SEO for beginners with Neil Patel
Neil Patel is one of the world’s leading experts on SEO and his friendly, unassuming vibe makes it easy to understand all things SEO. Here he explains some basic tips to keep up with algorithmic changes in 2018. I highly recommend giving over ten minutes to learn these SEO fundamentals. Don't forget that I have some SEO steps here too.
Basically anything about success by Tony Robbins
Although I find it a little cheesy, I am partial to listening to a lot of Tony Robbins as a source of confronting my limiting beliefs and inspiring motivation to get stuff done and stop making excuses. This is particularly pertinent for big projects (like writing books) when my inner dialogue is absolutely convinced there is no point in writing an epic domestic noir tale but Tony’s voice is there to convince me otherwise.
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
If you’re interested in increasing income (who isn’t, right?) and improving work performance, there is a little timeless classic call Think and Grow Rich written by Napoleon Hill, first published in 1937. Thankfully, it can be found as the complete audio book (all ten hours of it) on Youtube, so it makes for great listening. Warning: there’s some parts that you might want to tune out of that may not align with today’s social values.
How to Write Copy That Turns Website Visitors into Customers by Marie Forleo
This is a very simple video on copywriting that provides one very clear tip which I abide by in all copywriting pursuits. It’s a short video, has a bit of waffle and is broken down quite simply for those who are new to marketing but the tip and concept is priceless. And it reminds us of that age old copywriting technique of eliciting empathy.
How To Price Design Services and Make More Money with Chris Do
I really like this video and I find it particularly educational for those who work in creative services and are unsure (or more specifically, undervaluing) their skills, expertise and talent. Chris Do’s straight talking logic is quite inspiring and he is very transparent and generous with this knowledge about value, worth and pricing strategies.
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The interesting evolution of copywriting. It's older than you think!
There is a certain level of peculiarity that comes with being a copywriter that goes beyond simply being a writer or working in marketing. Of course, I’m completely biased but it feels like a strange set of skills that I’ve stolen from history and that I’m disguising under new tech. Do you ever get that feeling about your job? I can imagine visual artists, doctors and yoga teachers might feel similar or at least understand what I’m getting at.
Advertising copywriting has existed since Babylonian times and the first printed material is said to have come into the world in 1477, promoting the sale of a prayer book.
The history of copywriting dates back to when the first printed papers were distributed on the street. The actual word “copywriting” means the act of writing words to sell products. The copywriter is the person who does this, often found in ad agencies or at home as a freelancer.
The job of a copywriter began by creating ads on a large poster made of paper with a feather dipped ink (how deliciously antiquated and time consuming). These posters were fixed to walls and poles in the bigger cities of Europe. Centuries ago there were no printing processes to make duplicates, so each page was painstakingly handcrafted. Creating such ads was more of an art and it sounds incredibly meditative to me.
Eventually, they evolved to printed pamphlets and brochures and became much smaller in size as printing in its new evolution was a complicated and lengthy process, so the smaller the item, the faster it was.
Once mass printing processes were perfected, around 1605, newspapers could be mass produced and hawked on street corners. The first English paper was produced in 1664, called the Oxford Gazette (now known as the London Gazette). It was when the larger format newspapers were published that advertisements began to appear on one full page or several ads were dispersed throughout the pages. What a glorious time that must have been for copywriters as there wasn’t quite the saturated market, you could have more effect on people and their purchasing or social decisions.
The beginning of freelancing
It has been suggested that the first person to work as an official independent copywriter was John Emory Powers (thanks dude). He lived from 1837 to 1919 and was the first person to have this job fulltime and instead of working for a newspaper, he worked for the popular department stores of Lord & Taylor and Wanamaker’s. These stores recognised the importance of creating excellent ads that would stand out in newspapers and magazines. He created six ads a week. I’d like that kind of work load!
He is deemed the ‘father of modern creative advertising’ by creating one of the most controversial ads of the era, in his signature straight talking style, that ended up selling out stock in a number of hours. Truth telling was his gimmick and it seemed to work!
‘Suddenly, everything I'd seen in direct mail and all the ads I'd seen made sense. Give people a reason why they should buy a product,' Clayton Makepeace.
The value of copywriting
The value of copywriting was finally recognised around the 1800s. The copywriter would make advertisements that would capture the attention of consumers. For the Wanamaker's store, they quickly doubled their yearly revenues.
Where advertising used to be more of a gamble and a risk taking venture from the thirties to the sixties, today it is one that is unavoidable and if you don’t include it in your marketing plan you are already behind your competitors. In 2017, there was a global advertising spend of approximately $688 billion (in AUD). That is off the charts!
‘The man who stops advertising to save money is like the man who stops the clock to save time,’ Thomas Jefferson.
One of the most prominent and influential copywriters of the past century was Robert Collier, who started the direct mail phenomenon in the thirties, utilising emotional connecting and psychological techniques. He later became a bestselling and famous new age and self development author.
It wasn’t really until recently that training and education became formalised for copywriting, perhaps with exception of on the job training and mentoring.
Copywriting doesn’t last long
Copywriting is almost instantly obsolete, which is bizarre considering how much time, skill and sheer effort goes into it. It’s even more bizarre to think how influential that copywriting is. I could craft a content article or digital ad today that could affect hundreds of people enough to buy a product or a service that could change their life or, at the very, least change perspective on the way they had previously viewed something.
With real time feedback and digital analytics, copywriters and content marketers have instantaneous feedback and can tell whether the copy is working more than ever and campaign cycles are much quicker. So now we have to be faster and more accurate and create something that gets results within a 24-48 hour cycle. No pressure!
Today’s modern copywriter does more than simply write copy for newspaper or magazine ads. With ecommerce growing at a rate of at least seventeen per cent per year and content marketing becoming a universal marketing tactic employed by ninety per cent of businesses worldwide, a copywriter now has to be proficient in writing for the web with a sound knowledge of SEO best practices. Copywriters may also write copy for book jackets, food and product packaging, name floral bouquets (I actually did this once), write about technology trends in healthcare (done this too), write meta data descriptions for sunglasses (yes, tick this one off the list), write media releases about musicians and authors (uh huh…) and so it goes.
A worthy copywriter is also responsible for helping websites achieve good SEO rankings involving strategic placement of common keywords that consumers are likely to be searching for, in amongst web copy and content articles without making it seem awkward and unreadable and like it’s been written by a drunk robot.
Despite the medium and shelf life of copywriting changing, there are still some rock solid facets of copywriting that haven’t changed over its lifetime. They are:
The Australian copywriter’s focus has undeniably shifted considerably from print to the internet (it has had to!) over the past decade but one thing is unchanging in my self interested eyes… copywriting will continue to be one of the best ways to promote businesses, organisations, services and products and is truly an artform that every marketing strategy can reap benefits from.
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Don't forget to read my blog post on increasing your web traffic here.
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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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!
This year has been a terrific whirlwind for Jones the Writer. More than sixty per cent of small business cease operating in their first three years, so the mere fact that I have replaced my income (from employment) has exceeded my expectations.
Other goals that I have met, include blogging quality content regularly, with the aim to knowledge share as much as possible. To make your life easier I have curated my top ten most viewed blog posts, according to my Google Analytics. Some of these were posted years ago but have had a resurgence in 2017.
My content articles are specifically written with practical advice in mind and the aim is that you should get at least one genuine takeaway (minimum) that you can implement straight away and improve your marketing. So, if you read all ten below, that’s AT LEAST TEN practical things you can do to uplevel your marketing immediately.
1. Social media day
Adelaide's infamous Social Media Day had a host of information to impart. From legal ramifications of social media to tracking who visits your website, this recap has it all. Read here.
2. Easy SEO actions you can do over a weekend
Quick and easy (like super easy) tips to improve your SEO in a day or two. Start now.
3. How is your business writing?
Writing well to promote your business is crucial to its success. In a digital era of fast paced communications, you need to get your message "bang on" immediately or clients will drift elsewhere. Fix here.
4. Case study template
I'm not surprised that this free downloadable was a popular one! If you haven't already done so, download your template here.
5. Social media mistakes you need to stop
To be upfront, half of the reason this post performed well was due to the Facebook advertising I did in October as part of a campaign for my website. It's still one of my favourite posts, however.Stop these mistakes now.
6. Facebook's algorithm and how it works
If you're unclear how Facebook algorithm works, have a brief read here.
7. What you don't know about freelancers
I bet you didn't know that freelancers actually care about our clients and really want them to succeed and we'll probably go above and beyond to help make that happen. This was a surprise wildcard post and gives you an insight into how freelancers really think.
8. Facebook marketing mistakes
Easy to make (and yet easier to avoid) Facebook marketing mistakes. Find out what they are here.
9. Your marketing demographics
This is definitely one of the most useful content posts I have written. Identifying your target demographic audience is really important and the initial investment can end up saving time and costs. Identify your own demographics here.
10. Content marketing planning
Creating content with purpose can be challenging but incredibly rewarding, both emotionally and financially. Read more about content marketing here.
Even if you implement one new practical tip per day, you could have your marketing flourishing and well on track by Christmas time. I'm always interested to see how businesses are thriving, so be sure to let me know via commenting below or sending me an email on how these posts have helped you.
PS. I use Harpoon to track all my time, invoice clients, forecast my budget and record all my expenses. If you're in business for yourself, I recommend giving it a whirl.