Category Archives for "Uncategorized"

blog series Netflix image
Dec 15

Could a blog series help repurpose your content?

By Kevin Anderson | Uncategorized

Netflix is trying to destroy my life. They keep releasing amazing TV series that grab my attention. And of course, their model is slightly different. Instead of the traditional drip feed of shows – they release entire series in one go. No longer do I have to wait a week. Days revert to the standard ‘Monday, Tuesday, etc., etc.’ rather than ’24 Day’, ‘Mad Men Day’ or ‘Narcos Day’.

For some, it’s a step too far, but for me, I love being in control and being able to watch, what I want, when I want. The episodic nature of the most compelling TV shows has been adopted by others, including podcasters.

They create a sense of anticipation by releasing a series of shows that are focus on one topic, and like Netflix, they will often release them at the same time.

Blog Series

Most of the blogs I’ve written are one-offs. They stand alone. They might be categorised alongside similar content, and they might even reference other blog content – but they are singular in nature.

I’m writing a 6-part series at the moment for a podcaster. He creates podcast series at the moment, so we decided that it might be fun to follow the same approach for his blog posts.

It’s been great to write these, and it’s opened my eyes to using this approach for my content, and for client projects.

Re-Purposeful

The beauty of this approach is that it can help you tell a bigger story by breaking the content down into bite-sized chunks. There’s evidence that long form blog posts of over 3,000 work well, but for me, I prefer shorter blog content.

Think of your blog series as a book, where each episode acts as an individual chapter. The series can be as short or as long as it needs to be, but a range of 3 to 8 is what I’m going to experiment with.

And the beauty of this approach is that you can repurpose that content more easily.

Your perfectly structured blog series could become –

  • A Kindle Book for sale.
  • A PDF book for lead generation.
  • A Slideshare Presentation.
  • An email course.
  • A webinar.
  • A Podcast script/outline.
  • A YouTube video.
  • A Periscope broadcast.

You get the idea.

I can hear some of you now – “It’s hard enough writing ONE blog post, let alone an entire SERIES!” That’s a fair comment – but I look at it another way. If I’m going to invest my valuable time writing, I might as well maximise that writing time by creating it with reuse in mind.

Creating your first series

The single subject blog post still works. I’m not advocating that EVERYTHING you write has to be in a series form, but from time-to-time, it might be nice to mix things up and create a series of blog posts.

So what could you do?

Have a think about your own business and blog. Is there a subject you’ve been considering writing about that was just too big? Could that be broken down into episodes? Or is there something that is just a bit more complex that you’d like to simplify by talking about one element at a time?

I recommend you start by outlining the series. Just create some bullet points and see where it takes you. My personal approach is to use Mindmaps. Here’s the first draft of the outline for my first series that I’ll be working on over the next few weeks.

Blog Series Example

My First Blog Series Outline

Got any ideas for your own blog series?

So, over to you. Do you think a series approach could work for you? If so – share your ideas in the comments section. Be interested to hear about some of the exciting content you’ve got planned.

I’d love to stay and chat, but the last three episodes of Narcos aren’t going to watch themselves are they?

Nov 09

Should I consider local newspaper advertising to grow my business?

By Kevin Anderson | Uncategorized

I had an interesting situation this week. My new job and old job collided. One of my newest writing clients asked for my advice on whether they should advertise in a local newspaper. It’s not the first time I’ve been asked that question, and it won’t be the last.

Local newspaper advertising

For those that don’t know me, although I make my living as a content writer and copywriter, for the majority of my career I’ve worked in the publishing and advertising industry. Most recently I was part of the management team within the advertising department of a local publishing company.

It’s an industry I’m all too familiar with, and I’ll be honest, my advice when asked ‘should I advertise in a local newspaper?’ is usually ‘no’. But it’s always ‘no’ for a reason.

When I WOULD consider local newspaper advertising

Here’re the circumstances I’d consider taking out a local newspaper advert

  • You have something to sell
  • You have a time limited event or offer OR
  • You have a stock/service limited event or offer
  • Selling 1 to 3 of your items will cover the cost of your advertising and take you into profit
  • You’re committed to a minimum of 3 adverts
  • You can afford to lose your investment

I know that local newspaper advertising can work. How do I know? Well, part of my job in my ‘employed’ days was to compile and use the testimonials that our advertisers shared with us. And I’ve spoken to advertisers who have enjoyed hugely successful advertising campaigns.

But it only works in very specific circumstances. Most buyers of local media view their advertising as a straight-up punt. A gamble. A toss of a coin. It might work. It might not. For them, it’s just part of the game – a cost of doing business.

Local Newspaper Advertising - A Gamble?

No advertising sales rep will ever guarantee you results. Because they can’t. But some media buyers use that as an excuse to put no thought whatsoever into their advertising. That’s a massive mistake.

Ultimately you have to make up your own mind about whether you advertise in a local newspaper.

If You DO advertise, DO this.

If either the set of circumstances are right for your business, OR you are in the mood of a PUNT, please, please – do the following. End the cycle of taking a succession of uncalculated gambles. Put in place a unique mechanism to make your adverts truly accountable. No excuses.

The beauty of Facebook, Google Adwords, your email newsletter and your site is that they are accountable. You can get real-time feedback on what’s working and what isn’t. You have the ultimate flexibility to stop something or change it. You can pause a campaign when you want and start it again when it suits.

Now don’t get me wrong – online and social media advertising isn’t perfect. It’s certainly not without its flaws. It’s also fair to say that there are a huge number of people wasting just as much money on digital advertising as they do on traditional media.

But you can make a local newspaper advert accountable. Here’s how you do it. You share a single offer or a single product in the advert. An exclusive offer. A unique price. It has to be something that you don’t share elsewhere.

This might seem counterintuitive. After all conventional, accepted wisdom is that you need to have a mix of media and a blend of channels. But if you want to stop your advertising being a punt and start looking at it as a genuine investment you need a means to measure what works. A way to isolate and focus on one single media that you’d like to test.

Local Newspaper Advertising - Does it work

Stop wasting your money.

But I think you can have a broader campaign and still measure the effectiveness of a single channel. What you could do, and if your margins allow – you could offer an additional discount that you don’t share elsewhere. You can take a coupon approach or use a specific voucher code.

You need to factor this into your financial model. In other words, you need to make sure that you’ve built enough margin in to be profitable.

It’s simple and obvious advice, and the small margin that you give away in the short term could save you a fortune in wasted, unproductive advertising in the future.

If nobody redeems your exclusive local newspaper offer, then you’ll have your answer. Don’t be fooled into trying again. Don’t convince yourself that ‘maybe the copy was wrong’ or ‘maybe it was in on the wrong day’. Satisfy yourself that it didn’t work for you. Move on. Don’t repeat the error by trying again.

And what if it does work? If it works – do it again. Consider increasing the frequency or even the size of the advert.

Ultimately the message I want you to take away from this blog post is this – local newspaper advertising should be viewed as an investment and not a gamble.

Take Responsibility

You’ve got to take responsibility, though – so here are my Top Tips for those considering launching a local newspaper advertising campaign.

  1. Let the publisher design the advert for you. (this is usually a free service.)
  2. Ask the sales rep specific questions about their ability to deliver a relevant audience.
  3. Do your homework – search JicReg database for free to get some insights into the circulation and readership of the local newspaper you’re considering advertising in.
  4. Do your homework – check the audited circulation (ABC) figures for the newspapers sales figures.
  5. Focus more on copies sold rather than the number of readers. Copies sold is a guaranteed, audited and reliable figure. Readership data is modelled – in other words, they are an estimate only.
  6. When offered a price – ask how this relates to their published rate card. Your job, as a savvy media buyer, should be to maximise the discount you receive off the rate-card.
  7. Any advertising should be ‘Direct Response’ based (make sales) rather than ‘Brand Building’.

I don’t offer local newspaper advertising related services personally, but if you have a question, or would like some free, impartial advice. Drop me an email and I’ll try to help.

The decision my colleague made was, on this occasion, not to advertise in the local newspaper. That decision was made on financial logic. The sums just didn’t add up and that brought the campaign into the realms of a gamble, rather than investment.

Nov 06

Could a daily writing goal change your writing fortunes?

By Kevin Anderson | Uncategorized

As someone who writes words for a living, you’d think I’d have my writing process pretty much nailed down. You’d be wrong. Spectacularly so. I’m certainly better than I was, but I’m continually tweaking and refining the way I work.

Daily Writing Word Count Image

I talked about this with a friend of mine recently. When I told him of my goal of becoming a ‘more efficient writer’ he accused me of being a ‘capitalist pig dog’. He’s right of course – the more I can write, the more money I can make. But it’s more significant than that.

Being an efficient writer, will make me a happier one. And being a happier writer will make me a better one.

Time Blocking

Up until now I’ve measured my writing output by how long I spend writing. I’ve tried to ring fence time purely for writing, going as far as creating different writing time blocks in my calendar. Invariably though this approach doesn’t work. I end up getting frustrated at myself, particularly in the days where I don’t write.

Seems odd, but the nature of my business means that there are days where I don’t write anything. I might have back-to-back meetings with clients, or I might be working on a non-writing task – like fixing an issue with my website.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog (hi mum!), then you’ll be well just to my love of writing. What I haven’t shared though is this – I get quite grumpy if I have a day without writing.

The Daily Word Count

So I’m changing my focus. Time will no longer be the measure of success. Word count will be my new master. This isn’t a new idea. The concept of focussing on word count has been around for a long time. The wonderful Ann Handley talks about it in her fantastic book – ‘Everybody Writes’.

The principle is fairly straightforward you commit to writing a minimum number of words every day. The idea being that having a target and sticking to it develops a writing habit.

To give you an idea, here are the daily writing goals set by some well-known writers.

  • Arthur Conan Doyle   (3,000 words)
  • Ernest Hemingway   (500 words)
  • Fredrick Forsyth   (3,000 words)
  • Lee Child   (1,800 words)
  • Mark Twain   (1,400 words)
  • Maya Angelou  (2,500 words)
  • Michael Crichton  (10,000 words)
  • Sophie Kinsella   (1,000 words)
  • Stephen King  (2,000 words)

My Daily Word Count Goal COMMITMENT

You’ll notice that I scored out ‘Goal’.

For me, as a professional writer it shouldn’t be a goal – it needs to be more than that – it needs to be a commitment.

So my commitment from this day forth is that I, Kevin James Anderson, being of sound (ish) mind does hereby declare that I will definitely (ish) produce on pain of death the following number of words EVERY DAY.

0
words a day

Why 1,800?

Well, that’s the equivalent of roughly three blog posts a day for me. It’s stretching, but achievable. That’s the number until the end of the year. I’ll review in January. To keep me honest and accountable I’ll make a note of my daily number and report back at the end of the month.

Your Daily Writing Goal?

If you write blog posts or newsletter content – why don’t you consider setting a daily word count commitment? Start modestly – even 150 words a day would be a great way to start your writing habit.

Try it and see how you get on.

Having a daily word count commitment, isn’t the end of my writing process ‘tinkering’ but it will get me focussed on writing every day, and that has to be a good thing.


 

PS – Found this wonderful quote from Maya Angelou while researching this post.

May Angelou Quote | Daily Writing Goal

Sep 29

Writer v Editor | How to be a more efficient writer

By Kevin Anderson | All Posts , Uncategorized

The biggest breakthrough in my writing career came when I finally separated writing and editing. It was a bitter divorce, but one that had to be made. Before they went their separate ways, I would type a sentence of 15 words and then promptly delete 10 of them. It was a slow and frustrating process, that I’m sure many of you have experienced.

Writer v Editor

The good old fashioned notebook can help with outlines.

Now I divide the two stages. By not correcting myself as I go I type my initial draft relatively quickly, even if there are glaringly obvious typos. It’s quite liberating to type, knowing that the many typos I’ve ignored will be corrected later. It speeds up the writing process dramatically and has made me a more efficient and creative writer.

I’ll not lie, it takes a while to get used to the concept that writing and editing are entirely different processes. Here are a few tips I’d like to share to help make things a bit easier.

Tip 1 – Outline To Keep Focus

Create a clear outline for what you’re writing. Might sound obvious, but it helps narrows the focus and stops your mind drifting off. (Bonus Tip – I’m a lover of all things digital, but I love handwriting the outline in a notebook.)

Tip 2 – Different Tools for Different Tasks

Use different writing apps for your writing and editing. I use the iA Writer application that is synched across my iPad, iPhone, and MacBook Air to write my first draft. I edit final drafts in ByWord (another Mac-based writing app) or Microsoft Word. My brain has made the association that iA Writer = Writing and ByWord or Word = Editing.

Tip 3 – Time Out

Take a break between writing and editing phases. I prefer the ‘sleep on it’ approach, but if you are up against a deadline then at least take a break, or work on something else. Task switching is my preferred method if I have to. It keeps my brain in ‘work’ mode.

Tip 4 – Keep Proofreading Until The End

Take the separation a step further by leaving proofreading to the end of the writing project. I use Grammarly.com to help automate the process before I re-read the content to check for any other errors. If you have a particularly pedantic amateur proofreader (hi Mum!) then hand over your masterpiece to them for inspection.

Tip 5 – Say it loud & proud

A proofreader will catch spelling & grammatical errors, but they might miss flaws with the flow of your writing. A great way of picking up on these is to read the content out loud. Better still, record it on your iPhone or dictaphone (do you still get those?) and listen back to yourself. You might cringe and hate the sound of your voice, but it’s a fantastic way to identify any issues with the flow of your writing.

Tip 6 -Delete the Delete Key

Ban yourself from touching the delete key at all during the writing phase. Some take this a step further either obstruct the Delete key or in some cases – remove it entirely. I couldn’t bring myself to deface my keyboard in such a brutal manner – but with a bit of discipline, such extreme measure aren’t necessary.

Final Thoughts

Writing is a creative, right-brain activity, and editing is a logical, left-brain activity. Keeping those two opposing beasts as far away from each other is the quickest way to become a more efficient writer. Give these tips a try and let me know how you get on. If you’ve got any of your own tips on separating writing and editing I’d love to hear them.

Jul 29

Content Marketing versus Copywriting | Let Battle Commence

By Kevin Anderson | All Posts , Uncategorized

Content Marketing & Copywriting | Perfect Partners or Mortal Foes

When I tell people that content marketing is part of my business, the typical response is ‘What is content marketing?’

My response goes something like this –

“Your customers and potential customers don’t care about you, your products or your service. They care about themselves. Content marketing is about creating interesting information your audience is passionate about so they actually pay attention to you.”

That direct response sometimes gets a slightly puzzled look, the kind of look that says, “Nope – still don’t get it.”

My mobile writing office

The tools of my content & copywriting trade.

Then I tell them that I write content for clients. That content might be a blog post explaining a key concept, or it could be an animated video. It could also be creating a short ebook for a client to give away for free to clients.

“I see – so you’re a copywriter then. Why didn’t you just say so?”

Well yes and no.

The content marketing examples above have one thing in common – they are not selling anything. They are giving away free and valuable content for a target audience. They are the building blocks of a relationship. It’s not a sales pitch; it’s the start of a conversation. The principle being this – that if you continue to deliver valuable, free and relevant content that helps people – that they will come to trust you. If, in the future, they are in the market for a service you offer, the probability of them choosing you over an unknown business is very high. And even if they never become clients, they are likely to be fans of what you do and will help with your word of mouth marketing efforts.

So it’s not entirely altruistic, those that believe in content marketing aren’t saints – they just recognise that having content marketing as a cornerstone of their business makes business sense. They also recognise that content marketing doesn’t happen overnight. Creating content consistently takes time and for some the lack of an immediate payoff is the key thing that puts them off.

 

In other words, to them – Content Marketing is a luxury.

They’d rather focus on creating direct selling copy for their website or a piece of direct mail to post out to a database. This more direct approach still works, especially for those with the skills to write persuasive copy. But if it is ALL you write and if it is the only way you do business – then sooner, rather than later – people will switch off. Becuase ultimately the vast majority of people love buying, but HATE being sold to.

The flipside though is that if you only give away free content, and don’t have a product or service behind it to sell – then you frankly don’t have a business. There is a balance to be struck.

Gary Vaynerchuck sums it up perfectly in his book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. It’s a great book and worth a read – the central theme in the book is this. The jabs are a series of free, valuable content that is given away before a sale is asked for in the form of a copywriting right hook. Gary does this brilliantly by giving away, short daily videos, as well as frequent free blog posts. He follows this up by then sharing with his audience through a well copy-written sales page or video that he has a new book available. The key to Gary’s success isn’t just his full-on personality, but that the free content he shares is genuinely valuable. He also wins because he gets the ratio right. It’s not a coincidence that the book ISN’T called Jab, Right Hook, Right Hook, Right Hook.

Blog Writing Image

A regularly updated blog, is a great example of Content Marketing

So to take the boxing metaphor a bit further – content marketing and copywriting aren’t in opposing corners – they’re in the same one. They are the winning team. They work hard together in the gym over a long period, they do the road work, they do the bag work and a bit of skipping. When they finally get in the ring, they are perfectly prepared. And of course every boxer and boxing team need an opponent – they need an enemy – and in our case that enemy is apathy. Apathy that so often leads to someone hitting the ‘back button’ and searching again for the content that grabs them, engages them and connects with them.


Do the words you use strike that balance? Does the content on your site hold people’s attention? Does it deliver a knock-out punch for your business? If the answer is no, you owe it to yourself, your business and your audience to create fresh new content. And if you don’t have time to do it yourself or you simply don’t like writing get in touch with me, and I’ll turn words into real assets for your business.

Contact Kevin by filling in our enquiry form or if you’d like a chat, just call 07873 110097.