Archive for the 'Elizabeth Short' Category

The Copywriter’s Paycheck: Develop a Copywriting Niche

Elizabeth ShortBy Elizabeth Short

Having fun writing copy for a variety of industries? Or does switching from massage therapy to diesel mechanics to dairy farming make you dizzy? Either way, read on to learn why specializing is a good idea.

Getting Started Tip #9: Develop a copywriting niche
Doctors do it. Lawyers do it. Chefs do it. So do scientists, college professors and fashion designers. In fact, it’s hard to think of a profession that doesn’t, to some degree, involve cultivating a niche. Professionals often create a niche for themselves out of a particular love or affinity for some aspect of their work.

Greater marketability is one bonus that comes with the territory. Just as parents turn to a pediatrician when seeking medical care for their children, chiropractors will find a natural fit with copywriters who specialize in writing about chiropractic care. Another bonus? Higher income. By becoming a whiz at writing for a particular industry, you complete jobs more quickly—allowing you to make more per hour as well as take on additional projects.

Cultivating a copywriting niche often happens organically. You find an industry you enjoy writing about, land a few jobs and develop a widening network of referrals. If this hasn’t happened for you yet, market your services directly with a targeted letter, brochure or Web site. Maybe, like me, you enjoy writing about a variety of topics. Happily, there is no reason to stop. You can always develop a niche as your bread and butter, then round out the menu with other interesting assignments that come your way.

Copywriting Tip #9: Seal your copy with a KISS
Here in the northern climes of Washington State, you want the most unadulterated and scrumptious-tasting water available for your home or business. Extraordinary water isn’t just good for maintaining a clean bill of health, it also helps keep your tresses shinier, your skin free from unsightly blemishes and your clothes bright as the noon-day sun.

Okay, so maybe this example of overblown writing is a little…overblown, but you get the picture. As a copywriter, your job is to choose words and craft a tone that will appeal to your intended audience. At the same time, you should always remember to KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly) your copy. Simplicity not only fosters a clear message, it also allows you to get that message across in the minimum amount of time. How’s this for simplicity: Here in Northwest Washington, you want the purest and best-tasting water for your home or business. Better water isn’t just good for your health, it also helps keep hair shinier, skin cleaner and clothes brighter.

Elizabeth Short is a freelance copywriter and graphic designer with a passion for helping small businesses clarify and broadcast unique marketing messages. With a focus on websites and print materials, she brings together content + design in one easy, affordable package (www.write-design.biz). Check out her e-book, 7 Steps to Effective Web Content (www.write-design.biz/e-books.htm) to learn the secrets of writing copy for the web.

The Copywriter’s Paycheck: Share Your Expertise

Elizabeth ShortBy Elizabeth Short

Now that you’ve assembled a solid portfolio of your copywriting work, guess what? You’re just steps away from establishing yourself as an expert! Read on to learn how.

Getting Started Tip #9: Share Your Expertise—write a column, make a presentation
What is the definition of an expert? A person who has a special skill or knowledge in some particular field. That’s you, the world just doesn’t know it yet. Luckily, getting the word out is easier than you might think, while the payoff—free publicity for your business and a boost in your credibility—are huge. To establish yourself as an expert you need a venue for getting your know-how in the public eye. Here are some ideas: Approach your local paper about a copywriting column geared for business owners. Host a copywriting workshop through your chamber of commerce. Give a presentation on crafting effective marketing copy at your local Rotary Club. Offering content that empowers business owners to tackle their own copy will inspire gratitude for valuable information; just as likely, it will inspire your audience to skip the hassle of copywriting altogether and hire you instead. As with any newsworthy development in your business, don’t forget to send a press release announcing your event.

Copywriting Tip #9: Craft descriptive headings
Unless your intended market is extremely bored or obsessively meticulous, no one in today’s busy world has the time or inclination to read every word you write. Instead, readers will scan your copy for the specific information they need, zero in on pertinent details and disregard the rest. While your job is to accurately capture the details your market seeks, it’s also your responsibility to display the road signs that will steer your audience in that direction. Descriptive headings that precede distinct blocks of copy provide these signals. For example: Flowering perennials for fall color. Fragrant ground cover. Natural and composite pavers for paths and patios. Make sure the graphic or web designer you’re collaborating with doesn’t let your headings go to waste. Use a different font, larger point size, contrasting color or bold formatting to make your headings stand out for easy scanning.

Elizabeth Short is a freelance copywriter and graphic designer with a passion for helping small businesses clarify and broadcast unique marketing messages. With a focus on websites and print materials, she brings together content + design in one easy, affordable package (www.write-design.biz). Check out her e-book, 7 Steps to Effective Web Content (www.write-design.biz/e-books.htm) to learn the secrets of writing copy for the web.

The Copywriter’s Paycheck: Market Yourself to Graphic Designers

Elizabeth ShortBy Elizabeth Short

Think you’ve unearthed all your markets? Think again!

Getting Started Tip #8: Market yourself to graphic designers
If the world of marketing materials had a dating scene, here is a singles ad you’d undoubtedly find. Wanted: SBWC. Sexy graphics layout seeks single, black & white copy for LTR. Interests include collaborating on professional brochures, Web sites and newsletters. UB concise and typo-free. Let me show you my logo! If your own copy is feeling a bit lonely, market your services to graphic and Web designers. Number one, designers are potential clients who need copy to accompany their work. Number two, a good designer will add value to your own business—it’s much easier to fish for brochure and Web site jobs if you come equipped with your own graphics person. Contact local designers with a short letter or e-mail that outlines the benefits of your services. Better yet, arrange a meeting over coffee. A moonlit walk on the beach, perhaps? Probably not.

Copywriting Tip #8: Proofread, proofread, proofread!
For professional copywriters, there is no deadlier mistake than a typo. After all, you’re the person that businesses hire to make them look savvy, not stupid. To avoid typos and other capital copy crimes, proofread diligently—multiple times. Proofread once before submitting your copy to the client for review. Proofread again after making any changes. Repeat with the printer’s proof or the Web designer’s final product. For best results, use the computer for a spelling and grammar check to catch glaring errors. Then, use your own eyes to read through the copy sentence by sentence. Finally, scour the copy word by word. Pay special attention to proper nouns and other words that may not be in the dictionary. You might also consider hiring an outside proofreader to give your job a final once-over. Above all, never rely on your client (or your designer) to proofread. Make no mistake—that’s your job!

Elizabeth Short is a freelance copywriter and graphic designer with a passion for helping small businesses clarify and broadcast unique marketing messages. With a focus on websites and print materials, she brings together content + design in one easy, affordable package (www.write-design.biz). Check out her e-book, 7 Steps to Effective Web Content (www.write-design.biz/e-books.htm) to learn the secrets of writing copy for the web.

The Copywriter’s Paycheck: Build a Portfolio

Elizabeth ShortBy Elizabeth Short

By now, your copywriting business is probably picking up speed. But if you find yourself between jobs, don’t stop working! Build your portfolio instead.

Getting Started Tip #7: Build a portfolio—any way you can
Nothing will make you feel more like a successful freelance copywriter than a fat portfolio stuffed with brochures, web content, sales letters, etc. Whether you show it off to potential clients or simply display it on a bookshelf to boost your self-confidence, a collection of polished marketing materials featuring your own well-written copy is a must. But as a new freelancer, you may find your portfolio is still a bit thin. How do you plump it up? In addition to creating materials for your own business, consider doing pro bono work for non-profits. Trades are another great way to generate tangible examples of your expertise. Exchanging services (retail for retail) with a good massage therapist was my personal favorite. The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter how you build your portfolio—paid, volunteered or traded, a few finished projects now mean more clients in the future.

Copywriting Tip #7: Boost interest with metaphors
As a copywriter, your job is to employ a stockpile of appropriate words and phrases necessary for executing a clear marketing message. If you’re writing for a financial planner, for example, you’ll need to use phrases like financial plans, financial independence and investment choices. Lots of yawn potential, right? Not necessarily. Try boosting interest with a tantalizing metaphor—travel, for instance: Your dreams for the future are simple, and your financial voyage should be, too. Yet navigating today’s world of complex investment choices on your own can be difficult. That’s why our independent financial consultants are here to ensure smooth sailing. The result? A plan for financial independence without the worry—your dream destination. Who wouldn’t rather imagine a Caribbean cruise than some boring suit behind a desk? After all, markets are made of people.

Elizabeth Short is a freelance copywriter and graphic designer with a passion for helping small businesses clarify and broadcast unique marketing messages. With a focus on websites and print materials, she brings together content + design in one easy, affordable package (www.write-design.biz). Check out her e-book, 7 Steps to Effective Web Content (www.write-design.biz/e-books.htm) to learn the secrets of writing copy for the web.

The Copywriter’s Paycheck: Get publicity with a press release

Elizabeth ShortBy Elizabeth Short

Now that your copywriting business is set up with marketing materials, a good pitch and a network of fellow business owners to send referrals your way, it’s time to get some media attention. Don’t mind the flashbulbs as you walk down the red carpet!

Getting Started Tip #6: Get publicity with a press release
Ever wonder how your local newspaper finds the time to cover the goings-on of local businesses—those mini-articles on a hair salon’s grand opening or a mortgage company’s new employee? Actually, the media doesn’t find the time. They rely on businesses themselves to do the work with a press release. A press release is a news brief (usually fewer than 500 words) that summarizes a newsworthy development within a company or organization. For a new copywriter, this might be as simple as announcing the launch of your services: “Freelance Copywriter Helps Businesses Find the Right Words.” An indispensable form of free advertising, press releases put you in the public spotlight. To write your own press release, read my article on the subject and view samples on my Web site. E-mail your press release to the business section of your local paper and to the editors of any business journals in your area. Don’t forget to include a digital headshot!

Copywriting Tip #6: Emphasize benefits
Let’s review the reasons why every business can use a freelance copywriter. Copywriters make you money by skillfully communicating with members of your intended market—and convincing them to try your goods or services. They save you money because you use their services on demand, instead of hiring a full-time employee. Copywriters save you time by delivering a professional product right off the bat.

Welcome to your USPs—your Unique Selling Propositions. In other words, the benefits of doing business with you. Unlike features (brochure copy, web content, ad copy, ghostwriting) which merely list what you do, benefits explain why someone would hire you to do it—an invitation for the reader to visualize how her business will be better as a result of using your services. Whether you’re creating marketing materials for yourself or for your clients, always emphasize one or more USPs aimed at satisfying the needs or desires of the intended market.

Elizabeth Short is a freelance copywriter and graphic designer with a passion for helping small businesses clarify and broadcast unique marketing messages. With a focus on websites and print materials, she brings together content + design in one easy, affordable package (www.write-design.biz). Check out her e-book, 7 Steps to Effective Web Content (www.write-design.biz/e-books.htm) to learn the secrets of writing copy for the web.

Join a Networking Group. Now!

Elizabeth ShortThe Copywriter’s Paycheck

By Elizabeth Short

With the basics under your belt—a brochure, 30-second elevator speech and established rates—you’re ready to network.

Getting Started Tip #5: Join a networking group. Now!
For many entrepreneurs, a networking group—a group of business owners who meet regularly (usually for breakfast or lunch) and cultivate “leads” for each other—is the best tool for gaining new clients. A real estate agent will make referrals to the group’s mortgage broker, for example, while a graphic designer might pass leads to the resident copywriter. Networking groups come in all varieties, from large chambers of commerce at one extreme to small organizations that hand-pick members (usually one per profession to avoid competition) and emphasize personal referrals. Benefits of a networking group include more clients and the chance to become fluent in discussing your business. To find a group in your area, check out your local chamber of commerce in addition to resources like http://www.leadsclub.com and http://www.letip.com.

Copywriting Tip #5: Use “you” statements
Have you ever perused a brochure or Web site and gotten the eerie feeling that you’ve suddenly become invisible? If so, it’s probably because the copy doesn’t mention you at all. For example: I provide great pricing on massage and other bodywork. My main services are deep tissue and hot stone treatments. While “I” statements are recommended by therapists for navigating delicate personal conversations (I feel like my needs are ignored in this relationship), in marketing it’s all about you, baby! Try this revision for the copy above: You’ll enjoy massage and other bodywork at prices you can afford. Schedule your deep tissue or hot stone treatment by calling… Ah, there you are!

Elizabeth Short is a freelance copywriter and graphic designer with a passion for helping small businesses clarify and broadcast unique marketing messages. With a focus on websites and print materials, she brings together content + design in one easy, affordable package (www.write-design.biz). Check out her e-book, 7 Steps to Effective Web Content (www.write-design.biz/e-books.htm) to learn the secrets of writing copy for the web.

Getting Started Tip #3: Craft your 30-second copywriter’s pitch

Elizabeth ShortThe Copywriter’s Paycheck
By Elizabeth Short

By this installment, you’re ready for business. Here’s one way to get it.

A copywriter walks into an elevator and her fellow passenger asks: So, what do you do? Nope, it’s not the beginning of a bad joke. It’s your future. During your career (in an elevator, at a meeting, in the check-out line), you’ll have many opportunities to pitch your services. Instead of fumbling for words (bad news for a copywriter), roll out your “30-second elevator speech”—a brief summary of your business. For example: I create marketing materials like brochures and Web sites for small businesses. My niche is supplying both the copy and the design, which simplifies projects and makes them more affordable.

For best results, I recommend that you:
1. Speak conversationally
2. Identify your market
3. Highlight the benefitsyou offer

Your speech may feel awkward at first, but with practice your confidence will increase—along with your ability to win new clients.

Copywriting Tip: Send a message
Subtle. Mysterious. Tentative. These adjectives generally do not describe good marketing copy. Instead, effective copy has an overt message and makes no bones about announcing it—loud and clear. Before you write your next piece of copy, pinpoint your client’s basic message. For example: Hot Dog, a purveyor of hand-knit pet sweaters, offers products to keep your dog warm as well as fashionable. Cover key points multiple times (hand-knit, warm, fashionable) in multiple ways throughout your copy. Worried about overloading your reader? Don’t be. Chances are, she or he will need to experience the message more than once before it sinks in.

Elizabeth Short is a freelance copywriter and graphic designer with a passion for helping small businesses clarify and broadcast unique marketing messages. With a focus on websites and print materials, she brings together content + design in one easy, affordable package (www.write-design.biz). Check out her e-book, 7 Steps to Effective Web Content (www.write-design.biz/e-books.htm) to learn the secrets of writing copy for the web.


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