Archive for February, 2011

Freelance Writer Files:What can a professional freelance writer do for your business?

Posted in Advertising Related, Helpful Hints, social media marketing, writing well on February 21st, 2011 by liz – 4 Comments

When I have asked business owners who does the writing for their website, ads or brochures, sometimes I get the most alarming answers. Check out the following:

“What do I need to pay a writer for? I write my own copy.”
“Oh, I write my stuff, and my Web guy puts it on the site.”
“Nobody reads anymore, so I use a lot of graphics and Flash.”
“I want my ads to sound like me. I don’t want it to sound high-falutin’.”

Oh, dear. We’ve all seen printed or Web copy that is stunning, but not in a good way.

The eternal struggle: getting stuff from your brain onto paper.

Do you really need to mess with this?

There’s writing, and there’s typing (pardon me, ghost of Truman Capote). As a professional writer, I have run into a few business owners who had the gift of superb writing skills. But generally, business owners are better at what they do for a living: running their business. And some are not so good at spelling, punctuation, grammar and syntax. Finally, some are very good at “burying the lead,” which means sticking the primary sales point or exciting news in the middle of yawn-producing text.

What can a professional freelance writer do for your business? See if you think these considerations are important –

• You know a lot. Maybe too much. Hire a naive writer.

Are you answering your prospects' questions?

Your prospects and customers have questions you might not have thought of answering.

A professional freelancer sees your business and the services it provides from a naive perspective, that is, as the average person would see it. That writer can ask questions your prospects may have in their heads, ones you never realized were important to answer.

• In other words, what you know can hurt you.
You know hundreds or thousands of factoids about your company. Which ones are relevant to a prospect? Interesting? Compelling? You may not be able to say, because ironically, you know too much about your company. A professional freelance writer knows how to pull a compelling narrative out of all your company info.

• Experience saves time and pays off.
An experienced professional freelance writer has written scores of communications, from ads to brochures to websites, about lots of different types of companies. S/he knows what works and what doesn’t and can create a custom-made approach for your company that will get your phone ringing, or people hitting your website.

• Hiring another brain makes sense.
Is there something amiss in your communications approach? Ask the writer. A professional freelance writer is also a professional thinker, a problem-solver. So brainstorm your brains out. And come up with a great solution.

• Don’t be afraid to reveal yourself in your company’s story.

A writer is a story-teller.

Writers are born story-tellers. Let one tell your company's story.

A professional freelance writer is also a story-teller. Your writer can develop a story or narrative that goes beyond raw facts and interests people in your company. Some businesses try to hide any hint of personality from public view, thinking it’s unprofessional. But that’s not the case. People want to relate to a company on a personal basis. There are lots of companies out there communicating with their audiences in cool, innovative ways. Look at Apple. Personality plus, and professional, too.

• Your money or your time?
Do you spend days trying to find the time to write that Web copy or that ad or blog post? Do you struggle mightily with writing it? And maybe you try to squeeze it in between your actual job duties, which makes you stressed. Let me ask you this: Have you ever thought about how many dollars per hour your time is worth? How about your sanity? An efficient, reasonably priced, effective freelance writer can help you save both.

• Help is at hand.

Help is at hand.

Quit stressing. Help is at hand.

So next time you’re sweating bullets trying to write your own ad or Web copy, remember that professional writing help is available. Feel that 100-pound weight lifting from your shoulders. Now, don’t you feel happier just thinking of letting go of that hated writing task? Of course you do. Now seek out the help you need, from me or from another professional freelance writer, and get back to your true calling: running your business.

Freelance writer in Kansas City

Posted in Advertising Related, social media marketing, writing well on February 18th, 2011 by liz – Be the first to comment

If you’re looking for a freelance writer, take a look at me. Or rather, some of my work. It’s on this very website, under “Portfolio.” But look, I’m more than the projects I’ve done for clients, see? I have had a life outside of work. A fun life. You won’t see this in my bio, but during my UMKC days, I was involved with a comedy improvisation company (maybe the first in KC).

During a riotous year working with the improv group, I wrote satirical songs (good practice for jingles later), sketches (good practice for TV scripts later), and acted as assistant director and emcee (good practice for life later). I had a ball and made lifelong friends.

I started out as a writer/producer for ad agencies

I started out as a writer/producer for ad agencies

But back to the career… Starting out with a degree in Radio & TV Writing/Production, my first job was in advertising. For several years, I worked on new product development and advertising, learning lots from marketing directors of Fortune 500 companies. I got to use my radio and TV commercial skills at that first job, then eventually moved to Omaha to work at Bozell. The less said about that the better. I was lucky enough to be hired by another Omaha agency, not a big one like Bozell, but home to most of the biggest clients in town. A great small agency with a staff of fabulous small people. And one mean 6’7″ art director.

Acting!

Acting!

Soon after I got to Omaha, I felt the lure of the footlights again, so I pursued community theater acting. My first role was as the title character in “I Remember Mama.” Wow. That was a nightmare, with dozens (it seemed) of wardrobe changes and no prop or wardrobe person. The Swedish accent was the least of my challenges!

I did a lot of TV spots in Omaha. Radio, too.

I did a lot of TV spots in Omaha. Radio, too.

I did a whole lot of radio and TV work at the Omaha agency for 10 years. Our clients were retailers, hospitals, car dealers, supermarkets, a pizza chain, more hospitals, and Ak-Sar-Ben race track, for which I got to write and produce a series of TV spots featuring Jack Klugman, who is quite a horseman. I’ll tell you, he is a swell guy, but he really gets grumpy when you try to feed him blueberry bagels (Oy!) at 6 a.m., which was 4 a.m. his time, LA time.

Some horses get weights, to make the race fair to all.

The Ak-Sar-Ben account was mine, and I loved it because I’d ridden horses back home in Mexico, Missouri, “Saddlehorse Capital of the World.” I wrote and produced 60-second radio commercials featuring educational bits about horse racing. Like, “What are those things jockeys put underneath the horses’ saddles?” (Answer: weights) Then I got homesick for Kansas City and came back. After relatively brief stints at three good writing jobs, I became a Kansas City freelance writer in 2001. So here I am.

The improv company wasn’t the end of my love of humor. When clients would let me, I’ve injected it into projects. I created two animated French pizza chefs in TV spots, humorous greeting cards for college students, Omaha Visitors and Convention Bureau TV spots (One featured a guy dressed up as a potato, saying how your company won’t be treated like small potatoes if you have your convention or meeting in Omaha. Okay, maybe that’s really not the best example. Take a listen to my radio spots, under “Portfolio.”).

In my advertising and marketing life, I’ve done ads, brochures, catalog copy, direct mail, billboards, bus benches (Don’t laugh; they’re a big deal in Omaha.), window signs, radio and TV commercials, video promos, articles and advertorials. There must be some other stuff, too, but I can’t remember it all.

These days, of course, like every other advertising or marketing person in Kansas City (and around the world), I’m involved with social media and Web writing. Also, surprisingly enough, I’m doing professional proofreading for a giant investment company. Looking as professional as you are is important, companies are beginning to find out, and that means sending out communications that are properly punctuated and spelled. I had hoped the pain of diagramming sentences in school would pay off eventually. But really, who knew that much later, a lot of people wouldn’t be able to tell a noun from an onion? That used to be the province of “secretaries.” Guess what? Everyone’s their own secretary now, since computers.

Well, enough of this. If you’re looking for an experienced freelance writer in Kansas City, you’ve come to the right spot. I’ve won awards, both in Kansas City and in Omaha, but I’m more about winning business for clients. Give me a call at 913.236.7595 if that sounds good to you. Or invite me to your place to put on an improv demonstration.

I look forward to talking with you and working with you.

PowerPoint putting people to sleep?

Posted in Advertising Related, Helpful Hints, writing well on February 11th, 2011 by liz – Be the first to comment

Here’s a great article about how to keep them awake, involved and interested.

Darth Vader has the Force to win Best of Super Bowl TV spots

Posted in Advertising Related on February 7th, 2011 by liz – Be the first to comment

Before I tell you my fave spots, let me register my discontent with the eagerly anticipated (by me) e*trade baby spot.

Unlike the edgy, irreverent baby in the “Golf” spot (Love that kid!), this baby was downright cuddly and sweet. He told how he and his tailor (!), a nice old Italian gentleman (Antonio!), were both doing well on e*trade and ended by patting him on the cheek and shushing him with a chubby forefinger.

NO! The baby’s gotta have edge! I call this commercial epic fail! Are we so sensitized to name-calling and rudeness now that we can’t use them for comic purposes? Shame, because there goes half of the comedy lexicon.

Others in the ad world think differently (the dummies who tapped the Bud Light spots as the best), but to my mind, the VW commercials were light-years ahead of the rest. And the best VW commercial was “The Force,” starring a tyke in a Darth Vader costume trying his Force on exercise machinery, the dog, even a baby doll, all to no avail. The kid is really bummed ’til his dad helps him out by secretly starting the Passat in the driveway via a remote starter. Funny, charming, and effective. Who could ask for anything more?

Bear of a proofreading goof in Green Bay

Posted in Helpful Hints, writing well on February 4th, 2011 by liz – Be the first to comment

Often, I come across a minor proofreading glitch in the Kansas City Star. But seldom does the Star misspell a headline in 40-point type. It’s like screaming “I’m an idiot!” Take a look at this monstrous blunder which appeared in the Green Bay Press-Gazette recently.

Run out of G's, or what?