7 things I learned in 7 years of blogging for my business 6 days ago

Image for blog by Nottingham copywriter, Camilla Zajac

Image by Mike Licht

Jewellery, employee benefits schemes, CE marking, high end doors and windows, wine, ink cartridges, mortgages, business networking, updates from an award winning author…They are just a few of the many topics I’ve brought to life through blogging in my 12 plus years as a copywriter.

I’ve been blogging for myself for quite some time too. I recently reached a major milestone – my 7 year “bloggiversary”! This was my very first blog post…

Hundreds of copywriting blog posts later and I’ve certainly learned a few things along the way:

1. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing

Why cover the same ground as everybody else? In each industry, there’s probably a more, shall we say, “familiar” way to cover the main issues. But following the same route as others in your sector isn’t likely to make you stand out. Look for a fresh way to talk about your industry to make your business blog your own. Why be generic when you can be genuinely individual?

2. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Just inform people in an interesting way

Having made my point above, my long track record as a blogger for myself (and for others) has taught me that it’s not productive to be different just for the sake of it. Your audience wants to be informed (and fast!) so focus on achieving that. Keep your main topic right at the centre, but keep offering new perspectives on it.

3. It (usually) takes time

Blogging for your own business takes time to establish. That’s as true for your blogging voice as it is for your presence and your audience. Yes, sometimes great things do happen overnight, but usually it’s a long-term, gradual process. Enjoy the ride. Look to create quality evergreen content that can withstand the rigours of time and of marketing trends and shifts!

4. Find a voice that belongs to you

Every business blog is different. Some companies prefer a detached, formal style while businesses that trade more on their individuality may prefer to speak in the first person. The important thing is to explore and uncover a tone of voice which feels natural for you and your business. If you really want to make your blog sustainable, make sure that your tone of voice is authentic. That will help you maintain both it and your blog for many years to come!

5. Trends change, but blogging is for life

A lot has changed in 7 years – with marketing, SEO and social media, never mind blogging! When I first started my copywriting blog, blogging wasn’t common practice. Now it’s recognised as part of everyday life for proactive businesses and as a central aspect of content marketing. SEO and attitudes to content continue to shift ever onwards! What I’ve learned is that there is a magic balance between keeping up a consistent copywriting strategy and adapting to changes in the way people seek out and respond to content.

6. Blog about what interests you and you’ll create interest in other people

It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Having your own blog is an incredible opportunity to explore your professional ideas and share your personal insight into your industry. Having said that, your blog needs to be focused around the interests of your potential customers! The more you make your business blog part of your everyday life, the more ideas and opportunities you’ll uncover. It might be a conversation with a client or your own experience of using a service or product. Whatever it is, make your blog your own. Get into the habit of seeking out new ideas and approaches for your blog and it’ll soon become second nature…leading to those 3am brainwaves or to the experience of having a brief chat with a client which quickly turns into a series of blog posts.

7. See it as a valuable business resource, not a task

It’s all too easy to look on the act of blogging as a chore. It’s a view I hear all the time from business-owners that I meet. But if you change your perspective, you’ll see that your blog can work for you on all kinds of levels. It can establish you as an expert in your field. It also gives you an incredible resource for promoting your business through social media, enewsletters and more. Changes in marketing continue to create ever more opportunities through blogging. Why not make the most of them?

Thank you to all the lovely people who have commented on (and off) my blog in the past 7 years!

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, January 2015

8 easy ways to kickstart your marketing content this year 12 days ago

Image for copywriting Nottingham blog
Image by Paci-Mau

Are you finding it tough to get your content and copywriting strategy into gear? Kick back and take a look at these ideas…

1. Say less

Need to speed up the impact of your marketing content? I have three words for you: clarify, refine, reduce. It’s that simple. Take a closer look at the content you use to promote your business. Is it streamlined and strategic or packed with words and unclear messages? If you want to create more of a response, pare it right back. With copywriting, less really is more.

2. Give more

Generosity with content could help to generate the response you want. Are you sharing your marketing content fully with your clients and prospects? Would you say you’re making the most of the great case studies, success stories and tips that you have in-house? That’s what they’re for, after all! Now is the perfect time to start distributing all th content you’ve created.

3. Share stuff

Here’s another way to share which could make your content more productive. Instead of just telling people about yourself and your business, inform them about the things that you know will interest them, whatever that might be. This can be as effective in your emails as it can be for your blogging and makes for more magnetic marketing content.

4. Limit yourself

Trying to do too much can turn your marketing content into a mammoth task. Instead, focus on just two or three channels (blogging, Facebook etc.) with or two one or two key messages. It’s an easy way to strengthen your marketing voice.

5. Exchange it

Here’s one urge which often undermines business copywriting…the urge to list features and facts instead of benefits! Start looking at converting the facts about what you do into great reasons to buy into your business and you’ll speed up the response to your content.

6. Encourage response

Here’s yet another classic error found in a lot of business copywriting, whether it’s off or online – the strange absence of clear calls to action or information about what your potential client should do next! Should they click to contact you, pick up the phone or sign up for your newsletter? Make it clear, make it easy and you’re much more likely to make them respond!

7. Ask questions

I named User Generated Content (UGC) as the trend to watch in my first blog post of 2015. Apply the power of UGC by asking more questions in your marketing content. Look to generate interest and response by encouraging your clients to share their views and experiences.

8. Get support

Most of us value a second opinion in many areas of our lives. Why should your content or copywriting approach be any different? Gaining a detached second opinion from a copywriter could help bring out the best of your business in your marketing instead of missing out on the good stuff. I know someone who can help

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, January 2015

That internet thing? It'll never take off... 21 days ago

Image for Nottingham web copywriting blog

Image by Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig

“Remote shopping, while entirely feasible, will flop.”

The internet has come a long way since this prediction in Time magazine in 1968.

And it’s not going away any day soon. Yet, as I highlight in this Catena Sector Spotlight, it’s still a missed marketing opportunity for many businesses. Even the basics continue to be overlooked within the web copywriting and content strategies of many companies. As the article says,

“A November 2013 survey by Global Lingo polled more than 1,000 Britons and found that 74 per cent of those questioned would notice poor quality spelling or grammar on a website, with 59 per cent of those insisting they would not use the offending company as a result.”

But, as I point out in the article, there’s much more to web content than getting the essentials right:

“It’s incredibly important to get the right style and if you use the same written content for every channel across a business, rather than tailoring it for online, it can be a wasted opportunity. Remember, it’s not just about getting people to your website, but also making sure they are interested once they are there.”

While the person who made that prediction back in 1968 didn’t have the advantage of seeing the full potential of the internet, today’s businesses do. Isn’t it time they made the most of that insight?

You can read the full Catena Sector Spotlight article here.

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, January 2015

What really lies ahead for content in 2015? 28 days ago

Photo for copywriting blog post on content trends for 2015
Image by tpholland

On sale: high quality crystal balls

There must have been a roaring trade in crystal balls in the Boxing Day sales. Yes, it’s trend watching time again. As we stand on the precipice of a new year, we can see a veritable snow flurry of articles and think pieces on upcoming trends for content and business copywriting for 2015. While these are often interesting, they can also be somewhat distracting for the business-owner looking for ways to simplify but strengthen their own content approach for the 12 months ahead.

Content goes large

Some say that so-called ‘fat content’ will be the big thing for content marketing in 2015:

“‘Fat’ content will become the focus of marketers everywhere. This includes content types like white papers, videos, eBooks, infographics… content that can be broken up and used as the fuel for multi-channel campaigns.” —Jesse Noyes, Senior Director of Content Marketing, Kapost
(Source: Content Marketing Institute)

Great, but this still needs to be a part of a coherent content and copywriting strategy, as always.

Inbound for success in 2015?

Inbound marketing has been around for a while, but it seems that companies could be doing more to benefit from it in 2015, as another trends post suggests:

“Inbound marketing is all about creating original content that engages your target audience — buyer persona — in a conversation. According to HubSpot, inbound content best practices include researching and understanding buyer personas, creating content tailored to both your buyer’s persona and your buyer’s three journey stages — awareness, consideration and decision — and leveraging your content to serve your business goals by optimizing distribution channels.”
(Source: Business 2 Community)

While inbound marketing certainly isn’t new, it would be great to see more companies creating strategies around their content to reach potential leads at different stages of the buying cycle.

Bring it back to the customer

Closely linked to the more focused approach of inbound marketing, the Guardian foresees a more customer-based dedication for business content:

CMOs will begin to instil a culture that is focused on customers. Budgets will shift away from paid promotion and into brand content that their audiences actually want to consume. Marketing organisations will move away from silos based on channel or functional ownership. Branding, advertising, PR, demand generation – all will begin to dissolve into three areas: data, technology, and content.”
(Source: The Guardian)

About time too. I think that this is part of the shift that will differentiate successful companies from the others.

Survival of the nimblest

In another Guardian piece, it is predicted that the companies which thrive in the year ahead will be those that are nimble with their content:

“The best way for brands to connect with people is to behave like them…This means they need to be as instinctive, natural and – most importantly – creative as everyone else. But, as the velocity of content increases, the timeframe for responding decreases. The days of the 24 hr sign-off process are over, as brands need to jump in within minutes, even seconds, with just the right piece of content.”
Camilla Grey, Global Head of Content Strategy, Wolff Ollins
(Source: The Guardian)

I think this is a really important point. Having a long-term strategy matters, but so does having a clear plan for responding to changing trends and news in a way that is fast, appropriate and informative – without feeling opportunistic.

The top trend businesses shouldn’t overlook in 2015

My own view of the trend that businesses shouldn’t overlook in 2015? UGC or user-generated content.

Sounds highly technical, but it’s simply the approach of building in how your clients and potential clients respond to your product or service. Or actively transforming your audience into a content source which then informs your audience…

I’ve noticed a shift in the way that companies present themselves – in advertising, content, copywriting strategies etc…Customers and customer feedback are becoming the focus of marketing and content campaigns. Even the BBC is getting in on the act with the launch of its own UGC hub. Companies are now starting to put client/user experiences at the centre of their marketing approach and I see this as a growing priority for organisations of all types and sizes in the year ahead. While your content and copywriting strategy needs to be focused, it will also benefit significantly from incorporating the ideas and experiences of your customers. The secret to success with user-generated content? Doing it in a way which is authentic and entertaining.

That’s enough from me and my crystal ball. What do you think lies ahead for content in 2015? Add your comments below!

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, December 2014

The apostrophes that stole Christmas (cheer) 40 days ago

Warning: this blog post contains misplaced and missing apostrophes.

As the festive season takes over, I’ve noticed something interesting. Some seasonal business marketing seems to be inspiring more Christmas jeers than cheers. It’s all thanks to a number of major apostrophe errors. The reaction is even more emphatic than usual – and it’s normally quite strong, as I’ve seen from the response to the content I share about apostrophe fails.

I’ll never forget my favourite example of misplaced Christmas apostrophes, as spotted in Nottingham a few years ago:

Image for Christmas wishes from Nottingham copywriter, Camilla Zajac

From this year’s selection, here’s a gem from a British institution, as shared by @redskyatnight and others. This is now apparently being corrected…

How about the bank that decided to drop the apostrophe from its Christmas message, as highlighted by @dannywhitelock?

Finally there’s this one from a well known American company, as brought to Twitter’s attention by @Jslackediting:

Lovely, aren’t they?

Yes, they’re only apostrophe errors, but they really do detract from your marketing message! Which business wants to do that? Whether it’s additional or absent, the misplaced apostrophe can do serious damage to the impact of your content. While we’re on the subject, here’s a little festive grammar quiz you might enjoy.

I’d like to wish all my clients and friends a very happy and (apostrophe) drama-free Christmas!

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, December 2014

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