Category Archives: Blogging

Why Authors Should Hire a Professional Copywriter

Do you need copy written for your website or blog that will market your books or your product? Thinking about doing it yourself? You may want to think again. While most everyone knows how to write, that is, put ideas down on paper. Most people don’t know how to sell through writing. And that’s what copywriting is all about: effectively selling a product or service through the power of words.

Quality.

A writer writes. Period. That’s all they do. They know how to write persuasive copy that packs a punch, gets attention “and sells more.

Positioning.

Yes, it’s true, some people have a knack for writing. But developing copy for marketing materials (things like brochures, websites, and campaigns) goes beyond good grammar and spelling. It’s about knowing how to properly position your book so that it stands out and motivates your target audience to take action. A professional copywriter knows how to do that.

Perspective.

You’re in the middle of preparing for a new book launch, scheduling a meeting with your editor, hiring a new assistant and a myriad of other tasks. Sometimes you get so busy that you lose perspective about your business as an author and about what makes your book unique in the eyes of your customers and prospects. In essence, you can’t see the forest for the trees. But a professional copywriter can bring fresh eyes and fresh ideas to the table. They are not caught up in the day-to-day inner workings of your business as an author and can therefore, many times, do a better job of communicating big picture concepts about your books.

Clarity.

Even if you are a good writer, you may not understand how to write for your target audience. A professional copywriter can take a complex concept one that you may easily understand, but your customers may not and turn it into easy-to-read copy.

Brevity

Let’s face it. In today’s too-much-information age, everyone is deluged with more then they can possibly read. But a professional copywriter knows how to get ideas across using words economically. They can take all the information you provide and translate it into succinct and relevant points. With the help of a professional writer, your copy will take on a new energy, crispness, and focus.

Convenience.

Your time is valuable and effective writing is a time-consuming task, constricting your already tight schedule. By hiring a professional copywriter, you’ll be able to focus on other tasks, while the copywriter does what he or she does best, writes.

Supporting the design.

A well-designed website, brochure, or direct mail campaign requires strong copywriting. If you have eye-catching graphics, you’ll invite your audience to begin reading. Compelling content will keep them reading. A professional copywriter can ensure the success of your design efforts by holding the attention of your audience.

The Bottom Line.

In today’s economy, selling books is as cutthroat as ever. You need copy that will get your books noticed. You need every tool in the box to stand out and persuade your target audience to act. A professional copywriter may just provide the edge you need.

ACW copy

8 Ideas to Inspire Content for Your Blog

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You may be hitting a brick wall when it comes to ideas for blog posts and that’s okay.

At first, the task can seem daunting. You may question what you can offer to your audience that is fresh and interesting?

Just the frustration of creating content can cause you to clam-up and deter you from producing anything.

Here are 8 ideas to get the content flowing on your blog.


1. Start Writing a Short Story

Why not? You can write one in your genre or relative to your brand and it will only serve to promote any works you already have published. When you complete the short story you  have added another book to your brand. You can offer it as a bonus to new subscribers of your blog. It may increase your following and your contacts list for future newsletters that are your number one marketing tool.

You can begin writing a short story and publish each scene weekly, as a blog post. When you have finished writing the short story, you can combine your posts into your rough draft and use any feedback you received for your first round of edits.


2. Set up Google Alerts

With Google Alerts, you can set up alerts for topics and subtopics in your niche to see what’s making news and what’s being said by others. Monitoring online news and conversations can inspire ideas and introduce you to new content sources.


3. Post a Poll

This is a great tool that can boost readership and encourage people to come back to vote and share with friends. Set up a poll as a blog post or in the sidebar, and ask readers to vote on their biggest challenge, their worst nightmare – you name it – as long as it’s relevant to your topic. What do you want to know from your readers? Ask them.


4. Invite Guest Authors

Ask someone who writes on a similar subject to be a guest author. The guest blogger gets links back to his or her website or blog, as well as exposure to your readers. Your readers get new perspectives on your subject.


Future-Of-Incandescent-Bulbs-Not-So-Bright

5. Use Your Brand and Your Book

The most obvious choice for creating content is to use your author brand and your book to come up with ideas. When you developed your author brand you created a list of keywords that would serve you with SEO and creating content. If you still have that list, then now is the time to refer to it and pull some ideas from the keywords and key-phrases you listed. The trouble is that not all author bloggers have done this type of branding. If you haven’t worked out your author brand you might find this article helpful: DISCOVERING YOUR BRAND

This approach isn’t new, but is a condensed version of what you might relate to your brand. Whether you have or haven’t worked on your keywords, the following are some quick ideas that might help you figure out some great content ideas:

Book Brand

  1. Premise of your book.
  2. Themes in your book.
  3. Characters and their traits.
  4. Social setting and time period relative to your book.

The You Brand

  1. What are you finding interesting?
  2. What is inspiring you lately?
  3. Where would you like to be in three years?
  4. Who are you influenced by?

Your brand literally gives you a limitless supply of content if you know where to look.


6. Your Latest Research Trends

I don’t know about you, but I am constantly researching, that’s how I come up with my blog posts.

I start by doing the research and noting my sources, writing down what I get out of the research. If I think of a new take on it or find a way to simplify it, I use that idea for a blog post. Most of my posts consist of what I have learned from prior research I’ve done.


7. Reviews

Not only can you review books in your genre, you can read the books of your fellow bloggers and write reviews for them. It’s important to show your support for your blogger community. Another way you can do this is by not only reblogging their content, but reviewing it first, and posting your review at the top of the reblog. This is a great way to get other readers interested and a great show of support for your fellow bloggers.


8. You Can Write About Anything to do with Writing

Anything to do with writing that you’ve learned or have a new perspective on is something you can blog about.

 


Now it’s your turn!

I would love to add more ideas to my list! Where do you find inspiration for your blog posts? Please share your tips and resources in the comments.

 

Book Cover Design

 

 

 

Totally Transform Your Next Blog Post

The Unfair Advantage Popular Writers Try to Hide

You know your writing heroes? Would you be shocked to learn that their writing is no better than yours?

Sure, the end product is better, but the first draft is just as clumsy, flabby, and downright difficult to read as any of your own writing efforts.

What popular bloggers know that many people don’t know (or don’t want to believe) is that a post isn’t finished simply because they’ve said everything they want to say. In many ways that’s just the beginning.

Think of your draft as a rough diamond. Value is hidden inside it and you need an expert gem cutter to reveal its beauty and clarity.

Which is why many top bloggers hire a professional editor to transform their rough diamonds into gleaming jewels. That’s right – someone else is helping them.

Somewhat unfair, right?

No wonder their writing seems so much better than yours. And even those bloggers who don’t use an editor have simply learned how to edit their own posts like a pro.

Fortunately, editing isn’t rocket science. If you have someone to show you how.

So let’s break down the rules that’ll help you transform your unremarkable draft into a perfectly polished post.

7 Editing Rules That Will Totally Transform Your Next Post

  • DON’T PAD YOUR PROSE WITH EMPTY FILLER WORDS
(Or: Avoid Using Grammar Expletives)

Grammar expletives are literary constructions that begin with the words it, here, or there followed by a form of the verb to be.

(Expletive comes from the Latin explere, meaning to fill. Think smelly literary landfill).

Common constructions include it is, it was, it won’t, it takes, here is, there is, there will be.

The problem? When it, here, and there refer to nouns later in the sentence or – worse – to something unnamed, they weaken your writing by shifting emphasis away from the true drivers of your sentences. And they usually require other support words such aswho, that, and when, which further dilute your writing.

Let’s look at an example:

There are some bloggers who seem to have…

The there are expletive places the sentence’s focus on some nebulous thing called thereinstead of the true focus of the sentence – some bloggers. And the writer must then use another unnecessary word – who – that’s three unnecessary words in one unfocused sentence.

Train yourself to spot instances of there, here, and it followed by a to be verb (such as is,are, was, and were) and adjust your sentences to lead with the meat and potatoes of those sentences instead.

(Tip: Use your word processor’s find functionality and search for there, here, and it and determine if you’ve used an expletive).

Other before-and-after examples:

  • It’s fun to edit – Editing is fun
  • It takes time to writeWriting takes time
  • There are many people who write – Many people write
  • There’s nothing better than blogging – Nothing’s better than blogging
  • Here are some things to consider: – Some things to consider are:

Caveat: If you previously described an object using there, here, and it, you’re not guilty of an expletive infraction. For example:

  • I love editing. It’s fun. (This is not an expletive construction since I previously described what it refers to.)

2. DON’T WEAKEN THE ACTION WITH WIMPY WORDS

(Or: Avoid Weak Verbs; Use Visceral and Action Verbs Instead)

Not only does to be conspire with it, there, and here to create nasty grammar expletives, but it’s also responsible for its own class of sentence impairing constructions.

Certain uses of to be in its various forms weaken the words that follow. The solution is to replace these lightweights with more powerful alternatives.

Let’s see some before-and-after examples:

  • She is blogging – She blogs
  • People are in love with him – People love him
  • He is aware that people love him – He knows people love him

Other verbs besides to be verbs can lack strength as well. Use visceral verbs or verbs that express some action. Let’s edit:

  • Give outOffer
  • Find outDiscover
  • Make it clearer – Clarify
  • I can’t make it to the party – I can’t attend the party
  • He went to Mexico – He traveled to Mexico
  • Think of a blogging strategy – Devise a blogging strategy

3. DON’T CRIPPLE YOUR DESCRIPTIONS WITH FEEBLE PHRASES

(Or: Avoid Weak Adjectives)

Weak adjectives sap the strength from your writing just as nefariously as weak verbs. Use the best adjectives possible when describing nouns and pronouns. And be mindful that certain words, like really and very, usually precede weak adjectives. Take a look:

  • Really badTerrible
  • Really goodGreat
  • Very bigHuge
  • Very beautifulGorgeous

Even if you don’t have a telltale really or very preceding an adjective, you can often give your writing more impact by using stronger alternatives:

  • DirtyFilthy
  • TiredExhausted
  • ScaredTerrified
  • HappyThrilled

Even worse than using weak adjectives is using weak adjectives to tell your readers what something isn’t as opposed to telling them what something is:

  • It’s not that good – It’s terrible
  • He’s not a bore – He’s hilarious
  • He’s not very smart – He’s ignorant

4. TRIM FLABBY WORDS AND PHRASES

(Or: Avoid Verbose Colloquialisms)

Today’s readers have limited time and patience for flabby writing. Their cursors hover over the back button, so say what you mean as concisely as possible before your readers vanish:

  • But the fact of the matter isBut (Avoid flabby colloquial expressions when possible)
  • Editing is absolutely essential – Editing is essential (Absolutely is redundant)
  • You’re going to have to edit your work – You’ll have to edit your work or You mustedit your work (Going to and going to have to are flabby expressions)
  • Due to the fact that editing takes time, some people avoid it – Because editing takes time, some people avoid it
  • Every single person should love editing – Every person should love editing (Single is redundant; and shouldn’t married people love editing too? 😉 )

5. DON’T PUSSYFOOT AROUND YOUR VERBS AND ADJECTIVES

(Or: Avoid Nominalization)

Nominalization occurs when a writer uses a weak noun equivalent when a stronger verb or adjective replacement is available. Like expletives, nominals usually introduce other unnecessary words when used.

Count the number of words in the before-and-after examples below, and you will witness how badly nominals weaken your writing:

  • Give your post a proofreadProofread your post (verb form)
  • Alcohol is the cause of hangovers – Alcohol causes hangovers (verb form)
  • The plane’s approach was met with the scramble of emergency crews – The planeapproached and emergency crews scrambled. (verb form)
  • He shows signs of carelessness – He is careless (adjective form)
  • She has a high level of intensity – She is intense (adjective form)

6. THROW OUT THE RULEBOOK ON PUNCTUATION

(Or: Use the Occasional Comma for Clarity)

The rules around punctuation can be complicated, even for the humble comma.

But do you truly need to know the difference between a serial comma, an Oxford comma, and a Harvard comma to write a great blog post? Of course not. (And it’s a trick question – they’re all the same.)

So my philosophy on commas is simple:

Use commas sparingly if you prefer, but if excluding a comma MAKES YOUR READER STOP READING, add another bleepin’ comma – regardless of what any comma police may say.

Let’s look at an example:

You can ignore editing and people reading your post may not notice but your ideas will get lost.

By not including a comma between editing and and, I read this sentence and asked myself, “I can ignore editing and people reading my post? Really?” Of course, readers work out the intended meaning a moment later, but by that time, they’ve already stalled.

So, regardless of what comma rule I may break by adding a comma to this sentence, as long as my readers don’t get confused and stop reading, I don’t care – and neither should you.

Let’s look at another example that needs a comma for clarity:

One day, when you find success you can pull out your golden pen and write me a thank-you letter.

By not including a comma between success and you, I read this sentence and asked myself, “Is success something you can pull out of a golden pen?”

Regardless of your stance on commas, you ultimately want your readers to keep reading. You want them to continue down your slippery slope of powerful content all the way to your call to action – without getting jarred from their trance to contemplate commas with their inner editors or a Google search.

7. BE AS MANIPULATIVE AS POSSIBLE

(Or: Use Noun Modifiers Whenever You Can)

You won’t use this technique often, but at least be mindful of it.

When we use two nouns together with the first noun modifying the second, we are using noun modifiers. I like them because they hack the flab from our writing by shortening our sentences. Let’s review some examples:

  • Tips on editing – Editing tips
  • Great advice on how to boost traffic – Great traffic-boosting advice (Traffic-boosting is a compound noun here)
  • Information regarding registration – Registration information

These sentences have prepositions between the noun sets. Whenever you spot this construction, try to implement this noun-modifying technique.

What’s Your Excuse Now?

These tips are not magical, mystical, or complicated. In fact, you could consider them downright boring, plain, and inconsequential.

But applying smart editing rules is what separates your heroes from the masses,catapults them to success, and makes readers say, “I don’t know what it is about their writing, but it’s absolutely fantastic.”

Look at is this way: You’ve expended a ton of effort on SEO, content marketing, networking, and social media promotion, all in the hopes that more people will notice your blog. So when they arrive, shouldn’t your next post blow their socks off too?

And how about your last post and the one before that? (Yes, you can apply these rules to your old posts too!)

Or are you one of those writers who think they write well enough already? Well, you might be surprised by just how many of these crimes against clarity you’re committing.

Open one of your posts right now and see how many of these editing rules you can apply.

Read each word of your post. Is the word an expletive? Is it a weak verb? A weak adjective? Does it represent nominalization or flab or break any of the other rules mentioned in this post?

Run each word of your post through this process. You will find something to improve. And your writing will be 100% more powerful as a result.

Because the search for perfection never ends.

And your writing is never too good.

Sure, proofreading and editing take time.

And yes, you’re already busy enough.

But your writing heroes edit, and they land the guest posts, book deals, and exposure you only wish you could.

So, take a break from #amwriting and start #amediting right now.

Your success will thank you.


About the Author: Shane Arthur is the copy editor for Jon Morrow’s kick-butt Guest Blogging Apprenticeship Program (aff.), where he applies these rules (and others) to polish students’ guest posts to perfection before final submission.

7 Simple Edits That Make Your Writing 100% More Powerful by Shane Arthur


 

5 Tips for Winning Infographics

Infographics will not only spruce up your content, they will provoke more shares and reach a wider audience.

Research suggests that publishers who use infographics grow in traffic 12 percent more than those who don’t. This is because an infographic, unless it’s completely awful (and they exist), will more than likely go viral.

A wider audience adds up to more new followers and increased book sales.

How to make those winning infographics is the question.

I have been looking into making my own infographics for this website and for my author website M.R.Goodhew.com, and here are they key factors I’ve discovered.

  • Infographic copy

 

 

The 7 Things Writers Need to Create Great Content

Love copy

This might seem squishy, but if you’re meant to be a writer, you know what I mean.

There is no substitute for the love of writing. For the passion of getting the words right, the head-scratching and the pacing around the house and the endless drafts that aren’t quite right yet.

If you don’t love language and your topic and the act of putting words together, none of the rest of this really means anything.

I could have just as easily used Compulsion, Obsession, or Bullheadedness for this section. Whichever word you choose, it’s about refusing to settle for weak writing, because the words matter.

AAOS copy

Writing for self-expression can be high art, pursued for the sake of your own experience of truth and beauty.

Professional writers work from an attitude of serving their audience. Serving them with truthful, beautiful words, yes. But also with language that meets their needs, language that clarifies rather than prettifies.

Novelists, copywriters, and content creators all live in service to our audiences. No matter how clever or perfectly poetic we may find a phrase, if it doesn’t serve the audience, it goes.

Confidence copy

It’s always struck me as odd that many of the most capable writers are also some of the most insecure.

But it doesn’t need to be that way. Confidence comes from putting the work in, to become a genuinely authoritative expert. It comes from research, craftsmanship, and seeing the difference you make to your audience.

Serious craftspeople are humble and proud at the same time.

The pride and confidence come from hours of deliberate practice – the kind of work that expands your abilities and challenges you to grow. The humility comes from the knowledge that a true pro is always improving, expanding, and refining.

Training copy

Many writers imagine that if you have a good writing voice and a strong opinion, you’re qualified to work as a professional copywriter.

Not so fast.

Great copywriters and content creators are fine wordsmiths, yes, but they’re also strategists. They understand what types of content work to attract attention, to stand out amid the sea of content clutter, to motivate buying behavior, and to help the audience make the journey from interested bystander to loyal customer.

Solid content and copywriting strategy come from training (and practice). You can get a lot of that training at Copyblogger.

Discipline copy

You may be a brilliant wordsmith and master strategist, but if you can’t get yourself the butt-in-chair time needed to produce a significant quantity of work, you won’t get where you want to go.

To a great degree, discipline is a set of habits that can be cultivated. As a writer, you can string together rituals, create the right work environment, and adopt the behaviors of productive writers.

As a working writer, you also need to throw in a set of habits that will ensure that you meet your deadlines, keep clients updated, and invoice your clients promptly.

If you care enough, you’ll do it. The habits can be difficult to put into place, but fortunately, once they’re in place, they tend to keep you on the right track. (That’s the difference between habits and will power.)

Marketer copy

Yes, there is some money in writing fiction. (For the lucky few, there’s a great deal of money. Emphasis on few.)

There’s also still a little bit of money in journalism and feature writing, especially if you have excellent contacts.

But for the most part, if you want to make a living as a writer, the fastest, most enjoyable way to do that is to write content to find more customers.

It’s interesting, it’s very much in demand, and it will get you researching and investigating as many different topics as you like.

You might think that this kind of writing is boring to do. Far from it. Creating really good content (as opposed to the mass of junk that makes up 95 percent of web copy) will call on your skills as a storyteller, investigator, wordsmith, travel writer, historian.

A well-qualified content marketer needs all the skills of a great feature or fiction writer — combined with solid marketing strategy.

You also, of course, need to get comfortable marketing yourself. This can be surprisingly tough even for writers who create superb marketing for their clients.

“Create a bunch of content and hope someone wants to do business with you” won’t work for your writing business any more than it will for your clients’. You need to apply the same strategies and frameworks to your own business that you do to theirs.

If this doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t let that worry you. It doesn’t come naturally to a lot of good writers. But it’s something that’s well within your ability to learn.

support copy

One of the tough things about living as a professional writer is that the path you walk is one you make yourself.

There’s no one to tell you which direction to go, no one to give you sign posts along the way, no one to outline your day for you and tell you where you need to be and when.

That’s also one of the fantastic things about living as a professional writer. But sometimes Fantastic is also Difficult.

Writing is a lonely business. And it can be just a little lonelier when you don’t have colleagues to bounce questions off of, or to share your gripes and triumphs with.

When you do find a community of writers, though, it’s a lovely thing. They’re some of the funniest, smartest, quirkiest people you’ll ever meet. And it just feels good to hang out with people who get you.


Source: http://www.copyblogger.com/writer-success-2014/