The Secret to Spotting Great Web Copy

I totally get it. One day you decide to hire a freelance writer to freshen up your web copy or even to put together your website for the first time. Then you realize, horror of horrors, that you now have to go shopping for the blasted copywriter. You have no idea what to look for. You know what you like, but you don’t know what good copy looks like. You ask for samples because you kind of feel like you should…but that doesn’t accomplish too much because you’re left staring at a bunch of samples, wondering which ones are effective and why. You know that it should sound like the writer actually speaks English. You know the words should be spelled right. The grammar shouldn’t be atrocious. What else makes great web copy? Great web copy is customer focused. Customers don’t have time to read about your blah blah blah inception in the year whatever whereupon you became the best thing since sliced bread. What they want to read about is pain. Specifically, they want to read about their pain. And they want to read about what you’re going to do in order to fix that pain. I recently wrote some web copy for a networking and cybersecurity company.  I was willing to bet that most business owners don’t go around saying, “I’m going to buy some system and identity management today!” Most business owners don’t even know what the heck that is. No, most business owners are thinking things like: “Am I going to get sued if someone steals my customer data? Crap. I’d better make sure nobody gets that data.” They are in pain, because they...

TruReview Interview on Online Reputation Management

I was honored to be interviewed by TruReview. We had the chance to talk about online reputation management, which is something that I’ve been blogging about a lot lately. You can hear the interview here. I am actually not super skilled at speaking on the phone. I always tell my clients, “I think with my fingers, not with my brain!” When I listened to the interview I felt like a lot of my answers sounded unintentionally curt and unfriendly. But it’s possible I’m just self-conscious in that way! I hope I come across better in the blog posts I’ve done on the subject (most of them are on other sites, and linked out to my portfolio). As a content marketer, however, I am on the forefront of the business battle to manage a company’s reputation. The whole “reputation management” thing begins the moment someone logs onto your website. I’m 37 years old. Let me give you an idea of how I think. I go looking for a business like yours. You pass test #1 if you have a website at all. If you don’t have one, I will never, ever do business with you. I’ve already come to the conclusion that you are horribly behind the time times and out of touch…and as such, you are unable to help me. Not having the website has impacted your reputation. The second test is whether or not the website is reasonably visually appealing. I have zero visual intelligence, so this is an easy test to pass in my book. Others have more exacting standards. The third test is the web copy...

Don’t Become an Abandoned Blog

This month I’ve been struggling with something that many SMB customers no doubt struggle with. I’ve had neither the time nor the inclination to work on my blog. I’ve been too busy servicing my clients to even think about my own websites. I’ve been so frustrated with trying to think of content that my customers would care about that a few times I’ve wanted to blow up the entire blog. Just hit delete. You don’t have to have a blog, do you? Except, of course, that I blog for a living! That’s when I realized that I had a nice opportunity here to address a marketing problem that many SMBs face, and that I could offer useful insights about it (as opposed to just, say, deleting my blog altogether). This is the point where many small business blogs just get abandoned, especially if you can’t find any evidence that you’ve made direct sales from your content creation efforts. But that’s not the way it has to be. Pick yourself up again. You don’t have to beat yourself up over the fact that you’ve missed some blog posts. All of the content that you’ve created is still there, and it’s still providing value to your customers. It’s still offering you some benefit. So just get back to adding to it. You can do it without any particular fanfare, unless calling attention to your lapse serves some particular purpose (like writing a blog post about dealing with lapses on your blog). Look for something to curate. This is a strategy I use when I’m running low on ideas for a client’s blog. While...

Is Content Marketing Worth the Time?

I’ve been involved in an interesting thread over on LinkedIn all week. One of the members of the discussion said that content marketing was essentially useless: “too many words, not enough substance.” He liked the BMW tagline for its ability to help drive sales. He seemed to feel that most copywriting should be done in just 6 words or less, and that content marketing should be done away with altogether. I just can’t even begin to say how much I disagree with this stance. First, BMW is a big brand and, as another one of the members of discussion mentioned, has also made a decision to engage in content marketing. But even if they hadn’t, they’re a household name. They can afford to play the name recognition card. But I would venture to guess that the name recognition card is displaying less and less value these days. Most people tune out advertising. Sure, people know that content marketing is done in the hopes of capturing attention and earning trust. If a man brings me flowers and asks me on a date I know he’s hoping essentially the same thing. That doesn’t stop the gesture from being appreciated, or from having its desired effect. In fact, relying on clever words without substance (however cleverly those words are arranged) is the equivalent of falling back on cheesy pick-up lines without putting in the work of forging a real relationship. And it’s going over about as well in the minds of customers. So yeah. Even if you don’t want to factor Google into the equation, content marketing works. You can say it’s...

Blogging 101

I was over at the OneNaijaBlog and ran across a post about lazy bloggers. You can read it here. I don’t know about lazy though. This checklist could actually easily apply to inexperienced bloggers too. For example, when I first started blogging I didn’t really understand a thing about inserting myself into a larger community. I was too shy to comment on most posts. I didn’t think I had anything that great to say. I certainly didn’t reference other people’s posts. I was in fact overwhelmed by simply trying to get the content written, so I didn’t even make time to read other people’s blogs in my niche. Big mistake! Plus, I had this fear that if I did that I’d send them all the traffic and not get any of my own. Another big mistake! So I’ll sum up Babanature’s list because it is a very effective “Blogging 101.” 1. Write your content on a regular schedule. I chose once a week for this blog because I’m pressed for time, handling posts twice a week for about 10 blogs. I didn’t want to create a schedule I couldn’t live with. Notice he mentions not changing your day. I committed this blogging sin by going from Monday to Wednesday after I accidentally missed a week. I decided to just get back in the saddle after making this mistake, however. 2. Plan on pitching and attempting to write a guest post at least once a week. This will feel like a huge time suck at first. You’ll send queries out into space. You’ll send out some bad queries. And then you’ll hit on...