Writing: How did it get so late so soon?

“It’s night before it’s afternoon. January’s here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”

(adapted, very slightly, from Dr. Seuss)

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By Beth Conklin

(Oh my goodness, I LOVE this woman’s work – see more HERE  -I am going to PURCHASE!)

Yes, and ‘Late It Was, How Late,’ is possibly my favourite book title ever – it’s by James Kelman. See the theme creeping in? Or rather, crashing loudly.

A new regime, to honour my mountains of work and oodles of new clients – another today – Abbey Stationery – with thanks to Tim.

I love writing my blogs and I’ve nearly always done it first thing in the morning, to get my brain ticking over. Thing is, although I find it easy, once I’ve done it, I’ve probably drained quite a bit of juice from my brain, which only has limited capacity.

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I’m still working now (that’s yesterday!) at 8.30 in the evening. So late… Difficult to be coherent about Sustainable Built Environment Workplace Support Contracts at this ungodly hour.

Easy, and refreshing, to write my blog in preparation for the morning.

So that’s what I’ve done.

Rather, that’s what I did, as you’ll be reading this tomorrow. As in today. Tuesday.

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It’s better to write late than not at all.

 

 

Staying sane with a bouncing brain

Me yesterday. Bouncing brain and staying sane.

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Boing, boing, boing…

Heaps of work to do, in parallel. My decision – to rotate.

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No NOT like THAT! That and the bouncing brain too? Instant nausea.

I mean, rotate tasks. Each project split neatly into sections, so I’d do a piece about clinical interventions in mental health…then I’d do a piece about mortgages…then I’d work on double-glazing (so much more transparent than a desk!)… then…back to clinical interventions.

See? Bouncing brain!

The good bit – I never got bored. Not the slightest hint of drowsiness.

The potential pitfall – I might have confused my subject matter.

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© Orlando Florin Rosu – Fotolia.com

Yeah!  “Release some equity from your property with a remortgage, install double-glazing in your head and you too can sail through your International Personality Disorder Examination.”

But I didn’t. Confuse my subject areas, that is. You’ll be relieved to hear.

Bouncing brain or not…

 

Organise, don’t agonise

(Nancy Pelosi almost said this, only she spells organise and agonise with a z. Humph – she should call herself Nancy Pelozi.)

Me, yesterday. I didn’t agonise. I did organise.

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Buy from Monty’s Vintage Shop

Not that futile, as it happens.

Allow me to…

teach grandma…

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As someone with at least half a brain, it is a source of wonder to me that I’m constantly surprised:

  • how much more work I can get done when I organise myself
  • how much more enjoyable and stress-free life becomes

I didn’t use any flashy programs or apps. Always a temptation. Always perfect procrastination material, because you can kid yourself you’re actually working. (It’s known as structured procrastination.)

I wrote a list on a whiteboard.

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I started a piece of work. I finished the piece of work. I erased the task from the whiteboard.

I started the next piece of work…

In books I’ve read about learning to organise (Yes, I’ve read those MBS books – Management By Bestseller) …writing a list on a whiteboard may be a target for derision.

Checking things off a To-Do list is rarely meaningful…Aiming to be productive is the wrong way of going about it. If you follow your heart and align yourself with what you hold most dear, productivity becomes irrelevant. You’ll achieve, but you’re not wrapped up in it. Your identity isn’t caught up in whether or not you cross everything off your To-Do list.Your happiness is based on how much you enjoy what you’re doing, rather than completing X number of tasks.” Jonathan Mead, Paid To Exist

BUT IT WORKED FOR ME…

Yesterday.

Why you need to update your website

Update your website? Come on, Caroline, give us a break.

It’s the first day back at work after the holidays for many of us – those lucky enough to have more than Christmas Day off.

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Now those New Year’s resolutions really begin to bite. It’s one thing going on a mid-afternoon run in the sunshine to fulfil your fitness quota , quite another when it has to be done at 5 a.m. in the dark and rain, before you catch the 6.05 to London Bridge.

(Caroline has lightbulb moment: Running machines on commuter trains!)

Here’s a business resolution for you that is a no-brainer. And needn’t cause physical pain.

Update your website!

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Yeah, yeah, that old chestnut always churned out by job-seeking copywriters and web designers.

Have it your own way, people, but first, consider THIS

GE Capital Retail Bank undertook a consumer survey.  81% of respondents said they researched online before making a purchase.

Yes…

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Are you happy that 81% of your potential customers will look at your website and see…well, what will they see? Stale copy? Last year’s news? Outdated images? Redundant facts? A blog that was written in July 2013?

At risk of repeating myself: UPDATE YOUR WEBSITE! You know it makes sense.

It’s not a resolution that will help you lose weight or run a marathon.

It IS a resolution that will ensure that you don’t risk losing customers because they look at your site and think…’Hmmmmm, well if THAT’S an illustration of their professionalism and attention to detail… thanks, but no thanks, I’ll go elsewhere.’

I’m a copywriter. I’m busy. I’m not so busy that I couldn’t take on YOUR WEBSITE.

Contact me at: cacoxon@gmail.com

I’ll carry out your New Year’s resolution for you. How good is that?

 

 

 

Copywriting resolutions

Copywriting resolutions? What, you mean, like, get more clients?

Nope, not for me – at least, not as a primary goal.

“A writer should be joyous, an optimist . . . Anything that implies rejection of life is wrong for a writer,” said George Gribbin, one time chairman of Young & Rubicam, the advertising agency.

Amen to that!

So – the first of my copywriting resolutions – Write  joyously.

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Spinning by Donna Howard

Last year, I think I proved it’s possible to write joyously about mortgages, probate, wills and financial services. I loved doing that – so, in 2014, bring on more challenges!

“The secret of all effective advertising is not the creation of new and tricky words and pictures, but one of putting familiar words and pictures into new relationships” – from Leo Burnett, another advertising executive.

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A fabulous description of the work, leading to the second of my copywriting resolutions – Write  boldly.

Last but not least…

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Stop writing for peanuts!

Last year, I turned down two jobs – pay derisory… That might seem like a small thing to some people, but to me, a freelance writer, it was HUGE.

If you haven’t already, please read this excellent article by Linda Formichelli, The Renegade Writer and all-round guru (to me.)

On Writing For Peanuts

A little extract – “I do not believe that writers who work for cheap are depressing the rates for professional writers…It’s like saying that McDonald’s grill-jockeys are depressing the rates for master chefs.”

That’s me and my copywriting resolutions, then.

Write joyously. Write boldly. Stop writing for peanuts.

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Blogging is a waste of time?

Some people maintain that – LOUDLY. By which I mean, it would be loud if they were speaking not writing.

“You can spend so much time focusing on blogging that you forget to actually make any money,” – states Blog Tyrant

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Stuart Laing suggests, “Every day thousands of people start a new blog with dreams of making big money from writing a few posts. But six months later most of these blogs are abandoned never having made a cent. Blogging is a great way to build a community of active readers which can then be leveraged to make money through related product launches and affiliate marketing.”

Ouch! Make money from blogging? Use my loyal audience as an income stream?  Leveraging? Not my intention at all. If it had been my intention, I could pronounce to the entire world and beyond,  ‘I HAVE FAILED!’

I’ve blogged every day since November 2010 (except on a couple of days crossing time zones while travelling.) This could be classed as above and beyond the call of duty – or merely insanity.

Is the Caroline Coxon type of blogging like this?

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Some people might think that. Thing is, I wouldn’t blog if I had nothing to say.

This is how I feel about it.

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I LOVE blogging. I don’t do it to make money. I do it because there are things I want to share with other people. I like to entertain, inform and engage with people on a personal level.

Why else do I do it?

From a pragmatic point of view:

  • As a freelance writer, I find routine helpful – blogging is my first writing activity of the day – it gets my brain into gear
  • It  showcases my skills as a writer which may bring new clients
  • It adds to my credibility in my field of expertise, giving me additional authority
  • It means my website has fresh, original content on a daily basis, so Google likes me more (Oh yes, that’s why I get up in the morning!)

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No, blogging isn’t hard – for me.

Does it waste my time? What would I be doing if I wasn’t blogging? What CAN’T I do because I’m busy blogging? (This is known as ‘the opportunity cost’ in micro-economic theory.)

Hmmmmm. I can’t pretend I would be earning megabucks creating corporate copy instead. Or writing a blockbusting novel. Or writing a novel that isn’t a blockbuster. Or dusting the skirting boards.

Blogging is only a waste of time if what you achieve by doing it doesn’t match up to your aspirations.

That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it!

 

7 reasons why you don’t need a professional copywriter

The marketing manager of The Squid Enthusiasts Society of Tuvalu is digging his heels in again. Saying there’s no way he needs a copywriter at all, let alone a professional copywriter.

He told me in an email, ‘Im quiet capable to write my own web content so that it give a god impression of the organisation.’

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In order to substantiate his claim, here are the seven reasons why he doesn’t need a professional copywriter:

1.  He has plenty of spare time, when not being enthusiastic about squid – catching it, breeding it, feeding it, photographing and filming it, packaging it, selling it and shipping it – to write copious amounts of carefully-constructed web content and marketing material

2.  He learned to write when he was four years old so is quite good at it

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3.  He’d rather spend his budget on an all-singing-all-dancing website with lots of Flash animation – the content is less important

4. Correct spelling, grammar and puncuation is a thing of the past – and anyway, the spell-checker on he’s PC picks up any mistakes

5.  If he needs copy, he can cut and paste it from someone else’s website. That’s perfectly ethical – it’s there online, isn’t it? And it won’t adversely affect his Google rankings.

6.  If necessary, he can outsource copywriting projects to companies abroad. The writers are paid a fair wage for what they do, they are never exploited and their grasp of the English    language is always exemplary.

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(Please note – I admire anyone who writes in a language that’s not their own. I can’t. It’s just that for the purposes of writing material for any particular market, the home language really needs to be good enough.)

7.  His potential customers aren’t influenced by the quality of the copy on his website and printed material. They don’t think it reflects badly on the professionalism, attention to detail    and the  standard of work provided by the company.

Yeah! Who needs a professional copywriter?

 

 

 

Influencer marketing – the same as word of mouth?

Apparently not.

When I first heard the term influencer marketing, I thought…’Uh? Surely that’s just marketing! Specifically, word of mouth marketing – where satisfied customers recommend your brand or services to their friends and acquaintances and,  like ripples in a pond, your sphere of interested people grows. And grows.

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(In my new manifestation as hip-techy-geek-nerd girl, I see I have to call Word of Mouth Marketing WOM, or people will think I don’t know what I’m talking about.)

WOM (hee hee hee) is one of the best ever sorts of marketing, because the people who post about your company have nothing to gain – and nothing to lose, either, since they’re not your competitors. Their word will be trusted. In the days of too much information and constant bombardment with adverts for this or that, people tend to shut down. They become armchair cynics.  But they will believe, to a greater extent, personal testimonials, especially if from people they know.

So – influencer marketing? Running with the pond analogy – I guess it’s about choosing the right pond to chuck your pebble into.

WOM marketing, therefore, is not influencer marketing, then, but it can be part of the process.

There’s very little point in telling a group of vegetarians, by WOM,  about steak tartare (unless you want to make them sick!)

Similarly, there’s very little point in writing  brilliant posts about copywriting and then sharing them with…what’s the opposite of a copywriter? I can’t think of anything to suggest without the risk of causing offence. Okay, here goes – The Squid Enthusiasts Society of Tuvalu. (With apologies to all members past and present.)

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This all begs the question – WHY do I want to enhance my online presence at all? The answer: To let more people know about my copywriting services so I garner more clients. And bearing in mind there are a gazillion copywriters out there – I need to grab attention, stand out from the crowd. That’s the first step. Then they can judge for themselves the quality of my work.

Now, to choose that pond! And not only that, to choose the people in the pond (Uh? Analogy fail alert) who make the biggest ripples.

Currently, apart from Facebook, Twitter and general Google+, I share my blog with a copywriting and content marketing group (338 members) – who sometimes share my posts to others.

I’ve just put myself down for a social media marketing circle, soon to be formed by +Martin Shervington

Well, HE he makes big ripples – (I’m sure nothing to do with his physical stature.) If I somehow came to his notice, then others would notice me.

Just think, I might once have been a One Direction fan…

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Now it’s someone who writes on the psychology of Google+

Google SEO – adapt or become irrelevant? Moi?

Soon, I’ll have to stop labelling myself as interwebly-challenged.

Imagine this. Me, Caroline Coxon. Country girl with horses, dogs and chickens…

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By Julien Dupré

Not in the first flush of youth, not by any stretch of the imagination a geek…

on a Google hangout!

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With Americans and suchlike.

Learning about Google SEO changes for Small Business.

That was me last night. I changed out of my jodphurs especially for the occasion.

When I’ve digested what I’ve learned, I’ll pass it on to you in language I can understand!

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Tine Neubert from digitale-schule-bayern.de

Which is not German. Although, the German for Google SEO is…Google SEO. So I can speak German as well.

I think it was the title that swung it for me.

Google SEO – Adapt or become irrelevant? That’s harsh…

but I am DETERMINED not to become irrelevant.

To be a great copy writer who can contribute to clients, over and above the call of duty, which is my mission…

I need to know about Google SEO. And the scary bit is, I’M INTERESTED in the subject.

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Just call me Nerd Girl

Google SEO

 

Networking follow-up – just do it!

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And do it at greater than snail’s pace.

Face-to-face networking is great BUT networking follow-up is crucial.

Networking:

  • can be a bit like speed-dating – when you’ve met lots of people they often blur into one
  • if you do too much of it, you’ll never actually get any work done!
  • while you’ll probably get business cards they don’t tell you much apart from contact details – so use them for a follow-up
  • it’s common courtesy (well, it is in my book) – people will remember you if you take the trouble

…and if people remember you, they’re more likely to think of you when a collaboration opportunity arises.

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From Toothpaste for Dinner

As soon as I get back from a networking event, my networking follow-up process kicks in. I check people out online. Not in any stalker, snooping-type way, you understand, but to find out more about them and their business to discover more synergy between us.

Then I:

  • mail everyone to say how great it was to meet them
  • set out in writing how I think we’d be able to collaborate in the future
  • connect to them on LinkedIn or via their website, blog or social media sites

I DON’T leave business cards to gather dust in a teetering pile.

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I DO remember that networking and social networking complement each other.

I DO think that networking follow-up is more important than networking.

(But, of course, you can’t follow up if you haven’t networked first! Duh!)