Tag Archives: freelance web content writer

Pare it Down: Why You Need a Content Writer

Edit-ContentI was recently at a lovely meeting of WESOS (Women Entrepreneurs Secrets of Success). We we were given the opportunity to give our “elevator speeches” to each other, then were asked to perform a gesture that best expressed our business. I was truly impressed by the creativity in the room, and surprised that my gesture came to me immediately. I held both arms wide, indicating a large amount, then brought my hands in quickly, just a few inches apart, to indicate a small amount. Why? Because as a content writer, this is what I do for many of my clients.

For most businesses, they don’t come to me to figure out WHAT to write for their business..they usually have a plethora of information for me. The problem is, they need it to fit into a certain space as succinctly as possible.

For example, they may need to encapsulate their business model into a catchy tagline.

They may need website page copy that is short, to the point, but does a good job of converting the customer.

Their linkedin profile may be too short or too long. I can help them make it just right.

They may need their typically used 250-word bio condensed to a 50-word introduction for a special event or speaking engagement.

They may need a press release written from the pages and pages of information they have about their project.

Their resume is four pages long and they don’t know what to cut.

They need brochure copy developed from their lengthy website content.

These are just a few times when a content writer can come to the rescue….in a flash.

Why?

Content writers are ruthless editors. Don’t misunderstand. A content writer worth their salt will always retain the information that puts you, your company and your products and services in the best possible light, but when they are not the author, they can be completely objective. In fact, usually content writers have developed the skills to be completely objective when editing their own work.

We’re used to working within constraints. Remember when you were little and you double-spaced to make your half-page paper into one-page to meet the requirement for your English essay? Well, content writers don’t usually have that problem. For example, first drafts are usually too long because chances are there is too much to say about your wonderful business! But there is always a word count, an appropriate length that needs to be respected, and content writers see these as surmountable challenges, not constraints.

Content writers have a thick skin. We’re used to being pared down. Yes, there are times when I tear up inside because my client tells me the beautifully eloquent product description I just wrote is no longer necessary because they are not going to release that product version anymore, but in general, experienced content writers can take any editing parameters that the client can dish out. It’s part and parcel of the job.

Content writers care about the words. People who don’t like to write, don’t care about words. Writers think about words a lot. They pay attention to them, look up definitions and am intrigued by usage. Then they put their passion on paper, which is hopefully evident to the client.

Do you have content you need “pared down?” Pass that mighty content potato, eyes and all, over to Big Ideas Writing and let me pare it down for you. Contact me for your next project at 630.778.6182.

HOW TO CREATE A BROCHURE FROM YOUR WEB CONTENT

Web into BrochureAs a freelance copywriter, I am often retained by agencies to serve clients looking for an integrated marketing strategy. In short, this means they want to develop a brand with accompanying marketing messages, then carry them through to their new website and marketing collateral materials. I enthusiastically apply myself to the project, which usually begins with the website content. The published website content then becomes the basis for anything else I write for the client, for example, their brochure.

While most companies allocate a larger budget and more resources for their website, a brochure or printed flyer can still be a valuable leave behind. Easier on the eyes, with a tactile appeal, brochures can be a nice respite in an ocean of screen reading. The sensory experience alone, combined with slick graphic images presented on a silky or cottony stock can make an impression that helps the reader remember your message.

Depending on your clientele, the brochure can be as important as the website. For many salespeople, it provides an essential connection with the client after they leave the office or walk away from the trade show exhibit. However, when it is time to write your brochure content, it’s important to remember that because the brochure is viewed and digested differently than web content, it must be written differently as well.

Here are some tried and true tips for creating a brochure from your web content.

1. Write Your Brochure With a Linear Construction.
Website pages are read separately, and sometimes completely independent of the other pages on the website. Consequently, it’s easy to write or revise a website in a “piecemeal” format, page by page. Website visitors jump from page to page, in whatever order they want. A brochure, on the other hand, presents the information about your company in one static document. The brochure’s presentation of information must be organized and pleasing to your audience, which typically occurs with a linear construction.

With a linear construction, each section of the brochure must pave the way for the presentation of the next portion of the brochure. It’s best to organize the content into an information funnel, travelling from general to specific. For example, the typical order of a brochure is to begin with a general statement about the company, then lead down to specific benefits of the products or services.
The content organization within a typical brochure looks a little like this:

• Mission/purpose of business and audience
• Services
• Competitive Advantages
• Testimonials
• Call to Action
• Contact Information

While your order can vary with your design or industry, the most important thing is to present all the necessary information in an organized, easy to follow fashion for your reader.

2. Mercilessly Edit Your Website Content for Design and Readability.
Space is much more affordable on a website than in a brochure. Since you pay in printing costs for every word on the brochure, every word must count.

Also, the design of a brochure is even more critical because the reader is a captive that cannot “scroll” anywhere and must digest the information as presented. Therefore, white space (or strategically placed blank areas in the brochure design) is key to leading the reader to the most important items to know. How do you get more white space into a brochure? Reduce your content. How do you reduce your content? Here are some tips:

• Use bullet points rather than listing items in a sentence

• Create main point bold headlines out of your paragraph topic sentences in your website content

• Have an objective eye edit your work. What you see as necessary, an objective bystander will be able to judge as essential…or not. (By the way, a freelance copywriter can be very helpful in this situation)

• Distribute content evenly throughout the brochure

After all that editing, you may feel worried that you’ve cut something important. That’s why the next tip is important!

3. Allow the Brochure to Complement, Not Replace the Website.
The hardest thing to do when putting together a brochure is to forgive yourself for not including everything on your website within your brochure. It is perfectly acceptable to refer the reader to your website for “more information,” “a full list”, or our “latest developments.” In fact, this is often necessary in businesses where the products and services change rapidly. It could even be the prime objective of the piece!

4. Include Your Branding Material.
In the midst of your frantic editing, spare the delete key on your branding elements—logo, tagline, mission statements—in short, anything that you have written that identifies the uniqueness of your company. These are (or should be) your key marketing messages that you bring to the client to help them differentiate you from your competitors. Under no circumstances should you omit them from your brochure. In fact, any designer worth their salt will give them a place of honor within the piece!

Turning your web content into brochure content is not difficult but can often use a professional’s touch. If you have a wonderful website but are interested in producing an accompanying brochure or marketing piece, please contact Big Ideas Writing at 630-778-6182.

COPYWRITING AND CONTENT WRITING–WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

CopyContent

For years I used to introduce myself as Karen Dix, freelance copywriter.  Lately, though, I tend to introduce myself as Karen Dix, web content writer.

The truth is, I am both. And I’ve never met a company that at some point or another, didn’t need both copywriting and content writing.

Many people outside of the industry wonder, however, what exactly is the difference between a copywriter and a content writer?

Although there are several differences, the biggest is the overall OBJECTIVE of the writing. If you ask yourself if you need copy or content, you’re asking yourself if you need the words to primarily sell or inform.

COPYWRITING is as old as advertising. Because that’s what it is: the art of producing intelligent, sometimes clever but always persuasive or motivating text for the purpose of selling something or calling the reader to an action. Good copywriting addresses features and benefits of the product it is trying to sell.

Copywriting is subjective. It boldly expresses opinions, makes an argument and takes a side. The subject of the copy is unequivocally, “the best” and the definitive answer to the problem for the reader.

Copywriters write the words to sell products both online and offline products through:

online iconONLINE

Advertisements (PPC)
Eblasts
Website
Catalog Descriptions
Directory Listings

offline iconOFFLINE
Print brochures
Direct Mail
Flyers/Brochures/Marketing Collateral
Advertising (Print, Outdoor, TV, Radio)
Presentations

We’ve all seen examples of ad copy. It takes many formats:

1) Headlines. These brief lines pull the reader into an ad to tell you more and hopefully, sell you something. The ideal headline is targeted at an audience, as brief as possible, attractive to read and makes the reader want to know more. Headlines work in concert with graphics to create an overall impression that captivates the reader. Here’s an example of some advertising headlines that might just keep you reading…

THE BEST JUST GOT BETTER.

INTRODUCING A NEW WAY TO WASH YOUR DISHES.

EAT THIS TO LOSE WEIGHT!

2) Taglines. These are used to describe a company’s services, or identify their brand. Can you guess what company goes with what tagline?

I’M LOVIN’ IT

IT’S WHAT’S FOR DINNER.

DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT.

3) Body Copy  One of a copywriter’s specialties is selling a product in as few words as possible. Printed selling pieces such as brochures, advertisements, sell sheets, direct mail, marketing collateral, websites and even exhibits have space constraints and need concise text. Therefore, copywriters choose their words very carefully.

Good copy attempts to speak personally to the reader. It can appeal to their senses and invoke a longing for the product or service.

Here’s a sample of body copy I recently wrote for a Christian summer camp in Lake Geneva:

Conference Point is located in William’s Bay, WI on Lake Geneva, a summer playground for young and old alike. Comfy cabins feature porches with views of the lake and cool breezes off the water. Together, couples and families enjoy a retreat from the hustle and bustle of work, home and children’s activities and spend time enjoying each other and God’s great creation.

Or just take time for yourself. Settle back in one of the many Adirondack chairs around the grounds and enjoy an afternoon read. Let the sounds of the waves and the rustling trees soothe your mind and soul.

Feeling hungry? Our dining hall has delicious, hearty meals all ready for you, each guaranteed to please every palate in your party.
Conference Point is the perfect, restful getaway!

My body copy was written to inform, but you could tell by my word choice that I was trying very hard to sell the place. My objective was for the reader to see the features (comfy cabins, views of the lake, a respite, dining, etc.) while I alluded to the benefits (time for yourself, soothing natural wonders, time with the family, no meal planning necessary). While I explained, I sold. There was nothing objective about it because the purpose of the copy was to motivate you to make a reservation. The audience for this piece will also be “captive.” If they bother to read the brochure, they are already somewhat open to going there.

CONTENT WRITING has seen an explosion with the millennium. The purpose of content writing is to educate, bring value and as a result, build relationships. If you have a website that imparts valuable content, you can make friends with all kinds of prospective customers who appreciate the information you give them. The purpose is to keep your company name at the forefront of their mind when they need your products and services.

Content is objective. It does not advertise, but offers valuable information that comes from a reliable source. Producing good content can be part of a strategic marketing plan and set the author as an authoritative source in their field.

Content, for the most part, is written for the digital medium and comes in a variety of formats such as:

online iconWebsite Content
Blogs
Digital Press Releases
Social Media Posts
Online Profiles and Biographies
Case Studies
White Papers
Enewsletters

Content is created to be shared. My copywriting example above, which was produced for a written piece, could be shared if the client posts a pdf on their website or social media. However, the original intention of the text or “copy” was to sell the conference within the printed brochure. Chances are it will only be shared (or accessed) by those directly interested in the product, which is in this case, a venue. Copy then, has more of a “captive” audience than content.

Does that mean the copy does not have to be written as expertly as does content? Absolutely not. It must be written just as well, for a different audience and a different purpose. Some folks would argue that the copywriter is under fire for RESULTS since their job is to directly call the reader to action. The content writer, however, produces a piece that indirectly calls the reader to action. They produce their valuable, informative piece of content and release it into cyberspace in hopes that it will be exponentially shared. It could have a call to action, but the real goal here is sharing.

Every day, people share millions of blogposts, social media posts, etc. over the internet with an audience that appreciates the value of the information each contains.

So while both kinds of writing—copy and content—benefit a business, the big question a client has to ask is if they need words to sell or inform. If you’re in business, chances are you could use one or both in your advertising and/or marketing efforts. If you’re looking for a solid, all around writer who is experienced in both copy and content, look no further.  Contact me today.

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION FOR YOUR CONTENT MARKETING? NOT SO FAST!

content-marketing-resolutionIt’s the start of the new year which leads us all to think about the year ahead and make resolutions, both personally  and professionally. It’s also a time that many of us set goals for our content marketing in the coming year.

Personally, I’ve never been a fan of goal-setting deadlines, mainly because they often force us to come up with “a solution” before we’re ready. Sure, we can amend our lackluster attempts later on while we enjoy the feeling of accomplishment for making our deadline. However, as my mother always said, “haste makes waste.” When it comes to setting your marketing goals for 2014, I advocate a slower, more methodical approach. In fact, I’m not unashamed to admit that I don’t quite have my marketing goals solidified for 2014. I will though. Soon.

The best way to achieve anything is to have a process, and I plan to use this “four-parter”.

First, look at the year in review.  This is a no-brainer, right?  Well, maybe not. If you were working without a clear plan in the past, you will probably notice a pattern of knee-jerk responses to possible opportunities throughout the year.  If you had a plan, hopefully you can look at your KPIs (key performance indicators) to reveal your success or failure in each area.  Either way, let the past be your guide as you consider your new content marketing goals for 2014.

Second, look at your target audiences and demographics.  Did you reach them? Are you reaching them adequately? Have they changed over the years or in 2013? If you are now offering a new product or service, you must connect with a new audience by using existing channels of communication, or by putting new ones in place to do the job.  To evaluate whether or not you have succeeded in reaching your audiences, you can check your social media or blog sites for increases in positive actions such as “likes” and “followers” and by checking the health and demographic information of your company’s database.

Third, evaluate your current marketing channels in place.  Did they perform adequately for you? If not, what is missing?  Do you need to try something new (and possibly scary) such as video, mobile marketing, social media or a blog?  Sometimes this is a hard question to answer, and a marketing professional or professional content writer can guide you in the right direction. Making the jump to a new format can be scary but the results can be life-changing for any company.  If the time is right, make it a goal in 2014.

Finally, set your goals!  A company’s marketing goals usually include quantifiable projections for increases in sales, new products, territory, etc. In the case of content marketing, sometimes augmenting existing efforts rather than launching new ones, can make a powerful difference. For example, in the case of a content marketing strategy, you may have a blog but fail to post regularly so it is difficult to determine customer response.  You may have a well-designed website but you are failing to capture visitor information.  Is there an area of interest for your customers that you have not touched upon in your content marketing? It may make a worthwhile content marketing goal for 2014.

There are many considerations for setting goals for your 2014 content marketing. How do you do create yours? Leave me a comment and let me know. If you need help with your content marketing efforts in 2014, I’m here to help!  Contact me.

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

 

web-freelance-writer

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.

 

 

 

 

 

FIVE WAYS A FREELANCE WEB CONTENT WRITER CAN GROW YOUR BUSINESS

Part of having a successful business today is communicating with your audiences. For most organizations this means a quality website with valuable content like a blog, case studies or a managed social media presence with effective tweets and posts.  Large organizations may have a dedicated team member to manage these areas but smaller businesses often wonder how they can develop and maintain an affordable “big company” presence without hiring a designated writer.  The answer is…hire a freelance web content writer!  Here are five ways a freelance web content writer can help you achieve your marketing objectives:

 1) Update your outdated website.  Depending on your business, you may update your site once a year or twenty times a day, but the Small Business Administration reports that most businesses are making updates to their sites every two to three months. If you haven’t rewritten your copy since its launch, it’s probably time for a change. A good freelance web content writer can update your information, insert new and improved calls to action and even boost your SEO.

2) Write your blog…regularly. Blogs provide quality content for your visitors, establish your authority and help direct people to your website.  Some companies assign blogposts to their employees, but this takes them away from their primary responsibilities and can even have a negative effect on morale.  Someone in such an organization once revealed her real feelings about her posting duties when she diplomatically corrected herself with the party line by telling me, “We have to post—I mean, we have the opportunity to post something –each month.” A competent content writer can help you brainstorm blog topics, then research and interview you (or your employees) to create quality content for your website. Then, since the freelancer is dedicated to your blog, they will help you post regularly.

3) Research and write case studies. Web content writers are usually gifted storytellers with a fresh, objective viewpoint. It’s one thing for an employee to list the client’s objectives and state how your company fulfilled them but it’s quite another to describe how the absence of your service was making your client miserable until you rode in on a white horse and rocked their world.  Which version do you think would most effectively sell your product?

4) Herald your news. All companies have news of interest to report such as changes in staff and services, relocations and achievements.  If you don’t have anyone responsible for news distribution at your company, hiring a freelancer to do it is an effective, inexpensive way to achieve exposure on the web and in the community.

5) Assist Your Social Media.  In the realm of social media, you get what you give.  Twitter and Facebook only work if you post regularly.  Social media is like an exercise program; once you start you have to keep going to realize results.  If your staff is stretched, a freelancer can post for you on a regular basis and provide valuable suggestions on content.

Is it time for your company to hire a freelance web content writer?  I’m looking forward to writing for you. Contact me today!