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Should I hire a copywriter or write it myself?

Should I hire a copywriter or write it myself?

If you own a business, then you’ve probably asked yourself this question at one time or another. Everyone knows how to write, but the truth is that knowing how to write and doing copywriting are completely different things.

Copywriting affects your company’s image, internal communication, and prospects’ ability to understand what you do. It’s important stuff. That’s why I want to help you decide whether you should hire a copywriter or do it yourself.

Essential questions to ask before hiring a writer

 Do I really need a copywriter?

Will what I write impact my sales and marketing efforts?

Your website, sales materials, and company blog are the face of your brand. If your online presence is key to your marketing strategy, then copywriting will affect your conversion rates for better or for worse. The truth is that writing is the underrated superstar of sales. Most people have already made a decision to buy before they talk to a salesperson. Their decision could be based on a blog article they read, an easy-to-use app, or a website that speaks directly to their pain point.

Do I need to worry about SEO?

If you want people to find your website easily, then the answer is yes. A copywriter can make sure that what you’re writing contributes to your SEO goals. This will help your pages rank higher on Google so that you can increase site traffic and sales. This is important if you want to rank higher for a specific keyword or for local search listings, such as “copywriting business Minneapolis, MN.”

Do I need to portray a professional image?

You might think that this is a no-brainer. But, not every piece of content needs to be highly professional. If you maintain a blog that keeps people updated on your personal life, then a copywriter won’t add much value to your posts. On the other hand, a business site needs to be professional for prospects to take it seriously.

Does my writing represent my brand correctly?

Think of your brand as if it were a person. Ask yourself, what type of person do people visualize when they read my content? If nothing comes to mind, then your brand isn’t reaching your customers. But, at the same time, an inconsistent company voice can be just as detrimental. If your voice is fun and spunky one week and straight-laced and professional the next it will confuse and detract readers. Creating a brand voice guide can help you avoid a bi-polar company image.

What do I want my content to accomplish?

Every piece of content should serve a purpose, otherwise, it’s a waste of time. Before writing ask yourself: what do I want this to accomplish? For example, what do you want your website to accomplish? Is the goal increased brand awareness, lead generation, or a place for like-minded people to connect? All of these require different strategies, so you’ll need to figure out your goals before getting started.

Before making a decision it’s important to understand how writing affects your business and find the right direction to take. Clearly defining your goals gives your writing direction.

Reasons to write yourself

Not every circumstance requires a professional writer. If you’ve analyzed the previous questions and feel comfortable writing it yourself then you should get started. There are too many excuses that stop people, so don’t delay, just do it.

A few common types of writing that business owners tend to do themselves are:

  • Personal blogs
  • Intercompany communications
  • Letters of gratitude

The no-money dilemma

You may need to write the content yourself if your company lacks the funds due to being a startup or not including it in the budget.

If this sounds like your situation, here are a few resources that could help you on your journey:

  1. Clear Writing (Cut the Chatter, Make Your Copywriting Matter)
  2. Your brand’s voice (Brands That Speak: How to Create a Brand Voice)
  3. SEO (The Beginner’s Guide to SEO)
  4. Grammar (40+ Tips to Improve Your Grammar and Punctuation)

Reasons to hire a writer

 Why you should hire a writer for your inbound marketing strategy

There are many reasons to hire a copywriter. You may want higher quality content, or just not have the time. In this section, we’ll focus on the reasons why you should hire a copywriter.

Grammar snobs

Copywriters are grammar snobs. In a social situation this can be pretty annoying, but that’s exactly what you want from a professional writer. While a reader might not mind a misspelled or misused word, if they see too many grammar mistakes they’ll start to lose confidence in you and your company.

Fresh content

A professional copywriter lives and breathes content. They know how to research, write, and conform to your company’s voice. They’ll help you create something that’s truly new and unique so that it stands out from the competition.

Format wars

A good copywriter can help you find the best format to communicate with your audience. This could be blog posts, newsletters, emails, social media, or something else. Understanding your reader is important if you want to keep readers turning the pages.

Content calendars

One of the hardest parts of writing is creating content consistently. A content calendar can take the stress off by planning your content 6 months to a year in advance. Even if you’re doing the writing, hiring a content strategist to create a content calendar can help you reach your business goals.

SEO

SEO isn’t a swear word. SEO (search engine optimization) is the key to getting your website noticed. It’s different than SEM (search engine marketing) which is a marketing strategy that focuses on paying for keywords. With SEO you try to rank well on Google by creating content that’s valuable to your readers and following the best practices for your website.

A copywriter can help you create content that ranks for the right keywords.

Persuasion

Persuading people to buy your product isn’t easy. A copywriter’s job is to write in a way that appeals to your audience. They’re familiar with persuasive writing techniques like rhyming, positioning, and unusual content styles to name a few.

Marketing tools

A professional copywriter will know how to use marketing tools related to copywriting. For example, if you’re trying to figure out which keywords to focus on they might use Moz tools or SEMrush. They should also be able to quickly learn the content management software that you use.

Consistency

Inconsistency in your company’s tone and voice is a brand killer. A copywriter will make sure your writing is always contributing to the image you want to build. Consistency will help you create a brand that people want to support, turning customers into promoters.

Lead magnets

A lead magnet is something you offer to visitors in order to capture their information such as an email, telephone number etc. They are often ebooks, pdf guides or other long-form content. If you are thinking of creating a lead magnet to capture get more leads, you should consider hiring a writer for a few reasons.

  1. When you write something that takes more than 15 seconds to read it’s harder to hold the reader’s attention. You need to make sure the writing is high quality and appealing.
  2. A copywriter will follow a process that helps them write in a logical manner. This prevents reader confusion at the end of your content.
  3. Your lead magnet needs to be something fresh and exciting. A copywriter will help your readers see the value of downloading your content.

Questions to ask during your hiring process

 How can you find the right copywriter?

Copywriters range greatly in their skills and process, so it’s important to know what you’re looking for. For example, some freelance copywriters may only focus on writing. While a copywriting agency can help you create a content strategy. Depending on your situation and your staff, then you may need more than just a writer.

Have you done similar work before?

No one can be an expert in everything. While copywriters have a broad range of topics they can write about, it’s better to find people who write for your industry.

Can you optimize your content for SEO?

One of the main reasons you create content for your website is to improve your ranking on Google. If you don’t have an in-house SEO expert, then make sure your copywriter can optimize your content.

What is your copywriting process?

A writer’s process can teach you a lot about the quality of the content you’ll be receiving. There are 80 million blog posts published each month on WordPress alone. If you want your content to stand out it has to be better than good and add value to your readers. Make sure your copywriter’s process is something that you feel confident with.

How do you use buyer personas?

Buyer personas are a fictional representation of your ideal client. Copywriters can use this information to target your audience with content that appeals to them. Buyer personas can increase conversions by more than 200%. If you’re not using buyer personas in your marketing strategy you’re losing clients.

Are you comfortable working with others?

Not everyone responds well to feedback. It’s important that a copywriter can work with your team. Even if they are going to be doing the work solo, good communication will improve your working relationship with them.

Have you had to meet writing deadlines before?

This question serves two purposes. First, you’ll find out what kind of clients the writer has worked with in the past. Second, it will give you insight into how they feel about deadlines. If your writer is missing deadlines then so are you.

Which style guides have you used in the past?

A style guide is essential in keeping your writing uniform. While it may not seem like a big deal, it’s important in matching your content with your company’s brand voice. Some of the most common style guides include the Associated Press Stylebook, APA Style, and Chicago Manual of Style.

Our process

 A Minneapolis based copywriting and inbound company that wants to help you create amazing copy.

At The Content Reactor, we follow a process to ensure every project hits the mark the first time. These are the steps we follow:

  1. Research: We start by talking to you about your goals, and who your customers are and what they’re looking for. Then we review documentation related to the project and do supplemental research.  Finally, we analyze your competition to help differentiate your brand.
  2. Create: After the research is done, we create a working draft of your content. This goes through several iterations before we read & edit the content as a team to ensure good flow. Our goal is to get the copy as close to perfect as we can the first time.
  3. Test: Our working draft goes to you first. We want to make sure that your expectations are being met and your opinions are taken into account. Depending on the scope of the project we may do some additional usability testing at this point. This can include customer reviews, flash testing, and other methods.
  4. Refine: We take the feedback we receive from you, your clients, and any test results and go back to our working draft. We make the needed updates and walk you through the copy one last time to make sure it meets expectations. From there it’s ready to use.

We follow this process for every project, and the results are astounding. Clients love to see the care that we put into making sure that each word serves a clear purpose and contributes to their overall goal. Involving them in the process also deepens their connection to the content and puts them in touch with their core values.

If at all possible, encourage your copywriter to base their process on these four steps.

A Minneapolis copywriting agency that achieves amazing results

Creating copy that achieves results takes a lot of work and skill. That’s why choosing the right copywriter is so essential. Knowing what to expect and how to find the talent will ensure your success.

We’re The Content Reactor a Minneapolis based writing company. We want to help you write amazing copy. Contact us for a free consultation.

All images were downloaded from Unsplash

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters
Photo by Matthew Pla
Photo by Cathryn Lavery
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo
Photo by Mari Lezhava

How to easily boost your app’s ranking and sales

How to easily boost your app’s ranking and sales

Creating an app can take hundreds of hours. What may start out as a simple idea, can turn into hours of coding, testing, and reimagining. We all appreciate a well-designed app, but most of the time developers aren’t paid enough for the actual work involved. Why is that?

You may have noticed that a lot of great apps are buried at the bottom of searches while poorly built apps dominate the category. This isn’t because people want low-quality apps, so what’s the deal?

The problem is discovery. A lot of genuinely useful apps are hard to find or might be presented in a “sketchy” way. This will obviously reduce downloads, which leads to a lower app store ranking and even fewer downloads. That means that you could earn less than minimum wage for hundreds of hours of work. Is there any way to turn this around?

The key is ASO (App Store Optimization). When your app’s title, description, and icon follow a few simple guidelines you can quickly turn an app with a falling ranking into a best-seller, or at the very least earn a decent wage. Let’s find out how!

 The problem with creating a new app is discovery

Create a Keyword List

Unsurprisingly, the main way that users discover and download new apps is through searches on the app store (up to 63% of apps are downloaded this way). This is good news because you can do things to improve your search ranking, but it’s harder to create word-of-mouth.

If you have any experience with search engines then you already know how important keywords are. Keywords are words or phrases that match your app description. For example, your app might teach people English grammar, in that case, related keywords might include: grammar lessons, grammar trainer, English tests, etc.

The easiest way to find what keywords to use is by doing research with Google Adwords. To use this service simply sign up for an account (this is totally free, you only pay for the ads purchased). Once you have your account, go to Tools and select Keyword Planner. Then all you need to do is enter in keywords that you think would be related to your app and check the search volume.

For example, let’s say you have a free app for tracking calories. So, you put “free calorie tracker” into the keyword planning tool. You would get results like:

Keyword    Avg. Monthly Searches
Free calorie counter    2,400
Calorie tracker    6,600
Calorie calculator    110,000
Calorie counter    201,000

This gives you a good idea of what search terms are most common on Google, but now you need to see how they do in the app store. Try searching for the terms with the highest monthly search volume and see whether your app would fit in with the search results.

Based on these tests, you might decide that instead of calling your app a “calorie tracker” you’ll use the term “calorie counter” since it has a higher search volume and still matches your app. This simple step will ensure that app appears as a result in as many relevant searches as possible.

 Target keywords that have better search volume

Choose a Title

Next, you need to choose the right title for your app. You probably have a cool ultra-modern one-word title that perfectly encapsulates the essence of your app. Maybe you planned on calling your calorie counter “fi”, which is obviously short for fitness. Would this be a smart choice? Not really.

You see, your app’s title is part of ASO too and not taking advantage of it to optimize your ranking is a waste. So, how can you keep your cool name while optimizing?

Let’s take a page from one of the most popular calorie-counting apps MyFitnessPal. Does this massively popular brand rely on its name alone? Nope. It optimizes its title for the best ranking. Currently, it appears in the Play Store as “Calorie Counter – MyFitnessPal.”

So, what can you do with your ultra-chic name? Why not try something like “Calorie Counter by fi”? By including keywords in the title you can increase your app’s downloads by 10.3%.

 Your title should help people find your app

Write a Great Description

Now that you’ve gotten your app to pop up in the search results and your amazing name has drawn people in, you need to work on an app description. What are the keys to a great description? Just follow this not so secret formula:

  • Start off with an elevator pitch, this is one or two short sentences that sum up your app
  • Once they click to read more there should be a more extensive paragraph describing it
  • Now create subheadings to logically divide the information on your app
  • Use bullet points instead of paragraphs at this point
  • Keep them short
  • Show off your Unique Value Proposition
  • Focus on the benefits for the user
  • Include excerpts from positive reviews
  • Include a call to action

The description’s purpose is to explain your app to potential users in just a few seconds and get them to download it. So, keep it short and snappy. Users appreciate clear, concise communication.

A good example of this is the MyFitnessPal:

 MyFitnessPal does a great job of optimizing their app for the app store

Check that out! This is a great example of the elements we listed. If you implement this format on your app you’ll be able to quickly show it off and boost sales!

Ensure that your app gets great reviews

Finally, you need to make sure that your app gets great reviews. Now, you may think that this is out of your control, but there you can do a lot right now to get more positive reviews.

  • Be responsive: When your app receives a negative review, respond to it and try to resolve the issue.
  • Listen: If you notice that a lot of reviewers would like to see a certain feature then add it in an update. This will ensure that users will stick with you instead of going to the competition.
  • Promote quality: Your app’s perceived quality doesn’t just depend on how good your code is, its logo, description, content, reliability, versatility, and innovativeness work together to create a high-quality app. To get good reviews you need to make sure that all of these elements come together.
  • Be accurate: The simplest way to avoid negative reviews is to accurately describe your app. Some negative reviews are simply the result of people downloading an app that was advertised as a meal planner but is actually a calorie counter.

 Get rave reviews by listening and responding to your users

Your app is only as good as its content

Remember that no matter how good your app is, without the right content it can still fail. The easiest way to ensure that your app succeeds is to put the above suggestions into practice or get a professional to do it for you.

We offer specialized editing and writing services to help app developers like you to get more downloads and boost their income. To learn more about how we can make your app a best-seller, talk to us today. We look forward to hearing from you!

Cut the chatter, make your copywriting matter

Cut the chatter, make your copywriting matter

Everyone thinks they can multitask. But, think of the last time you tried to watch TV and work. Were you productive? If I was a gambling man, I’d take almost any odds against you. Not because I don’t believe in you, but because TV and productivity don’t mix. Trust me, I’ve tried.

Our attention spans are so short it’s scary. The study Not Quite the Average: An Empirical Study of Web Use found that we have shorter attention spans than goldfish. In this study people only read a quarter of the content. That doesn’t give you much time to capture their attention.

This means that if you want to improve your copywriting, you need to keep it clear and focused.

You can do this by avoiding three common mistakes:

  1. Unnecessary words
  2. Topic detours
  3. Complicated words

Unnecessary Words

Extra words clutter your writing and make it harder to understand. When copywriting it’s important to make sure that every word has a job. In the book “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser he suggests cutting your writing down to the simplest form and then building it back up. This way you eliminate words that don’t add value.

Why is this so important? Look at these two photos. Where it would be easier to find important documents?

Try finding something in this office

This office makes me feel peaceful

It probably didn’t take very long to decide on the second one. When our copy is concise it gives the reader the best opportunity to learn from our blog post.

Look at an example of how bloated copywriting can obscure the point:

Something that can improve your overall marketing strategy is content marketing, as it will make the most of what you are already doing. Content marketing can help you improve conversion optimization, and increase marketing qualified leads.

Now compare that with this:

You can improve the effectiveness of your marketing by writing content that people want to read. This will help turn your site’s visitors into new customers.

Which one is easier to understand? They both transmit the same idea, but the second sounds more like a human and doesn’t exclude people who aren’t industry experts.

Your copywriting affects the way people perceive your company. If a reader thinks that the language is stuffy, they could assume that’s how you are. You don’t want people avoiding your website because of a bad first impression.

But, since we’re not all copywriters, what can you do to improve your content? Write simply. It’s easy to convince ourselves that people like big words because they “make you” seem professional. But, that’s not the case. Think of the companies you buy from, and look at their message. You’ll find that the majority of businesses we love to use simple language, and short sentences.

They don’t consider their reader’s dumb. But, they realize that there is a short window to capture the audience’s attention. It’s easy to lose a prospect who doesn’t understand your message quickly.

Topic Detours

Your blog topic is like the trunk of a tree

Think of your topic as the trunk of a tree. Your goal is to get water from the roots to the tip of one of the branches. As you go up, it’s harder to stay on the right path and easy to go off in many directions.

Copywriting is often like that. You’ve done your research, and you have lots of ideas. When you’re teaching, it’s easy to get excited and lose focus.

Your title tells people what they will learn. By teaching what you promised, you’ll meet your readers’ expectations. But, you obviously want to do more than meet these expectations. Don’t do this by teaching them something else in the same article, instead add value with better writing and extra resources.

For example, a useful tool to improve your writing is the Hemingway app. This app will analyze your copy and help you eliminate unnecessary words. It will also grade your sentences, so you can write clear, concise paragraphs.

Complicated Words

Write for everyone, not to impress Shakespeare

What do the words inception, implement, and, subsequent have in common? They’re complicated and have simpler alternatives. For example, instead of inception, why not use start. Instead of implement, you could say carry out. Why not say after or later when you feel the need to use subsequent?

Again it’s about keeping the reader’s attention. If you use big words without a purpose you’ll quickly lose their attention, especially if they have to use a dictionary to understand you.

That’s not to say that big words don’t have their place. Ask yourself two questions when in doubt. Is there a simpler alternative? Is there a better word for the job? If you answered no to both of these questions, it’s probably safe to leave the word in.

Take Home

Most of the things we just talked about are grammar and editing problems. So, why are we talking about them?  This is not a grammar blog, but grammar is an essential part of great copywriting. It’s also one of the easiest ways to improve.

As the market gets busier, people spend less time reading your content. Don’t waste the short time you have with fancy words. Get your simple, honest message out there and readers will love you for it.

P.S. If you want help writing a better blog I’d love to chat, schedule a quick phone call with me here.