Elayne Whitfield, BA, MVA ~ VA Industry ExpertSubscribe Now

Writing to Communicate VS. Writing to Sell

writing imageEvery successful business owner will have to write, or hire someone to write, at some point in time to promote their business. It’s important to recognize what type of writing will need to be performed in order to communicate your message effectively. Ask yourself the question; am I writing to communicate or am I writing to sell? Yes, there is a difference!

Writing to Communicate

When writing to communicate what you’re really doing is writing to share information. This could be with a current customer or it could be with a potential customer. Think blogs, white paper, advertorials, eBooks, eReports and other platforms that allow you to share important information about you as a business owner or your business. When writing to communicate your goal should be to teach, inform, engage and inspire. It is an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge while providing value and if done correctly you will open the channels of communication with customers and potential customers.

Writing to Sell

Writing to sell is different and often referred to as copywriting. When writing to sell your focus is usually on your sales pages, sales emails, direct mail, websites and brochures. In this case you are writing to tell people exactly what it is you do, how you do it and why it will help them. You will use emotional trigger words that leads the readers to a conversion.

Content Marketing

In content marketing you are developing a strategy to promote your business by distributing valuable, relevant and consistent messaging via various media platforms. In this type of marketing you will lean more towards writing to communicate. You want readers to learn who you are and what it is you do but you do not want to come across as overtly selling. You may want to do this through placing your content on websites, guest blogs, online articles and offline magazines.

Sales Page Writing

The writing on a sales page is all about the conversion. Your writing will need to persuade the reader to take action. It will be copywriting heavy and that is ok. Along with display advertising, banner ads, and emails this writing will be strong and it will need to be compelling. It is very different from content writing.

Combining Writing to Sell and Writing to Communicate

I hope that you have found this blog valuable so far. I hope that you have learned a couple of things and I really hope you will consider a response to what has been written. If that is the case then I have successfully achieved my ‘writing to communicate’ goal thus far. Now, could this blog turn into a writing to sell piece? The answer is yes. As I approach the end I could shift the focus and the language to influence you into a purchase or to sign up for something. By doing this I am mixing both styles of writing.

Even though I said earlier that copywriting is more often used when writing to sell, it can help with every type of writing you do for your business. You will find it in blog headlines and in email titles. It is the words used and the sentences formed that will entice the audience to continue reading and leave them with the desire to learn more.

You want people to want to read what you have to say and to do this you need copywriting or they won’t read at all. It will lead you to conversions and results you are looking for. Best of luck on your journey to learn all you can about the various types of writing out there. If it isn’t your thing, you may want to consider hiring an expert.

Click here for your copy of my ebook “Straightforward Strategies for E-commerce Success” a great guide full of ideas and practical tips to get you started and on the path to e-commerce success!

Tips for Sharing Your Unique Voice and Vision with the World

Colourful image of person singing or speakingYour blog, website, email newsletters, social media posts and other means by which you communicate with the world is how you share your voice, vision and perspectives. The ideas presented on these platforms are unique to you and this should be clearly reflected to your audience. If you want to stand out from your competition, there are many things you can do to separate yourself from the ordinary.

* Blog Regularly – The first thing you need to know about getting your vision and voice out into the world is that you need to do it regularly. Blog regularly, update social media regularly, appear as a guest regularly, and take every opportunity you can to be yourself representing your personal brand.

* Mix up the Formats – A blog doesn’t have to be text based. It can be in the form of infographics, memes, podcasts, videos and more. Use every content format that you can as long as it fits within your brand and the image you want to portray to your audience. Re-purpose content into new forms to get the word out to more people.

* Create a Plan of Action – The content that you create should have a purpose. The best way to ensure that the purpose matches your goals is to develop a plan that you will use across all channels; one that encompasses all promotions planned and events scheduled. Additionally, your plan can include current events and updated news if you’re ready.

* Understand Your Niche – You can never study your niche enough. Devote some of your time each week to understanding who your audience is and should be, inside and out. Study the history of your industry as well as what is happening today and what might happen in the future. Keeping your ear to the ground will make you a go-to expert in your niche and will keep your blog current.

* Know Your Audience – While you do want to add your own vision and voice, it’s also important to understand how far you can go without upsetting your core audience. For example, if you start a blog for people who are vegans and then change your mind, that’s okay, but realize that you’re going to change your audience entirely as well as the focus of your blog and this could disrupt what you have already established.

* Don’t Be Afraid to Be You – One of the most wonderful aspects of being online is the ability to be free to be yourself. You will find support and belonging for any lifestyle but you’ll also find detractors. To be truly authentic you cannot worry too much about your detractors. Put your audience and your true self first and foremost all the time.

* Be Consistent Across all Channels – Whether it’s your blog or a social media channel, it’s important that you keep the same flavor, voice, and vision apparent in each space. This will make you appear more trustworthy and help your audience get to know you even better.

* Engage Authentically with your Audience – Outside of blog posts, social media posts and other forms of content that you put out into the world, there are also discussions and comment sections in which you can engage. Be yourself when you interact with your audience, too. They want to know what you really think and this is a great way to do so.

Each blog post or other content platform that you send out into the world is important all on its own. Content spreads your message, establishes you as an expert, and drives traffic through keywords and more. Each deserves the attention called for to bring your unique voice and vision to them.

Even if you hire someone to write for you as a ghostwriter, it’s important that you edit the content to bring more of yourself to the blog. Whether it’s a sign-off phrase you want to use, or a special way with words that impacts your readers, be yourself. What matters is that you’re consistently yourself no matter where the content appears.

5 Tips for GREAT Headlines that Consistently Convert

HeadlineI know this may be difficult to hear, but most of the hard work you put into writing your article will not attract attention on its own. Content will certainly speak for itself, but this is only true if people are willing to listen to it to begin with. And unfortunately, the average reader on the internet today will not give you even a moment of their precious time unless you prove to them that you deserve it over everyone else. What’s the best way to do this? An irresistible headline is a good start.

Almost any topic you can think of will have dozens of articles covering/discussing it; all of which will have great information. To compete with these equally entertaining and well written articles you need to put out the best bait: your headline. All too often people will glance over this aspect of their work as if it is unimportant when in reality it is the MOST important part. Unless you are a headline-creating savant you shouldn’t be churning out your article titles in 30 seconds and this leads me to the first of my 5 tips for creating great headlines.

1. Don’t Rush

I’ve been there myself. Your deadline is creeping up and you’re delicately looking over your work to make sure every semicolon is perfectly placed and every paragraph break flows flawlessly. Right before you submit/publish you remember that you haven’t finalized a headline and should probably think of something catchy. After a whole 42 seconds of deliberation you decide to keep the clunky title you had when you started writing because you’re running out of time.

Big mistake. Headlines should be looked at as the pinnacle of your work, not an afterthought. Choosing a good headline can often take 45 minutes to an hour so allot yourself that much time to figure things out. Rearrange words, break out the thesaurus, and don’t give up until you’re completely satisfied.

2. Use Numbers

It worked for this post didn’t it? Lists are a concise way of organizing things, and letting people know that you’re keeping it brief from the get-go is a great way to convince them to start reading. Few things are more frustrating than getting a page into an article, scrolling down to the bottom to see how much more you have left, and finding out you’ve just started reading someone’s 200 page novel. Time is valuable and readers like to get in and out of things as quickly as possible. They aren’t perfect for every headline but lists do work and you should take advantage of them.

3. Offer Something of Value

Unless your article is an opinion piece on some of your personal favourite things, you’re going to want to present your work as if it is offering something that the reader can away take with them. And even if you are just listing off something that you like, you don’t have to present it in such an obvious way. Instead of having “My 10 Favourite ______” call your article “The 10 Best _______ money can buy”. Don’t be afraid to use bold language like this since this will only draw on people’s curiosity. And as long as you write with passion and explain yourself, how can you be proven wrong? Offering things like “the best…”, “reasons why…”, “facts about…”, or “predictions for…” in your title will give the reader the feeling that they are gaining something from your article. If someone thinks your work will be of value to them then they will be far more likely to read it.

4. Promote Distrust

Although overuse of this technique may give your writing a cheap or tacky feel, a well placed promotion of distrust will attract greater audience attention. People will often be skeptical of mainstream ideas so advertising something like “secrets doctors/nutritionists/other professionals don’t want you to know about” can be very effective. Offering “hacks” or seemingly insider information that people can use in specific aspects of their life or even just their daily life will lead to more clicks on your article.

5. Mix it Up

Chances are if you’re reading this, you aren’t looking to write one single headline. Writing one headline won’t be that difficult, but if you always use the same formula of “10 ways to get better at _____” or “Improve your _____ with these 7 strategies”, your readers will get bored. Be creative and keep your audience on their toes. Mixing things up will ensure that you have a growing base of readers who consistently give you their attention.

Key Tips For Getting Lots of Article Click Thrus

Key Tips for Getting Lots of Article Click Thrus - ImageIt’s a no-brainer that in order to get people to your site, they need to click on your link at the bottom of your article first. But before that, they need to read your article. So let’s back up here and look at the 3 most important things your article needs to have in order to get lots of click thrus.

A great headline
An interesting opening paragraph
A compelling call to action

To put it another way, you want a great headline that will interest a person enough to want to read your article. Then you need a good first paragraph that entices the reader to really read the article. Lastly, you need to flow into a compelling bio call to action that makes the reader want to click your link.

A great headline
Certainly you should include your keywords in the title to help search engine traffic find your article, but your headline, or your title, should be more than that. The title’s other important job is to get people interested in reading the article.

Think about making the title eye-catching, humorous, emotionally appealing, curiosity-arousing, attention-getting, a bit outrageous, and certainly NOT boring. And use trigger words in your headline: how to, question, tips, numbers, story, the benefit, secret, the truth, the cure for, or mistakes.

An interesting opening paragraph
You’ve only got a couple of sentences, at most, to really get the reader’s attention before he’s lost interest and has moved on. So when writing the article you’ll probably want to spend most of your time on this.

If you want good examples of opening paragraphs, just read the newspaper. You’ll notice each newspaper story uses a technique to entice the reader. They might make an outrageous claim, stir up some controversy, hit our hot buttons, use a scare tactic, predict the future, or use some similar technique that draws us in. That’s what you want to do with your article.

A compelling call to action
When you write your bio, you should always include a call to action. Don’t just give them details about you and include your website. Ask them to come to your site by offering something they value for free. What do they value? What would motivate them to click thru to your site? Perhaps you can give information away for free that other marketers are selling. Make it clear, easy, and irresistible.

Take a look at other successful article marketers’ bios to get some examples of what works. If you visit EzineArticles, check out some of the articles that interest you and examine which bios make you want to click thru.

Last but not least, test your bio. Sometimes you need more creative wording, or sometimes a better offer, but you won’t know until you test.

The more articles you write with purpose, the better you’ll get at it. Concentrating on these three areas – the title, opening paragraph and bio – whenever you write an article should help your article click thru rates increase.

Why Get It Transcribed?

Why Get It Transcribed - ImageAudio interviews and webinars, video PowerPoints, and how-to screencast demonstrations are no longer considered “new” in Internet marketing, but they’re communication mediums that are certainly here to stay.

Although audio and video work great for imparting information, the need for the written word is still there, especially to accompany the audios and videos. I’m talking about transcriptions; written documentation of what you’ve recorded verbally and/or visually. Why should you go the extra mile and the extra expense to have your webinar transcribed? Here are a few reasons:

1. When you have your audio or video transcribed, you’ve just increased the value of your product. Perhaps your audio interview is free to your listeners, but if they want the transcribed version, they’ll have to pay for it. Or you could offer your product with the audio and transcription for one fee, and without the transcription for a “lite” fee. Another idea is to add the written document as a bonus to your product, or offer it in an upsell.

2. Even though audio and video are popular, not everyone likes this medium. Many people prefer reading over listening. It could be they’re fast readers and like to go at their own pace rather than be at the mercy of an audio that seems to be going too slow. Or maybe they are short on time and prefer to skip to the parts that are of particular interest to them. Some find themselves daydreaming or becoming distracted and can’t follow along very well.

3. There are times when people can’t listen, no matter how informative your webinar is. The timing may not work into their schedule – people are so busy with work, kids, chores, civic duties, etc. and if you lose them, you lose your chance to impart your wisdom, take your brand up a notch, make a sale, or whatever your reason for doing the webinar. Similarly, the person might not be in a location where they can turn the volume up (like at work, in a waiting room, while on the bus) and they don’t have earphones. After all your hard work of putting on the webinar, you don’t want to lose any potential customers. Offering a transcription of your webinar will make these people happy. It shows goodwill on your part.

Doing webinars, audio interviews, podcasts, and videos is great for business. It adds dimension to your brand, gives your sales page or website some punch and makes lots of people happy who like to listen. But take it a step further and make everyone satisfied by having your audios transcribed. It’s a good business practice that can affect your bottom line.

Not a Writer? Find Out How to Create Content As IF you ARE a Writer!

If we’re going to be really honest about it, most people don’t like writing. And even people who like to write find it very difficult to get started.

As a writer, I’ve done a lot of research on writing and other writers, and the statements above are absolutely true.  A very famous, successful mystery writer (I think it was James Patterson) said that there’s no such thing as writer’s block – writers just don’t like what they write.

Nevertheless, we all need content for our businesses as much as we ever did.  Sure, there are more ways to display content than there used to be – YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and so on, but everything still starts with content.

The short solution to problems you have with your writing is to just write anyway.  Get it on the page.  Don’t worry about it.  You can fix it all with proofreading and editing.  But you can’t fix what isn’t there.

That’s the first tip, a big one.  All writers say the same thing – the famous ones, the rich ones, the prolific ones – if you’re having trouble getting started, the secret to creating content is first to get it on the page

The purpose of this ebook is to show you some of the best things out there today to help you create content and to show you some evergreen methods that will always be current because good writing demands them.

As a business owner who needs content, you can either write your own or outsource it.  Each option presents its own problems and solutions.  In this ebook you will learn some techniques to make your own writing more enjoyable or to pass on to your writers to increase their productivity.

You’ll also learn (or receive a refresher course) about how to write in different venues like blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.  Last, you get the briefest review of the most common grammar, punctuation, and usage mistakes.

For more information check out my e-book:  Writing Your Way to 6 Figures.  It’s only $17 and have over 40 pages of information that will turn content creation from chore to a delight!!  Plus you get a FREE Writers online resource guide (A $49 value) when you purchase.