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Chicago Freelance Copywriter

Archive for January, 2011

why-you-should-hire-a-copywriterHiring a professional copywriter means you will have more time and energy, and you’ll make more money. Not a bad deal, is it?

Most businesses don’t realize the importance of strong writing. Nor do they understand how a copywriter makes the difficult job of selling a product or service easier. Or how using a copywriter frees up time and energy for other aspects of the business. In case you are one of those people, I am going to use this post to explain why hiring a copywriter could be the best decision you will ever make. I will go so far to even suggest it can be the difference between success and failure.

What Does A Copywriter Do?

Quite simply, we write copy. Copy for a website, brochure, blog post, or promotional material you’ve never even thought of. Thanks to the Internet and social media, there is a bigger demand for quality writing than ever before. Additionally, copywriters are experiencing greater freedom making them (and me) even more effective. Hiring a copywriter can take an ad campaign or website from plain to successful.

The reason we are able to achieve so much just with words is because we understand them and know how to use them to our advantage. Every word that goes into a project is given careful consideration. Creating that all important hook in a promotional piece or writing the tone of a website is both a skill and an art form that copywriters excel at. In my own process, I experiment with the important words, the ones that do the selling, to see what word best fits with what I am trying to accomplish. My goal is always to drive traffic to my clients’ businesses.

What Are The Perks Of Hiring A Freelance Copywriter?

Many businesses choose to hire a freelance copywriter rather than have one in-house. The reason? Most freelance copywriters, myself included, are used to working with short deadlines (sometimes only a few hours) and stressful situations, while still being able to deliver effective and hopefully brilliant copy.

Additionally, what may take the non-professional writer four hours to complete, I can have done in around one hour, most likely with better results. In the business world time is money, and paying a copywriter opens up many hours to accomplish tasks other than writing brochure copy or proofreading a press release.

What Can I Expect From A Freelance Copywriter?

There are two answers to this question. The first is you can and should expect to receive copy that engages current and potential customers, sells your products or services and positions you as a professional.

The second answer is less about the copy and more about your business. You can and should expect to spend less time writing, editing, proofreading, and researching marketing materials for your company. That is now the job of a copywriter.

You can also expect to make more money. Good copywriting will drive sales by explaining to potential customers why they need you, and getting at their deepest emotions.

Why Can’t I Just Write Materials Myself?

Paying someone to write may seem like an unneeded expense when you know how to write perfectly well. In addition to making more money and having more time, which I’ve already covered, there is a third reason why hiring a professional copywriter is worth the investment. You’re too close to your business.

Having an objective opinion can help you see your business in different ways. A copywriter can come in and really see what is working and not working in your business, take that information, and craft marketing materials that contain effective messaging.

Are You Sure The Expense Is Justified?

Think about all the expenses of your business. What do they accomplish in the end? Is it clear and effective communication with your current and potential customers? If not, what can be more important than that?

Hiring a professional copywriter is a business decision that will change almost every aspect of your business for the better.

The only question left to ask is how can you not afford to hire a copywriter?

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3-important-aspects-of-web-designDisclaimer: I am not a web designer. Not even close. But I do write a lot of content for the web, which has given me some insight on what aspects of web design draw in readers and let the content do its job.

1. Navigation

This is one of those aspects of web design that if it’s done right, you won’t even notice. Navigation is what allows visitors to move from one web page to another. It is essential to the functionality of the site and the ability to absorb information.

The most important part of navigation is that it feels intuitive. There should be a clear path from one page to another, and shouldn’t be hidden or disguised, but instead should offer up information on a silver platter.

2. Overall Look

While fancy website design might be appropriate for some businesses such as a fancy car dealership or a high-end event planner, most websites would benefit from a dose of minimalism.

The simple fact is that nobody is coming to your website to see how it looks, they want to know what you can offer. Which means, the only reason people come to your site is to read your content. Don’t hide it behind fancy graphics and loud music. Make the design beautiful and understated so the copy — the reason people are on your site to begin with — can do its job.

3. The Footer

I see a lot of websites that don’t use the footer for anything. This is a mistake. If a visitor has gotten to the bottom of your page, that is a very good thing. Reward them with a footer that actually is useful. Even if it’s just your contact information so they can reward your well designed and beautifully written content with a phone call or email.

The footer, when done correctly, can have a very high click rate. If you want to take it up a notch from just contact info, this is a perfect place to link to other areas of your site you want more traffic to come to, a contact form, a newsletter sign-up page, and so many more. Think about what you want to bring more traffic to and try adding it to the footer. Monitor the analytics on the page and see if they go up.

Obviously there is a lot more to web design than these three parts. However, I think if you nail these parts, the rest will naturally follow. Are there any parts of web design that I didn’t hit on that you think are important? I’d love to hear.

p.s. I have a guest post up at We Blog Better today!  Check it out.

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Why it’s Important to Keep Learning

why-its-important-to-keep-learningToday is a short post as I’m leaving for Breckenridge in a few hours for a family ski vacation.  I was thinking about what I was going to load onto my Kindle for the trip and at the same time trying to decide on my blog topic for the day.  They didn’t seem inter-related until I realized I was stocking my Kindle full of copywriting books.  Lame, right?  Not to me.  Here’s why:

I am an avid fiction reader.  I love reading a good novel and devote as much time as possible to finding books that will really knock my socks off.  I almost never read non-fiction, and when I do, it’s usually memoir form such as The Glass Castle or The Liars Club by Mary Karr (both very good books by the way).

However, now I devote at least 50% of my reading time to mastering my craft.  Just for reading a few books on how to be a better copywriter, I can feel my brain expanding with the knowledge I need to become more and more successful.

I suggest anyone who owns a small business do the same.  Take the time to research the books about your business that you can truly learn from.  Just because you’re not earning a college degree doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing all you can to learn about your craft.

Do you ever make the effort to learn more about your field and how to excel in it?

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Harriet the dog

Harriet the Dog

Today I’m breaking one of my own blogging rules and getting personal. Not overly personal, but I am going to share that I got a puppy this weekend. Her name is Harriet (after Harry Potter) and she is a Tibetan Terrier. Over the last two days I have very much fallen in love with this adorable ball of fur, and don’t even mind when she whines at 3am (I hope my neighbors feel the same).

Now here’s the shocking part of my story. I don’t like dogs. I wanted one as a child, yet as I made my way to adulthood, the idea of all the work that went into a dog did not appeal to me. Additionally, I couldn’t stand to be licked or jumped on, plus the smell of some dogs was enough for me to declare I would never, ever, ever get a dog.  This led to many a person telling me I didn’t have a soul.  Apparently dogs are the keepers of souls, which I previously thought was baloney, but now know to be true.

But somehow one thing led to another (mostly a dog-loving husband and friends who brought home Harriet’s brother last week) and on Saturday, I ate my words and am now a proud dog owner.

It’s a total departure from how I thought life was going to look on January 18, 2011. If you had told me a year ago I would be typing a blog post with a puppy on my lap I would have slapped you across the face (not really) and declared you insane. Yet here I sit with Harriet on my lap, refusing to even put her down because she brings me such joy.

At first I figured this would be the one time in my life I truly went against my instincts and did something that I had declared I’d never do. But the more I think about, the more it seems stepping outside my comfort zone was one of the best things I’ve done in awhile.

I am going to try to go against my instincts at least a few more times in 2011. I’m aware it won’t always work out as wonderfully as Harriet is working out. But I’m excited to see how doing things differently will pan out for me in the end.

Have you ever stepped outside your comfort zone to wonderful results? How about negative? I’d love to hear your stories.

p.s. If you have any puppy training advice, please send it my way.

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Why Your SEO Campaign Isn’t Working

why-your-seo-campaign-isn't-workingI’ve had a lot of conversations lately with new bloggers who want their posts to resonate with the SEO gods, but aren’t quite sure what their keywords are. Unless you have prior SEO experience, you’re going to need to hire someone to determine those for you.

Here’s why: if you are a dry cleaners in Chicago, that does not automatically make your keyword Chicago dry cleaner. It seems like it should, but it doesn’t.

The reason is there might be 500 other dry cleaners trying to optimize that key word. Meaning, there is intense competition and no way you can dominate that key word without spending thousands of dollars a month on an SEO campaign.

However, maybe there are 50 people a day searching for – best dry cleaner in Chicago. And there aren’t any dry cleaners trying to be number one for that phrase. That means there is low SEO competition, and you could easily dominate that key phrase.

Which is where a professional comes in. Determining your key words is an art and a science and is more than brainstorming a few words that describes your business. It’s determining what people are actually searching for vs. how hard it is to dominate that key word. Just because you think most people would search for dry cleaner in Chicago doesn’t meant they are. It just means you think they are.

SEO is extremely important to small businesses, and I strongly suggest everyone run an SEO campaign. However, unless you’re certain of your keywords, there really isn’t a point.

If you are thinking of starting an SEO campaign and need an SEO expert referral, I’d be happy to give you one.

I understand SEO is confusing so please leave any questions in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.

Do you know your keywords? How did you figure them out?

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