Archived entries for Link round up

Three Sites You Should Read

I firmly believe in the importance of continuously working to improve my writing and grow my skill set—and I don’t just mean the writing-related ones. I also am constantly looking for new products or processes for improving efficiency, sales tips and business practices. I follow business blogs as well as writing blogs and niche industry blogs (like pet stuff, since I cover pet topics).

Today I wanted to share a few writing blogs I read regularly that I think get paid less attention that they deserve. So many sites out there rehash the same information over and over and over again—they are worth keeping up with, for the rare occasion that they mention something new, but few sites really manage to offer new fresh content regularly. Each of these 3 are the exception to the rule. They continually provide new ideas and new perspectives from experts who are out there walking the walk every day. Continue reading…

The History of the Ampersand

It’s been a crazy few weeks. I expect to be back in full force next week, however here’s something to tide you over in the meantime (click on the image to see the full history of the ampersand—my favorite character).

Recommended Read: Divisive Copywriting

One of the single most important things to do as a copywriter is to hit the right target audience with your words. They don’t need to appeal to everyone; just the people who are most likely to purchase the product or serves your words are trying to sell (or the action you’re trying to convince them to take).

Tom Albrighton, on his blog (which is one of my all time favorite copywriting blogs, because he provides such good information) knocks that one outta the park in his recent post on Divisive Copywriting.

He Writes:

This type of shit won’t hit the top ten
But we won’t bend – we won’t switch off, pretend
Rebel MC, lyrics to ‘The Governments Fail’, 1992

I love this couplet, which guarantees the outcome it describes. Acknowledging that his revolutionary stance and street-tuff sounds will never find a broad audience, the Rebel defiantly turns his music’s marginality into a virtue. ‘Those who have ears to hear, let them hear,’ is the implicit message.

It’s like Public Enemy, but with dreads. And not quite as good

By quoting these words, I’ve taken a similar approach. My peoples will see them as confirmation of my edgy, urban flow. Playa hatas, on the other hand, will probably regard the mild profanity as uncalled-for, gauche and a little embarrassing. Either way, the tactic will probably get a reaction. It is, quite literally, divisive – drawing a line between those who are drawn to my tone and message and those who aren’t. For the full article, read here.

Link Round Up: Tips for Creating a Website

I did a series of posts a while back about what it takes to create a website. Here are some links that go beyond what I’ve talked about and that offer solid tips for building a site that will help you grow. Also, if you’re a freelancer and want to offer SEO copywriting, these links are a great place to learn how to do that.

Increase Website Traffic – Erica Douglas retired at 26, after selling her company for … well, a lot of money. This piece talks about how the content on her website helped her achieve her success, with an explanation of how these tactics work and ways that you can apply them.

Secrets from a Search Marketing Manager – Ever wondered why you can’t just look up keywords then put them all in one big list on your website and get billions of hits? Or how to get those billions of hits without spending more money than it takes to feed an elephant? This interview is with someone who knows the answer to both those questions, and who has decided to share them with the rest of us.

Choosing the Best Web Host for Your Blog – One of the biggest steps to setting up a website is choosing and buying a host, or someone to be your online “home” for your website. They keep all the files and make sure the site is always accessible. This piece provides some tips on what to consider when comparing hosts.

The Juice Behind Your Website – Choosing the right CMS  – and if you don’t know what that means, then you’d better read this! CMS or Content Management Strategy, is all about usability. If you’re not a web developer, your CMS allows you to edit features of your website without accidentally deleting half of it (or turning it into a random jumble of elements).

Website Building for the Rest of Us – I’m not a web expert; this piece does exactly what it’s name suggests – offers ways to cheat at what would otherwise be an exhaustive process.

Link Round Up

Five Tips for Asking Better Questions - Knowing how to ask a good question is a big part of being a writer. The writer who can conceive the most original, interesting questions (the one everyone else wants the answer to, but didn’t think to ask) is  the writer who never fails to land a gig. While this post isn’t specifically aimed at writers, it explores the deeper issue at hand here and provides a few tips on how to find that perfect question.

Three Tips for Magnetizing Your Copy – A good writer sells his or her idea to the audience; they convince them of the benefits or the idea they are writing about, and the reader “buys” into what they are selling. In this piece, the author literally talks about what it takes to create copy that sells products. Great tips, whether you’re a beginner or an expert copywriter.

The Real Reason Apple is So Innovative – “How do you explain when others are able to achieve things that seem to defy all of the assumptions?” Simon Sinek explains what makes companies like Apple innovative  and people like Martin Luther King and the Wright Brothers capable of their unique achievements?  Anyone who wants to create or sell anything should watch this video first. This looks as the classic idea of making it about your customer, not about yourself, and takes it to the next level.

6 Steps That Get Big Shots to Answer Your Emails – This post could also be called “How to write a good sales letter” or “how to write a cover letter” or … well… how to write a pitch letter. It breaks down the elements of what makes for a successful sale (via letter or email), so that anyone can write the right letter.

Get Hired! How to Find and Get Good Clients for Your Web Copywriting Biz – Ever get read an email, close your eyes and whisper “YES!” or slowly have a smile grow as your eyes skim its contents? Well this article tells you how you can do more of that, and less … well.. waiting.

Simplify Your Bookkeeping – Have you ever seen those t-shirts that say “I’m an English major. You do the math” ? Most writers and artists don’t like getting close and cozy with numbers, which makes for a mess come tax time. This article includes a ton of useful tips (did you know you can probably expense up to $150,000 of office equipment a year?), discusses what you need, as a freelancer, from your bookkeeping software–and includes a link to a free web-based program.

Link Round Up

One of the most excellent links I’ve followed all week was this one–JK Rowling: the fringe benefits of failure. It’s a video of JK Rowling giving a talk to the Harvard graduating class. She is at once charming, inspiring and manages in the same piece to argue the importance of both failure and imagination in our lives. It’s about 20 mins long, but I promise you won’t notice. Her voice here is every bit as irresistible as in Harry Potter. She starts with a gay wizard joke and ends with a discussion of Africa. It’s a speech only she could give.

Everyone likes lists … okay, that’s not true at all, but I do! Anyway, these three links, all from Tips and Quips for Successful Writers each offer a list of tips to improve your writing. Working Freelance-5 tips for staying busy writing tells how, despite the inevitable ebbs and flows when freelancing, you can build a sustainable business with fewer slumps and more humps. Practical and informative, it only takes a few minutes to digest but has a lot of carryover. 8 Ways to Build a Better Freelance Writing Career lists the differences between being an amateur and an expert. We each have wondered, during the down times, what could I be doing better? How can I get more gigs? Well, this piece answers those questions. Finally, 5 Signs of Bad Writing-How to Recognize Your Poorly Written Work offers some tips for self-editing. As I’ve said before, I have problems vetting my own work and deciding what to keep and what to toss. These tips helped. I’ll definitely refer back the next time I’m nervous about handing in a piece!

In addition to lists, I love quotes. Seriously–when I was younger I bought a notebook and copied several hundred quotes into it for future reference. I still have the notebook and occasionally still add quotes. It contains some of my favorites. This next link, 12 Quotes Every Entrepreneur Should Have Tattooed On Their Arms specifically lists quotes for entrepreneurs: the quotes small business owners should take to heart. Or, for writer specific quotes, check out this post or this post (from my OLD blog, that I don’t update anymore…). My favorite is:
“Words usually have something to hide — you have to shake them until the top pops off and some revelation tumbles out, an insight into some attitude that it would be hard to put your finger on by any other means.”
- Geoffrey Nunberg, Going Nucular

Why All Entrepreneurs are Designers – this link argues the case that anyone who wants to start something new is in essence required to enter a specific frame of mind; they have to let their imagination go. In it the author argues, “Design is a pattern for thinking, and while design thinking often produces the “beautiful things” which we have traditionally associated with design, widespread application of design thinking is beginning to have far-reaching effects on our society.”

Link Round up:

How What You Don’t Know Can Help Your Freelance Business – Ever turned a lack of knowledge into an opportunity? That’s what this piece is all about. As new freelancers, there is no way we’re going to know everything there is to know about freelancing in our industry. Well, when you find something you don’t know if you can do, you can give up and go home or you can accept it for the challenge that it is. (NOTE: I do not advocate lying to clients about your experience – pointing them to similar projects you’ve done and telling them you think you can handle this new assignment is fine – butdon’t promise something you can’t deliver. It will lose you a client and gain you a bad reputation.)

Copywriting Jargon Got you Confused? Here’s Help. – In the last piece it was all about showing what you don’t know can help you, but in this piece it’s about testing your knowledge. Coming out of school with a Masters in Publishing definitely helped here, and even when I didn’t know the actual answer I had a pretty good idea and could figure it out – but this is a great way to see if you know as much as you think you do (and if you find you don’t … maybe check back in with recommendation number one).

How to Register a Start-Up – Some of my earliest posts were about researching the process of registering a small business; all the issues and not fun parts of doing said registering. This piece from the NY Times argues why becoming legally official is important.

Company Taglines – I LOVE THIS POST. One of the things I have been thinking about a lot lately is a tag line for my writing business – since I’ll primarily be selling to businesses, I consider myself in the Business-to-Business (B2B) market; Tom addresses how hard it is to come up with a B2B tag line and gives some solid suggestions for coming up with your own catch phrase. Mine? I think it’s going to be “Putting Your Passion Into Words.” (though I’ve gone back and forth on that first word…ex. translating? turning?)

Feel free to add your own links in the comments – and if you check out the piece on Copywriting Jargon, let me know how you did!

Weekly Link Round Up

How to Succeed in Business Without Knowing Very Much. – “I can rework the same paragraph 15 times and would never consider the first 14 “wrong” — just unsatisfying, or awkward, unmusical or unclear. I explore etymologies, refer to the O.E.D., rewrite, read anything I can about the topic at hand, take tangents while on a tangent.” I think that quote speaks for itself. Check out the rest of the post.

The Best Freelance Advice I’ve Ever Been Given - Marian, with her typical style, has infiltrated the ranks of freelancers and editors everywhere. But, fortunately for us, she decided to share some of what she found out. Great advice, and a must read if you want to be serious about writing.

Are You Just a Freelancer? Or a Successful One? This post, whose discovery was completely an accident, breaks down into numbers and incorporates in one post many of the things I’ve been trying to communicate throughout the time I’ve been writing this blog. It defines the difference between freelancing and BEING a freelancer. If you’re looking to make the shift, as I am, you had better know each of the things on this list.

How to Use Metaphors in Copywriting – Tom, who was recently kind enough to guest post for y’all, here on my humble blog, explains the difference between Liquid Engineering and a Leaky Umbrella – by which I mean a good metaphor and one that fails miserably. In his post he explains the difference between these two metaphors and why one works and the other … if full of holes (yeah, I did it, I went there, I was pun-ny).

Have You Seen This Dog? – Tell me, after reading Tom’s post above if you feel this is a perfect example of a leaky umbrella or of liquid engineering? It’s a post that touched home for me, which is why I am sharing it; I feel the sentiment it conveys is one all freelancers will know and recognize. At its essence, it is about the difference between our creative side and our business side and the need to keep the two separate but to nurture both, while understanding that the two have very different needs.

Teaching J-Students About Irony - An ironic post about irony. This post at We the Bistro made me smile. It spoke to the contradictory nature of writers and how rarely we remember to apply what we preach. Even those of us, like me, who write about how to do what we do well sometimes needed to be reminded to do more than talk about it. This piece did that.

Kicking Around a New Sales Strategy – With yesterday’s discussion of positioning fresh in mind, I couldn’t leave this post off the list even though it makes the list one longer than normal. While not from a freelancing perspective, it discusses in a way that is both frank and helpful the trouble with defining your target client base and the struggle one small business owner has had with it. The New York Times Small Business blog is one I read regularly. It is written by a number of small business owners who take turns authoring posts about their various businesses. Since they are essentially my target audience, I read it both for the small business advice and to learn more about my audience – but I think many of you can likely learn from it as well and I highly recommend it.

Why I Don't Write About Social Media (A Link Round Up)

You may have noticed I don’t really talk about social media much… I use it to market and promote myself, but I haven’t done a blog post discussing all the best ways to tweet or how to be popular on Facebook — other than the one post I did on using it to create incoming links. That’s because there is already a lot of great information out there on this topic.

Here are some pieces to read on promoting yourself digitally:

Why Should Businesses Engage in Social Media – Lindsey’s post answers the common questions: why do I need it? And do I have to engage once I have it? Who has the time for this stuff, anyway? She provides links to solid resources Gen-Y and social media enthusiasts can use to show the benefits of social media to their boss, their boss’ boss and the guy down the hall. And in the process, you just might become convinced yourself.

The Power of Social Media – It’s all about revolution. The media world is turning upside-down and this piece explains why that is good for you. Leveraging social media is about understanding that personal branding is about two things – your network and you (but mostly you). Mehul explains how these tools can impact the opportunities you are offered in your career and in the business world.

Don’t Waste Your Time with Social Media – Wait, it’s not what you think. Kenetic Ink discusses how to make social media a part of a marketing strategy, instead of dabbling in it in ways that will result in no results. The piece discusses how to assimilate new marketing and branding techniques into more traditional methods and create a brand that pops on multiple levels.

10 Social Media Errors Businesses Should Avoid – Have you heard of the power of a whisper? When you whisper, the listener leans in to hear what you’re saying; they listen more closely and pay more attention. Shouting at your audience does not work — but bribing them might.
In this piece, which is allegedly about what to avoid, Wayne really clues readers in on how to use social media correctly. By explaining what not to do and why, Wayne clearly shows what businesses should do. He explains why Social Media can’t be measured in terms of ROI (return on investment), and other things that people new to social media commonly get wrong.

10 Ideas for Small Businesses to Launch Social Media Campaigns – Also by Wayne, this post reminds you of the little things that you can do to make social networking work. this piece can almost serve as a check list of ideas each business should implement when they begin investing in social media.

Do People Understand the “Social” Part of Social Media?- From the queen of unconventional,  this piece illustrates in a clear way why half-assing social networking doesn’t work. Marian isn’t afraid to cut straight to the punch and does so in a way that both illustrates the point and makes you laugh. Also of interest are her posts on starting a new blog and twitter.

Group, Fan Page or Both? – Entrepreneur discusses one of MY biggest questions – how the heck do businesses use Facebook to create connections? I have a lot of difficultly with this because I don’t use Facebook the way most people apparently do – I use Facebook for two things: to connect with people I already know and have known for a long time and to play Scrabble. But many consumers use Facebook in a number of other ways – and this piece discusses the different ways your business can tap into this marketplace.

Are there other posts that you feel add significantly to the conversation about social media? Add them in the comments.

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