3 Aug
2012

8 Things You Might Not Know About Blogging

Blogs are transforming the way we communicate. The ease of communication they offer makes them a welcome resource — both for those looking to share and for anyone looking to learn something new.

And don’t forget the power of microblogging, which is a term used to describe posting to Twitter or using Instant Messaging services to publish status updates. You can even write blogs from a mobile phone.

Blogging also provides ease-of-entry. You don’t need any technical skills to start a blog. If you can write an email, you can write a blog.

Best of all, you don’t need a single penny to start publishing your own blog. All you need is a computer and an Internet connection. From there, do an Internet search for “free blogging sites” and you’ll find dozens of possibilities. WordPress and Blogger are two of the most popular.

Here are some other fun facts about blogging:

1.  A new blog is created somewhere in the world every half second.

2.  Many libraries now use blogs to provide current information to library users.

3.  Some teachers require students to keep journals in the form of a blog. Some even use blogs as a structured way for students to comment on assigned texts as they read through chapters.

4.  Surveys show that most Internet shoppers read blog reviews before making online purchases.

5.  Photo blogging is quickly becoming a way to share — and even sell — your pictures.

6.  You can even write a blog in a foreign language, thanks to all the free translation tools available online.

7.  Blogs are a way to stay connected with friends and family, as well as preserve memories.

8.  If you decide to start blogging and focus on something you’re passionate about, you’ll find an audience for your posts.

27 Jul
2012

Leo Burnett’s 4 M’s

In the mid-1930s, almost all the top advertising agencies were in New York City. Leo Burnett broke with American advertising tradition by basing his agency in Chicago. He started with exactly one account, and opened for business on August 4, 1935, at the height of the depression.

You could say he had a few things going against him. But Leo Burnett was an optimist.

To brighten things up, his receptionist set out a bowl of apples in the office. When word got around the Windy City that the Leo Burnett Company was serving apples to its visitors, a newspaper columnist said, “It won’t be long ’til Leo Burnett is selling apples on the street corner instead of giving them away.”

Burnett never had to resort to selling apples. His trademark “sod-busting corniness” – straightforward mid-American honest language and imagery – created a loyal client base and blockbuster results. “This is not about advertising,” he said. “It’s about people. We are eternal students of human behavior.”

Have you ever had a skeptic? Anyone ever question your ability to make it as a writer? Ever feel like giving up?

When your doubters rear their heads, remember Leo Burnett, the man who started with one account during the depression. Today, the Leo Burnett Company is the 10th largest ad agency in the world and the 8th largest in the U.S. Of their 31 U.S. accounts, roughly half have been with the firm for 20 years or more.

And their Chicago headquarters gives away over 1,000 apples every working day to visitors and employees.

AWAI has the 4 P’s©, the 4 U’s©, and the Four Legged Stool©. We’ll let Leo Burnett claim the 4 M’s:

“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.”

20 Jul
2012

Mom-and-Pop Shops, Low-Budget Video Ads, and You

YouTube recently announced a new initiative for small businesses. Many small businesses already buy search advertising on Google, which owns YouTube, by bidding on key words and setting the budget they’re willing to spend. Now YouTube will allow small businesses a similar option with Google AdWords for video. Advertisers will pay only when their ads are watched.

The example they gave was a baker who makes a video ad about his bakery. He could buy words like “baking,” “cookies,” and “cake,” and his video ad will show up when someone does a search for those terms on YouTube. The baker will be able to track number of viewers and how many went to his website or YouTube channel.

It’s a new program so we’ll see how it plays out, but it could certainly increase the need for small businesses who need someone to write online video scripts. Stay tuned for more information, and in the meantime, consider adding learning more about this opportunity for your small business clients.

13 Jul
2012

The Rules Have Changed

Ever feel like you can’t keep up on a daily basis with what’s going on in social media? If so, Nick is definitely the guy to follow. Not only has he been working exclusively in online copywriting for 20 years, but he’s also the expert on social media. He has a unique ability to see the big picture, grasp it, and explain to you in simple terms how to implement it in your own business and that of your clients.

The rules have changed, and Nick says it’s all about connecting and engaging now. You have to be part of the conversation and deliver value. Here’s one example of the opportunity: over 70% of businesses have a Facebook page, but most of them aren’t doing social media very well, according to Nick. That opens the door for copywriters who do understand social media.

Before you start helping clients, use social media to promote and grow your own freelance business. Set up accounts at Google+, Stumble Upon, Pinterest, and others. Set up a Facebook business page. Go to LinkedIn and find groups related to your niche. Then:

  • Identify people in your niche who could use help.
  • Be a “curator” or editor of information you find online. Use it to add value to prospects.
  • Write a report of some kind that could help your clients. For example, write a 25-page report on how to use social media in the tourism industry.
  • Consider writing a Kindle “single” like Nick’s Popcorn Content.

And of course, if you really want to leverage social media for yourself and your clients, check out Nick’s How to Make Money as a Social Media Expert.

6 Jul
2012

Get to Know … Mistina Picciano

“The road to happiness lies in two simple principles: find what it is that interests you and that you can do well, and when you find it, put your whole soul into it – every bit of energy and ambition and natural ability you have.” - John D. Rockefeller III

AWAI member Mistina Picciano started as a freelance copywriter, but found her true calling a couple years later when she opened her own agency. She loves collaborating with other copywriters and finds managing projects very invigorating. As founder, President, and Chief Content Strategist of Market it Write, Mistina hires writers regularly and reminds you that anytime you apply for a writing job, your cover letter is a sales letter! Something needs to grab the reader, or they won’t even look at your portfolio.

One of the ways Mistina has grown her business is by actually turning down business. Early on, she took a step back to determine what projects were most rewarding and who she really wanted to work with. She stopped working with clients who drained her time and energy, and focused on projects she was enthusiastic about. She says that specializing offers numerous advantages, including:

1. It makes life easier.

2. It makes you more memorable.

3. It keeps you more focused.

4. It gives you less competition.

5. It lets people know who to refer to you.

Need one more? You can ask for more money when you have a specialty.

Mistina is always looking for good writers to add to her team. If you think you have what it takes, check out her site at www.MarketitWrite.com, then drop her a line at mail@marketitwrite.com. She has a writer intake form she’ll send you.

29 Jun
2012

Success Stories

One of the things I love about being Executive Director of AWAI is seeing all the success stories. Mistina Picciano has built a very successful marketing agency, and I get to say, “I knew her when she first came to Bootcamp!”

I also have the privilege of working with experts like Nick Usborne, who has done a phenomenal job helping our members become professional web copywriters and social media experts themselves.

What Nick and Mistina have in common is that they both started out as general copywriters, but somewhere along the line made a decision to change course and specialize. Mistina realized she worked better managing other writers and bringing in the business. Nick decided one day (December 31, 1997, to be exact) that he was going to be an online copywriter.

You can do the same.

Once you’ve been a writer for a while, analyze your strengths and preferences. Figure out what area of writing you’d really like to pursue. Determine if there’s a need for it.
Then stake your claim on it, and go after it with everything you have.

22 Jun
2012

Get to Know … Gail Glanville

“Seek out that particular mental attribute which makes you feel most deeply and vitally alive, along with which comes the inner voice which says, ‘This is the real me,” and when you have found that attitude, follow it.” - William James

We talk a lot about choosing a niche, but AWAI member Gail Glanville takes it one step further and has an interesting take on how to figure out what you have to offer.

Gail got her start fresh out of college working for the J. Walter Thompson agency (now known as JWT), the fourth-largest ad agency in the world and the pioneer of ad careers for women. It proved to be an excellent training ground, and later she took her skills to the Virgin Islands. There she brought in millions of dollars of new revenue for clients including major airlines, feature film companies from around the world, and sun tan lotion and soft drink companies.

Today Gail helps entrepreneurs find their unique identity as a “brand makeover coach.” As she says, “you can’t market to the world.”

She uses her own assessment tools as well as forms at Assessment.com to develop a document that has a brand name, a tagline, a platform statement, and a positioning statement. She also helps her clients decide what their products and services are going to be, and says that as a copywriter, “chances are you have lots of things you can offer that will make your value to the client that much richer.”

Gail has some straightforward advice to new copywriters who may be wondering what to do first. “The worst place to start is with your website,” she says. “Corral your passions first.”

She recommends doing things in this order:

1. Go to Assessments.com and figure out what you have to offer. Get those things lined up first.

2. Decide what your products are going to be.

3. Decide on your “brand.”

4. Only then, after these first three steps are done, should you attempt to create your website.

What about defining yourself too narrowly?

“When you set the intention of being successful, you’d be surprised at what falls in your lap,” says Gail. “Once you’re in a niche where you belong, the word gets out how good you are.” In other words, don’t worry about missing out on clients.

Gail’s last piece of advice: “Keep going.”

15 Jun
2012

June Action Steps

1. Take a day off. No, not just to go to the beach. Take an entire day away from client work, social media sites, email, and even your phone. Do some goal-setting, marketing strategizing, and self-analyzing. Figure out where you are half-way through the year, where you want to be by the end of summer, and what you’d like to accomplish the second half of the year.

2. Write a report with valuable information for your clients. Aim it at a very narrow niche. For example, “Seven ways specialty tourism companies can grow sales with online video marketing,” or “The top five questions alternative health publishers should ask before they hire a copywriter.” When you finish your report, offer it for a low cost or free on your website to generate leads.

3. Start blogging regularly. It’s a great way to get fresh content out there, come up higher in search engine results pages, speak directly to your ideal clients, and show your expertise in your chosen niche. If you don’t have a blog or website, create a Facebook business page. Information here: http://www.facebook.com/business/pages/

4. Use the content your create in steps three and four to start writing a book. You can “test the waters” by writing a few posts that together could turn into a chapter. A report, depending on how long it is, could be a short e-book in itself. There’s nothing like creating instant credibility than by writing a book.

5. Peruse DirectResponseJobs.com to help you define your focus. You may find something that you qualify for while you’re doing this, but look through descriptions to see what kind of writing you’d like to gravitate toward as you build your experience and portfolio.

Onward and Upward

It’s one thing to write well. It’s another thing to get your voice heard and make a living as a writer.

We all know Mark Twain as a great American author and humorist. But if it weren’t for the brilliant marketing system he used to sell his books, you might have never read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn back in school.

During most of Twain’s lifetime, you couldn’t go to the bookstore to get his latest novel. In fact, Huck Finn wasn’t even published until he already had 40,000 copies sold. Twain took advantage of a popular marketing plan from the late 1800s, selling his books by  “subscription only.”

It started with a book prospectus, which contained various pages from the yet-to-be-published book, along with sales copy promoting it. Sales agents took this prospectus with them as they canvassed cities all over the U.S., in true direct selling fashion.

“Sold by subscription” meant that Twain was able to identify his audience (which affected how he wrote successive books), build a list of buyers to use for future campaigns (an early use of list marketing), and make more money by selling directly (one of the main reasons he did it.)

You could say that Mark Twain was an author, a copywriting consultant, and a marketing strategist. And chances are, if he was writing today he’d be using online video marketing and Twitter to promote his books, and Kindle publishing to bypass traditional publishers.

The beauty is that while the marketing medium of choice may be constantly changing, the copy is a constant factor that influences success.

In the words of the great copywriter Gary Halbert, “The written word is the strongest source of power in the entire universe.”

You, the professional writer, hold that power.

I look forward to seeing what you do with it.

8 Jun
2012

June Action Steps

Summer is right around the corner and for many people that signals a change in schedule, lazy days at the beach, and a 12-week hiatus from serious, nose-to-the-grindstone work.

You might expect me to advise you to do the opposite of the masses. Instead of taking a break, use this opportunity to get ahead, make a dent in your writing goals, and pick up new clients.
That’s good advice … but I prefer going for more balance. Continue to go after the goals you set back in January or more recently. But don’t be afraid to take advantage of the writer’s life either. Head to the beach with your favorite book on a Wednesday afternoon while everyone else waits for the weekend. Hit the summer hot spots in your area on a less-crowded Monday morning.

Here’s the difference: as a professional writer, you can bring your work along wherever you go, and it’s not really “work,” is it?

I think summer’s a good time to step back, analyze your writing business, and figure out exactly what you have to offer the world. Spend some time on personal projects in addition to client work. Start that book project you’ve been talking about, or write a report to send to prospective clients in your niche.

Here are some specific suggestions to help you get jumpstart your writing career this summer:

1. Take a day off. No, not just to go to the beach. Take an entire day away from client work, social media sites, email, and even your phone. Do some goal-setting, marketing strategizing, and self-analyzing. Figure out where you are half-way through the year, where you want to be by the end of summer, and what you’d like to accomplish the second half of the year.

2. Write a report with valuable information for your clients. Aim it at a very narrow niche. For example, “Seven ways specialty tourism companies can grow sales with online video marketing,” or “The top five questions alternative health publishers should ask before they hire a copywriter.” When you finish your report, offer it for a low cost or free on your website to generate leads.

3. Start blogging regularly. It’s a great way to get fresh content out there, come up higher in search engine results pages, speak directly to your ideal clients, and show your expertise in your chosen niche. If you don’t have a blog or website, create a Facebook business page. Information here: http://www.facebook.com/business/pages/

4. Use the content your create in steps three and four to start writing a book. You can “test the waters” by writing a few posts that together could turn into a chapter. A report, depending on how long it is, could be a short e-book in itself. There’s nothing like creating instant credibility than by writing a book.

5. Peruse DirectResponseJobs.com to help you define your focus. You may find something that you qualify for while you’re doing this, but look through descriptions to see what kind of writing you’d like to gravitate toward as you build your experience and portfolio.

Enjoy!

1 Jun
2012

Your Writing Future

If you’re new to the writer’s life, the sheer number of directions you can go in can be overwhelming. One idea that might help is to look through various types of writing jobs available at sites like DirectResponseJobs.com. Find descriptions that get you fired up. Even if you don’t feel qualified yet, seeing these details will give you something to work toward.

We post new jobs almost daily, and remember, someone is filling these positions. Why not you? Take a look through the offerings at DirectResponseJobs.com when you get a chance. Recent posts include:

  • Sports fans take note: BleacherReport.com has full-time lead writer positions available. They’re looking for a bloggers with experience, one for each major sport, who have clean, clear, creative, persuasive writing skills.
  • Here’s a job with only one qualification: “Create great copy that converts.” You don’t need ad agency experience, a portfolio, or anything else. Just the ability to write great copy. Give it a shot. The posting on 5-28-12 was listed as “First Page PPC.”
  • Have you had specific training on newsletter article writing or autoresponders? If you have some samples in these areas, check out the “Seductive Marketing” post on 5-24-12.
  • “America’s leading direct response advertising agency” is looking for copywriters who have results in the health or financial niches. If you do, the Steve Wexler Group says, “Impress us, and we’ll put you to work right away (and keep giving you work one job after the other.) This is a work from home opportunity.
  • Enthusiastic and knowledgeable about personal finance and credit and banking-related topics? Are you comfortable using WordPress and formatting a blog post? If so, contact Hero World Media, who has a full-time blogging job.

In May alone there were 118 job postings like these, so if nothing appeals to you on one day, check back often.

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