Category: business writing

Essential copywriting tips for freelance writers

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Volumes of books, articles, websites, etc. have been written on the art and science of copywriting. There are many experienced copywriting experts who teach expensive, worthwhile courses on the subject. I don’t pretend to be one of them. However, I’ve learned a few key copywriting strategies along the way.

These seven tips can help almost anyone improve their copywriting effectiveness. You can apply these tips to your email and article writing as well.

  1. Understand the value of headlines. Your headline must grab the reader’s attention. A well-written headline makes your content more appealing and special.
  2. Do not (always) try to be clever. Your content should focus on clarity over cleverness – i.e., being bigger than you are, joking around, using writing tricks. Be clear first.
  3. Develop a compelling big idea. Describe your key benefit compressed into a statement. Convey something that matters in a short sentence. It’s more than a tagline – it states your central idea.
  4. Research to find big ideas. Writers often overlook the importance of research. Dig to find great ideas and trends, and repeat. This includes interesting facts, snippets, phrasing, stories, case studies, customer problems and solutions, etc. Research is about getting to know your target market, and what is important to them.
  5. Pull your audience to you – the people who are hungry for your topic. Figure out what that audience is hungry for, or missing, and then give it to them.
  6. Set a goal. You need a call to action, which will take your reader to what you want them to do. The call to action should be a direct statement of what you want them to do next – call, click, email, etc. Your call to action should be in every piece of content you provide.
  7. Don’t be boring! Boring content does not work, especially today. Make your content interesting and compelling to read. Inject your personality into your writing. Use design, images, layout, etc. to make your content stand out. Tell good stories.

What tips do you have to offer in making copywriting better? Do you need help with your copywriting? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

The building blocks of writing great content for articles, blog posts and websites

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Have you ever played with Lego sets? I’m sure you have. They’re cute, pre-designed sets with just the right number of blocks to create a little scene. Each set comes with a set of diagrammed instructions on how to go from a pile of blocks to a completed scene.

It inspired me to come up with something similar to help you, the reader, write the ideal blog post, article, web landing page, or content to attract your target audience. You can use building blocks to help you to create great content.

Six building blocks of great content

  1. Create a compelling headline. I suggest finding a headline that caught your eye, and modify it for your topic and audience.
  2. Write a strong first sentence. Grab the reader at the deciding stage – make it intriguing, thought-provoking, inspiring, controversial, funny, or whatever works for the situation.
  3. Craft several strong subheads. They serve as sign posts for your content, and keep your audience reading. They also provide structure to keep you on track.
  4. Draft your main copy (write quickly but don’t edit – just write, then come back to it later to tighten it up). Use the main head and subheads to guide your content.
  5. Summarize your main points. Lay out and reinforce the premise.
  6. Conclude with a call to action. Ask for feedback, invite the reader to subscribe, share your message on social media, etc. Always ask for something from the reader to build the relationship and increase engagement.

Those are the basic building blocks of writing great content. Start with an idea, and build your blog, article or web page. You’ll get the hang of it and become a better writer.

Do you have suggestions on writing great content? Do you need help with writing your content? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

Using storytelling to encourage decision-making among clients and prospects

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Whatever business you are in, storytelling will help you to move potential clients to make faster, more favourable decisions. You can also use social media to help you create that story.

Social media enables you to make “warm” calls and emails to potential clients. All it takes is some research effort on your part. You can use a host of tools (such as LinkedIn and Twitter) to find out more about your potential clients – what they do, what they like, where they spend time, what their problems / wants / needs are. All this information is at your fingertips. Write down a few key points, which will now form the foundation for your story.

Once you have this information about your potential client, you must determine how you can provide them with value. You are selling something (such as widgets, or writing and editing support). Now you need to determine what value you can deliver to that prospect to get them to move toward a decision.

Since you’ve already done your research on the prospect through social media, you can reach out to them in the same way. For example, if that person made a comment on LinkedIn, respond to their comment with feedback of your own. Once you have their attention, and a foundation, you can reach out via email. Begin your story based on that touchpoint. Engage them in a conversation that leads to a discussion of what you do and how that adds value.

The key is to relate what you do in a concise way so that it touches the prospect’s business or life. Do not just state what you sell or do. Tell a story about how you helped another client using your product or service. The case study is the heart of your story. And it’s real, so the person should be able to relate to it, because they might have dealt with the same situation.

The story does not just sell you or your product/service. It shows how you solved a problem, filled a need or created value for someone. The story is real, which makes you more relatable to the prospect. They know more about you, and think of you as a person who understands their business, and what matters to them.

Telling a story helps you to turn prospects into clients. Once you’ve researched your client and found out what is important to them, you can map out the information that they need to make a decision. This will help you to write your story. By providing the person with valuable information that ties directly to what is important to them, they will come to value what you have to say, and look forward to future communications.

Do you need help telling your story? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

How to use a framework to focus your writing of blogs, articles, and newsletters

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Getting started in your writing can be very challenging, no matter what you try to write. The first few words and sentences can often be the hardest. And once you get started, it can be difficult to communicate what you want to say in an order that makes sense.

One way to make the process flow more smoothly is to use a framework. The framework supports your content by giving you something to build upon – much like a house’s frame enables builders to construct a house. Instead of trying to build from the ground up, you put up “scaffolding” to hold up the rest of your content.

For example, suppose that you want to write a newsletter. Start with your title or headline. This will be the first plank in your framework. Then add your headings and subheads – these will be your main topics and supporting topics. Write three to five bullet points under each heading and subhead. These will come from the main topics of discussion for that section.

You’ve now developed the framework for your writing. You’ve broken your content into chunks. Take each chunk, and focus on writing just that one bit. Use your headings, subheads and bullet points as your supports to build upon. Each point is its own room in the house you are building. Take one bullet point, and write what you know or want to say about it. Everything should focus on that one point. When you’re done, move to the next one. Eventually, you will have filled all the rooms and written a full first draft.

After that, it’s a matter of sanding the edges, adding some finer touches, and making it look pretty. And then you’re done!

Perhaps it won’t be that easy, but the framework will help you to organize your thoughts, break your writing into digestible chunks, and make the writing process go more smoothly. You can even create a template where you fill in the blanks with your headings, subheads and bullet points, and then build from there.

Do you have any tips on helping to make the writing process more efficient? Would you like help with writing your content? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

Two shortcuts to writing better headlines for articles and blog posts

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Whether you want to write an article, a newsletter, a blog post or even an email, your goal is to ensure that it gets read by as many people as possible. Creating an effective headline is the best way to achieve this goal. A well-written headline will increase the likelihood of your content being read. You could have amazing content, but if the headline does not attract the reader, what’s the point?

I’ve written several posts on writing more effective headlines:

Even with all that great content, here are two shortcuts that can help you to be more efficient at writing headlines.

Follow a formula or template to write a headline

This enables you to stick to an effective structure and will make it more efficient when putting together headings. Here is one formula for writing list-type articles: X ways / things / ideas to [achieve a desired result / rid yourself of undesired result] in [given time period].

For example:

  • 10 ways to write emails that sell within 10 days
  • 10 ways to double your sales in one month

Write 10-15 different headlines for the same topic

Repetition will help you to find new and interesting ways to say the same thing, and will uncover the key points that will attract your reader. It will enable you to discard the bad ideas when better ideas come along. Practice makes perfect, and coming up with multiple headlines for each article will make you a better writer.

Conclusion

These shortcuts will help you to write more effective headlines in less time. Once you get the hang of writing headlines, you will become an expert at it, and will definitely an increase in reader response.

Do you have any suggestions on writing better headlines? Do you want help with writing more effective headlines? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

How to use narration when writing blogs, articles and reports

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Narration involves retelling an incident or series of events. This method answers the basic question, “What happened?” While narration is most commonly used in fiction, it is an effective strategy for writing articles, reports and other factual documents. You can use narration to write an entire document or use it within a document as a feature that stands out.

There are three key elements in using narration successfully in your writing

Point of view

Maintain a consistent point of view – the reader should always know who is telling the story. You could tell the story from your point of view (first person) or from another person’s point of view (third person).

When writing in the first person, relate what happened through your eyes. You could be central to the story, or watching from afar. When writing in the third person, relate what happened to someone else – what they said, what they did, what happened to them.

For example, you could write a case study that describes what happened when you used a new marketing strategy (first person), or how your client benefited from using your company’s product (third person).

Tone

The language you use determines the tone of the content. Tone reflects your attitude toward the work. It could be serious, comedic, ironic, straightforward – whatever works for you and your audience. The opening statement typically determines the tone of your narrative, although you can change the tone throughout the work, depending on what happens.

For example, you could write in a serious tone when discussing the dangers of equipment failure, or you can write in a comedic tone about a new employee’s first day at a company with poor on-boarding procedures. You can switch tone to show how the client was angry and frustrated, and then joyful and satisfied.

Movement in time

The narrative must move through time to be effective. It begins at a specific point in time, and moves forward to the conclusion. The beginning is usually an important event, such as an unstable situation that will change as the narrative progresses. As the narrative progresses, something happens; a key event occurs that changes the narrative and leads to the conclusion.

For example, begin the article with the fateful day when a client’s equipment failed, and lead the reader through their search to find something new, to when they installed your company’s equipment, and what happened next.

Need help?

There are many ways to write the same story, and narration can help to add some life to your copy. Have you used narration in your marketing content? Do you need help with making your content more interesting? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

How to use emotional triggers in emails, blog posts, and articles

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When writing emails, blog posts or articles, you typically want the reader to do something once they are done reading. This involves including a call to action at some point. So, how do you increase the likelihood of the reader following through on that call to action?

One way is to include an emotional trigger – a statement that speaks to the reader and gets them to react in a certain way. You have to know something about your audience to ensure that you select the right trigger. That comes from knowing your business, your client’s business, and what motivates them to act in your favour.

Try one of these four types of emotional triggers to get a response from your reader.

Gain

State what the reader will gain from following through on the call to action. Explain the benefits of purchasing your product or service. Make a promise or guarantee that the reader will improve their situation. The promise can be direct or implied.

Logic

Give a practical reason, backed by emotional reasons, for following through on the call to action. Provide a clear reason or benefit, backed by statistics, facts, opinion, results, case studies, etc.

Fear

Offer peace of mind to the reader that you can protect them against the occurrence of some type of event. This involves instilling fear (of failure, of lost income, of lost sales, etc.) that will promote the reader toward a course of action.

Scarcity

Tell the reader that the offer is for a limited time, or until the product is no longer available due to limited quantities. The reader must respond to the call to action or lose out on what is being offered.

 

Do you need help with writing your next email, blog post or article? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

Think about your audience before writing that article or blog post

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Your audience is composed of individuals who have a wide range of interests and knowledge. However, for the purpose of your writing, you can place them into two basic categories:

  • Specialists (e.g., CEOs, industry professionals) who have a deep (or technical) understanding of your topic, as well as the language
  • Generalists (e.g., end users, general public) with a wide range of knowledge and experience, but not a deep understanding of the topic or language

Both groups should be interested in the main subject of your writing. But they will have different goals when reading your writing.

  • Specialists do not need a lot of basic information or an introduction to the topic. They might prefer a high-level technical description, supporting facts and arguments, and a higher level discussion of the subject matter.
  • Generalists want the background information, clear explanations of features and benefits, and definitions or descriptions of technical language or specific terms. They want to understand the subject and how it appeals to them.

Establishing your audience will guide the tone and attitude of your writing. Your writing must respect your audience’s level of knowledge and experience. You can develop appropriate examples and case studies that will speak to that audience. Avoid writing for both audiences at the same time (where possible) as you will not be able to meet both groups’ needs.

Ask the right questions to define your audience

To help evaluate your audience, answer the following questions:

  • What does the audience know about the topic?
  • What is the audience’s attitude toward the topic?
  • Does the audience have interest in the topic, and why or why not?
  • Why is the audience reading about this topic?
  • What level of supporting information does the audience need to accept your position on the topic?

Knowing your audience will help to guide your writing and speak to them more effectively. If you can focus it even more to specific groups within the large group, so much the better. Understand and respect your audience in your writing, and you will achieve a greater response from your audience.

Need help with writing for your audience? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

How to write different types of paragraphs for blogs, articles, and letters

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In a previous post, I discussed writing topic sentences for paragraphs. Each type of topic sentence will affect how you write your paragraph. There are many different ways to write and organize your paragraph. Each method depends on what you want to achieve with your writing and how you want to arrange the information. The goal is to organize your sentences and paragraphs to lead the reader where you want them to go. This is particularly important when writing marketing, sales and business letters.

Use one of the following methods to construct a well-developed paragraph.

Narration

Present the information in chronological order, starting at a particular time. The topic sentence should pull the events together. For example, you could write about the timeline behind developing your company’s new marketing software.

Process

Explain how something is done or made. You can use a step-by-step method and follow chronological order. For example, you could explain how a client could use your marketing software to create a company newsletter.

Description

Arrange the details in a logical and consistent way – general to specific, near to far, past to present, etc. The order will provide a framework for the details you want to include. For example, you could describe the features of your company’s marketing software.

Classification

Divide a group of items into categories that will explain the group to the reader. You can arrange the items being classified from first to last, largest to smallest, most important to least important, etc. For example, you could describe different types of marketing software and where your marketing software fits into that class.

Analysis

This is similar to classification, but you would indicate how the parts affect (or are being affected by) whatever you are analyzing. For example, you could show how a new feature in your marketing software reduces the time to create marketing materials.

Definition

Explain or describe the key item or issue. Definition can be formal (precisely classified and described) or informal (using general terms or synonyms to describe the item). For example, you could define the different aspects of your marketing software and explain what they do.

Comparison/contrast

Comparison involves describing how two things are similar. Contrast involves describing how two things differ. For example, you might compare and contrast your company’s software to your competitor’s product.

Example

Make a statement and then use examples to illustrate the statement. For example, you could state how your marketing software improves sales, and then use a case study to demonstrate what it did.

Conclusion

Knowing how to properly use the different types of paragraphs will make you a more effective writer. You will find it easier to organize your thoughts, and make your point more clearly to the reader. Work with the different types of paragraphs and see what works best for different situations.

Do you need help with writing better paragraphs? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

How to be a faster writer

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In a perfect world, you have all the time you need to write a well thought out article, newsletter, report or story. The words flow from your fingers and you get your writing done in plenty of time to relax before the deadline. But life tends to get in the way, and sometimes we need to write quickly and hit publish in a very short amount of time.

Here are five tips to help you be a faster writer when the time comes.

  1. Set up a writing environment that works for you. Some people enjoy working in a loud or disorganized space to spur creativity. Others need silence and order. Maybe you work better at a coffee shop sipping on a latte while watching the world go by. You know yourself best, so get to the space that makes you a better writer.
  2. Similarly, write during the time of day where you are most creative. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Whatever the time of day, set out that block of time during your most productive period, and shut everything else out.
  3. Sit down and write down everything you can think of that you need to write about. Use headings and bullet points to organize your thoughts into sections, and write down all the key ideas that come to mind.
  4. Break your writing into sections and blocks of time. Review your notes and write what comes to mind first, and write for as long as you can until that section is done.
  5. Do not write and edit at the same time. Just write until you have run out of things to say. Leave the editing until you’ve written all the content that comes to mind. Take a break and come back to it for another writing jaunt, but don’t edit until you’ve had time to think about your writing.

I find that I write fastest when I write a few key points, then use those as my focus to complete my assignment. I’ve been able to write a first draft of a thousand word article in a couple of hours, and sometimes less when I get going. It’s not my best work, but that’s the purpose of editing.

There are many strategies for learning to write faster. What makes you a faster writer? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro