Showing posts with label copywriting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label copywriting. Show all posts

An Important Skill for Every Writer



By W. Terry Whalin

About 25 years ago, my phone rang and it was an editor for a publishing house in Chicago. He asked, “Can you write back cover copy?” The back of a book contains enticing words which sell the reader on the contents inside the book. To write these words involves a specialized writing skill that I have learned.

“Absolutely, I can write back cover copy,” I said yet inside I was trembling because at that point I had never tried it. I received the assignment and the publisher sent the manuscript for the book. I had several days to skim the contents of the book, and then craft the words for the back cover. The payment was a modest $50 per book and in that period I wrote several dozen back covers. There was no publishing “by-line” or credit for my work but I gained valuable experience and increased the diversity for my writing.

Many writers have never tried copywriting or considered it. Possibly you are one of those writers and I want to give you some encouragement to learn this skill and highlight a resource with some additional instruction. Brian Clark, known as copyblogger, defines copywriting as, “one of the most essential elements of effective online marketing. The art and science of copywriting involves strategically writing words that promote a person, product, business, opinion, or idea, with the ultimate intention of having the reader take some form of action. So, whether you're looking to sell something or to build traffic by earning links from others, you’ll need to tell compelling stories that grab attention and connect with people so that they’ll respond the way you want.”

Whether you are writing a book proposal or a query letter or an ad for your website or a sample back cover for your book or any number of other types of writing, learning copywriting will help you put power and persuasion into your writing. Every writer needs this skill. If you are a fiction writer you need to learn good storytelling skills--and nonfiction writers need to learn to tell stories. In addition, every writer needs to learn to add the power of copywriting to their set of skills.


For many years I’ve read and reviewed many how-to-write books on a wide variety of topics—but I’ve never seen a single book on writing back cover copy—until I read Shelley Ring’s excellent book, HOW TO WRITE BACK COVER COPY THAT SELLS.

In seconds, every author needs to capture the attention of their readers. The back cover of your book are some of the most important words written to sell your book—in the bookstore or online. As Ring explains in her book, “Each chapter of How to Write Back Cover Copy walks you step-by-step through the creation of your copy package. Putting together the copy package first allows you to cement your non-fiction ideas and message, work through your fiction plot, develop your character arc, and strengthen your motivation. Much like a synopsis, writing the summaries first also keeps you on track as you complete the book or fiction novel.” (Page 6)

Ring has written back covers for traditional publishers and indie authors. Whether you are writing nonfiction or fiction, you will learn valuable insights in this well-crafted book. I loved the appendix which contains simple templates every writer can use for key aspects of the creative process. I highly recommend HOW TO WRITE BACK COVER COPY THAT SELLS.

Many writers need this skill of copywriting. Have you studied copywriting? How did you learn this skill? If you have other resources, please let me know in the comments below. 

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W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (follow this link).  One of his books for writers is Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets to Skyrocket Your Success.  He lives in Colorado and has over 205,000 twitter followers.
 

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One Easy Way to Learn to Write Good Copy

Guest Post by Cathy Chapman, Ph.D.

It doesn't matter what wonderful service you provide or how amazing your product is, if you don't let people know it's there, no one will buy it. Sure, word of mouth works for some things. For most, however, you need to write something and get it out to people to let them know what you have. The question is, how can someone on a limited budget with beginning skills as a copywriter, someone who writes advertising copy, let people know about their product.

The answer is simple. Copy what others write.

No Plagiarizing Allowed

When I said to copy what others wrote, I don't mean to steal their words and use them in your own advertising copy. I mean for you to take pen and paper in hand, no computers allowed unless you literally cannot use your hands, and copy a sales letter word for word. This is a powerful learning technique used in many circles. When you write with pen and paper, something magical happens in the brain. I can't tell you all the neurochemical responses in that brain of yours, but when you write by hand, there is a complex interaction in the brain that helps you learn faster and easier.

Don't spend your time physically reproducing any sales letter you come across. Use your time wisely and copy, for learning purposes only, the best sales letters you can find. You can do an internet search using the keywords "winning sales letters" and come up with a treasure trove of letters you can begin copying to get the hang of writing a good sales letter.

One of the most successful, if not the most successful letter to introduce a new product was written for a newspaper you may have read or at least have seen the name. That is The Wall Street Journal. This very successful financial newspaper was once only an idea in someone's mind. As time has demonstrated, it was a great idea. The problem was that people had to buy initial subscriptions for it to be successful. This very simple two-page letter has generated an estimated $2 billion in revenue for The Wall Street Journal.

The Step before Copying

The sales letter that launched The Wall Street Journal is one to use for leaning by copying by hand numerous times. Before you put pen to paper, read it out loud several times. Listen to the cadence of the words. Pay attention to the imagery. Notice the feelings you have as you are reading it. Can you put yourself in the place of each of these young men? Which one would you rather be? Would you want success so much that you would pull out your check book, fill out the form and pop it in the mail? Remember, the internet wasn't even a spark in the mind of anyone at that time. This direct mail piece had to provoke immediate action before the offer was lost under a pile of other advertising.

Once you've read the letter and put yourself in the reader's position, begin copying the words. Feel the cadence as you write. Let the words and the rhythm of them imbed themselves within you from the interaction of what you see with your eyes and reproduce with the movement of hand. This simple task, although it takes time, will move you faster in learning the skill of copywriting.

You can then take what you've learned and write your own powerful sales letter in your own wonderful style that may be the next $2,000,000,000 winner.

Cathy Chapman, PhD, LCSW is a strategic marketer, copywriter and coach for the self-help and alternative health care market. To receive your Special Report "The Bare Necessities for an On-Line Marketing Campaign with Little Cash Outlay... Plus One" go to http://www.mindbodyhealthwriter.com.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6553599

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Freelance Writing - Don't Overspice Your Copy

Guest post by Will Newman

I wouldn’t be a copywriter if it weren’t for the computer.

You might be in the same boat. The computer has allowed me to get around my terrible typing skills. I’m a hunt-and-peck typist. So, sometimes – no, make that frequently – my fingers hit the wrong keys.

Thank goodness Word flags those typos.

The computer has also made editing orders of magnitude easier than it ever was on my clunky manual typewriter. Copy. Paste. Cut. Move. So much easier.

And, if I want to add a little visual spice to my copy, all I have to do is press a couple of keys, and my copy shows up italicized, boldfaced, or underlined. I can see immediately the visual impact these formatting options give my writing. If I feel I’ve emphasized the wrong phrase, I can change it with little effort. That’s a huge advantage over the “old way.”

A valuable tool or a crutch?

This last benefit is also its biggest disadvantage for you as a copywriter. It’s so easy to add emphasis, it’s tempting – oh, so tempting – to let formatting be the force adding excitement to your copy.

You want your reader to feel excited about a certain benefit, so you put it in boldface type. You want him or her to know your promise is important, so you bold that, too. Or maybe, for variety, you use italics.

This is like much of the copy I see from beginning copywriters. They use typographical emphasis to excite their reader.

This is backwards. Before adding any formatting to your copy, your words must be strong enough by themselves to grab your prospect’s attention and convince him or her to act. Your words should be enough.

This doesn’t mean you should avoid using boldface, italics, capital letters, and other formatting options. These formatting options add visual spice to your copy. Plus, if you use them correctly, your prospect can hear the emphasis in his or her head while reading the emphasized words. (An unvoiced auditory emphasis.)

Are there any rules for formatting your copy? No hard and fast ones, but here are some guidelines I follow …

Italics: Italics are a great way to add that unvoiced auditory emphasis I just mentioned. Use italics to cause your prospect’s mental voice to rise slightly like this: “Mario should not be allowed to speak when he comes into the coffee shop.”

When you read the sentence, additional visual and unvoiced auditory emphasis were added to the word “not.”

I don’t use italics for this purpose for more than two or three words in a row. I also avoid using it more than three or four times on one page.

(However, you still should use italics for the traditional purposes of specifying book titles, setting off extended quotes, or for headings and subheads.)

Boldface: Boldfaced text can add some unvoiced auditory emphasis, but it’s not as effective as italics for this purpose.

However, it does make your copy visually more forceful.

Boldfaced words jump off the page, so I use them to catch my reader’s attention before he or she’s even begun reading.

I don’t like using bold type for more than five words in a row. Any more than that is hard to read.

ALL CAPS: Using a long string of type set in all caps is considered yelling in the online world. This has now become the standard in most types of writing. Do you like to be yelled at? Of course not. If you use all caps, I recommend using them for no more than two or three words at a time.

More important, avoid long stretches of all caps copy, because it severely reduces readability. I’m sure you’ve seen the “End User License Agreements” when you buy software online. Did you ever wonder why they’re always written in all caps? Perhaps poor readability is a big reason.

Underlined copy: Underlining adds both visual as well as unvoiced auditory emphasis to copy. As with the other emphasis types, it makes copy more difficult to read, so use it sparingly.

I use underlining to draw the eye to copy on the page more than to put emphasis. I use it for larger stretches of copy than any of the other types of emphasis. But, to counter the readability issue, I underline just the individual words and not the spaces between them.

You can do this with MS Word by highlighting the copy, then pressing Control-d (or Command-d on the Mac) and specifying “Underline Words” or by pressing Control-Shift-W (or Command-Shift-W).

A word of warning: Underlined text on the web universally indicates a hyperlink. I recommend you not use underlining on web copy except for that purpose.

Too much spice spoils the cooking …
I’d like you to consider a non-copywriting example to guide yourself in using emphasis in your copy: If you love cooking, like I do, you know that too much spice can spoil good food (with the possible exception of Indian or Thai food). So, your first takeaway from today’s issue of The Golden Thread is to add spice to your copy sparingly.

But the big takeaway – as I said before – is this: Do NOT overuse any type of visual emphasis in your copy. Let your words carry the beauty and the impact of your idea.

Original article source: http://www.awaionline.com/2014/03/dont-overspice-your-copy/

This article appears courtesy of American Writers & Artists Inc.’s (AWAI) The Golden Thread, a free newsletter that delivers original, no-nonsense advice on the best wealth careers, lifestyle careers and work-at-home careers available. For a complimentary subscription, visit http://www.awaionline.com/signup/.

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Good Sales Copy and Bad Sales Copy - How to Tell the Difference

By Clayton Makepeace

The definition of great copy is, "Copy that produces great results."

The quality of your copy isn't defined by the techniques you use. Nor is it determined by how many family, friends, clients, or focus group participants tell you it's great.

Only one kind of person in the world gets to decide whether you rule or suck: Prospects who cast their votes by responding to your copy in the only way that matters — by spending their own hard-earned money.

So the answer is

 … the only way to know good copy for sure is to use it … measure the result … and compare that result with those produced by other similar promotions.

Can you get a feel for how your prospects might vote on your sales copy?

Is it possible to spot weaknesses that if repaired will probably increase response?

In a word, "Yep."

Just try this: As you're reading sales copy — whether your own or someone else's, ask yourself,

1.    Does the headline and lead stop me in my tracks and make me want to read the sales message?

2.    Is the tone of the copy appropriate for the message being delivered?

3.    Is it written using the kind of language my typical prospect is likely to use in day-to-day communication?

4.    Does the spokesperson come off sounding like my advocate — someone who's intensely committed to helping improve my life — and NOT like just another salesman?

5.    Does the copy offer me a benefit or a series of benefits I'm willing to pay for?

6.    Does the copy convince me that this product can actually deliver those benefits to me?

7.    Does it convince me that this product is unique in its ability to deliver those benefits?

8.    Does the copy answer every objection to making the purchase I can think of?

9.    Do I feel as though I'm moving through the sales copy quickly and effortlessly? Is it devoid of spots that seem dull, repetitive, slow-going, or that allow my mind to wander?

10.    Do I feel my excitement rising with each new paragraph I read?

11.    Does the price seem insignificant compared to the value I'm being offered?

12.    Do I feel an irresistible urge to purchase this product from this company, TODAY?

When you and everyone else you show the copy to can answer an emphatic "YES" to each of these questions, there's a darned good chance you've got a winner on your hands.

Your takeaway for today: Each time you complete your sales letter, see how many of these 12 questions you can answer with yes. If you can't say yes to at least 50% of the questions, then go back and rework your copy. Keep refining the copy until you get a yes on all 12.

This article appears courtesy of American Writers & Artists Inc.’s (AWAI) The Golden Thread, a free newsletter that delivers original, no-nonsense advice on the best wealth careers, lifestyle careers and work-at-home careers available. For a complimentary subscription, visit http://www.awaionline.com/signup/.

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A Critical Skill for Every Writer


by W. Terry Whalin

With the ease of cranking words into a computer, it's easy to get lulled into the idea that anyone can be a writer. Yet the specific words you write are important. Which words are you selecting when you write and are you using the right combination?

Whether you are writing a children's book or a novel or nonfiction or a personal experience magazine article, your word choice is critical. How do you learn this skill? You will use it in many aspects of the work—from the title for your book or the headline for your article. Or the words on the back cover of your book which helps a reader know if they should purchase your book or press on to the next one.

In the writing business, creating words which sell is called copy and the specific skill is called copywriting. The good news is you can learn this skill as a writer. 

First, you need to be aware your word choice is important and can drive sales. Years ago as a young journalist, I learned the power of writing great headlines to draw readers. When you write a headline or the words on a website, what is drawing readers? Be aware of the response. Do people click your button and buy your material or do they breeze past it? Awareness is a critical step.

Second, practice. When you write a blog post or a magazine article or a book proposal or a book manuscript. Think carefully about the title or headline. Are you telling a story that pulls the reader into your writing? What are the words doing and are they achieving what you want? This type of internal analysis will help you be more deliberate about your word selection.


Third, there are skilled teachers who teach copywriting. One of the best in this area is Ray Edwards. Recently Edwards has published a new book, How to Write Copy That Sells. The book is less than 160 pages and covers key topics like headlines, emails, bullet points, irresistable offers, secrets of product launches and much more. Each chapter begins with an inspirational quote. Here's how chapter four begins, “Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.” — Leo Burnett

As an acquisitions editor, I read a great deal of unpublished pitches and manuscripts. Some writers have learned their words have power and they pull me into their manuscripts. Others lack this critical storytelling skill. If you learn this skill, it will increase your sales potential. It doesn't matter what you are writing at the end of the day you are selling something. The sooner you can learn this skill, the sooner your writing will be published and sell.

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W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He is always looking for good books to publish and his email address is in his twitter profile. He has written more than 60 books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and for more than 50 magazines.


A Ghostwriter - 5 Features That Can Help Build Your Business Part 2

A Ghostwriter - 5 Features That Can Help Build Your Business Part 2 

(Features two to five)
By Karen Cioffi


2. A Ghostwriter Provides Informational Content

Information rules in today’s ever changing world. Providing informative and/or instructive content to your staff, customers, and potential customer is now essential, especially with business transparency being a desirable feature that employees and customers look for.

While businesses and marketers can generate their own content, a ghostwriter frees up company time for more productive and revenue generating work.

‘Informational gifts’ is another content product that businesses need to be aware of. Of the thousands of websites within your industry available for customers to find and subscribe to, why should they choose yours? That’s where an ‘ethical bribe’ comes in to play. Providing an informative report or e-book with valuable information that your potential customer will appreciate tends to motivate that individual, company, or visitor to click on your opt-in box, thereby increasing your mailing list. And, every business knows the importance of having a mailing list – it’s crucial with the increasing e-commerce trends.

It’s this offering of valuable and quality information that helps build a relationship with your site’s visitors and keeps them coming back. This ongoing relationship will eventually lead to an increased mailing list and sales.

3. A Ghostwriter for Your Business’ Landing Pages and Products

The first impression an online searcher – potential customer searching for your product or business type - will have of a business, is its landing page. Obviously, a business needs to have an attractive, quick loading, SEO friendly, and informative page. Now, while a ghostwriter will most likely not be a web designer, she can create the needed content for the site, content that will engage the visitor and motivate him to subscribe to the mailing list and make contact with the business.

The mailing list is what generates long-lasting relationships and sales. Through the mailing list you can offer information, along with product and/or business promotion. Marketing experts advise though, to offer a 75 to 25 percent ratio of information to promotion.

Again, information is what people want today; they want to know how to find a solution to their problem or need, and they want to be informed. If you provide that, you will have sales.

Along with creating effective landing page content, a ghostwriter can produce product descriptions and guides. Through the information you provide and additional research, she can create informative and customer appreciated content, thereby fostering customer loyalty.

4. A Ghostwriter – Copywriting and Keywords
In addition to writing articles, newsletters, e-books, reports, and other content, a ghostwriter should know copywriting. While this skill isn’t essential for some aspects of the job, it is important in the event a client requires projects such as landing pages, email marketing, product guides, articles, or other.

And, being aware of SEO and keywords will help the ghostwriter create traffic effective content, leading potential subscribers and customers to the business’ website.

Knowing copywriting and SEO is a surefire way for a ghostwriter to increase her value to business clients.

5. A Ghostwriter Must be a Good Writer
Lastly, the number one quality a ghostwriter needs to have is being a good writer. It’s also a good idea for the ghostwriter to specialize in a couple of different areas – this also increases her value to specific clients.

If you are thinking of hiring a ghostwriter, you might ask for samples and/or testimonials. Note here: testimonials from ghostwriting clients may be difficult, if not impossible to come by . . . for obvious reasons. If the ghostwriter can’t provide testimonials, it’s important to understand why and ask for writing samples instead.

If you missed Part 1, you can read it here:
A Ghostwriter – 5 Features that can Help Build Your Business Part 1

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More Freelance Writing Articles

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Karen Cioffi
Multi-award Winning Author, Freelance/Ghostwriter, Editor, Marketer
Writer’s Digest Website of the Week, June 25, 2012

Find Karen’s eBooks on writing and marketing at:
http://karencioffifreelancewriter.com (check the sidebar for titles)

Karen Cioffi Writing Services
A Team of Professionals for Businesses and Individuals
http://karencioffifreelancewriter.com/karen-cioffi-writing-services/

Authors Need to be Realistic

By Terry Whalin  @terrywhalin Over the years, I’ve met many passionate writers. One brand new writer told me, “My book is going to be a best...