5 Good Reasons to Blog

Many business owners, freelancers, and solo professionals wonder, “Should I have a blog? Is it worth the effort? What does a blog do for me?”
My answer: yes, you need a blog. And here are 5 good reasons why:
  1. It’s good for business. It wasn’t always this way. When I started blogging, it didn’t take long for me to realize blogging was building my business, too. I get a steady flow of new business from people who say something like, “Well, I started reading your blog and finally decided I would call you.”
  2. Self-expression. Once upon a time, I was a radio DJ. Highly-rated, successful, and loving it. Being on the radio was my own personal megaphone. It was my way of being heard. Now I get that same satisfaction from blogging. You can too. Now everyone’s a DJ!
  3. Building a relationship with my readers. There’s nothing like a blog to build a relationship with your readers. My blog is the source of most of the conversations I have with my readers.
  4. Marketing. I know there are many who say you can’t “monetize” a blog. Really? My own blog has brought me… well, let’s call it “a substantial amount” of revenue. And I don’t even use Adsense (as of this writing). One of the very best Internet Marketers is a guy name Dave Winer. And you’d never categorize him as a marketer… but he is a consummate marketer, though most of his readers probably don’t realize it.
  5. Research and testing. The quickest way I know to test a new idea, get some feedback, or get an answer is… make an appropriate post on my blog.

Those are just 5 reasons – there are dozens more.

How about you? Do you blog – and if so, why?

Simple Tricks Top Copywriters Use To Sell More

Writing persuasive copy is simple – but not always easy.

The most persuasive techniques usually are the ones that are simplest. Here are three simple tricks the top copywriters know will help them sell more (of whatever they’re selling)…

  1. Know your prospects. This means doing your homework, and knowing the audience you’re writing to (and selling to) inside out. You must know, at the very least their FFA’s (fears, frustrations, and aspirations). If you know those three things, you have some powerful mojo at your disposal.
  2. Speak the language of your audience. If you are writing to golfers, for instance, you absolutely must not call the instruments of play anything other than clubs. Referring to “ball striking sticks” will earn your copy a quick trip to the trashcan. I know the example is ridiculous, but I see copywriters making mistakes equally as ridiculous all the time. Just sayin’.
  3. Know your product. Again, a seemingly obvious point, yet one of the most frequently violated principles of writing persuasive copy. The more you know about your product, the more persuasively you will be able to communicate about it. Newbie copywriters would do well to study the greats, particularly Eugene Schwartz, who often read a book four (or more) times, and had 100 pages of notes written in his own hand, when he finally sat down to write the copy that would sell the book.

As I said, simple. Not necessarily easy.

Top 5 iPad Apps For Copywriters

I love my iPad. It’s become nearly as indispensable as my iPhone or Macbook Pro.

And the thing I love most? Apps, of course!

Here are the 5 iPad apps I use the most for my copywriting business, and a word or two about how I use them.

  1. Mindmeister. This is a simple online mind-mapping app, and it synchronizes with the website of the developer. That means I can create a mind-map on my iPad, and access it later on my MacBook Pro. Mindmeister allows me to export the mind map in different formats, including rich text-ideal for outlining sales copy, white papers, or book chapters. Indispensable.
  2. OmniFocus. I am an unvarnished fan of David Allen’s GTD methodology for managing one’s time and tasks. This is my app of choice for implementing GTD. It synchronizes with the Omnifocus app on my iPhone and on my MacBook Pro… but the iPad app is my favorite iteration of the software.
  3. Instapaper. The perfect way to “clip” articles, blog posts, and websites that I want to look at later. I frequently find bits and pieces I want to use for copy projects, and I simply save them to Instapaper. Beautiful.
  4. Evernote. How do I describe Evernote? It’s my universal notepad, perfect for saving images, business cards, websites, notes (including hand-scribbled ones) and so much more. Try it. You will understand.
  5. Angry Birds. Hey, what can I say? Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is play.

What about you? What are your most-used iPad apps?

By the way, here’s one more recommendation that is only for copywriters who want more customers, more often, for more money…  get on the VIP early-bird list about my upcoming print newsletter.

What It Takes To Succeed as a Freelance Copywriter

What does it take to succeed as a freelance copywriter?

Well, I suppose it should go without saying that the first requirement is the ability to write good copy. But just for safety’s sake, I will say it anyway.

That detail out of the way, here are some qualities less common among copywriters that are of equal importance.

The ability to treat your service like a business.
Too many copywriters are woefully ignorant of the realities of running a business (and a copywriting practice is a business, just like a law practice or any other professional service provider). If you are playing the role of the “temperamental artist as copywriter” it probably means you’re a dreadful business person. Your clients (almost all of them skilled entrepreneurs) hold that sort of mentality in great disdain. Want more respect as a copywriter? Start acting like a businessperson.

The commitment to meet deadlines. Clients expect you to do what you say you were going to do, and they expect you to do it on the schedule you agreed to. There are no excuses. I have never missed a deadline. I have, on occasion renegotiated a deadline-but always ahead of time. Repeat after me: “Deadlines are sacred. I shall not break them.”

The skin of a rhinoceros. Look, I understand; writing is hard, and taking criticism is harder. But clients pay you to write, and they have an expectation that their input will be accepted by you. After all, they’re paying for the end product. They are going to be critical of what you write. You’re writing about their baby-their business. You’ve got to be able to smile when your clients are offering “constructive criticism”… even when they’re wrong. You must be able to handle such situations with grace. A crucial skill for you: the ability to subtly persuade clients that your way is the correct way. Even more difficult, you’ve got to be able swallow your pride when your client has a good point… such as a point about some weakness in  your copy (which is accurate more often than most copywriters would like to admit).

These skills are more difficult to develop than the skills of actually writing copy-at least for most copywriters.

Most copywriters tend to be more right-brained and creative instead of left-brained and logical; I was gifted with a weird 50-50 combination of “artist/businessman” genetics.

I understand that not everyone was so fortunate.

But trust me… being conscious of the need for the skills I’ve outlined in this article, and becoming diligent in the development of these skills, will make you a much happier (and much richer) copywriter.

You might also avail yourself of my soon-to-be-released print newsletter designed just for you. You can’t buy it as of today, but you can get on the Early-Bird VIP Notification List - that way you will be the first to know the minute it becomes available.

Ben Settle, Email Marketing Contrarian [Interview]

Play

I just completed a really fun and informative interview with one of the top email marketers working today.

Ben really knows what he’s talking about when it comes to selling by email. What’s remarkable about him is he is one of the very few “Internet Marketing teachers” who actually practices what he teaches. Ben’s blog is here, and his “Email Players Newsletter” is available here.

In this interview you will hear:

  • Why Ben does the exact opposite of what most “Internet Marketing” gurus teach.
  • Why mailing your list every day is a good thing.
  • Why it’s not always bad to have a high unsubscribe rate.
  • The secret “autoresponder feature” that saves you money.
  • The simple little trick Ben does once a month that saves him money and makes more sales.
  • Why Ben laughs at what almost every other “email marketing course” teaches… and what you can learn from this.
  • How to generate an endless stream of ideas for email copy, effortlessly and quickly.
  • Why Ben doesn’t own a membership site, doesn’t do social media, and doesn’t do marketing like most of the “Internet Marketing Gurus”.
  • How Ben makes his money easily every month by working about 3 hours! Not for everyone – but really fascinating!

Two Notes:

To hear the full “inner circle” version of this interview, get yourself over to this page and register for either the GOLD or PLATINUM levels of our Inner Circle.

If you’re a copywriter who wants more customers, more often, for more money… you probably want to get on the VIP early-bird list about my upcoming print newsletter.

The Captain Kirk Valentine’s Day Guide To Romancing Your Customers

What does Captain Kirk have to do with Valentine’s Day? Nothing, far as I know… except perhaps that the legendary Captain of the Starship Enterprise was a renowned ladies man. He was good at the art of love.

Here’s what this has to do with you and your business: wooing customers is a lot like wooing a lover. You want them. You want them to want you. Here’s what we can learn from Captain Kirk that will help us woo our customers.

  1. Let them know you’re interested. No time to be coy, no time to be subtle. Look him in the eye and tell them, “you are beautiful to me.”
  2. Strut. Look, Captain Kirk was not a slump-shouldered mealy-mouth. He stood up straight, looked women in the eye, and was supremely confident in what he had to offer. Somehow, he managed to do all that without seeming arrogant (most of the time). Your business could learn a thing or two from the confidence of the Captain.
  3. Have the goods to back it up. Face it, it’s probably easy for Captain Kirk to be confident at least in part because he commands a starship. He has hundreds of people ready to do exactly what he tells them. He’s got the goods. If your business does not have the goods to satisfy your customers… well, you know what you need to work on.

I know, I know. You’re doubtless impressed that I was able to somehow work Star Trek into a Valentine’s Day post about copywriting and marketing. Or you’re revolted. Either way, I think my points remain valid.

Captain’s log: if you’re excited about learning more ways to woo more customers, more often, for more money… you probably want to get on the VIP early-bird list about my upcoming print newsletter.

Kirk out.

Freebie Friday: The Writer’s Edition

In which I point you to five fabulous sources of free treasures any writer would love…

Five Best Distraction-Free Writing Tools

50 Free Resources to Improve Your Writing

Open Source Novel Writing Software

10 Free Writing Software Downloads

Free MindMapping Software

And here’s a bonus link…

Newsletter for copywriters who want more clients… juicier assignments… and bigger fees… fast.

3 Habits of Successful Freelance Copywriters

Interestingly, there are three habits that are shared by every successful freelance copywriter I know. They are…

  1. A love of the craft. Successful freelance copywriters simply love writing. They love doing it. And they love reading the work of others who love doing it. Make no mistake; we are making ads, but we are also making art.
  2. Discipline. Get rid of the preconception that copywriters are irresponsible, disheveled, professorial types. The successful copywriter is a creature of sometimes frightening single-minded focus. That’s why clients who find such a creature become loyal for life.
  3. Discontent. While this might not be a great personal quality (or maybe it is… but that debate is not the topic of this post), successful freelance copywriters are never satisfied with their work. Yes, they deliver on time, and they deliver excellent output. But they are forever obsessing over how to make the copy better, how to improve the conversion rate, and how to beat the control. In my book, that kind of self-motivation and positive discontent is a good quality when it comes to business.

If you are a person or a company who hires copywriters, look for these qualities.

If you are a copywriter who wants to be hired, look in the mirror. Possession of the three qualities outlined in this post will make you a happy, healthy, and wealthy writer.

And by the way, any copywriter who wants more clients, bigger fees, and so many prospects bangin’ on your door you have to start screening them… should definitely know about this soon-to-be-released resource.

3 Tactics For Writing Faster Copy

One of the keys to making more money as a freelance copywriter is being able to write good copy quickly. The faster you write, the more you can write. The more you can write, the more money you can make. Here are three tips on how to write copy faster (and probably better, to):

  1. Work from an outline. If you’re a copywriter who’s earned your stripes, you already have an intuitive sense of the structure of good sales copy (different structure for different media or format, of course… But always a basic structure for each). It’s a good idea to have that outline available to use as a template (in Microsoft Word, for instance). Save yourself the mental effort of having to create the structure from scratch each time; organize your notes, clippings, and bits of copy within the outline. That way, when you’re ready to start writing, all your preliminary scribblings are at least in the right order.
  2. Speak, don’t type. As long as you aren’t experiencing physiological or neurological problems, you speak much faster than you type. If you’re working from an outline (as suggested above) you should be able to dictate your copy at an incredibly rapid pace. You can either use software, such as DragonDictate, or you can pay to have a human being transcribe your copy. Either way, it’ll be much faster and more efficient. Unless you’re my friend Michel Fortin, who has supernatural typing ability.
  3. Build up a bank of “copy chunks”. Chances are, if you do much writing for clients, you end up writing very similar opens, guarantees, closing segments, and so forth. Why not start collecting those “chunks” of copy, so you can simply cut and paste them into your first draft? This technique alone can save you many hours of laborious and needlessly repetitive work.

Here’s to speedier copy for you!

By the way, if you make your living writing copy (or you want to), you might be interested in my new project.

I’ll be launching a brand-new print newsletter very soon, and it’s just for copywriters who want more clients… juicier assignments… and bigger fees… fast. Sign up for the Early-Bird Notification List by clicking here.