is at the heart of these efforts so a content writer should be too! This is especially key when a client has a need to broadcast one message across multiple communication  channels, like website content, printed collateral pieces, video content and social media. I personally do this by partnering with exceptional professionals who share my passion for creative communication. Seems like program management is a natural extension of my skills!

Good content writers can also spin a message on a dime. If the first headline isn’t working, we’ve got more waiting in the wings. Again, who decides if you need a change in, say, the headline? Probably your success metrics, as analyzed by the program manager. And if your program manager is also your content writer, well…you eliminate the middle man. How’s that for efficiency? Good content writers are a fount of creativity, flexibility and versatility.

Content Writers think conceptually. We content writers do more than write. We consider the effect our words have on others. We explore options of communication to get our point across, like different media channels, graphic design or sensory experiences. All that big sky thinking is essential for the success of an integrated campaign. And we’ve got it down pat!

I agree that content writers make the best marketers. Maybe that’s why I’ve grown comfortable in my role as the content writer-program manager. If you’re looking for a content writer with a flair for marketing strategy, let’s talk. Contact me today!

Social Media Prime Time: When Your Business Should Post

Social media is an incredibly important aspect of today’s business practices, and knowing when the best time is to post or update social media can be key to exposing your content to a wider audience.

Recently, I attended a presentation on this very topic given by Maria Ramos, an award-winning blogger and social media consultant.  Her website, A Savings Wow, is an eclectic mix of coupons, savings tips, and deals and giveaways. As a social media consultant, Maria helps businesses get the most from their efforts, and her presentation gave some concrete information on the best and worst times to post on some of the most popular platforms. I’ve put together this chart as a handy guide for myself (and you!) to schedule accordingly.

Social media Best time to post Worst times to post
Facebook 1-2 times per day, 1pm to 4pm ET Weekends before 8am and after 8pm ET
Twitter About 3 times a day, Mondays through Thursdays from 1pm to 3pm ET Every day after 8pm and Friday after 3pm ET
Instagram Mondays from 3pm to 4pm ET
LinkedIn 2 to 4 times a week, Tuesdays through Thursdays at noon and between 5pm and 6pm ET Mondays and Fridays between 10pm and 6am ET

Also, if you have active social media, make sure your customers and prospects know you’re there! There are many unusual places to put your social media icons that you may not have considered.

Experts will tell you that even if you don’t follow the guidelines above, the important thing is to post, get the word out and make social media work for you!

At Big Ideas Writing, we help clients with their social media content and page management. If you need some help with yours, contact us today!

WEB FRIGHTS: Four Things That Will Scare Away Your Visitors

web-frightIt’s Halloween, the time of year when we are surrounded by scary costumes, makeup, life-size sound or motion-activated spooks and unfortunately, bad web design.

It’s true that a bad web design can bounce your visitors away faster than a fake mummy hand reaching out to grab their bag of candy. As a freelance content writer, I work on a lot of websites and have seen the good, the bad and the ugly as far as design goes. Here are four elements that you should avoid unless you want to send your site visitors fleeing for the nearest competitor.

We’ll start with one of the most common ones…read on…if you dare…

FRIGHT #1:  TOO MUCH CONTENT

bad-website

Never mind that it’s in Norwegian…they will translate for you. But quick…what do they sell? How can you find what you want? If you can’t answer either of these questions in the first four seconds, you have a bad web design. And yes, this is a home page. I told you not to read on.

Still don’t want to turn back? Ok, feast your eyes on our next scare..

 

FRIGHT #2: TOO MUCH COLOR

website-mistakes

Whoa! This kind of thing should be kept in the sky on an infrequent basis after a rain shower. The designer attempted to use color to separate the testimonials but in doing so, he/she shattered all unity between them. I think the thought was to continue the rainbow from the header into the copy, but learn from this mistake. Too much color qualifies this as a scary web design.  Still not shaking in your shoes?  Step into this lair….

FRIGHT #3: IRRELEVANT OR UNATTRACTIVE IMAGES

web-site-fright

Ok, I never could track down what this website is about, but it really doesn’t matter. Unless the Creator in heaven has purchased a url (and really looks like this!) I don’t see how this could possibly be relevant to any business. If they were going for the “out of this world” look, I think they nailed it. However, if you don’t want to scare away customers, use attractive, relevant images that relate to your products and services.

 FRIGHT #4: BAD SEO

Scary websites hide in the shadows. Their bad search engine optimization (SEO) scares away Google’s little automated crawlers that index web content. So, their url, content and images can’t be found, or even indexed. People who search the web for their site may never find it.

The scary thing about these websites is not their appearance at all. On the outside, they look just like everyone else, with attractive graphics and content. But underneath their pretty mask, their search engine optimization is frightening. Their content contains no keywords and neither does their coding. Their title tags say things like “home” and their images are labeled with numbers rather than keywords. In some ways, websites with bad SEO are worse than the scary websites that you can find.  The scary websites lure people to their door, but the people flee when they see what answers. The ones with bad SEO don’t even get the visitors to their door because you don’t know where they live!

This Halloween, check your website for these four frights. They can cost you your business reputation, your potential customers or even your self-respect. If you need some help organizing your content, or just want a check that your website is not so frightful, feel free to call me to discuss at 630.778.6182.

ODE TO THE WEBSITE

Website_ContentI sat down to write a blogpost about the many uses of a website and its versatility as a marketing tool. But I guess with the celebration of Shakespeare’s 450th birthday this year, I was inspired instead to offer you something different: a simple ode to the website that is shorter, to the point, and depending on your sensibilities, much more fun to read.

With apologies to the Bard, and perhaps some readers, I offer my humble ode to the many uses of one’s “website,” or “internet presence”.  If you have a website, don’t hesitate to make the most of it. After all, a website by any other name would function just as beautifully.

Thy website thither upon yon screen

Behold the ways it lives and breathes

 

‘Twill display thy wares to every buyer  

Products, arts and all for hire; 

 

But so much more thy site can be

‘Twould host a blog most perfectly;

 

All thy print ‘twas giv’n by hand

In pdf on site can stand;

 

Whence thy good fortune makes the news

Thy site’s a merry place for views;

 

Place thy creations, art or wares,

Admidst thy fair portfolio there; 

 

Whence thy customers praise thy name

On site could dwell with lack of shame;

 

Who mark thy site and are impressed

Exchange thy thoughts for an address;

Join merrily in brotherhood

with links to those thou really should; 

 

So use thy site to best detail

And in pursuits thou wilt not fail!

 

                                –Karen Dix

                                Big Ideas Writing 

How to Edit Your Content So People Will Read It

Delete KeyRemember in school when you were asked to write a three-page paper on a subject you could only write a paragraph about?  I’m sure you employed all the tricks—double spacing, using lofty, cumbersome, long-winded phrases to put as many words as possible in your sentences, widening the margins, etc. to make the paper the required length. Well, I must admit, I did too.  However, as a web content writer I am on the other end of the spectrum and usually required to edit my work down to the lowest word count possible. Why? So people will read it!

If we create content, we must be kind to our readers and write succinctly.  They want your information, but they don’t have time to wade through excess verbiage!

So how do you turn 75 words into 25? Let’s find out.

When a client asks me to edit a biography, or piece of descriptive copy, the decision making process begins. I ask myself, what can I take out without letting the message fail?

TECHNIQUES FOR THE FIRST EDIT

Cut the Words. Save the Message.  Basically, I write the content in as few words as possible. Then I look at it again to see what I can take out. And I keep doing that until I can’t cut any more words without losing the message.

Here’s my actual editing “blueprint” for an Eblast I recently did for a company that provides personal services.  Eblasts as you know, must be as short and engaging as possible. People don’t have patience to read for information. You have 3-5 seconds to make the impression. Yet  I was required to keep all information in the text, but make it as succinct as possible.

Original text from the client:

If you are still taking your own dry cleaning out you are missing out on a big convenience, excellent quality, and turnaround reliability right here ….all at competitive prices. We have a great dry cleaners that picks up and delivers here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and orders are returned in two days (except weekends). You can drop off and pick up with a Leasing Consultant anytime that the office is open, including Sundays. Our cleaners uses only organic materials, which preserve the fabrics and leave them feeling softer. Also, their pressing is exceptional.

 The length is 92 words. Wouldn’t you rather read 69?

scissors THE FIRST EDIT:

Stop the drycleaning drops!  Take advantage of our convenient, reliable drycleaning pickup for our residents, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Our competitively-priced, high-quality cleaners use organic materials, to preserve the fabric and produce softer clothes. Clothes are pressed with precision and care and returned in two days (except weekends). Drop off, pickup and valet bags for your convenience are available at the leasing office during business hours, including Sundays.

 So what were some of the techniques I used to condense and edit this version?

Use Action Words.  Good copy motivates readers to do something. When I write, I try to motivate the reader by the words I choose. Depending on the medium (in this case an Eblast where the reader will not have much patience to read), dropping the reader into the action rather than explaining a situation can work best. In this case I encourage the reader to “Stop the drycleaning drops!” and “Take advantage” of a convenience.  Not only do action words reduce word count, they also make a more interesting read.

Combine Sentences.  When you combine two or more related sentences, you usually save words. In this case I took parts of several of their first, second and fifth sentences and got across many of the ideas within in my first two sentences.

Take care when combining sentences.  As you become more comfortable combining, it is easy to lose words, especially important ones that describe the important features and benefits of the product.  In this case these included:

  • Quality (cleaning)
  • Convenience
  • Reliability
  • Competitive prices
  • Schedule (Monday, Wednesday, Friday)
  • Organic materials and benefits

As you edit, make sure you retain all of these important points, as I have done in EDIT ONE.

scissorsscissorsTHE SECOND EDIT

Now, I look at the writing to see if it can be edited further.  Guess what?  It could! I got it down to 58 words with no loss of message…

Usually when you do this, you create more readable content.

Imagine..hassle-free drycleaning!  Take advantage of convenient, reliable drycleaning pickup for residents, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Our competitively priced cleaners use organic materials, for softer, longer-lasting clothes.  Garments are pressed with precision and returned in two business days. Drop off, pickup and valet bags for your convenience are available at the leasing office during business hours, including Sundays.

So what did I do now?

Clinch the Opener!  If you are writing marketing content, as this is, you must grab the reader’s attention right away. I spend a lot of time developing the opening line of my content as I know it will make or break the reader’s decision to continue reading.  In this case, I wanted to quickly bring the reader into the reality of using the service. While “Stop the Drycleaning Drops!” does that as well, I felt the version in EDIT TWO had the same effect in a more positive way.  Which do you like better?

 Rewrite the Awkward.  The client described the cleaner as using organic materials “to preserve the fabrics and leave them feeling softer.”  In my first edit, I changed it to read “ to preserve the fabric and produce softer clothes.” Better, but not quite right.  I finally ended up using adjectives to describe the service:  “for softer, longer-lasting clothes.”

 Examine the Writing for Repetition or unnecessary adjectives.  In this version I realized I had the word “clothes” repeated in sentence three and four.  Try not to do this or you will bore the reader. And they will wonder why you couldn’t think of another word!  So I started the next sentence with the word “garments.” I also removed the words “and care” from the description of the pressing. After all, if you are pressing precisely, you are pressing with care.  Again, cut the words, keep the message!

TIPS FOR GENERAL EDITING

In general, none of us likes to cut anything from our writing and most of us think everything we write is truly necessary.  However, as you struggle about what to cut from your writing, ask yourself this question: If I cut this word/phrase will the reader still get the message?  If yes, cut away!

Try to eliminate parentheses.  As a rule I try to avoid parentheses in my copy because I feel they jar the reader as they make their way through a fluid passage. In EDIT TWO I omitted the parenthetical text (except weekends) by simply saying it more succinctly—the drycleaning takes two business days.

Say it Specifically.  Most of my edits from ONE to TWO had to do with saying things more simply and specifically. In general, this is what we strive to do in our editing.  Can you say it more easily? Many times we just use too many words. Period!

Bullet Points  I can’t talk about editing without talking about bullet points.  In this day and age, we look for and expect to see bullet points in content. If you ever find yourself listing in your content, such as…

  • Features
  • Locations
  • Colors
  • Sizes
  • Specifications
  • Etc.

…use bullet points! The reader will thank you for it by reading them through!

In fact, the reader will thank you for all your editing hard work, hopefully with a response to your call to action!  If you are looking to turn 100 words into 25, and need some editing assistance,  feel free to contact me.

 

 

12 DAYS OF CONTENT

Web-Content-Writer-Blog

It’s time to wish all my clients and friends Happy Holidays and my best wishes for a prosperous New Year, including a profitable content marketing strategy! So my holiday gift to you is the following parody entitled “The 12 Days of Content.” Hum along and learn the many ways a web content writer like Big Ideas Writing can help you communicate your goals and reach your 2014 marketing goals.  The first step is to develop a marketing plan to guide the journey towards success!   

 Here we go..

 On the first day of content my writer gave to me…A strategic content marketing plan.

 

 On the second day of content, my writer gave to me… Two website concepts,

And a strategic content marketing plan!

 

 On the third day of content my writer gave to me… Three catchy taglines

 Two website concepts, and a strategic content marketing plan!

 

On the fourth day of content my writer gave to me….Four case studies,writing icon

Three catchy taglinesTwo website concepts,  and a strategic content marketing plan!

 

On the fifth day of content, my writer gave to me…Five landing pages, 

Four case studies,  Three catchy taglines Two website concepts,  and a strategic content marketing plan!

 

 On the sixth day of content my writer gave to me… Six testimonials,

 Five landing pages,  Four case studies,  Three catchy taglines Two website concepts, and  a strategic content marketing plan!

 

 On the seventh day of content, my writer gave to me… Seven blog ideas, 

 Six testimonials,  Five landing pages,  Four case studies,  Three catchy taglinesTwo website concepts, and a strategic content marketing plan!

 

facebook logoOn the eighth day of content my writer gave to me.. Eight Facebook postings,

 

Seven blog ideas, Six testimonials, Five landing pages, Four case studies, Three catchy taglines, Two website concepts, and a strategic content marketing plan!

 

 

On the ninth day of content, my writer gave to me… Nine press releases,

 Eight Facebook postings, Seven blog ideas, Six testimonials, Five landing pages, Four case studies, Three catchy taglines, Two website concepts, and a strategic content marketing plan!

 

On the tenth day of content, my writer gave to me… Ten Linkedin profiles,

linkedin inmage

Nine press releases, Eight Facebook postings, Seven blog ideas, Six testimonials, Five landing pages, Four case studies, Three catchy taglines, Two website concepts and a strategic content marketing plan!

On the eleventh day of content, my writer gave to me…eleven SEO keywords,

Ten Linkedin profiles, Nine press releases, Eight Facebook postings, Seven blog ideas, Six testimonials, Five landing pages, Four case studies, Three catchy taglines, Two website concepts and a strategic content marketing plan!

On the twelfth day of content, my writer gave to me…twelve company bios,

Eleven SEO keywords, Ten Linkedin profiles, Nine press releases, Eight Facebook postings, Seven blog ideas, Six testimonials, Five landing pages, Four case studies, Three catchy taglines, Two website concepts….

 andstrategic content marketing plan!

 Merry Christmas from Karen Dix @ Big Ideas Writing!

 

 

WHY HIRE A WEB CONTENT WRITER?

A graphic designer recently told me that her clients are often reluctant to hire a freelance content writer for their website.  “Hire-Web-Content-WriterMost of the time, my customers write their own web content,” she said.  I was taken aback, but certainly understood what she meant.  Few clients have the graphic design chops to create their own website, but since everyone “writes”, many business folks conclude that they can write copy for their own website.  And, from the number of poorly written websites out there, it seems this is exactly what is happening.

A freelance web content writer can help you grow your business in many ways and website content creation is just one of them.  So if you can put a sentence together, why hire a professional web content writer to write your website?  From all the possible answers to this question, here are my top 10!

 1. Organization.  As a freelance content writer, I would say 80% of my job is organizing content for my clients. Most web content writers are masters at organizing information.  They should be able to help you create a site map that will make sense to your readers, then use techniques to break your content into easily digestible pieces, like using bullets and subheads.

 2. Focus.  Before they sit down to write, a good web content writer will ask you important questions about your website and your mission that will help focus their words.  They will ask you to identify your target audience and your message.  What do you want them to do? Why should your prospects choose you over your competitors? All the information you give will help shape the copy into a piece that will present your business and its mission as attractively as possible.

 3. Your Personality.  A versatile,  freelance content writer should be able to write in different “voices.” Their work may be very formal for a law firm’s website, ethereal for a faith healer’s website, or fun and playful for a recipe blog.  They recognize that part of their job is finding the right tone for your content and they will work to produce content with your particular brand voice.

 4. SEO.  Search engine optimization means using different techniques, including strategic keywords, to get your website found in the search engines.  Good web content writers will know how to incorporate these keywords into your content and may even be able to help you with keyword selection.

5. Pizzazz.  Some business owners know their website copy is missing something—someone may even have told them so–but they just can’t put their finger on it.  Often, they are just missing a professional’s touch.  A solid writer can provide exciting work that flows, is easy to read and engages the reader.

6. Brevity.  You could say, “It is important to write succinctly in a website because writing that is too abundant in words could negatively affect how well the website visitor reads and reacts to the content written therein.”  Or, you could say, “Concise content is more likely to convert website visitors.”  An experienced web content writer will always use the least amount of words needed and get straight to the point so that the reader understands the message and also wants to keep reading!

 7. Clarity.  Freelance content writers are first and foremost, communicators.  They take the message you want and present it in an effective, understandable format that gets results for your business.  

8. Speed.  Since freelance web content writers are experts at what they do, chances are they can do it more quickly than you can.  Even if they are charging a large hourly wage, or substantial lump sum, think for a minute about the cost of your own time.  How long will it take you to do the writing?  What will it cost to have you or an employee engaged in website writing instead of your normal activities?  When will you be able to get to the task? By hiring help, you could stay focused on your core business and get a higher-quality result in a shorter period of time.

9. Feedback.  Ok, most web content writers aren’t graphic designers, but part of their job is to integrate image and verbiage so it wows the client.  Writers pay attention to design, just as designers pay attention to headlines. If asked, your web content writer will be able to offer valuable feedback on your graphic design direction and offer punchy headlines and sidebars that will work best with the design template.  Also, sometimes when we do something ourselves, we cannot evaluate it objectively.  A good web content writer can do that as well.

10.  And most importantly…Conversion.  Let’s face it. The real reason you want people to come to your website is to do something, whether that’s call for an appointment, make a donation or order a product.  Are you sure you know the best way to present information about your products and services that will motivate them to take the next step?  A good freelance content writer can choose words and structure phrases that motivate and inspire.

Ready to write your new website?  Or give your website copy an overdue facelift?  Contact us today for a consultation.

 

HOW TO CREATE CONTENT FOR THE WEB IN FIVE EASY STEPS

 

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They say “content is king” on the internet which is why my job as a freelance web content writer is to help business owners and clients produce it for their social media, blog or website.  Great content gets “shared”, “liked”, “searched” and “found”. It can also position you as an expert in your field.   If done correctly, your content can lead your customers and prospective customers to the strategic spot where they will heed your call to action, whether it’s to visit your website, call for an appointment, make a donation or register for an event.  Creating content can be tricky, but the more focused and thoughtful you are, the easier it becomes. Here’s how to create content for the web in five easy steps:

 

1. Have a goal.  I know what you’re thinking. Duh. My goal is to have everyone see this post. But think more specifically.  What do you want your post to accomplish? For example, you may be posting to drive traffic to your website, or be seeking comments and engagement or “shares” or “retweets”.  You may be trying to provoke an emotion, educate the public about an area of your business or battle a misconception. If you write for a purpose, the words will flow more easily. Also, it can give you a metric to measure the success of your efforts. For example, if you are posting to get people to register for an event, that is easily measured.   So what’s my purpose for this post?  To educate and encourage the reader to think about why and how to create content for their business.

 

2. Choose an audience.  Again, be specific.  Are you writing for your prospective customers or are you trying to be a thought leader within the industry?  Are you writing to continually educate your customers or convert your competitor’s audience to use your product? Your audience will determine what content you will create and even the words you use. My audience for this blog? Prospective clients who want to create content but need help.

 

3. Write what you know.  The meat of your content should be about your own experience in some way.  Often I sit across the table from a passionate, knowledgeable entrepreneur who knows EVERYTHING about what they do but they have never posted any content to let people know what an expert they are. In most cases it’s because they don’t know how to create the content, they feel they are “not a writer” or they don’t have time.  My theory is if you can talk about it, you can write about it. And if you don’t have time to write about it, a web content writer would be happy to help you grow your business.

 

 4. Write for a SEO keyword.  The best way for your content to be found on the internet is for it to contain strategic keywords that internet surfers will be using. This is called search engine optimization and is an important tool in getting your content “found.” Google keywords is a great tool to find keywords that you can use in your title and insert into your text before you post.  Now although I listed this as step #4, it can be step number one instead if your goal is to broaden the number of people who search and find you on the internet.  Sometimes, doing some keyword research can even offer inspiration for a blog post, as it did for this one!  In case you’re wondering, my primary keyword for this article is “create content.”

 

5. Post Productively.  With your content now targeted, written and optimized for search engine optimization, it’s time to post.  Post on all your social media, your website and anywhere else you can.  Then discover if your content succeeded in reaching your goal.

 

And if you have followed all five steps, chances are it has!

 

If you want to create content for the web and don’t know how to get started, let’s talk!  Call 630-778-6182.