Category Archives: Writing Tips

Washington Post Reports Writing Skills Rising on the List of Job Requirements But Failing in Candidates

Washington_Post_logoThe Washington Post published an article on Sunday, August 13, 2017 titled “Writing skills are rising on the list of job requirements–and falling in candidates,” by Jeffrey K. Selingo.

Selingo continues to reports hearing an interviewer from government contracting firm, looking to hire proposal writers for federal agencies, complain about “how difficult it is to find good writers these days.”

“According to national surveys, employers want to hire college graduates who can write coherently, think creatively and analyze quantitative data. But the Conference Board has found in its surveys of corporate hiring leaders that skillful writing is one of the biggest shortfalls in workplace readiness,” Selingo said.

“That’s why so many employers now explicitly ask for writing and communications skills in their job advertisements. Experience in writing and communications are the most requested job requirements across nearly every industry, even in fields such as information technology and engineering.”

Need a Good Writer–or Writing Training? Contact All The Buzz

The most successful businesses realize that how they communicate with their customers can either make–or break–their sales, so they don’t leave the marketing copywriting up to their staff. They bring in an expert to write their website, sales materials, brochures, direct mail, proposals, and other important marketing collateral.

All the Buzz has conducted corporate training classes in how to be a better business writer, and worked with executives to assist with their writing skills. If you need writing training, or desire a great (and award-winning) business copywriter, contact All the Buzz.

–excerpted from washingtonpost.com/news/gradepoint

Why Keywords Matter for SEO

why_keywords_are_important_for_SEOAlthough the rules of search engine optimization (SEO) change frequently, one thing remains constant: the need for content that is keyword-relevant.

Not 20 years ago, it was easy to get noticed with your own website. But now that there are more than 1 billion websites on the World Wide Web, it is increasingly difficult to grab your audience’s attention and get them to click on your site.

Good Use of Keywords

Keywords are those words that are entered into a search, and that indicate just what a person is seeking. It makes sense, then, that the more specific the information that is entered, the more closely a match will be created in the search. When writing your copy, be sure to include keywords that not only generically describe your product or service, be specific.

Make a short list of your top keywords, and pepper those throughout your copy. Pay attention also to long-tailed keywords, which are three-to-four keyword phrases that are very specific to what you are selling and what your prospect is searching for. Most people enter more than one word when performing a search query. For example, if they were looking for a dentist for their child, they might enter, “pediatric dentist fairfax virginia.”

Even if you don’t have the exact keywords on your page, search engines are smart enough to recognize your content as relevant enough to rank you highly in a search. You might rank highly for “jogging” for instance, even though you use the word “running” in your content.

Bad Use of Keywords

Stuffing your site’s pages with keywords, especially when they do not naturally refer to the content on a page, leads to a bad visitor experience. Not only do they not find the important information they need, and for which they came to your site in the first place, it junks up your content as to be annoying and irrelevant to the user’s needs.

High Keyword Rankings are Not an Indicator of High Sales

Just because you rank in the top listings for your keyword does not mean that you will automatically receive more sales. Your copy must be written in order to fulfill the expectations of your visitor, and must convert visitors to sales. Track those keywords that bring in visitors, and track again which visitors convert to inquiries or sales.

Copy that excites people enough to make an inquiry is what you actually desire.

There are a number of online tools that can help you determine your keywords and track your SEO rankings. There are also expert copywriters, like those at All the Buzz, who can help you create copy that not only attracts visitors, but sells.

Have Your Reviewed Your Web Copy Lately?

If you haven’t updated your web copy in a couple of years, you have probably dropped off the search engine radar. Let us check your existing site to ensure that your copy is relevant and keyword rich. We can review and edit your current website, or create entirely new copy that will sizzle.

Contact All the Buzz today for professional web writing services.

The Difference Between a White Paper and an E-Book

Many business owners are told that they need to create a downloadable document that can help them explain their business, support their findings, provide education, set themselves apart as an expert in their field, or used as a free giveaway to help build a list. This can be a white paper or an e-book.

In speaking with business owners, I find that they are often confused about the differences between a white paper or an e-book and which is the appropriate item to create and offer.

White Papers

According to David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR, a white paper is an authoritative report or guide addressing issues and how to solve them. It is used to educate, and can come in the form of a research report, summary or tech brief.

White papers can be considered old-school, and tend to be boring, with extensive detail. They are generally used for more technical explanations, and can highlight an expertise in your field in a longer format. They do not make good link bait and are most often used in the B2B market.

E-Books

An e-book, on the other hand, is looser, more playful, with an engaging theme, appealing design and layout, and bold text treatments, he explains. They are written in small chunks that can be easily skimmed through or scanned. They can also be concept-centric based on ideas and trends. Preference is given to visual layout, with callouts, bulleted lists and illustrations.

E-books are generally engaging and can include links, videos, or surveys, or can be used to encourage readers to take action. Offered free, they make excellent link bait and subscriber bonus giveaways. If offered freely, they can spread like wildfire through sharing. They are most often used in the B2C market.

Creating a landing page for your e-book will help people find it. And be sure to include your website, contact information, and a call to action within your e-book to build your brand and let people know how to contact you.

What to Include in your White Paper or E-book

For either publication, follow a format that uses these elements:

  • Title page
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • Body Content
  • Conclusion
  • Call to Action (invite readers to take the next step)

If you need help creating a white paper or e-book, contact All the Buzz. We’re experts at writing content that sells.

 

How Can You Charge That? It Only Took You Five Minutes!

Pablo-PicassoPablo Picasso was sitting in a restaurant one day when a woman walked up and asked if he would draw her a sketch. He said OK, and jotted down a quick sketch. When the woman went to take the drawing, Picasso held back and said, “That will be $10,000.”

The woman was outraged. “How can you charge me $10,000 when it only took you five minutes!”

Picasso politely answered, “No ma’am. It took me 50 years.”

I love this story because it reflects upon my own life as a marketing copywriter. People often wonder why I charge the rates I do, especially if the copy is short.

Here’s where they’re missing the connection:

Like Good Art, Good Writing Take Years of Preparation and Practice

I have honed my craft for more than 40 years, studying and learning how to write professional marketing copy for all the different mediums and outcomes: print, online, web, social media, white papers, grants, sales letters, advertisements, etc. It isn’t something I take, or do lightly. It is a talent as well as a profession, as it was with Pablo Picasso.

It’s not a fluke that I’ve won a prestigious Clio award, and other writing accolades. Those type of results only come from serious study of the art form.

When someone wants a job done well, they go to a professional. For example, if you need a heart transplant, you want the best, most experienced heart surgeon possible, and you’d expect to pay top dollar for an excellent result. Right? Would you trust the heart surgeon that didn’t charge a professional rate? I think not.

It’s the same with your business. Why spend the money on shoddy work that could actually stop the heartbeat of your business? Wouldn’t you rather have the best, most trained person possible to help you create a healthy flow of business?

Unfortunately, there are a lot of “wanna-be” copywriters out there. I know, because I get a lot of their work from my clients who ask me to “fix it.” My poor clients sadly then have to pay double for the same work–once to the not-so-good copywriter, and once to me, when for a lot less money, they could have gotten the best the first time. Think about that when you’re comparing writing costs.

Short Copy is Harder to Write than Long Copy

Short copy must deliver your entire message in the fewest words possible. This means that each and every word must carry weight and importance. Finding the right words to convince, influence, enlighten, or persuade also takes years of practice honing the skill. And a good writer can do it quickly. But that doesn’t mean it is easy. In fact, short writing is the most difficult type of writing.

In a writing class, I was asked to write a short story containing only 10 words. It was a wonderful exercise in storytelling that I’ve used many times when writing marketing copy for clients.

Pablo Picasso may have been controversial, but nobody could say that he wasn’t a true genius. I hope someday people regard my work that way, although I doubt it will ever appear in a museum — hmmm,  unless I’m hired to write the art descriptions, catalogs, sales copy, promotions… Come to think of it, maybe my writing WILL appear in a museum someday.

If you want the best marketing copywriting, please contact All the Buzz.

One Space or Two Between Sentences?

keyboard-typingWay back when I was in school, we were taught to put two spaces behind a period before beginning a new sentence. Writing for the web, however, is different. You only use one space between sentences.

When we used to use typewriters, in order for the copy to be read clearly, it needed two spaces to set it apart. There was only only font, after all, and it was not as easy to read as our modern proportional fonts found on computers.

Today, every computer is proportional, and good writers know to only put one space following a sentence. Even the style guides, like the Chicago Manual of Style, dictate that a single space should be used. Likewise, only one space should be used after a colon or semicolon.

Nothing looks more amateurish on your website than copy containing double spaces. Take another look at your website and other written materials to make sure you’re up to date on publishing style.

When is the Last Time You Updated Your Website Copy?

If your website is dated, or you haven’t refreshed your copy in several years, it may be time to call in a professional copywriter, like All the Buzz. We’re experts in creating compelling copy that will highlight and illuminate your company, and get you noticed on the web.  Contact us today.

Everyday Phrases that Came from Shakespeare

everyday-phrases-that-came-from-Shakespeare

What is it You’re Truly Selling?

raising-hand-in-a-crowdI was listening to a TED Talk today that offered to teach people how to find their true calling in just five minutes. In it, the speaker, Adam Leipzig, asked the audience five questions:

  1. What is your name?
  2. What do you do?
  3. Who do you do it for?
  4. What do those people want and need?
  5. How do they change as a result?

When he asked the first question, of course everyone in the audience knew the answer, however, as he progressed down the short list, the responses became fewer and fewer. Although most people knew what they did, they knew not why they did it.

The last question, #5, is the most important, he said. Knowing how you make a difference in someone’s life or work is how you should answer the question, “What do you do.”

In other words, instead of saying, “I do bookkeeping,” you could answer, “I keep people’s monthly accounting up to date so they know exactly how their business is doing at any time.”

Look for the real reason people rely on you and your service, and engage and intrigue your audience with the benefit.

All the Buzz Can Uncover Your Real Value

If you have difficulty defining what it is you really do in terms of its benefit, that’s where we come in. Let a professional writer, like us, look at your website copy and your marketing materials. We’ll uncover the real benefits of doing business with you and help you share them with the world with more compelling sales messages that get results. Contact us today.

For Better Writing, Get Rid of “That”

Lucy-gives-writing-adviceOne of the easiest ways to tell if you are working with a beginner-level copywriter is to count how many times they use the word “that.”

Many years ago, when I was cutting my teeth as a business writer, I made the same mistake. Then my editor told me to go back over my copy and edit out every time I used the word “that.” He said it would make my copy stronger, and you know, he was right. Although the use of “that” might be grammatically correct, it is unnecessary and overused.

Now, there are times when you need to use the word “that,” but most times it is superfluous to the copy. Effective copy needs to be brief and clear. If you are using the word “that,” you are using too many words in your sentence. How can you cut back the sentence to make a more powerful and interesting statement?

Can you see the difference in this example?

  • Original:  Margot said that she was going to take dancing lessons so that she would someday become a great ballerina.
  • Better said:  Margot planned to take dancing lessons, hoping to someday become a great ballerina.

If it is a person, use “who.”

When writing about a person, use the word “who” instead of “that,” as in this example:

  • Original:  The man that held the door was wearing a green uniform.
  • Better said:  The man who held the door wore a green uniform.

Hire an Expert Business Copywriter

When you’re considering hiring a copywriter, ask for writing samples, and note how many times you see the word “that.” If it is used more than a few times, you’ll know you’re working with a beginner, and may not get the best bang for your buck. It’s a quick way to tell.

When you need powerful, effective business writing, hire an expert. Contact All the Buzz.

 

Want More Sales? Writing in Active Voice Gets Others Excited

eliminate-passive-voice-in-writingEven as a professional writer, I have to review everything I write to make sure I am writing in “active voice.” I review for it in my professional writing as well as my everyday correspondences via email or letters, and believe it or not, I usually find at least one place where I can make my writing stronger.

What is Active Voice?

When using active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action expressed in the verb: The girl brushed the dog. An example of this same sentence in passive voice would be: The dog was brushed by the girl. One tip for identifying a passive sentence is to look for the word “by.”

Why is Active Voice Important?

Active voice sentences are preferable in writing because Continue reading →

We Made a “Top 10” List!

top-10-graphicOne of the companies for which All the Buzz writes blog posts is listed as one of the “Top 10” blogs in their industry. We’re excited by the listing and the client is thrilled. Not only does their listing (holding its own against the big national companies) give credibility to their company, it elevates them in both online searches and credibility in the eyes of their customers. In addition, the client, 123JUNK, has seen a significant rise in their web traffic with regular blog posting.

The industry itself isn’t glamorous, it’s junk removal. But is an essential service that everyone needs. Here is how the listing is noted:

Top 10 Junk Removal Blogs On The Web Today

123 Junk Blog – 123 Junk was started by a college graduate who is noted by the Washington Business Journal as turning “junk heaps into gold mines.” Their blog is very business-centric and has some great posts that focus on building the customer-business relationship.

Not bad for a regional company that just opened their second location!

If you’d like to see your online traffic increase, Continue reading →