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Do you know me in real life? Or have you thoroughly investigated my site? Then it’s guaranteed that you know that creative writing is my lifelong fixation.
The techniques that I have learnt from creative writing via studying and applying the art are, thankfully, transferrable to my copywriting and professional writing career, which is a boon, as creative writing feels as if it’s some kind of special magic that I am privy to.
Here are a number of practices that were developed from my creative writing that I now regularly apply to my client writing.
I have learnt a lot about the art of storytelling and how that can be applied to copywriting. Copy needs a beginning, middle and an end and it’s critical that when I put something out into the world, whether it be via this blog, one of my other sites, as part of social media marketing or for my clients (especially for my clients) that I hook the reader (that’s you) in from the absolute start. For an extra challenge, I have to keep them hooked in along the entire journey of the piece until the end. And then… the end isn’t even the end. From there the reader must take action.
Openings, first sentences, headings, first chapters… these are all make or break. I spend the most time on these important factors because without an intriguing hook or heading and emotional connection, you’ve already lost the audience before you’ve begun. And people always “buy” emotion.
Tip: if you’re about to write something, put down three headings: beginning, middle and end and then flesh out appropriately.
I am a walking thesaurus! I have learnt a lot of new words that are out of the ordinary vernacular and that adds flavour to writing. There is, however, a precarious balance between writing “too clever” (to the point of repulsion) and peppering interesting words into the mix.
The draft is just that! It’s a draft and it’s vital that I do not to get too hung up on the shape of that draft because the end result is often much different, smoother and has much more intention and clarity than the random jotting of notes that it begins its life as.
Writing inspiration can evolve from anywhere. Often inspiration comes from the smallest and seemingly tiniest thing such as a picture, a leaf I see outside my house or it could be erratic noise (I once wrote a short story inspired entirely from a constant beeping noise I heard from a neighbour). All it takes is one little spark and then an avalanche of ideas and inspiration come together. Mining inspiration is not the tricky part for me, it’s the refining of the ideas and sifting through the possibilities to choose the right one to pursue and develop.
I have learnt that the Pomodoro Technique is your absolute best friend when writing. If you can trick your mind that you are merely writing for half an hour to forty five minutes and that all you need to do is get words on the page then something miraculous happens and it starts to unleash a tiny bit of genius and immense productivity. If you tell yourself that you have to write a website or an ebook or other big projects then your mind freezes up with overwhelm. Give the Pomodoro Technique a go!
'... all you need to do is get words on the page then something miraculous happens and it starts to unleash a tiny bit of genius and immense productivity.'
I have learnt that just because I clearly understand and visualise imagery and concepts in my mind and there’s a wonderful imaginative world that exists in my head, certainly doesn’t mean that other people (or in fact, anyone) is on the same page. This means that I have to really choose the correct word every single time and pen (I mean… type) a description and vision as clearly as possible so that I can invite other people to get a glimpse of this incredible world within and conceive the scenario as I intend. I focus on the details and setting up the scene very determinedly so that the reader will automatically put themselves in the scenario without much effort and so they are willing to follow the journey.
Pointing out the extraordinary in the ordinary is a great way to do this.
Perfect the piece
One of the steps that can never be skipped, no matter how tempting is the final copy stage. I practice editing and proofreading over and over again until it drives me a bit batty. Each piece of writing is privy to at least three “read throughs” and edits. My final read through is read out aloud as this helps pick up inconsistencies that I may not have noticed on the screen. My neighbours must be curious why I’m always talking to myself!
To save time, I use Grammarly to help me identify any glaring errors in syntax, spelling and grammar. It’s worth upgrading to a premium account for advanced checking, suggestions and a plagiarism detector.
A lesson which has helped me become a better writer and, perhaps more importantly, a better business person is that the clients’ writing, product, service or company is not about me and what I want. It’s about a very specific demographic which the client has identified and researched and who I write specifically to, almost as if I they were in the room and I am talking directly to them.
The art of planning
Just like any wise person would do (not always me) planning is one of those time saving techniques over the long term is laying out a meticulous plan before commencing writing. This helps with productivity, despite the initial outlay of time. Devising a set of templates, even as basic headings, helps me know where I’m writing to and what gaps need filling.
Start broad and pare back
Let the imagination and writing flow stream wild and free and unfettered in the initial drafting or note taking process. Go as wide and bold as you possibly can, to the point where it feels uncomfortable and you blush as you commit it to paper, knowing that you’d be embarrassed if someone read it in its raw form. Only once you have dumped the grandest of concepts and meandering storylines can you taper it back and edit it to become cohesive, clear and share main palatable points that your reader will want to absorb. If you’re like me, you’ll find it much easier to “calm the farm” in your outrageous ideas than to stretch a watered down, half formed concept into something that is worth publishing.
Not everything has to be shared on the page at once. As you eek out your writing from one seed of an idea, you may discover many estuaries start to form. A novice writer will be desperate to get across every smart thought they have, which may confuse and addle your customer and your writing will lose its effectiveness. Pluck out your main ideas and stick to a consistent theme or niche (for example, I’ve focussed on copywriting, marketing, SEO etc) and keep a record or file of all your other ideas, knowing they will find their place in your writing, website, blog or work at some point in time and if they don’t… che sera!
And as with most things the more you do and the more you learn about it, the better it will improve.
'Not everything has to be shared on the page at once.'
You probably have a website or blog and are wondering how to increase your followers or website traffic, as we've looked at here, your website is the hub of your communications.
My website is currently averaging around 12 000 views per month, which is exponentially growing each month. But it’s not just the amount of views and their growth that are important, it’s the good quality of leads– I get nearly 40% of my potential clients from organic searches who discover my website. And ZERO potential clients come to me before checking out my website.
Unfortunately, I lost most of my website data prior to September last year but I know it’s generously increased and my next six months will see a focus on increasing it even more. I’ll be sure to let you know the results.
Here are some of the basic strategies and fundamental ways that I increased my website traffic during 2017 that you can easily replicate.
I started answering questions on Quora, which is an online community where people answer one anothers’ questions on any topic.
Answering topic specific questions on Quora is fun, engaging and although it doesn't involve most of my direct corporate clientele (some copyediting quotes and potential leads have come from there, however) it has increased site views particularly to relevant blog posts. And as we are well versed by now, if more people visit your site, Google is going to recognise that it is a site of value.
I constantly and consistently proactively market myself on social media. Mainly because I really enjoy it. I will absolutely concede that my socials could be done better in terms of aesthetic and branding but I consistently have lots of high quality content to share that I create.
Social media brings in nearly 40 per cent of my traffic and nearly 80 per cent of that comes from Facebook (page and personal profile), followed by LinkedIn at 10.49 per cent.
I have nearly six hundred email subscribers that I send out a enews every few weeks, sometimes once a week when I have a special or discount or there has been an important social media announcement that I need to share. I am unsatisfied with this number of subscribers so will be devoting time in 2018 to increasing this number to at least 3000. I should probably take some of my own advice over at my increasing your enews subscribers.
Email marketing is still an effective way of bringing readers back to your blog or website as well as to creating and maintain a subscriber list. Having your own email marketing list is important because you can sell your products and services directly to your list. By using an auto responder or automated email marketing (which most platforms have), you can send emails to your list every time you post new content or have special offers or announcements.
If you want to sign up to my database, please do so here.
I hired a SEO consultant for some one on one training to amplify my site and increase leads a year ago. Within THREE DAYS (I am being literal and not exaggerating) my website ranked from second page to third place (in Australia) for some of my chosen keywords which included:
This was not magic, it did take a lot of work but the payoffs were more than worth it. During the past year, nearly 40 per cent of the people I have sent copywriting quotes to have found my website via Google.
Nearly 40 per cent of the people I have sent copywriting quotes to have found me via Google.
I wrote a lot of content in line with my SEO strategy. I have at least a hundred posts currently, which is easy for me to do as this is what I do for a living. My content articles are filled with practical information, advice and backed up by statistics, quotes and are linked to other resources. My aim is that anyone (even from a non marketing background) can read one of my articles and get genuine takeaways that they can do straight away that improves their marketing.
It’s important to me to have high quality posts that aren’t just regurgitating what other people have said.
I advertised in a business magazine in July and received no known leads from that and I was featured in a glossy magazine late last year, again no known leads. Whilst I do genuinely think traditional PR and media coverage is terrific for your brand and really useful for generating sales for a lot of businesses (industry dependent), it hasn’t proved fruitful in meeting my objectives this year.
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Important update on Facebook
Yesterday the Facebook news room released an update announcement. Over the next few weeks Facebook will start penalising posts that are considered by their algorithm as ENGAGEMENT BAIT. If you regularly undertake in the following types of posts, you will see a drastic drop in reach.
What you can post:
'Posts that ask people for help, advice, or recommendations, such as circulating a missing child report, raising money for a cause, or asking for travel tips, will not be adversely impacted by this update.'
In a nutshell: Facebook declares 'we will demote posts that go against one of our key News Feed values — authenticity.'
Do you run your own business and want to set yourself apart from your competitors? Do you want your future clients to see you as leading the way? Then it’s time to consider positioning your business, yourself and your services as industry leaders.
Have you always fancied yourself to be a thought leader or subject matter expert but not quite ready to do that TED talk? Then here is a way to make that happen. This, by no means, may be easy and you will need to invest in professional support but the rewards will be endless, particularly if you are enthusiastic to grow your business.
‘Thought leaders are the informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. They are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas; turn ideas into reality, and know and show how to replicate their success,' Thought Leadership Lab.
Below I’ve outlined a three phase plan for your marketing to ensure you are positioning yourself as either a thought leader, subject matter expert or your company is the “go to” in your industry.
Phase one: client case studies
I have broken this phase down into four simple steps.
Collate and collect the data to write up some impressive client case studies. You can use my case study template here.
Write and edit the case studies so they read well and contain the right storytelling element. My recommendation is to start with three to six. Make sure they feature on a dedicated page on your website, where people can find them. If you work with clients in various sectors, be sure to capture a range of ways you have successfully helped clients.
Pluck out testimonials from the case studies to splash across your website and design graphics to use across your social media channels. Remember: people love social proof.
Share your case studies far and wide. Include them in any tender material, quote and award submissions, digital marketing strategies and talk about them when you meet people.
Phase two: annual content strategy
Devise a complete annual or six month content strategy, tailored specifically for the needs and goals of your business.
Your twelve month content marketing strategy will provide overarching content goals, themes, ways to implement marketing activities to support the reach and promotion of the content and the content will be in alignment with SEO research and other analytical research to meet business goals and objectives in align with your overall strategic business plan.
A great content marketing strategy will undertake an audit and look at and review the existing and potential challenges and provide practical recommendations to overcome them. Try using this content strategy template.
Don’t forget to include your target demographic in your strategy. Find out how to keep your content fresh here.
If you have a book or an ebook or are planning to write one this is the perfect phase to include it in and start promoting it. Here’s why you should write (or get someone to ghost write) a book if you are an entrepreneur.
Phase three: public relations campaign
The third phase focusses on spreading your message far and wide via the media. Having a third party confirm your leadership, especially the media, boosts your credibility and encourages people to believe that you are as you say you are.
A traditional statewide and national public relations campaign to position the business owner or senior executives as thought leaders and industry experts, whilst concurrently positioning your organisation as the “go to” business for the core services that you offer. If you service overseas clients, you might like to consider an international public relations campaign too.
So that’s your three phase plan to position your business as experts in your field and make sure that when people think of your industry, your brand name is at the forefront of your mind. Drop any questions in the comments below!
Instagram, which launched in October 2010, is an ever increasing platform that has a healthy 800 million users nearly 60 per cent of who are 18 to 29 year olds.
Australians are using Instagram an average of thirty eight times each week and we’re spending 24 to 27 minutes on Instagram, so you have to make sure your posts are eye catching.
The advantages of using Instagram are that it:
The downsides of using Instagram are that:
• it’s mainly a visual medium, so it’s rare that you will get to provide a lot of text
• a wider audience don’t get to reach you as easily as on Facebook and Twitter
• it’s not ideal as a standalone, it works best in conjunction with other platforms,
• the use of hashtags are paramount with Instagram
• it’s predominantly a mobile phone app so you will need a smart phone to use
• if you offer a service which doesn’t have a lot of visual aspects, it can be hard to come up with content
• you can’t hyperlink posts, meaning that people will have to manually type in your URL, which greatly reduces the chance of them doing so.
Four useful Instagram tips:
Since seventy per cent of posts don’t get seen, here are four key tips to keep in mind whenever you post to Instagram.
1. Post one to two photos per day. Tailwind recommend posting daily for best effect. In fact, they have shown that ‘…you can more than double your follower growth rate again by moving from posting 1-6 times per week to once or more per day.’
2. Include relevant hashtags. Posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6% more engagement.
3. Make sure there is a clear link back to your website in your bio. If you are posting a photo or image that you own, make sure there is a watermark with your website URL, logo, name or that it’s mentioned in the caption section.
4. Keep your aesthetic consistent. That means all your images should look similar and your captions have a similar message. '60% of the top brands on Instagram use a consistent filter,' according to Hootsuite.
Want to schedule posts and easily discover the best hashtags? Use Tailwind.
And finally, CoSchedule has handily discovered that the best time to post on Instagram for the most engagement is at 2pm or 5pm on Mondays or Thursdays.
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Speak directly to your Facebook fans
Create a meaningful way for your audience to interact. People inherently seek ways to contribute and conversation via Facebook are an easy and convenient way for them to do that.
Make sure you are talking to your Facebook fans, not at them by interacting in an engaging way and creating a dialogue. Ask questions and post themed discussions. An example of this could be, ‘do you prefer (item A) or (item B) and why?’
39% of users say they are connected to people they have never met in person, so there's no reason that a brand can't feel really personal and meaningful to your audience.
Did you know? As of June 30, 2017, Facebook enjoys