Blog writing tips to make your webcopy work harder

Once upon a time, blog writing was all about optimising your website through keyword use. While this is still essential, search engines and web-users have wised up. Today, the authority and quality of your blogcopy and the activity that goes on within your blogs are just as important.

Updating your site with regular blog content is one way to keep your website current, show that your site is active and generate SEO-friendly copy but write the wrong stuff and you’ll be wasting your time.

Make your webcopy work harder and boost your SEO ranking with these five top blog writing tips:

1. Become an authority in your area of expertise by creating a blog-site that’s so great, it’s the first place your particular clients come to for advice and info. This takes time – no-one becomes top-dog overnight – but start making a habit of sharing your unique expertise, shouting about new industry trends and educating the rest of the web with your specialist knowledge.

2. Link in and out with high-quality websites and encourage other sites to link back to you. Again, the authority of your content is what makes people want to link to your work naturally, but you can ease this along by networking through Twitter, Facebook  and Linkedin.

3. Be unique in what you deliver. There’s little point in regurgitating what’s already on the web, unless you have a valuable new insight or a unique perspective to add. Being unique also helps to carve yourself a distinct web identity, so that webusers can recognise where your expertise lies. For example, what sort of writing do you specialise in? Are you a technical copywriter, a lifestyle blogger or a travel journalist?

4. Clever keyword use is vital. Consider keyword use for every blog page on your website – what word searches would lead your audience to land here? But never compromise keyword use for credibility: if keywords spoil the quality of your copy, then press on without them – your readers will soon click away if they sense a page is written more for SEO rankings than to benefit them.

5. Create cracking headlines that entice your audience to read the whole article. How many headlines do you scan, and how many full articles to actually read? What makes you read on? Writing killer headlines is an art form – one that talented copywriters get paid packets for – but anyone can upgrade the quality of their headline by thinking carefully about how appealing their headline is. If you’re stuck for inspiration, flick through a newspaper (tabloids are particularly good), read a magazine or browse the web for headlines that grab you.

lucy@lucygrewcock.com Contact me for copywriting services

Put an end to sloppy copy: Part 3 – Is or Are?

Part 3: Is or Are?

Two little words that we’ve use day-in, day-out since we started school – who would have thought they could ever cause confusion?

In most cases they don’t. The simple rule is this:

Are = plural
Is = singular

So…

• One rule IS simple
• Two rules ARE complex

• ARE you going on holiday?
• IS that your dinosaur?

• Brighton copywriters ARE brilliant
• Lucy IS the best

Problems tend to occur when the status of a subject, singular or plural, is less obvious. This can happen when company names are concerned:

A: Penguin Books are based in Antarctica
B: Penguin Books is based in Antarctica

B is correct – although the word ‘books’ is plural, the subject is singular (one company)

Sometimes this can sound weird. For example:

“McVities is launching a brand new biscuit, with a secret ingredient”

The temptation here is to say “McVities are…”, which would be wrong.

To make you feel more comfortable, or to double check you’ve got the grammar right, add in a bit more description:

“The company McVities is launching a brand new biscuit, with a secret ingredient”

 

Hope that helps. Now time for that chocolate digestive…

Continuing the mission to stamp out sloppy copy, look out for Part 4 in my series of grammar tips for copywriters.

lucy@lucygrewcock.comLooking for a copywriter with  a great grip on grammar? I’m here to help

Put an end to sloppy copy: part 2 – or, nor or neither?

Or, nor or neither?

Using the word ‘or’ is a no-brainer for most people. As a way of offering two alternative things, we use the word ‘or’ in everyday speech without thinking or worrying about it.

  • I can be happy or sad, depending on the weather
  • Would you prefer to ride the elephant or the rhino?

What about the word ‘nor’? It’s not quite so straight forward…  ‘Nor’ often sounds a bit formal, a bit awkward and perhaps a bit old fashioned, so many of us abandon it altogether, but when things turn negative ‘nor’ should step in:

  • I feel neither happy nor sad when it rains
  • Neither elephants nor rhinos are found in this zoo

Confused? Let’s get practical. Take a look at these sentences:

Which one is correct?

A: I’m not bored or tiered, I just can’t be bothered
B: I’m not bored nor tiered, I just can’t be bothered

Answer: B

A: There aren’t any antelopes nor any dogs here
B: There aren’t any antelopes or any dogs here

Answer: A

Hope that helps. Continuing the mission to stamp out sloppy copy, look out for my next blog on ‘IS or ARE.’

lucy@lucygrewcock.comLooking for a Brighton copywriter with a  grip on grammar? I’m here

How to find ideas for inspirational web content

Copywriters’ block – there’s nothing more frustrating.

By nature, most writers are perfectionists and nothing beats the feeling of delivering truly inspirational web content to a client – delivering ‘ok’ copy  isn’t something we copywriters are comfortable with. But what do you do when the rights words won’t come out? Before you succumb to submitting something mediocre…

  • Seek out copywriting forums and share sites: Surf the web for a while and you’ll stumble across sites where writers share their ideas and examples of great web content. Expect lots of blog posts with titles like ‘best copy ads’, or ‘good copywriting examples’. Some are ok, some are not so ok. By far the best is Drivvel – a site started by Brighton copywriters to collate and share examples of inspiring copy. Whether you’re looking for ideas on how to write web content for a schools travel company or how to stop serious webcopy from sounding boring, I’d recommend a visit.
  • Read specialist magazines: Research the language and approach taken by other writers to reach your audience by reading the magazines they buy and read out of choice. For example, if you’re writing web content or brochure copy for an Estate Agent, look for inspiration in magazines like ‘Homes and Gardens’ or ‘Country Living’ – publications which appeal to the ‘human’ side of buying a house, rather than the ‘salesly’ approach we associate with Estate Agents. Seek out the type of magazines your audience choose to invest their time and money in, and try translating this into your web content or print copy.
  • Eavesdrop on your audience: Bored of reading words and stuck for inspiring ways to reach your audience? I find that eavesdropping on them always helps. If you’re writing web content for a garden centre, VISIT the garden centre – drift around the plants, grab a cuppa in the coffee shop and chat to the customers and staff. You’ll get a great sense of who your audience are, which language they use naturally and what sort of tone appeals – plus an outing like this makes a great break from the desk.
  • Stop working: Sitting at your desk and staring out of the window waiting for great ideas to pop into your head can sometimes wors but I can’t say it’s where I’ve had my most inspiring ideas. The best ideas often come at you when you’re least expecting it – in the bath, whilst you’re cooking dinner, during a theatre performance, on the loo… Freeing your mind a little can do wonders for generating new ideas. For me, heading out for a jog is sure-fire solution – even though it sometimes means sprinting back before I forget my winning tag-line.

Book Review (Travel copy): No Contacts? No Problem!

Title: No Contacts? No Problem! How to pitch and sell a freelance feature
Author: Catherine Quinn – A Brighton-based freelance writer

About the book: A practical guide, covering every aspect of the freelance pitching and selling process, from writing a good pitch and understanding your market to writing your first commission and keeping the work coming in.

Read this if… You are looking to break into freelance journalism and would like to start pitching and selling freelance articles, or have some experience of pitching and selling but would like to learn more and approach new editors. Catherine writes about travel, food, health and more, and her book is geared towards writers interested in any genre.

In my opinion: Particularly useful for first-timers, this book helps open the door for good writers who are looking to break into the freelance market. One of the best bits about Catherine’s book is her four-week pitching plan (Chapter 13), which takes you from planning a pitch, through to securing a commission. Even better, this book also links to the follow-up site nocontactsnoproblem.com, where you’ll find editors tips and journo resources.

See a preview here
Buy it at Amazon, Rrp £14.99

Book review (Freelance writing): Brilliant Freelancer

Title: Brilliant Freelancer
Author: Leif Kendall

About the book: Brilliant Freelancer is broken into easily digestible chunks, which cover aspects such as: getting-started essentials, finding work, motivating yourself and managing your cash flow. Leif raises and answers questions surrounding each topic, includes advice from a range of successful freelancers and rounds up each chapter with a ‘brilliant recap’. Packed with tips and practical exercises, Brilliant Freelancer is a valuable tool for self-training and a great source of motivation.

Read this if… You are already a freelancer or are considering setting out on your own and are open to picking up expert tips from a super successful freelancer. Although Leif is a Copywriter, his book is geared towards the freelance profession as whole, so any freelancers, from plumbers to web-designers, can benefit.

In my opinion: A practical guide as well as an entertaining read, Brilliant Freelancer provides new or wannabe freelancers with an honest account of the realities of freelance work, laying out a step-by-step approach for entering and managing a freelance career. For established freelancers, Leif’s book is a superb source of motivation, a reminder of what works well and a kick-up-the-bum for any freelancers who are dragging their heels. One of Brighton’s most successful Copywriters, who recently decamped to Dorset, Leif is a freelancer with authority and,with copies of Brilliant Freelancer starting at £9.09, his book is a far better value than attending a training seminar.

See a preview here
Buy it at Amazon

Put an end to sloppy copy: part 1 – Me, myself and I

Bad grammar isn’t good enough.

There are plenty of super duper copywriters out there who have a great grip on grammar and can produce sparkling and creative copy that is communicated correctly. That’s what you pay us for. So why is so much online and print material poorly written, with basic grammar ignored, misunderstood or overlooked?

Whether you choose to write your own words or you hire freelance copywriters to work the magic for you, there’s no excuse for sloppy copy. Without beating around the bush: it’s bad for business.

On a mission to rid the web of grammatical hiccups, slip-ups and boo-boos, I’ll be writing an ongoing series of practical blog posts that tackle basic grammar rules, everyone can handle. Here goes:

Part 1: Me, myself and I

Me and I are two of the most commonly misused pronouns. On the whole, ‘I’ tends to be wildly overused, whilst there’s a generally lack of love for ‘ME’. Poor me 🙁

I blame school. Grammar drills which focus on ME or I have a tendency to stamp out incorrect use of ME, but fail to highlight the contexts where the use of ME is correct. Remember writing out sentences like these when you were at school:

  • My friend and me played in the park = My friend and I played in the park
  • Tom and me went for a walk = Tom and I went for a walk

As a result, many of us grew up thinking that, in formal language, ME should be substituted for I in most cases. But in fact, I should only be used when you are the speaking about yourself as the main subject of the sentence.

Confused? Let’s get practical. Take a look at these sentences:

The easiest way to check if you’re using the correct pronoun is the remove the other person in the sentence:

  • My friend and ME played in the park would become ME played in the park
  • Tom and ME went for a walk would become ME went for a walk

It should be fairly obvious that the use of ME is wrong in both sentences. I is the correct pronoun to use.

Let’s try another one

  • My boyfriend Tom and ME like eating sushi

Get rid of Tom, and we’re left with: ME like eating sushi

Sounds silly, doesn’t it. Correct it to ‘I like eating sushi’ and we’re good. (And with Tom out of the equation, there’s more sushi for me, I, me. Pass the wasabi.

So when does ME come in?

A few more examples should clear this up. Let’s use the same technique of removing the other person:

  • The giant doughnut exploded, covering Tom and I from head to toe in jam

Sounds ok, doesn’t it. But what happens if we rid of Tom:

  • The giant doughnut exploded, covering I from head to toe in jam

Sounds stupid, and rather pompous. So ME is the better fit:

  • The giant doughnut exploded, covering ME from head to toe in jam.

Got time for a few more?

  • The present was from Tom and I = The present was from I 🙁 Use ME
  • To be perfectly honest, I don’t know what to do. Whilst Tom and I would love to come to your poetry reading, we had both planned to wash our hair that evening. = I would love to come to your poetry reading 🙂
  • It seemed to Tom and ME that there was little point in trying to cross the river to escape the blood thirsty monsters, as the man-eating giraffes on the other side would get us anyway. = It seemed to ME 🙂

I hope that helps. Continuing the mission to stamp out sloppy copy, look out for my next blog on ‘OR or NOR.’

lucy@lucygrewcock.comLooking for a freelance copywriter with  a great grip on grammar to write for you, or edit your existing copy? Just drop me a line

What do copywriters do?

In a nutshell, a copywriter writes words that inform people, sell stuff and promote  things.

Yuk! Copywriters are ugly.

Let’s start by breaking the word in two: COPY WRITER

Most English speaking individuals over the age of five should be able to get their head around the second word, but it’s the first one that tends to throw us into a spin.

COPY simply refers to words or text to be published, whether they’re to appear in a travel magazine, on the back of a cereal packet, in an estate agent’s brochure, on a garden centre’s website, in a sales email or in umpteen other places.

Copywriters are the folk who craft these words.

“Oh I see, I thought a copywriter dealt with legal stuff.”

Ah. You’re thinking of copyRight. But I’ll forgive you, they sound very similar. And you’re correct, copyRight involves legal protection – not something I can claim to know much about.

Not all copyWriters work with the same type of materials or companies. And whilst one copywriter may be an expert at creating scintillating sales straplines, another might have a gift for writing travel guides.

Let’s take a peek at the different types of work a copywriter might carry out:

Web copywriters
Today, the bulk of many copywriters work comes from the high demand for online content. Whether it’s crafting unique copy for the launch of a new website, appraising and updating existing material, putting a UX hat on and writing micro-copy, or writing product descriptions, blogs and auto-respond messages, there’s a massive range of web work out there. And yes, before you get pernickety, any of the below types of writing are likely to fit into this box too.

Sales and marketing copywriters
Pretty much every copywriter deals with this type of work to some extent, even if only to market their own business. For some compywriters, sales copywriting is the sole focus of their work. Marketing materials can include (deep breath): company brochures, flyers, business cards, product literature, circulars, packaging, sales letters, marketing emails, letters of introduction, trade show materials and more.

Advertising copywriters
One of the best paid types of copywriting, advertising copywriters tend to work within a creative department of artists and advertising specialists. They create specific advertising campaigns, which may span several types of media. Work typically involves writing cacthphrases and slogans, radio jungles, and scripts for TV ads.

PR copywriters
Another field in which many copywriters spend much of their time is Public Relations. Anything a business sends or markets directly to the public could fall into this category. For most PR copywriters this means writing press releases, advertorials, product updates, newsletters, press kits and feature articles which promote the work of the company they represent.

Technical copywriting
Copywriters with a background in science, engineering and computer programming lend themselves well to technical copywriting. They’re often tasked with translating complicated technical jargon into plain English, making it accessible to the general public. They might create software reports, write instruction manuals, prepare training materials, put together user-friendly data sheets… the list goes on.

Ghost copywriters
Not as spooky as it sounds, the secretive world of ghost copywriting could involve writing in any of the above genres but, acting as ‘the ghost’, the writer’s name won’t appear on the finished copy and the work won’t be attributed to them. The biggest demand for ghost copywriters tends to be in book writing, blog writing and speech writing. Big name celebrities, politicians and CEOs who either lack the time or skill to write their own copy are some of the most exciting and high paying clients a ghost writer works with.

And there are stacks of other types of copywriters too. Let’s see, who haven’t we covered? There’s speech copywriting, editing copywriters (or copy-editors for want of a better phrase), grant copywriters, broadcast copywriters… I could go on.

lucy@lucygrewcock.comIf you’re looking for a Brighton based copywriter or need someone to write for you remotely, just get in touch. I deal with most of the above types of copywriting,  and if you’re looking for a writer with a very particular set of skills, I’ll help find the right writer for you.

How to be a brilliant blog writer

Ready. Set. Blog.

 

Not so fast! Before you start typing, ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • What do I want to communicate?
  • Who do I want to communicate to?

Each blog you write should have a purpose, whether it’s to demonstrate your expertise, reinforce your brand identity or to simply engage with your customers on a level they understand.

Use posts to reach distinct readers by targeting different groups of customers, other industry experts, or perhaps attract attention from potential investors. Whoever you decide to appeal to, make sure that what you write appeals to your chosen market.

Top tips for brilliant blog writing

 

It’s your blog, which means you have a free reign on what to say and how to say it. But there are a few basic guidelines that all good blog writers stick to, and can make the difference between creating a page that get read, remembered and ranked, and one that gets scorned, slated and sneered at.

  • Write for humans first: When you’re tapping away at your keyboard, pouring words into your computer, it can be easy to forget that someone just like you could be sitting down with a cup of tea and reading your work a few hours later. How do you think it would come across? Is it easy to read? Is the content interesting enough to hold someone’s attention? Would you read your own blog post? If you can bear it, the best test is to ask a colleague or friend to read it first.
  • Don’t stuff with keywords: There was a time when poorly written posts, stuffed with keywords was a strategy used regularly by sites with no shame to optimise their webpages. But search engines got wise to this and, nowadays, a page crammed with unnatural and excessive use of keywords does your web-cred no good at all and can actually damage your page ranking. What’s more, your readers will suss you out may choose not to read your posts in the future. Read Google’s advice on keyword stuffing  to find out more.
  • Write for search engines second: Get step 1 right and a search engine recognises your efforts in writing for real people. Manage to weave some relevant and valuable keywords into the natural flow of the copy, and you’re on to a winner.
  • Don’t stand for sloppy copy: There’s no excuse for lazy blog writing. Take the time to double check your grammar, run a spell check and make certain that your work is error-free. A poorly written blog post can do more damage than good, so if you’re not feeling confident, seek the help of a professional blog writer to either create your blog posts for you or proofread and edit your work.
  • Create appealing and easy to skim-read pages: Online readers are lazy. When faced with a wall of words we get filled with fear and, unless you can persuade us that your work is worth the effort, we’re likely to click the cross. Help your readers out by breaking up your article into manageable chunks, using clear headings and bullet points, and including images or videos that add appeal to your post.
  • Make it easy for visitors to share your posts: Increase the chances of getting your work seen by including links to social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Aside from getting your name out there based on valuable reader recommendations, search engines recognise ‘sharing’ as a sign of quality, and you’ll see your page ranking soar as a result.

Related posts
Fall back in love with your blog

lucy@lucygrewcock.comNeed a professional  blog writer? Contact Lucy for a quote and free sample.

Fall back in love with your blog

Blogging. Who needs it now we’ve got Twitter?

 

Writing a blog takes up your time or, if you’re paying a freelance copywriter to blog for you, your money. And what’s the point of your blog anyway? Does anyone even read it?

Why bother with blogs?

Almost every company has a blog, but ask why a business needs one, and you’re likely to be met with blank faces. This can be demoralising, whether you’re writing the blog yourself, or forking out for a blog copywriter to write posts for you.

The good news? Blog writing is valuable and does benefit your site, so long as you post high quality content that adds credibility and visibility to your business.

Here’s why:

 

  • Give your brand personality. Friendly, honest blog writing puts a human face behind the sales blurb on your website and shows your customers and potential clients that you and your company are ready and willing to communicate with the real world. This personality should reinforce or refresh your existing brand identity and communicate your company ethos to new clients.
  • Position you as an expert in the marketplace. Insightful and informative blog writing shows the world that you know your stuff. Write intelligent yet accessible posts that demonstrate your specialist understanding and services to communicate your expertise.
  • Improve your online visibility. The main reason most businesses blog is to attract new customers and drive sales, but how does this work exactly? In short: every time you post a relevant blog, Google indexes that page and you increase the likelihood of a potential client finding your site through an online search. Optimise your post with keywords and links, and the potential for new leads increases. Once you have in excess of 300 quality pages indexed on your blog, you’re likely to see an significant increase in the number of visitors to your site.
  • Showcase your talent and promote your work. Perhaps you’re a garden designer who wants to show-off your latest creation, a soil analyst who wants to document your work and attract funding, a musician with new material, or even a blog writer who wants to prove you can write.
  • Stay up to date with the latest innovations. Prove that you’ve got your finger on the pulse and satisfy your customers that you’re a dynamic and forward thinking company by blogging about recent breakthroughs, pioneering ideas and new technology in your industry.
  • Give clients a reason to revisit your site: You may not change or update your website for several years, so once a client has finished working with you or using your site, they’re not being encouraged to return. Promise and deliver regular and informative blog posts, and they’ll be more tempted to come back and see what you’re up to.
  • Blog to build trust: The web is a big place, littered with dodgy companies, redundant sites and potential hackers. Use a blog to prove that you’re one of the good guys and show that you’re an active site with satisfied customers. Even better, if visitors see that your blog has a decent following and that others are sharing and linking to your posts, your trustworthiness can rocket.

lucy@lucygrewcock.comNeed a professional  blog writer? Contact me for a quote and free sample.