Category Archives for "Content Writing"

Jan 14

Is your writing in need of a trim?

By Kevin Anderson | Content Writing

There was more fat than bacon. A lot more. It was my fault of course. The boys did as instructed. They went to the village shop. They got rolls. They got bacon. They fulfilled their contractual obligation to me. I wasn’t having bacon, so I didn’t care. But I couldn’t serve bacon like that to my kids. So I trimmed it while introducing them to the concept of ‘bacon selection.’

Trimming the fat is a consistent theme for me at the moment. I’m trying to lose weight. No sorry, I’m trying to ‘change my lifestyle’. It’s fair to say, I have a fair bit of fat to trim. But the area where I’m trimming fat the most, is in my writing.

100 Word Story Challenge

Not satisfied with losing weight and growing the business, I’ve set myself a personal writing challenge. Every day for 2016, I’ll write and share a 100-word story. It’s harder than it sounds. The 100-word restriction forces me to keep to the point and master the art of brevity. In a 100-word story, trimming the fat is an absolute requirement.

I started this project during the festive break. It was a toss up between writing fiction and taking up knitting. I wouldn’t want to steal my mums thunder, so fiction won out.

I wrote a dozen or so 100-word stories during December. I loved the process, so I committed to the daily challenge. So why am I telling you this? It’s got nothing to do with Copywriting? I disagree, it has everything to do with it!

The Realisation

When my writing focus returned to copywriting, I noticed something immediately. Some of the content I’ve written before is a little bit tubby. In four blog posts I reviewed, each suffered from a degree of bloat. The result; some sentences and paragraphs were hard to read.

When I started writing new content, I found that I was producing shorter, punchier sentences. And when it came to the editing process, my eye would be drawn to ‘wordy’ sentences.

The Lesson

I’ve found two types of bloat in my writing, and the writing of others.

Too many words.

On many occasions, the issue is simply too many unnecessary words. Those words might be pointless adjectives or adverbs that add no real value. Don’t get me wrong, adjectives and adverbs have their place, just don’t abuse them. If the point you’re trying to make stands without an adjective, leave it out.

Too much detail.

It’s all too easy to lose the focus in any piece of writing. That usually happens when you add too much detail. Stick to the point. Help your readers understand your content by giving them the right level of detail. There’s a balance to be struck. But don’t lose the impact of the message you want to deliver. Stick to the point.

Sizzle.

Cutting the fat will make your writing sizzle. Short sentences will add punch. And you’ll create easily digestible content that your readers will relish.

Your Turn

Have a look at the last thing you wrote. Can you spot any fat? Are there some sentences you could have trimmed? If you prefer, have a look at another blog. Take a look and assume the role of editor. What do you notice? Are there sentences that are clunky? Are there adjectives that aren’t required?

And finally, allow me to be a little self-indulgent. Matthew and Lewis, I love you, but for future reference – always get smoked bacon.

PS – You can read my 100-Word Stories at www.100wordstory.co.uk or sign-up to get the daily story emailed to you.

Sep 22

5 Reasons Why You Should Write A Blog For Your Business

By Kevin Anderson | All Posts , Blog Writing , Content Writing

I wanted to share with you my 5 top Reasons Why You Should Write A Blog For your business. It’s a subject that’s come up in conversation with a number of clients – so here’s what I’ve shared with them.

Personality

A blog gives you the opportunity to show a different side to your business. It can be the platform that introduces you and your team on a more personal level. It’s a great way of humanising your website content. And although it’s a cliche – people buy from people.

Visibility

Google likes blogs. If you have a website with static content that never changes, then the little Google Robots won’t pop by as often as they should. Each blog you post reminds Google, and your audience that you still exist. Remember though – you’re writing content for real humans.

Trust

A consistently written blog, shared with a relevant and engaged audience is the key to building relationships online. And one blog post at a time, that growing relationship will eventually be a trusting one. And trust, is the most powerful asset your business can have.

Authority

Your blog can be the strongest positioning tool for you and your business. It can share your expertise, experience and knowledge. Each blog post yiur write gives you the opportunity to teach something new and connect with your audience.

Leads

If all this sounds a little bit fluffy or touchy feely then you’ll be glad to know that a blog can become a stone cold lead generator for your business . Sharing valuable free content in a blog post and then directing your readers to a free ebook or White paper is a hugely successful lead generating strategy.

That’s my top 5 reasons why you should write a blog for your business –

  • Personality
  • Visibility
  • Trust
  • Authority
  • Leads

What’s your top 5. Leave a comment or tweet me @kevanderson with #WhyIBlog

 


If you’re looking for more inspiration on why you should blog, here are 3 sites that I think will help.

  1. 19 Reasons why you should be writing a blog.
  2. The Benefits of Blogging for business.
  3. 10 Reasons you should be blogging.
Sep 21

What Should I Pay For A Blog Post?

By Kevin Anderson | All Posts , Content Writing

I was recently asked what I thought was a “fair price to pay for a blog post.” The interrogator was a friend, and, to be honest, it caught me off-guard. I’ve been asked to provide quotes for my content writing services before, but this was a good friend who will never become a client of mine.

I could have answered with an existential “what is anything really worth?” But I thought I needed a deeper, more profound response. After some consideration, I dug deep and summoned all my intellectual might and replied “It Depends.” Well actually, it sounded more like a question – “It Depends?”

When it comes to blog writing, you can pay anything from $5 to £500 for a blog post. That’s a huge gap and a completely unreasonable one on the surface. At least it would be if the $5 and £500 blog post were the same. I can’t be sure, but I’m reasonably confident that the quality of the £500 one will be higher than the $5 version.

Fair Enough?

Ultimately each business owner needs to determine the value of anything they choose to invest in. £500 for a blog post for a business that sells low-cost ‘widgets’ that retail for £1 would probably be extreme. But a £500 blog post for a company that sells commercial property, that nets £500,000 in profit, could be a worthwhile investment.

Only you as the business owner can determine what fair means. If you are looking at content writing as a means of creating blog posts that are simply SEO fodder to drive people to your website – then low cost, high volume content could work. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for ghostwritten blog posts that sound like you, share your values and make an authentic connection with your audience – then those will cost you more.

I’m not a commodity

A lot of writers accept that the words they write are commodities. Arrogantly, I don’t buy into that. There is only one of me. I’m unique, and therefore, I can’t be a commodity. I might have a similar command of the English language as my blog writing compatriots, but the experiences I’ve had are different.

Fair Do’s?

I’ve developed a process for ghostwriting blog posts, and other writers will have their own. I’ve set my prices based on that process and in a roundabout answer to my chums question – what I charge, based on my experience is fair.

But I’m a realist – and my advice is that you should only pay what you can afford for your blog posts.

For another perspective on the tricky question of blog writing pricing, I recommend you read Carol Tice’s excellent blog post on the subject. 

Sep 16

How Much Does It Cost To Write A Blog Article?

By Kevin Anderson | All Posts , Content Writing

I know that trusting a stranger to write something as personal as a blog article is a big step, one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you’ve made the decision to do so, the next logical step is to ask  – How Much Does It Cost To Write A Blog Article?

The truth is, whether you want to deal with someone locally or outsource overseas, you have a host of freelance writing suppliers to choose from. And many of them will offer their writing services for less than I do. Some, considerably so. On the flipside, there are many copywriters that will charge significantly more than I do.

Why The Difference

How Much Does It Cost To Write A Blog Article?

Kevin Anderson | Copywriter & Business Writer

Let’s take Blog Ghost Writing as an example. For the uninitiated this is where I write a blog post for your site that you take the credit for. I charge anywhere between £70 and £100 for a 500-650 word blog post. (You can find detailed pricing on my Blog Ghost Writing page).

I know local copywriters that will charge £35, and there are freelancing websites where you can get articles written for as little as $5. I’m sure you can see; that’s quite a difference.

I could quite easily tell you all about my 21 years marketing experience. Throw in some witty anecdotes, drop a few names and give you a brief history of my career in a bid to justify my pricing structure. But that wouldn’t answer the question.

The reason I charge what I charge is down to the process I employ to create copy that has a voice you recognise as your own.

The Process

Step 1 – Getting to know YOU

If you’re looking to fill in a form and have copy created without ever speaking to me – then I’m sorry, I can’t help you. I need to understand your business, your objectives, and more importantly I need to understand you. What makes you tick, how do you speak – because ultimately your personality should come out in the work I write for you. I can’t represent your voice if I’ve never heard it.

If you’re local (Dundee or Perth) we can meet in person or if you’re further afield – we can use Skype, Facetime or the good old fashioned telephone to talk through your requirements.

These meetings or calls typically take between 30 minutes and an hour. They are an essential part of the process.

Step 2 – The Blog Brief

Next, I take the notes from the ‘Getting to Know You’ session and create a more detailed Blog Brief, which acts as our roadmap.

Step 3 – Research (Light)

Armed with the brief, I start the process of gathering background research on your business, your competitors and, of course, the subject of the blog. This is a light piece of research to help create the outline of the post.

Step 4 – The Outline

Once I’ve got a handle on your business and your industry, I’ll be able to sketch out the structure of your blog post. This will usually consist of a list of 3-6 sub-headings along with any notes and typically a sentence relating to the conclusion of the post.

Step 5 – Green Light?

I send you the Blog Brief along with The Outline for you to approve, or amend. This makes sure that I’ve not misinterpreted anything from our initial conversation. The First Draft won’t start until you have agreed signed-off this element.

Step 6 – Research (Detailed)

The signed-off Outline gives me the confidence to undertake more detailed research. In some cases, this will simply be an extension of Step 3 although you may well introduce new source material during the Green Light phase.

Step 7 – Write First Draft

Finally! I can start to do what I love – writing. But steps 1-6 are vital to creating a blog post that does you justice.

Step 8 – Edit First Draft

After a short snack, a hot beverage of my choice or on rare occasions, a kebab, I re-read the first draft and make any necessary alterations.

Step 9 – Proof First Draft

I use a combination of online tools to proofread the first draft to make sure that grammatically, the writing is sound.

Step 10 – Send First Draft

I send you the first draft in Word (or PDF if you prefer) for you to review.

Step 11 – Feedback

After a review, you might have some changes you’d like to make to your blog post. Don’t worry, I won’t take this personally.

Step 12 – Write Metadata

The final writing task is to create the metadata for your post, to help with your Search Engine Optimisation efforts.

(Meta Description, Page Title, H1 Tag)

Step 13 – Send Final Draft

I send you the final draft for you to publish on your site. We exchange a ‘high 5’ or ‘fist bump’ (your choice) to acknowledge the start of a beautiful content writing partnership.

And that’s what this process is all about – partnership. It’s the only way I can create valuable content that captures your voice. You and I know that I’m essentially putting words in your mouth, but to your clients, and your website visitors – they’ll read words that are authentically you.

That’s why I DON’T charge $15 or £35 for a blog post.

Sep 15

Is your Headline Writing Killing Relationships?

By Kevin Anderson | All Posts , Content Writing

What NOT TO DO with your headlines

How many times have you clicked on a link or opened an email on the basis of the headline, or subject line? If you’re like me, the answer will be ‘frequently’. How many times have you felt like a sucker as a result? I know I have. The headline promised one thing but then failed to deliver the content you expected. Ask yourself a simple question – how do you feel as a result?

If you’re anything like me, the initial thought will be one of disappointment. But that quickly morphs to anger. You’ve deceived me to get a click, to get my attention – to steal my time. The website owner or e-mail sender has in one sentence, one phrase, one undelivered promise – killed our relationship. Trust is the most valuable of commodities. It’s difficult to gain, and almost impossible to win back if you lose it.

This practice is known as Click Bait – a headline with the soul purpose of getting clicked.

For example, I could have gained more click-throughs for this article with this eye-catching headline –

Raccoon Drives School Bus.

be EXTRAORDINARY

It would certainly get more attention. It would peak people’s interest. It would entertain, to a certain extent. But it wouldn’t deliver on the promise – certainly not in this context. If you’re a satirist writing for the likes of The Poke and The Daily Mash, then fair enough. But if you’re simply using it as a means of generating traffic, you’re making a massive mistake.

The job of the headline is to get people to read on further, click on the link or open the email. Headlines are hugely important and often overlooked by writers and bloggers. They’re often the starting point of what you hope will transform into a relationship. Trust begins with the headline.

I’m all for clever, funny and thought-provoking headlines AS LONG as they deliver on the promise. If the headline leads me to content that adds value, then I will trust the writer more. If it turns out that the headline is the highlight of their writing – trust will be eroded.

Don’t compromise trust by getting too cute with your headlines.

NOTE: No Raccoons were harmed in the writing of this blog post.


In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing a series of articles relating to Headline Writing.

If you’ve got a question relating to writing headlines or have any great examples of Click Bait Headlines that have over-promised and under-delivered, please share them in the comments.

Sep 10

The Lazy Writer

By Kevin Anderson | All Posts , Content Writing

I’ve used and abused the excuse that I am too busy writing for my clients to find the time to write my content.

That, of course, is utter nonsense. This will (#PostiveThinking) become the case in the future as I grow my reputation and business. For the time being, though, I have more than enough time to write blog articles and fresh new content for my site – without impacting my client commitments.

Quote5

I value the content I write on my blog. I know how important it is. I’ve witnessed a massive spike in traffic to my site since I started my ‘Blog a Day’ late on Sunday night. That’s great news – trust me I’ve worked in newspaper publishing where success is now measured on not losing sales as quickly as your competitors. I’ve never had so many visitors, and I’d be a liar if I said this didn’t give me a buzz. (I’ll share the weekly numbers in a future blog post.) I’ve drawn the most satisfaction from the real connections I’ve made with real people.

I’ve received comments (positive and encouraging – thankfully!) on the blog posts, which in itself is an achievement as nobody has engaged with my content up until now. I’ve had people reach out to me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn with positive comments and one of the strong sentiments that have come through, is that people are relating to what I’m writing. They’re making a personal connection. Last night, I received a Facebook instant message from someone I haven’t met before. He posed a couple of questions about one of my posts; we chatted and by the end he said that I’d helped him.

So what’s changed? Why is the content I’m writing now getting noticed and connecting with people? I think there are three reasons.

  • This Time It’s Personal

I’m writing ‘filters off’. What I mean is that I’m not agonising over everything I write. I’m more honest than I’ve ever been, and I’m keeping it very personal. Square Tree Marketing Ltd. is me. I don’t have a team of people, and I’ll never pretend that I do.

  • I’m Speaking To My People

I’ve discovered my tribe. Or as I said in my TCMA2015 blog post

“I felt a sense of belonging. These people – are my people.”

What do I mean by that? They are what I call “Content Marketing True Believers” they maybe haven’t got everything figured out (nobody has) but they believe in the guiding principles of content marketing and that’s what unites us. I’m finally engaging with people that I can GENUINELY relate to.

  • I’m sharing

I’m using social media to share my stories. Most of my traffic is being driven through Facebook and Twitter. Although I’ve had my Twitter account since 2009, I’ve never really got into it in a big way. In fact, I only started using it again at The Content Marketing Academy event last Friday. The results have been encouraging. Crucially though, and related to Point Number 2 – I’m sharing it with the RIGHT people.

Quote6

The Next Step – Guest Blogging

But I want to write more and I want to reach new audiences. So the next step on my writing journey is ‘guest blogging’. I’ve already been asked to write a piece for someone, but I’d love to create original content for any blog owner that thinks I could connect with their audience as a guest. I can cover writing advice, the story of my journey so far or most aspects of marketing and business. I’ve also got a background in software development and am mildly obsessed with productivity tools.

Throw me an idea, and we’ll make it happen. Send me a message to start the conversation. 

(PS – and yes if anyone would like to guest blog on my site – please let me know!)

Sep 08

Why you should write it yourself

By Kevin Anderson | All Posts , Content Writing

Why YOU are your ideal Writer

There are certain universal truths that I believe. Firstly I genuinely believe that one day, I will have the growth spurt that I’ve been waiting for and reach the dizzy heights of 5 foot 4 inches tall. Conventional wisdom would suggest that at the age of 40 that my growing days are over. Unless you class weight-gain as growth, which I can empirically state is possible in the over 40’s.

The universal truth that I want to share today is this – nobody is better placed to write your content than you. From writing a blog post, website copy, eBook or white paper – you are the ideal content writing candidate and should ‘Write It Yourself’ (WIY). 

There will be no more authentic voice when talking about your business than your own. And this goes beyond merely having the ‘domain knowledge’ for your business and industry. It’s much bigger than that. You have the passion, and the perspective to tell your stories and make a genuine connection with those that read your words.

I’ve heard so many amazing stories of the power of content marketing and inbound marketing over the last few years. The speakers at last week’s Content Marketing Academy Conference in Edinburgh shared some powerful examples of businesses that have completely turned their fortunes around. All through the power of the written, or in some cases, spoken word.

So what holds people back? Some simply don’t believe in content marketing. But I think there is a HUGE subset of people that WANT to embrace content marketing but don’t. They don’t need convincing, but yet they sit on the sidelines, applauding others success. Why does this happen? I think the main reason is that they lack the confidence to share their stories with the World.

That lack of confidence is sometimes driven by the belief that they can’t write. Some don’t like the sound of their voice while others are perfectionists who toil to complete any writing project. Some are past-masters at making excuses.

You need content. You need to write. Don’t doubt yourself, just get started.

For me the best place to start and find your voice is to create a blog for your business. It’s never been easier to become your own publisher. Set yourself the challenge of writing two blog posts a week. They don’t have to be long, and they don’t have to be perfect. What they should be is helpful, informative and entertaining.

Don’t know where to start? Take the approach from Marcus Sheridan (www.thesaleslion.com) and follow the They Ask. You Answer. philosophy. Think of all the barriers that would stop someone buying the product or service you offer. Write them down. Then set about the process of addressing these directly in your blog posts.

Quote1

I write for a living, it’s what I love to do, but everyone has the power to write engaging content, and everyone should. Have faith in yourself, ignore the negative voices and just create natural content that reflects your personality and your business.

If you’ve got a content writing question or are looking for inspiration fire me an email or better still – leave a comment on this post. And keep an eye out for future writing tips and quite possibly a special post sharing the news of my extraordinary growth spurt. #ItWillHappen #IWillBe5Foot5 #NBAHereICome