Tag Archives: web copy writing

Should You Use Facebook to Talk to Copy Writing Clients?

7 Jun

Facebook has opened up a bright new online community of socially conscious people who are using this website as a platform for sharing information, making new acquaintances and marketing businesses online. While this is a great way to build a following of loyal fans and readers, there is still some etiquette that needs to stay in place when communicating using social media.

A new relatively phenomena has emerged in which copy writers are communicating almost exclusively with clients on facebook, as opposed to traditional telephone or email methods. Writers (and other freelancers) are searching for potential clients on facebook, befriending them, followed by sending introductory messages. On the other side, businesses, web content companies and web developers are seeking out talented copy writers and inviting them to get on board with writing gigs. It’s basically business networking on speed!

But before you get all excited about using facebook to find and communicate with new copy writing clients, here are some things to watch out for:

1. Facebook messaging can lead to miscommunications. Sure, sending off a nice little message to a potential client can be fun, but it can also lead to certain communication snafu’s. For example, some companies prefer to be contacted through other means like email or contact form. Many get bombarded with so many inquiries, they simply block out these messages. Some may even look at your attempts as a form of unsolicited “spam” and you could turn some people off or worse yet – get banned from facebook. Remember, don’t go overboard with your inquiries and research the company fully before attempting initial communication.

2. Facebook is not a sales platform. One of the biggest pet peeves of users of social media is that some people use it as a way to continually pitch their products and services. Nothing is more annoying than allowing someone onto a followers list and then seeing just a bunch of poorly written sales pitches in every micro-feed. Think of it in terms of meeting new people in person for the first time. You wouldn’t immediately launch into a sales speech, would you? Respect others and lay off the overly sales oriented posts. Limit yourself to a sales type post once a week.

3. Beware of links in facebook messages. Unfortunately, we live in a world where scamming others and stealing information run rampant. When getting a facebook message that includes a link to a so-called “opportunity”, use extreme caution. There are an  increased number of scammers sending out links that include malware, viruses and other nasties on facebook, twitter and other social media websites. If something looks fishy, report it to facebook security and don’t allow your computer or personal information to become easy prey.

4. Nothing beats old fashioned forms of communication. I would like to say, from personal experience, that using facebook as a primary means of communication with copy writing clients is not really a good idea. For one, it’s impersonal. Messages don’t always reach the other person in a timely fashion. As much as facebook has become a place to share personal thoughts, these can also backfire and offend some people. Additionally, as a business person you should be using the telephone and email as much as you use facebook to get to know your clients. It’s the sign of a polished, and confident copy writer to be comfortable with all forms of communication, so don’t limit yourself to facebook for this purpose.

What do you think? Do you use facebook to communicate with clients – why or why not?

Paragraph Structure for Web Writing

25 May

As you have been looking through popular websites, following your favorite writers and even dabbling in some web writing on your own, you may have noticed a pattern in the way web writing looks.

There is a certain format that seems to look better on most websites. This is not by accident. Professional web content writers understand that the way paragraphs and entire pages of content are formatted bears an impact on how well the website will perform and how readers will respond.

When you were a student, you were probably taught in English class that writers start out their work by writing a main sentence, followed by supporting sentences. Once the thought or idea is developed and a new thought is introduced, a new paragraph starts. This is fine for creative writing and for writing for traditional print publications, but for web writing, it’s a little different.

Writing for the web uses those same basic principles and takes them to the next level. Because you’ve already learned how website viewers read web pages and how they find websites, you may be trying to figure out how this applies to the format for web articles and content?

Simply put, the format you should write in has a little more to do with keeping readers’ attention and less to do with writing full paragraphs in the traditional sense. Writing paragraphs that appeal to the way people review information online becomes a critical aspect of how you will format your writing.

As you begin writing for the web, you may be tempted to write just as you always have as a creative or technical writer. While you may already have a great personal talent for writing, your writing will not perform as well on a website if you fail to recognize how people read online. In general, your sentence structure should be broken down into a simpler format so that it doesn’t overwhelm readers who are scanning the page for pertinent information.

Rule of thumb as a web writer – Keep It Simple!

 

  • Limit paragraphs to one compelling or interesting opening line or sentence. Then follow with two to three supporting sentences.

 

  • Limit paragraphs to 100 words or less for the maximum results and the increased likelihood that someone will actually read your article or content.

 

  • Limit searchable keywords to once per sentence, as anymore than that will be considered spam or trying to trick the search engines.

 

  • Use hyper-links on the desired keywords or those that are relevant to the topic of the content itself once per paragraph.

 

  • Make sure that all titles and subtitles include at least one of the keywords and bold all titles.

 

  • Keep articles between 450 – 600 words in length as that is the optimal length for web writing.

Want to learn more? Check out Freelance Writing Class for more tips on becoming a well-paid web writer!

How Writing for the Web is Different than Other Forms of Writing

24 May

Today, I would like to share an excerpt from my Freelance Writing Class on the topic of web copy writing vs. traditional creative writing. I hope you learn something here that can help you develop more web worthy writing skills.

Writing for the web is a true form of expression, just as any other form of creative writing is. It takes a great deal of imagination and introspect to piece together sentences and keywords in a format that is interesting to readers. Nothing could be more challenging than trying to keep an audience with a 30 second attention span intrigued enough to read through an entire article. This is the absolute uniqueness of writing for the web and why it appeals to people who are trying to create income as web copy writers today.

When it comes down to the actual differences in web writing versus other forms of writing, the simplest answer can often be the most confusing aspect of web writing. As each project is different, there is no one “set in stone” method to write for the web, but there is a system that can be applied to each web writing project which will guarantee the best results from your efforts. Without this system, no amount of writing or keyword placement is going to help you get traffic to your website or blog. 

Writing for the web takes planning ahead. This is where many traditional writers get stuck. While creative writing depends on the right side of the brain to come up with the ideas, twists and turns of the story or poem; writing for the web means using the left side of the brain simultaneously to actually plan out the content itself ahead of time. This can be as simple as a template for writing web friendly articles. Or it can mean actually mapping out a website ahead of time to determine the way readers will navigate through the site and what will peak their interest and in what order.

Want to learn more about the best system for writing for the web and how it can help you learn to earn? Check out my 6 week course today!

Click here to go to FREELANCE WRITING CLASS

Copy Writing 101: Getting Started as a Freelancer

23 May

Ever since I made the leap of faith to become a web copy writer over five years ago, a lot of people have asked me, “how I did it?”  To be honest, it was not an easy transition from being a corporate HR manager to that of a home based freelancer. There have been a few bumps in the road, but I knew if I stuck with it long enough I would see the fruits of my labor. And over the years, I have.

 So, if you are wondering if this may be a valid career choice for you, here’s some quick advice on getting started!

1. Keep your day job for at least six months. One of the biggest mistakes many work at home wannabee’s do is quit a perfectly great job right away. Not only is this foolish financially, but what if you realize you don’t really like being at home full time? Stay in your current job and write on the side for a while. During this time, develop your skills, pick up clients and learn the ropes of copy writing. Before long, your freelance work will outweigh your outside the home job and you can put in a notice.

2. Devote time to write daily. While you are working on building a nice career in copy writing, start developing the habits which will make you successful for the long-term. Most copy writers spend between 4-8 hours daily at their desks, researching and writing copy for a variety of clients. Many work longer hours to meet deadlines or manage multiple projects around other responsibilities. To do copy writing on a full time basis, you must LOVE writing a lot and you must be able to do this 30-40 hours a week or more.

3. Learn all you can about copy writing. One of the best ways to ramp up your career as a freelance copy writer is to learn from other writers before you. That means taking classes, participating in webinars, reading great books on writing, and studying the masters of marketing copy. A good low cost alternative to a college class is my 6 week freelance writing class where I teach you everything I have learned over the last 5 years as a web copy writer and how you can get started (and find paying work).

4. Select a writing mentor. Just as you would starting out in any other career, finding a good mentor is a critical aspect of becoming a highly compensated copy writer. A mentor should have at least five or more years of writing experience and be able to answer your general questions about freelancing, give you advice on locating work, and provide feedback on your written work. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone to my mentor(s) with questions and found the help and encouragement I needed to make sound decisions as a writer.

Well, that’s about all I can tell you about getting started as a copy writer. There is a HUGE market out there of businesses and clients who need supperb copy – so go out there and grab ’em!

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About the Author: Tess C. Taylor, Owner of Taylor Resources Writing, is a skilled web copy writer from Charleston, South Carolina who specializes in helping small business owners project the right message online. She has personally written over 2,500 articles, managed 100+ web copy projects and is regularly featured on The Chamber of Commerce, FindVenture, WiseGeek, US News, Yahoo and more as a business and careers writer. You can find out more by visiting HTTP://WWW.TRWRITING.COM today!

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The Importance of Web Copy Writing Contracts

18 May

Do you use contracts for your writing projects? If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last five years as a professional web copy writer, it’s to always get it in writing. I learned this early on in my career when a client hired me to do some ghostwriting of a book chapter and then failed to pay me for about 15 hours worth of writing and research work. Although I later tracked this unscrupulous person down and reported him to the freelance website he was using to find writers, and finally got payment, this was an eye-opening experience for me as a writer. From that point on, I started getting everything in writing with clients.

Sure, in some cases an email can be recognized as a legal agreement between two parties, but oftentimes it’s not enough. A contract states clearly in black and white what is expected from each party. Additionally, it spells out in certain terms what work is to be performed, at what rate and when it will be completed. A contract is a legal document that gives both sides the chance to resolve and make claims for what is expected from the start. Without a contract, you are taking chances with your time, business and reputation as a freelance writer.

If you need guidance on what should be included in a freelance writing contract, here are some pointers:

1. Information for both parties should be included at the top of the contract. Get the actual name of the business, the responsible person’s name, the full address and contact information.

2. Provide a breakdown of the work to be performed. Be clear and to the point. Remember you can always modify this agreement if you choose to do more work for the client in the future.

3. Give a clear price list or hourly rate for your work. Do NOT offer discounts in the contract – those can be negotiated later via email or phone. Set clear payment terms as to any fees due upfront and when the final payment is due. Also state what will happen if the client fails to pay you on time.

4. Provide a disclaimer for your work that it does not guarantee any specific results or goals for the client. How the client uses your work after you submit it is up to them.

5. Request that you are granted the ability to include a link to any content published online in your personal portfolio. This gives you a chance to show examples of your work to future clients.

6. Get the contract signed and dated BEFORE starting any work for a web copy writing client. Failure to do this works against your efforts and can lead to trouble. If a client is reluctant to sign it, then run away quick as this can be a bad sign they are not sincere.

Here are some more helpful guides and resources to help you write a contract for writing clients, which you may find useful.

HTML Writer’s Guild Contract Guidelines and Templates

Sample Freelance Writing Contract

Simple Freelance Writing Contract

So, do you already use writing contracts? Why or why not? Please feel free to leave your comments below!

3 Steps for Maintaining Balance as a Web Copy Writer

8 May

If you are a freelance writer, do you often find it difficult to find that perfect balance in your life? Are you continually feeling guilty about not having enough time to do it all? A while back, I wrote a post about maintaining balance as a small business owner, which provided some helpful tips for anyone struggling in this area. Now I’d like to address the writing community out there specifically, to talk about some of the ways to find a better balance between writing work and a personal life.

First, let me start off by saying that being a full time web copy writer is by no means an “easy” job, like some of my corporate counterparts like to think. They seem to imagine me as this free-spirited person who has all the time in the world to dream up content for websites whilst I relax in my pajamas eating bon-bons all day. I suppose it’s because they wonder what it is that I do from 9-5  in my little home office. When I tell people I write for a living, I often get that puzzled look and then a question like, “So what books have you written?” My response is then, “Well, actually I don’t write books, I create website and print marketing copy that helps small business owners get their message out there more effectively.” Then it makes better sense and people realize that I work HARD all week long.

When I first started out in this biz, I had the same set of expectations which included: being able to roll out of bed when I wanted to, work on the projects I chose, and deal with clients on my terms. Instead, I found out very quickly that I had a lot of hoops to jump through as a service provider. If I didn’t spend time daily looking for new opportunities, they wouldn’t exactly be banging on my door. My world quickly got out of balance as I spent more and more hours glued to my computer.

Then I started taking a real hard look at my business and set up a 3-Step Plan to get myself back into focus and create a more reasonable work-life balance for myself (and my family). Here’s what I came up with:

1. Establish standard business hours. Without a clear schedule and work hours, it’s easy to let things get out of balance. The lines between work and personal time begin to blur. In addition, clients begin to think that you will be available at their command, any time of the day or night. When you get a call from a client at 4 AM on a Sunday, you know you have a problem with balance. So, I decided what work hours work best for my clients and I, and then I set them into action by stating them clearly on my business website.

2. Allow goof off time or mental health days. One of the ways that freelance writers get out of balance is by not allowing themselves time to relax. Spending 12 hours in an office chair  6 days a week is not a healthy way to conduct a business or produce quality copy. So now, I allow myself at least one hour of “goof off” time during the day, and take a mental health day off twice a month. I also frequently plan on-site client meetings and go to business networking events to get out of my home office. Getting away from the desk refreshes my mind and helps me to focus on work when I am in the office.

3. Learn to ask for help when needed. The biggest lesson I had to learn as a web copy writer in Charleston was getting help from other writers or creative professionals when the project called for it. The personality of an entrepreneur is to try to do everything yourself. But this is also an indicator of being a complete control freak! If a big project comes in, I quickly assess how much time it will take me to do my part, and then I get in touch with a couple of trusted entrepreneurs I have in my network to help out. This has created more balance in my business and life.

So, whatever you find yourself dealing with now in your writing career or as a home based business professional, know that you CAN find a better balance for your life. The key is to learn what your priorities are and establish clear boundaries so that you can focus on what’s most important to you. Don’t wait – do this now and save yourself a lot of stress and frustration.

How do you find balance as a freelancer?

How to Avoid Working Weekends as a Web Copy Writer

7 May

The thing about web copy writing is that it’s one of those careers that has endless work coming in. Combined with clients who want everything “yesterday” and you have a recipe for stress. When I first started out as a Charleston web copy writer, I often found myself taking on way too much work and trying to meet unrealistic deadlines in an attempt to impress my new clients. While I have always prided myself on fast turnaround, sometimes I bit off more than I could chew and found myself working on the weekends to catch up. After a few months of this, I was ready for the looney bin! So I decided to take a step back and figure out why I wasn’t able to get the work done during the week.

Some of the reasons I often ended up working weekends were:

  • Too much work and no one to help out.
  • Deadlines too close together on multiple clients.
  • Bad habits from when I worked full time and wrote in the evenings/on weekends.
  • Procrastinating on big projects until I was days away from deadlines.
  • Too many distractions in my life – the phone, email, facebook, family, etc.

So after going through this scenario over the course of a year of writing, I started to feel majorly burned out. My family was also getting pretty mad at me for spending every waking hour on my laptop banging out articles and web copy. My house was a disaster zone from all the housework and laundry piling up. I had next to no social life and was getting very pale from being stuck in my home office for weeks on end. Something seriously had to give!

Finally, I came up with a little system which has worked for me ever since. Here’s what I recommend for any web copy writer who wants to avoid working on weekends:

Make a schedule and stick to it. I use my Google calendar A LOT. If something comes up, I check my calendar first before I tell a client when I can meet for coffee, have a project done, and other things that take up my time. Clients are generally understanding that I have other projects on my plate so they are willing to wait a reasonable amount of time to get quality results from me.

Be realistic about what you can do. Sometimes I have thought of myself as super-woman and have taken on projects that were a wee bit too technical for me. I like the challenge apparently! When this has happened in the past, I have spent way too many hours trying to figure something out for the benefit of a client, because I always bend over backwards for people. That means I probably didn’t make a real profit on some of that work. Instead, now I take on projects I know I can do a great job on and pass others onto colleagues who are better at things I cannot do.

Ask for help when needed. One of the biggest pitfalls of being a freelancer is having the sense of responsibilty for everything. When I accept a project, I do it 100% to the best of my abilities. This can lead to stress, however, when life’s little emergencies happens. That’s when someone close to me suggested “why not ask for help?”. So I found a couple of fantastic freelance writers and have asked them for help on occasion. That keeps me from doing overtime on weekends.

Reduce self-defeating habits from my week. Perhaps the biggest reason I used to work a lot of weekends was because I goofed around on the computer all week, chatting with friends, checking out community forums, and basically procrastinating. So, I started using a timer and working in chunks of time, without distractions or allowing myself to surf the net. Once the work is done, then I have time to play a little. I find that I spend less time working on weekends when I remove these self-defeating activities from my work week.

What are some other suggestions you can think of that will help you be more productive during the week so you spend less time working on weekends? Please leave your suggestions and comments below!