Viewing all posts by Amy C. Teeple.

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!

Woot! Are you having fun with your copy?

Thesaurus Shirt from Woot!

Woot! Shirt

Have you ever visited Woot!?

You may think that it’s just another online bargain website. Technically, that is true. But, even if you don’t want to find a limited-time offer on some random item or find an awesome shirt, as a copywriter, you need to check out this website.

Why? Because Woot! doesn’t just sell merchandise – it sells stories.

Get the specs and more

When you check out a featured item on Woot!, you will be able to find the basic information you find on other websites: product specifications, warranty information, shipping notes, etc.

But wait! There’s more!

You also will be treated with a fun introduction. What do I mean by fun? The Woot! writers let their imaginations go!

For example, the content for a recent tablet named all 32 of the device’s gigabytes. Some of my favorites include:

  • Gigglypuff
  • Sir Gigsalot
  • Whoopi Gigberg

Each product has a unique, funny story … even if the writers admit that they really don’t have anything to say. No matter the product, they still say something that keeps you reading.

Let your inner Woot! writer loose

Chances are you can’t write exactly like they do on Woot! However, you can harness some of that creativity.

Even B2B websites have some room for creative copy. You don’t have to sound like everyone else. You can reach your target audience and still have some fun. You can spice up your writing and turn up your creativity.

Here’s your task for this week: check out Woot! Poke around a bit and see what their content is all about. Then, embrace your inner Woot! writer and rewrite one page or write a blog post using your Woot! muse.

Time’s running out on Heather’s Copywriting Business Bootcamp! Learn how to make more money, faster. Save 10% until 11/13/13 with coupon code SECRETS.

Oh no! I have a blog post to write!

OhNoBlogHow did this happen? You have a blog post due and you have no idea what to write or if you have enough time to write it.

Chances are you have found yourself in this situation – I know I have.

When this happens, you find yourself scrambling to get the post done and hoping that you write something that is at least halfway decent.

Although you will have to work through it this time, there are ways you can save yourself in the future.

Set aside time to write

The best way to avoid the “surprise” of a due blog post is to schedule your blog writing into your week.

First, create an editorial calendar so you know:

  • When your post is due
  • What topic you need to write about

Once you do that, set aside a specific time each week that you will dedicate to writing your upcoming post.

How much time should you block off? That depends on how you write. Some people can write a blog post in 30 minutes; others take an hour to write a post. If you need more time, consider using the Pomodoro technique and break writing sessions into smaller, focused writing blocks.

The important thing is to know how much time you need and to set that time aside. (It’s a good idea to round up when blocking off time – if you finish early, you can move to your next project … or take a coffee break.)

Have ideas ready

Your editorial calendar should have topics, but you may have gaps in your calendar or you may have only included themes.

In these cases, it is helpful to have an idea arsenal. You can pull your content ideas from:

  • Idea parking lot: Have a file where you save ideas as they come to you. Your ideas will be there when you need it.
  • Headline list: Brainstorm a list of potential blog post headlines. Well-written headlines can give you a great start to a post.
  • News: Pull from industry news. Share your insight on a hot topic in the industry.

Prep now

Don’t get caught without a blog post.

Take steps now to save yourself headaches later. If you don’t already have an editorial calendar, create one now. Also, now is the time to create an idea parking lot and/or brainstorm a list of headlines.

Happy blogging.

This is the best post ever!

BestRecently, a member of the SEO Copywriting LinkedIn group started an interesting discussion. He asked what group members thought about the overuse of words like “perfect,” when “fine” or “okay” would suffice.

He questioned the surge in hyperbolic speech and wondered if certain words were losing their meaning.

This got me thinking – first, about exaggeration, then about the changing definitions of words (don’t get me started on the new definition of “literally”), then about sales people.

Did I lose you with that last one?

How many times have you heard that this is the “best” product or that a lawyer is the “best” personal injury attorney?

This isn’t just a relaxed use of the English language. These claims are meant to entice you, the potential client.

But do you believe it? Unless you’re Buddy the Elf from Elf, who believed the “World’s Best Cup of Coffee” sign in the window of a random New York dive, you probably don’t believe these claims. In fact, claims like these may make you question the product or service provider.

Are you the best?

There is nothing wrong with boasting about your product or service. However, whatever claims you make should be backed up.

Don’t say, “We make the best widgets,” if you can say, “Our widgets were ranked #1 in customer satisfaction by Consumer Reports.”

Don’t use puffery, when you can prove your point with facts. People can tell when you are trying to sell to them and possibly mislead them. Phrases like “best online marketer” and “everyone loves our product” trigger people’s BS meters.

You can win more people over by using:

Be the right provider, not the “best”

Take a look at your website. Are you using puffery to try to sell your product or services? It’s time to stop.

Pick one page and clear away the hyperbole and generic information. Give your readers something to believe and a reason to trust your products and services. If you do that, you may just become the best.

 

Photo credit: ©

There’s Only One Pink – Be True to Your Style

PinkConcertLast weekend I saw Pink in concert for the second time this year. She is amazing!

Not only does she have an incredible voice and the ability to write fantastic songs, but she also gives a dynamic performance – flying through the air on a wire, interacting with audience members, playing the drums and piano, and so much more.

She is a truly unique performer.

That almost didn’t happen.

Be Like Britney

Pink emerged at the time when Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, and other young, blonde, female pop singers were dominating the scene. Pink’s record label wanted her to be “like Britney Spears.”

Pink refused.

She fought to have her own voice and style … and she won.

Not only did she stay true to herself, but she also broke boundaries and revolutionized the pop scene.

Today she is still going strong and is well respected for her talent and showmanship.

Step away from the Conformity

Pink is her own woman. She embraces what makes her unique without losing her connection with her fans. She can relate without having to be like everyone else.

So, what’s your story? What makes you unique? What’s your style?

Does your website or brand messaging sound like everyone else’s? Why? You may have similar services or products, but you are not them – be yourself. Stand out! (Look what it did for Apple.)

Whether it is for your brand, your style of writing, or whatever, find your own voice and stay true to it.

Who knows, you may go beyond being true to yourself. You could start a revolution!

Be a loser like me

Loser-Like-Me“My name is Amy and I am a New York Giants fan.”

“Hi Amy.”

If you have been following the NFL this season, you know that the Giants are 0-6 so far. You would think that this is something that would make me hang my head in shame or abandon my team – especially since I have been teased mercilessly by some of my friends.

Nope.

In fact, the day after loss number six, I proudly wore one of my New York Giants t-shirts.

Am I disappointed with their record? Of course.

Will I continue to root for my team and tell people I am a Giants fan? Absolutely.

The Giants are having a horrible year, but they are a great team. They have won the Super Bowl four times (twice since 2007), have won four NFL Championships (before the Super Bowl), and have made it to the post season more than 30 times.

You can call me (or the team) a loser, but I know that the Giants will once again have a winning record – although probably not this season. You don’t walk away from your team because another team suddenly looks better. I am still proud to be a Giants fan and will continue to cheer them on.

What the heck does this have to do with writing or SEO?

It may seem odd that I am talking about a losing football team on an SEO copywriting blog, but I have a point. I promise.

It seems like every year or so, someone declares that copywriting is dead. (Don’t believe me, check here, here, and here). Something “better” comes along and everyone jumps on the bandwagon and scoffs at those of us who stick with good copywriting.

The truth is well-written copy has been – and will continue to be – an important component for websites to perform well. Don’t believe me? Perhaps you haven’t heard about Google’s latest update, Hummingbird.

As Heather pointed out in her Hummingbird post, Google wants websites to have “original, high-quality content.” That’s right; quality content – not some shortcut or trick – is the winner here.

If you have stuck with quality content over the years, you can proudly look to those who praised the quicker ways to high rankings in the SERPs and say, “You want to be a loser like me.”

(If you were led astray by “sexier” techniques, it’s not too late to give your website a content makeover. You better get moving – it will be a rebuilding year.)

Feeling the burn and seeking some balance

Overworked?

Overworked?

“Feel the burn!” If you hear this when you are working out, it is a good thing.

However, I have been feeling a different kind of burn lately. I’ve been:

  • Burning the candle at both ends.
  • Getting burned out.

I realized that I am about to crash and burn … and that’s not good.

Over the last six months, my life has gone through many ups and downs. Most recently, I shifted my copywriting business to an off-hours endeavor and started a 9-to-5 job (well 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) – mostly for financial security.

I chose a job outside of my field because I didn’t want to use all of my creative juices during the day and have nothing left for my own clients.

The good news: I’m not using all of my creativity during the day.

The bad news: I’m still burning myself out.

My new job has a rather long learning curve (which drives me crazy), and I’m still trying to hone my productivity so I can continue to meet my clients’ needs in the shortened amount of time that I have.

Of course, all of the pending projects that I had are now suddenly active.

Trying to survive a crazy schedule

On most weekdays, I leave my apartment by 8am (sometimes having done some work on my laptop before leaving); go to my day job; leave a little after 5 p.m.; drive to my office (maybe grab something to eat); and work for several more hours – many times until midnight or later.

I am trying to find balance, but right now that includes scheduling a social outing some nights … then coming home to work on my laptop. In the month that I have had my new job, I have come directly home from my day job maybe one time.

Overcome the online writing overwhelm monster

The other day I was preparing for a meeting with a prospective client, and I realized that I was going to crash and burn. By adding to my already overloaded workload, I was doing a disservice to my clients and myself. It was difficult, but I had to make the decision that I cannot take on new clients at this time.

My focus right now is taking care of the projects I already have and making sure my long-term clients are happy. And, I need to make sure I set up some real self-care foundations so I can overcome the overwhelm monster.

Are you setting boundaries?

You may not be working two jobs (or you might be), but most likely there are areas in your life where you are becoming a bit overwhelmed.

Are you taking on too many projects at work?

Do you have trouble saying “no” professionally and/or personally and take on more than you can handle?

Are you working from home while you try to run the household?

Don’t sabotage yourself.

I have already made the decision to not take new clients at this time, but I also have another goal for my schedule. I want to feel the burn again – in a good way. I am going to carve out a spot in my schedule for exercise. It makes me feel better and helps me focus.

Determine what is holding you back and find a way to change it. Even minor changes can make a big difference! Take some time this week to examine your life and find a place to make a positive change.

Don’t lose that fantastic idea!

Where are your ideas hiding?When you sit down to write, do you wonder what happened to all of your amazing content ideas?

I’ve been there. I become frustrated because I remember that I had the perfect idea. In fact, it was so perfect I was sure I would remember it later. Well, it’s later and that perfect idea has vanished.

How about you? Have you experienced this frustration?

Playing hide-and-seek with your ideas

It’s as if your fantastic ideas have discovered an incredible hiding place. You wonder where they went. If you are lucky, you may be able to find them hiding in the recesses of your mind.

However, too often, your ideas win the game of hide-and-seek and don’t come out until you have given up and moved on … and even then, they may stay hidden.

Capture your ideas before they hide

Found you!

Found you!

Too often, you have an epiphany at the most inconvenient time, including:

  • While you are working on another project
  • When you are taking a shower
  • As you are falling asleep or just waking up

No matter when these flashes of brilliance occur, you need to capture them.

But how?

The key to capturing these ideas is to be prepared. Set up methods to capture these ideas. Some tools that can assist you with this include:

  • Parking lot: Create a virtual space to “park” your ideas until you need them. You can do this in a Word document, through Evernote or other software. This is very helpful when you are working on another project and just need to get your idea down.
  • Shower notepad: Yes, they actually make waterproof notepads for your shower. And, yes, I own AquaNotes. These notepads are great for keeping your ideas from going down the drain (pun intended).
  • Notepad and pen by bed: This may be a simple concept, but if you get ideas while falling asleep, this lets you jot them down quickly and get back to sleep. Sure, they may be difficult to decipher in the morning, but you have a better chance of reading your handwriting than remembering that fleeting thought if you didn’t write it down.
  • Recorder apps: When you are driving or exercising you may get an amazing idea. Use an app on your smart phone to capture those ideas without endangering yourself or ending your workout.

Where are your ideas?

Your homework is to determine where you seem to get the most inspiration … that you later forget. Once you know where you are most vulnerable, put a tool (or two) in place to help you capture future ideas.

Do you have a method for capturing your ideas? I’d love to hear them.