Viewing all posts by Amy C. Teeple.

Make a date with your content

Make a DateThese days, distractions are everywhere. One of the biggest culprits is your smartphone. Texts, phone calls, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, games, YouTube, news updates, and numerous apps all distract you throughout the day.

It seems that these things have become more than a distraction. You may feel as though you are missing out on something if you are not constantly checking your updates.

However, if you are constantly looking at your phone, what you may be missing is life.

Phone-free date night

A couple I know realized that when they went out, they were each paying more attention to their phones than to each other. To combat this, they decided to incorporate a phone-free date night once a week.

On these nights, phones disappear and they spend a few uninterrupted hours just focusing on each other. The evenings have been a great success and are something they now look forward to each week.

Take your content on a date

Have you ever been writing only to have your flow interrupted by the chiming of an email notification or the ringing of the phone? Most likely you have.

Even if you don’t answer the phone or check that email, you have become distracted and your rhythm has been interrupted.

You can avoid this by making a date with your content.

Set aside 30 minutes, an hour, or however long you want to work on a project without interruption. Make it part of your schedule.

Then during that time, turn off any potential distractions. Turn off your phone (or at least put it on silent and put it in a drawer). Turn off your Outlook notifications. Use a website blocker (like LeechBlock for Firefox, Focus Booster, or Nanny for Google Chrome) to keep you from wandering onto sites like Facebook. Whatever you need to do, do it!

Allowing yourself this uninterrupted, quality writing time will increase your productivity and boost your creative juices.

Go ahead. Be bold. Ask your content out on a date.

 

Photo credit: ID 7356459 ©  | Dreamstime.com

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Take your content marketing to the Super Bowl

footballIf you follow the NFL, you know that the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos are in the Super Bowl. And, you most likely know who is not in the Super Bowl: the San Francisco 49ers and the New England Patriots.

For this post, I want to focus on the Broncos and the Patriots; the two teams who played each other for the AFC Championship and the chance to go to the Super Bowl.

New England was playing without one of their key offensive players: Rob Gronkowski. How key was Gronkowski? Let’s look at how the Patriots ranked in the league this past season:

  • Scoring in the Red Zone (within the 20-yard line): with him: 4th; without him: 30th
  • Passing yards: with him: 3rd; without him: 19th
  • Gaining first downs: with him: 2nd; without him: 16th

Not having him on the field definitely affects the team’s effectiveness … and may have cost the team their shot at the Super Bowl. Although there was an entire team, one player made such an impact.

Speaking of one player making an impact, you don’t have to watch football to know who Peyton Manning is. The quarterback for the Broncos is definitely an impact player. In fact, when he was the quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts when he was injured for a season, the entire team seemed to fall apart.

The Colts learned the hard way that you couldn’t put all of your hopes in one player. The Denver Broncos built a team around Manning, but they made sure they had a solid team with other diverse and strong players.

You need more than one strong player

When it comes to your content marketing, don’t put all of your efforts in one place. If you want to take your marketing “to the big game,” you need a solid team.

As you have seen, Google is constantly updating its algorithm. If you’re thinking, “But Amy, Google likes X,” stop it! There are a lot of things that Google once “loved,” but now the search engine actually penalizes you for. Remember:

Those tactics worked great for a while, but companies who relied on one of these ended up paying the price when Google updated its algorithm – plus they were probably already losing conversions thanks to bad copy.

Build a diverse team for your content marketing

Even if you have a solid player, like customer-focused quality content, you need to have a full content marketing team. I’m not talking about people; I’m talking about strategies.

You can stop worrying about Google updates if – in addition to superior content that targets your specific audience – you have a:

With a strong team and just not one star, you can take your content to Super Bowl levels.

 

Photo credit:  American Football ©  | Dreamstime.com

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Lay off on the butter … and the keywords

256px-Bowl_of_melted_butterChances are you have seen (and possibly used) spray butter. You know, the “butter” (and I use the term lightly) that is in liquid form, allowing you to spritz your food. This gives you the butter taste without the calories.

When I have used it, I may give it an extra spray or two, but for the most part, I use it as instructed. That doesn’t mean everyone does.

At dinner one night, I watched a family member (whom shall remain nameless) unscrew the top and pour the liquid on vegetables. It seemed to defeat the purpose to me – and it was a bit of overkill.

Keywords and spray butter: A little goes a long way

Are you using your keywords like a certain someone uses spray butter? Don’t just unscrew the lid on your terms and pour them into your copy.

Just like spray butter, keywords need to be used sparingly to be most effective.

“Writing for Google” isn’t about overkill (anymore)

There was a time that some SEO copywriters felt as though they needed to stuff their copy with keywords to make Google happy. It may have provided traffic at one time, but your conversion rate probably suffered.

After Hummingbird (and other Google updates), quality content is more important than ever. Stuffing keywords isn’t going to get you higher ranking in the SERPs.

The secret is simple

It’s really not a secret.

When it comes to SEO copywriting, you can make Google and your clients happy if you follow these techniques:

Don’t overdo it. Use your keywords correctly and you can strike the right balance between ranking well and increased conversion.

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Sing to your customers

SingHave you ever listened to the lyrics of a song and thought, “I feel like that song was written about me”? I don’t mean in a Carly Simon You’re So Vain sort of way. I mean the words are so relatable to your life, you feel like the songwriter was thinking about you.

Unless you personally know the songwriter (or if you are famous), odds are that the song isn’t about you. However, that doesn’t change the fact that it resonates with you and it evokes emotions whenever you hear it.

Your marketing copy – whether online, in print, or in another medium – needs to have this same effect.

Add emotion to your writing – no matter the product/service

There are certain services or products that may seem to lend themselves to reaching people on an emotional level:

  • Childcare
  • Marriage counseling
  • Family photo packages

But what if you have to write marketing copy for “emotionless” products or services like:

  • Plumbing services
  • Garage doors
  • Office supplies

You can still reach your customers on an emotional level … which is what you need to do to be successful. After all, even B2B purchases are made (to a certain degree) based on emotions.

Take these steps to successfully reach your customers

By taking a few extra steps, you can reach your potential customers’ emotions. Here’s how.

Step 1: Embrace your USP

What makes you stand out from your competition? (Hint: it’s not “good customer service.”) Discover and embrace your unique selling proposition (USP).  Your USP should be something that provides your clients with a benefit that your competition doesn’t offer.

Step 2: Know your customer

Who is your ideal client? If you answered, “Everyone,” then you are wrong. Yes, you may have more than one target market, but you should not try to reach everyone.

Before you can write for them, you need to truly know your audience. Take the time to create a customer persona, so you know who you are writing for.

Step 3: Address your clients’ pain points

Once you know what you have to offer (your USP) and who your ideal client is, it’s time to focus on your clients’ pain points and what you can do to address them. Pain points are issues your clients have that you or your product can solve.

Make sure your marketing copy highlights these pain points and how you fix them. For example, FedEx was able to provide a delivery service that guaranteed reliable, quick delivery of packages. It focused on business people who needed their packages delivered the next day. It promoted this with: When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.

By taking a little bit of extra time, your website can be the song that reaches your customers’ emotions. Write that song and your website visitors will become your biggest fans.

Photo credit:  Young man in green t-shirt sing a song ©  | Dreamstime.com

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Go jump in the ocean! Better yet, take a flying leap!

Jumping in the ocean on New Year's DayIt’s my first post of 2014. I can’t believe we are a week into the year already. Let me wish you a belated happy New Year!

Now that we got that out the way, let me tell you to go take a flying leap!

Don’t take that the wrong way, I’m not telling you off; I’m offering inspiration.

Clean the slate

2013 wasn’t the best year for me (although it definitely had some good highlights). Just a few low moments included:

  • Breaking my nose
  • Ending my 10-year marriage
  • Having to dramatically cut my business to part-time and get a 9-to-5 job
  • Putting on a bunch of the weight I had previously took off (and kept off for several years)

I highlighted other not-so-great moments and some positive outlooks in my Not another thankful post, if you were curious.

Needless to say, I was ready to move on from 2013 and wanted to embrace 2014. I felt as though I was digging myself out of hole and needed to just give myself a new starting point.

I saw 2014 as that new starting point.

A little less talk and a lot more action

In my last post of 2013, I discussed setting goals instead of making resolutions. A couple of years ago, Heather outlined the same strategy, but got more in depth with how to apply this to your content marketing goals.

So once you set your goals, how do you flip the switch? Is having the goal enough to change your behaviors? Not always.

Sometimes you need to conquer your fears in order to make the next move.

Make it dramatic, if you have to

Some people can just make a decision then take action. Other people need to be guided through the process (read: dragged into change). And still other people just need something to spark the change.

I like that spark – even if it is symbolic.

SkydivingSeveral years ago, when my life needed a shakeup, I jumped out of an airplane. That year, I quit a job that I hated and started my freelance copywriting business. It was freeing and wonderful. Jumping out of the plane was the symbolic change I needed.

To kick off 2014, I jumped into the ocean (dove in head first) on New Year’s Day. It was my way to wash off all that I didn’t want from 2013, so I could start 2014 clean.

Things didn’t magically change with diving in that ocean, but I had the spark I needed. In less than a week from jumping in the ocean, I ran a 5k (I haven’t been running in months!) and I joined a gym (with a gym partner to keep me motivated).

Where’s your spark?

What’s it going to take to get you moving? What can you do that will get you motivated and excited to take that first crucial step? Whatever it is – whether it is symbolic or a concrete step (like renting an office space) – go for it.

Make 2014 your year to shine! Happy New Year!

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Be SMART and scrap the resolutions

Happy New Year

As 2013 winds down, you may find yourself reflecting on the good and bad of the past year, and looking forward to 2014.

‘Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions.

As you sit down to create your resolutions, my advice to you is DON’T DO IT!

Resolutions are too easily broken

There is a good chance that at some time in your life, you started the year with proclamations like:

I am going to get healthy and lose weight.

I am going to be more organized and focused.

I am going to be more successful in my business.

These are all wonderful ideas, but if you are like most people who make resolutions, you were not successful.

It’s not that you didn’t want to be successful. You just didn’t set yourself up for success.

Want to succeed? Be SMART

Instead of making resolutions this year, you should create SMART goals. This means creating goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

By creating specific and measurable goals, you can better craft a plan to attain them. Determine exactly what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there. Don’t say, “I want to be more successful.” Instead say, “I want to increase profits 20% by a combination of increasing my prices by 10% and following up with five past clients each month to produce one additional project each month.”

Take the first step

Before you can create your goals, you need to figure out what it is you want to achieve. When it comes to your business, you may want to:

Once you know what you want to do, start creating your SMART goals. To further help you stay on track with your goals – especially if you are a freelance copywriter – enlist the help of a friend or colleague. Tell them your goals and ask them to check in with you regularly, so you are accountable to someone.

Whatever you want to achieve, I wish you luck … actually, you don’t need luck if you plan properly. Here’s to proper planning!

Happy New Year!

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I can’t read this

blurryThis isn’t something that I want to admit, but I need new glasses.

Each day, I find that I’m squinting more often trying to see something. This week, I haven’t been able to read the directions on the bottle of cold medicine, which I so desperately needed to take.

The thing is, I should have visited the eye doctor a few years ago … okay, more like five years ago. I thought my eyes were fine, so I put it off.

Well, they aren’t fine and, I probably need to invest more money now (need to get several new pairs, instead just one and have more tests) than if I had gone to the optometrist when I was supposed to go. Plus, I have been dealing with the fact that I can’t see well.

Perhaps you have done this, too. Maybe you haven’t done it with your eyes, but with your car or your teeth. Routine maintenance can save you from an expensive overhaul down the line.

Chances are you’ve done this with your website, too.

Tweaking for the New Year

Don’t wait until:

It’s easier – and more cost effective – to make ongoing minor adjustments instead of undertaking a major content overhaul.

You can baby-step your way into a content development program. As things wind down at the end of the year, start to plan your strategy for next year by:

Do you have other ideas to save time and money with regular updates instead of a major overhaul? Please let me know in the comments … hopefully I will be able to see them. (Guess I need to make that eye appointment.)

 

Image credit: ©  | Dreamstime.com

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Read this post while you still can!

Dunkin-YuenglingIt’s officially the Christmas (or winter holiday of your choice) shopping season! (Yes, I am aware that the Christmas sales started months ago, but I am old fashioned, and I am holding onto the notion that Black Friday is the kickoff of the holiday shopping season.)

So what are you doing to get your customers to not only buy from you, but buy now?

Take a lesson from coffee and beer

What does coffee and beer have to do with holiday selling? Let me explain.

I am a Jersey girl by birth, but I currently live in San Diego. I love living in Southern California, but there are some things that I love that I cannot easily get there, including:

  • Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (I mean from an actual Dunkin’ Donuts, not from the bags sold in the grocery stores)
  • Yuengling lager (beer from America’s oldest brewery – only available on the East Coast and only as far west as Ohio)
  • Real NY pizza (although I can get my fix from Bronx Pizza)
  • Hard rolls and real Jersey bagels (if you don’t know what I mean, then you’re not from the Tri-State Area)

This year, I was home (New Jersey) for a week to celebrate Thanksgiving. In addition to spending time with my family and friends, I:

  • Drank a lot of coffee
  • Had Yuengling whenever it was on draft and at Thanksgiving dinner because my family bought it for me
  • Got my fill of carbs via pizza, hard rolls and bagels

The amount of coffee and other Jersey treats I consumed was much higher than my normal routine. Why? It wasn’t because I was on vacation; it was because I knew I can’t get these things when I go back to San Diego.

Act now before it’s too late!

DunkinHoliday

I drank a lot of coffee … a lot. The availability of the Dunkin’ Donuts coffee is limited for me, so I got it while I could – pretty much whenever I drove by one.

If I lived in New Jersey or if Dunkin’ Donuts ever returned to Southern California (supposedly they will be returning in 2014 or 2015), I wonder if I would have needed to stop for coffee so often. My guess is that while I would have enjoyed a cup or two, I would not have been driven to have a cup at every opportunity.

It’s all about the principle of scarcity. If you tell your clients that there is a limited amount of product or that you only have a few spots available, they are more likely to buy from you (or hire you).

Remove the notion that your clients can get your products or services whenever they want. Be sure to increase their motivation by limiting the time of a sale or by telling them you only have so many items left. (Of course, don’t overdo it because eventually you will lose credibility if you always only have a few items remaining.)

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you can end the year with an influx of business.

Let me know in the comments what you are doing to promote your business as the year ends. But make sure you comment soon because I will only be responding to comments that are left today! (Okay, not really, but I couldn’t resist.) Happy December!

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Not another thankful post!

Glass is half fullYes, it’s that time of year again. Thanksgiving (in the United States) is coming and the posts about being thankful are all around.

It’s not just blog posts. Since November 1st, Facebook has been filled with people listing something they are thankful for each day of the month.

I have yet to write what I am thankful for and I was really resisting writing one of these posts.

That being said, I have to write this post. Let me explain.

That glass is half empty

This year has not been very kind to me.

About one week after I turned 41, I broke my nose playing softball. I took it in stride and figured that breaking my nose was going to be the worst thing that happened to me this year.

Yeah, I was wrong.

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but here are some of the not-so-great things that happened this year:

  • My 10-year marriage (12-year relationship) ended, ironically right before DOMA was overturned.
  • My copywriting business went from full-time to part-time because I needed to supplement my income with a 9-to-5 job.
  • My father-in-law lost his battle with cancer.
  • My mother ended up in the ICU after she turned blue in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
  • A friend was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

That’s quite the list, isn’t it?

Let’s see that half-full glass

It would be easy to focus on all of that (and the other negative events that didn’t get included), but then I would just be miserable.

Instead, I need to find the silver linings … the bright spots of the year. After looking at that list, you might think that I have little to be thankful for. It’s not true.

So let me tell you just some of the things I am thankful for this year:

  • My mom is out of the hospital and is on the road to recovery.
  • I am going to spend Thanksgiving with my family (including my mom). Because I live on the opposite coast, I haven’t seen them since anything on the above list occurred.
  • The end of my marriage was very hard, but it was amicable. Truth be told, we ended the marriage so we could stay friends.
  • My ex-wife (well, we’re not divorced yet, but we’re in the process) and I have made the transition from wives to best friends. There were a few bumps, but overall it was pretty easy and quick.
  • I am rediscovering who I am and learned that I am able to stand on my own.
  • I surprised myself and have started dating someone special. She makes me very happy.
  • Two of my best friends welcomed twins into their lives … and these two babies are adorable (and healthy)!
  • These changes in my life – especially the switch in my business – allow me to take a step back and assess what I want to do with my business and my life.
  • The view from my new apartment is wonderful!
  • I was reminded that I have some wonderful and supportive people in my life who have helped me through this transition. (Including Heather – thank you!)

What the heck does this have to do with copywriting?

So, is this just another “I’m so grateful” post that is all about my journey? Not entirely.

There are lessons you can learn from my year.

Life is not always easy. Running your own copywriting business can be difficult. Heck, being an in-house writer has its bumps.

It is how you handle these bumps that will help you.

Too often it can be easy to only focus on what is going wrong. When this happens, you run the risk of getting caught in a cycle. Soon, you only focus on the negative issues and you find yourself in a vicious cycle. If you don’t let yourself find the silver linings – trust me they are there if you look – you will not be able to break free of the negativity and you will become stagnant.

You will find yourself hating your job or your business and you will lose your muse.

In this week of Thanksgiving, your job is to step back and take a few minutes to list the positives in your business and your life. What are you thankful for? It doesn’t have to be anything momentous – what makes your day a little brighter?

Make a list of what you are thankful for and keep it by your computer.

As the days go by, if you find yourself stuck in a negative funk, take out the list and remind yourself of the positives in your business.

Have a wonderful week everyone and Happy Thanksgiving!

PS – I wrote this post before I read Heather’s wonderful post Yes, failure is an option! Her post really struck a chord with me – the first two items on my “half-empty” list could easily fit into the failure category. Thankfully life has taught me how to grow stronger from adversity. If you haven’t read the post, read it now.

 

Photo credit: © Photographer: Duncan Noakes | Agency: Dreamstime.com

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Why you can’t fly solo as a freelance copywriter

Even superman can't run a freelance copywriting business aloneAre you a freelance copywriter? Do you consider yourself a solepreneur? Are you the only one working on your projects?

Knock it off!

You’re not Superman (or Superwoman).

Yes, you may be the only official employee in your business, but that doesn’t mean that you need to go at it alone. In fact, you shouldn’t try to be a one-woman (or man) show.

You don’t know everything

Sometimes it is hard to admit, but you don’t know everything. There are many legal aspects to owning your own business and, unless you have a business degree, you should consult with an attorney or other legal expert when dealing with the business side of freelance copywriting.

Also, you will need to have a contract for each copywriting gig – yes, even the “quickie” jobs. A copywriting contract protects you and your client, and is a must.

When it comes to tasks like accounting or administrative work, you most likely have the necessary skills to complete these tasks, but are they worth your time? You may find that you save money by paying someone else. Use your time for projects that allow you to charge your higher hourly rate.

Mistakes happen

When it comes to writing, you may be an expert, but you are fallible. Sometimes you are too close to your writing to see errors. Typos and creative spelling could slip by your spell check, but will catch the attention of your client or your readers.

How can you fix that? Find someone you trust to edit (or at least read through) your content before you send it to a client or post it to your website. It could save you headaches … and your reputation.

Who is keeping you motivated?

When you work for yourself, you might lose your focus or motivation – especially when you have to write for yourself. Keep yourself going strong with the help of an accountabilabuddy.

You can also find support and feedback from your colleagues. Be sure to network and to join in the conversations on virtual groups – like the SEO Copywriting LinkedIn group.

Your job this week is to examine your business and see where you can enlist help.

Do you go at it alone or do you get help? Share what works for your business.

Photo by J F Willis (Flickr: Up Up and away) via Wikimedia Commons

Speaking of not flying solo, let Heather help you with your B2B or B2C content strategy. She has a few client spots open, so check out her direct response SEO copywriting services today!