Posts Tagged ‘Kansas City freelance copywriter’

Freelance Writer Files: Ask these 4 key questions to ID your best customer

Posted in Advertising Related, Helpful Hints on March 20th, 2015 by liz – Be the first to comment

Let’s face it. Not everyone in the whole world is in the market for your product or service. There’s a select group of people or companies who are actually looking for what you have to offer. To save wasted effort and advertising money trying to convert non-prospects, try to narrow down who you’re talking to as precisely as possible. To help identify your best, most likely customer, the one who’s going to be most receptive to your message, what are the most important questions to ask? Start with these.

Who? What? Why?

So many questions…

• Where’s the pain?
What’s the problem you can solve? And who needs your solution? If you’re a home remodeler, can you take the guesswork and angst out of choosing design options by showing the customer before and after pictures? If you’re a specialty grocery store, do you stock items some people really need but have a hard time finding, like gluten-free foods? If you’re a fashion boutique, do you carry cool styles trendy young single women simply can’t find in department stores?
• Who are my ideal customers?
Who, what, where, why?

Who, what, why?


How old are they? What’s their income range? What are their interests and hobbies? Do they have kids? How far do they live from your location? What are their favorite websites? Advertising agencies work with lifestyle profiles of distinct sociographic groups, which include mindsets, goals, and economic and emotional indicators. Each sociographic group has distinct wants and needs. Creating profiles of your ideal customers can help you hone your message to speak to those wants and needs.
• Who’s buying from me already?
Take a look at your customer base and see who likes your product or service now. Create a lifestyle profile of those customers to get a good idea of who you need to target with your messages.
• Who are my competitors targeting?
Maybe your competitors know some good ways to appeal to your potential customers. Study their advertising or marketing messages. It’s okay to steal a marketing strategy from someone who’s using it successfully. Just don’t borrow their language or specific appeal. Let’s say your competitors are touting their commitment to superior customer service. Well, that’s hardly new. But is there a specific strong, unique service-related feature you can advertise? One-hour turnaround? Frequent buyer discounts? A personal consultant? Longer business hours? Any unique, substantial benefit can help pull them over to your business.
• And more…
There’s more to targeting your best customers than answering these few questions. But doing it will get you started. The fact is, you can maximize your advertising and marketing budget by minimizing unanswered questions about your customers. And there’s no question, that’s very smart.

Freelance Writer Files: #WhyIHateYourWebsite

Posted in Advertising Related, Helpful Hints, social media marketing, writing well on February 4th, 2015 by liz – Be the first to comment

You’re killing me here. When I visited your site today, it was more painful than when I had my wisdom teeth pulled. At least the oral surgeon gave me IV Valium. Listen, no offense, but here are a few reasons why I hate your website:

• You really used white text on a black background?
Ow, my eyes! Do you realize it’s 30% harder to read text on the Web than it is in print? Especially reversed-out type.

• And you made the text 8-pt. type?

8-pt. type?

8-pt. type?


On some planet, everybody has magnifying vision. But not on this one.

• Are you thinking you can write?
Your text is so ungrammatical and poorly spelled and punctuated … wait, are you from a foreign country?

• Are the colors meant to “sizzle?”
In your graphics, the old blue and red side-by-side thing creates movement, but not in a good way.

• And those Flash graphics. Cool, but what do they MEAN?
Just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean you should.

• Why can’t I change the size of the page?
Maybe because you didn’t think it was worth paying to have someone make it customizable to the user’s screen size? Trust me, it is.

• And how about those dead links?
Not that I was dying to see your mission statement, but it would have been nice if I could. Dead links give the impression you’re either out of business or inattentive to detail, neither of which speaks well of your business.

Fortunately, the above infractions are all easy to fix, if you work with a good Web writer and a website designer. I have cool graphic designer friends, and I can help you with the writing. We won’t charge you any arms or legs, either.

Your site is like your public face, so you’d better make it clean and easy to read and use. If it’s not, you may be torturing users who might otherwise be customers. Having a good-looking website that communicates that your business is up-to-date, accessible and easy to work with is not a luxury. Competition being what it is these days, it’s a downright necessity.

So call me. No charge for a chat.

Freelance Writer Files: 8 Website Boo-Boos To Avoid

Posted in Advertising Related, Helpful Hints, social media marketing, writing well on May 30th, 2014 by liz – Be the first to comment

Now that practically anyone can build a website, Website Boo-Boos are popping up all over cyberspace. They frustrate users and decrease the effectiveness of the site. Here are a few common ones to avoid:

Oops-544x410Boo-Boo #1
White type on a black or very dark background.
It’s 30% harder to read text on a computer screen than it is to read text in print. Why would you make it even harder with harsh contrast? Italics are bad, too. (Mea culpa: You’ll note my header is black with gray type, and some of the text is tiny. However, look at my pages, and the important info is in black on a white background.)

Boo-Boo #2
Mouse type.
If your user has to blow up the screen to 200% to read your text, need I mention it’s too danged small? Don’t expect users go to extra trouble to read your text. They won’t.

Boo-Boo #3
Huge graphics and tiny type.
Ahem, unless you’re an artist, your user probably isn’t visiting your site to admire your graphics. They’re looking for information. So feature the essential info upfront. Supplement it with reasonably demure graphics.

Boo-Boo #4
Flash graphics.
That’s so 2000s. I suppose you know by now that search engines can’t “see” flash graphics. That’s one count against them. Another one is that if you’re like me, you find ever-changing images at the top of the page distracting while you’re trying to read the text below. There’s no need for flash graphics today. There’s a Java app that makes moving graphics, if you really think you need them, and apparently, they’re visible to search engines (Check me on this, though).

Boo-Boo #5
Too much text.
Before we got so smart about Web usability, companies used to reproduce their long brochure copy on their websites and call it good. These days, we know that websites are a whole different animal from printed documents. And we have such short attention spans, if we see a lot of text on the screen (or in print, for that matter), we stop reading.

Boo-Boo #6
Text with no headlines or subheads.
Make sure your story can be told effectively by just the headlines and subheads. That may be all the user looks at. And use bullet points instead of long lines of text.

Boo-Boo #7
Here’s a Peek-A-Boo-Boo: Hiding contact information.
Some Web designers like to be cutesy and hide vital information behind quirky cickable icons or funny words. Don’t do it. It will drive users away. Make sure every page of your site features your company name, location (if that’s important), phone number and email address. Don’t count on people clicking the “Contact Us” link to figure it out.

Boo-Boo #8
Contact email forms.
If I do click “Contact Us,” I expect to see a phone number and/or an email address, so I can initiate the contact right then, when I’m feeling the need. If all you have is a form users have to fill out, and a message that “We’ll get back to you within 48 hours,” your drop-off rate will occur at two points: (1) When users balk at filling out your form; and (2) If they fill it out, and you contact them 48 hours later, when they’ve lost the desire to talk to you, maybe even forgotten what they wanted to talk to you about.

Boo-Boo-proof your website.

Ask if the laziest person in the world will take one look at your Web page and vamoose. Okay, maybe the world’s laziest person is not your prospect. But remember that most of us are the next-laziest person in the world when we’re cruising websites.

• Are you creating a smooth, easy road to your door, or are you making the road bumpy and hard, with unreadable, bloated text, graphic misdirection, or things that take too long to figure out?

• Do you have contact info on every page, so prospects can call or email you and get a response immediately? They don’t want to talk to you in two days, they want to do it NOW!

• Do you have a live human (not a recording) available by phone or email to help them right away?

Ask yourself these questions, and if you still have any of these 8 Boo-Boos on your site, fix them. Clear the path to your door. That’s a great way to get prospects to go where you want them to go and thereby boost your site’s effectiveness.

Freelance Writer Files: Does Color Matter?

Posted in Advertising Related, freelance business, Helpful Hints on March 31st, 2014 by liz – Be the first to comment

When you’re designing an ad, brochure or collateral, color matters. A lot.

What’s the most eye-catching, exciting color? The same one you see in bullfight scenes: RED! Red is hot, like blood, and it gets your blood racing (at least a little) when you see it in a printed piece or on a billboard or TV screen.

RED!

RED!

Other colors are nice, but you’re not after NICE, you’re after getting attention. Remember AIDA? Attention, desire, interest, action? If you don’t get that first “A,” you’ve lost the game before you’ve even started.

As a general rule, don’t use any colors you’re likely to find in a typical bathroom: muted pastels or beige. Unless it’s as a background color for your exciting headline.

So yes, color matters. So you use red for your headline. Is it large enough to be read easily? And most important of all, is it a “grabber?” Floating around in an ocean of other headlines, does it stand out to a member of your target audience? Does it present a clear benefit proposition? Or at least, does it grab attention, so someone will read the benefit proposition in your exciting subhead?

That pops!

That pops!

Now, if you’re looking for the ultimate in readability, use the combo that Western Union discovered tops them all: black letters on a yellow background. It may not be the ultimate in sophisticated design, but depending on the product or service you’re hawking, it might be just right. Like on a billboard, where drivers have very little time to absorb your message.

Ever drive past a billboard with type so tiny that you nearly run off the road trying to read it? This is the result of the graphic designer looking at his or her design only on a computer monitor. Gee, it looks readable there. But what about 50 feet in the air, hundreds of yards from the road? Designers should try reducing the design to a size the driver might see it.

Ignoring any of the proven rules for effectiveness will cause you to throw money on advertising or promotional materials that simply don’t work.

If you don’t feel confident that you can do all the right things on your own, by all means, hire a communications professional, as well as a good graphic designer, to create your advertising and promotional materials. It will be money well spent.

Freelance Writer Files: 7 Quick Tips for Brochures that Work

Posted in Advertising Related, Helpful Hints on March 21st, 2014 by liz – Be the first to comment

Here are a few simple things you can do with your next brochure that will make it stand out and get results.

business woman_z1. The cover should feature a picture of a person.
People are attracted to pictures of faces. The person could be a company president, a customer, or an expert of some kind. Someone whose comments are featured inside the brochure.

2. Include “knock-outs” on the cover.
Those are one- or two-line highlights of the content inside. You know how those “People” magazine knock-outs grab you. Use them on business brochures. Make them interesting!

3. On the front inside cover, summarize the key points in the brochure. That way, it’s quick and easy for the reader to go directly to the specific content he or she is interested in.

4. Include a call to action on every page: Call this toll-free number, learn more at this Web address, whatever you need the reader to do.

5. Use a Q&A format to engage the reader. It breaks up the content into manageable chunks and makes it easy to read.

6. On the back cover, make sure to have a contact name and return address displayed prominently.

7. Keep in mind always that you need to make people stop, be drawn to your brochure (especially if you’re at a trade show), and be encouraged to read what’s inside. Study magazines at the grocery store and see what colors, designs, type fonts and other devices they use to stand out and draw you in. Some are kind of gaudy, but you can borrow a few of their tricks without looking unprofessional.

7.a. Okay, I said 7 points, but this one is important. Make sure every aspect of your brochure is relevant. Don’t stick in a picture of your plant as seen from a helicopter (a popular one, for some reason). It has nothing to do with the product that’s made in that plant. So you have a big building. What does that mean to ME, your potential customer? Likewise, unless your audience is made up of gearheads, don’t stick in photos of machines you use to make things. It’s the things you’re selling, not the machines.

Whew. Well, those are my 7 (+1) tips for making effective brochures. If you have others, please let me know.

Freelance Writer Files: Do You Speak Animal?

Posted in Uncategorized on July 2nd, 2013 by liz – 1 Comment

You probably do speak “animal,” only you’re not aware of it. As a freelance copywriter, I’m always on the lookout for different ways to say things. The other day, I said someone was “happy as a clam.” That led me to wondering, “Are clams really happy?” Only a clam knows, and he’s not telling. But it spurred me to think of all the ways we incorporate animals into our language. How many of these animal-related expressions do you use? Can you think of other, newer ones?

• Sick as a dog
• Barking orders (as a Sergeant in the Army)
• Crowing (about accomplishments)
• Old bat
• Old goat
• Raven hair

Me? I didn't say a word!

Me? I didn’t say a word!

• Quiet as a mouse
• Mousy brown
• Chicken (scared)
• Flown the coop
• Bull****
• Strong as a bull
• Sly as a fox
• Foxy
• Hungry enough to eat a horse
• Gentle as a lamb
• Fat as a pig
• Proud as a peacock
• Hungry as a bear
• Catty (Meow!)
• Cowed
• Crooked as a dog’s hind leg (my grandfather’s expression)
• Low as a snake
• Parroting
I'm not gonna say THAT!

No comment.


• Dogging it
• Wolf (skirt-chaser)
• Wolf down
• Maverick
• Slug (couch potato)
• Slow as a snail/snail’s pace
• Tortoise and hare
• The ants and the grasshopper (familiar fable)
• Rat (one who betrays someone else)
• Ratty (messy)
• Cat’s paw (operative)
• Ass/jackass (fool)
• Stubborn as a mule
• Sing like a bird (either a good singer or a stool pigeon — hey, there’s another one!)
• Chirp (happy way to speak)
• Drink like a fish
• Something’s fishy
• Big as a whale
• Memory of an elephant
• Slippery as an eel
• Graceful as a gazelle
• Monkeyshines
• Monkeying around
• As much fun as a barrel full of monkeys (Not sure that would be fun)BarrelOfMonkeys
• Gorilla (Big, mean guy)
• Sting like a bee (Part of Ali’s chant)
• Busy as a bee
• Social butterfly

Got any more?

Freelance Writer Files: Brochure Success Made Simple

Posted in Uncategorized on June 7th, 2013 by liz – Be the first to comment

What do you do with brochures that come in the mail? Toss them into File 13, or “the circular file?” Yep. That’s what most people do. So they’re in the trash before they’re read.

Is your brochure in here?

Is your brochure in here?

If your business creates brochures, you know they cost a pretty penny to produce. There’s the fee for the writer, fee for the designer, printing, the mail list, postage, personnel to handle getting them ready to mail, and so on. That’s a lot of cost for what then amounts to recyclable material.

But there are secrets to how you can grab your potential customers’ attention long enough to get your brochure read – and acted on. Here are a few:

• Know thy customer.
It seems obvious, but don’t ever buy a mail list without sizing up your current customers and looking for other potential customers like them. Know their characteristics, what businesses they’re in, what size they are, and finally, what problem you help those customers solve. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you’re not ready to do any type of advertising, including brochures.

• Make your brochure action-oriented.
To save your brochure from the recycle bin, first grab the recipient’s attention with a cover design and headline that he or she can relate to; something his or her business needs. Once you’ve twanged their “need” string, they’ll probably read the copy inside, understand you’ve got what they need, and take the action you ask them to take to get on-board with you. Maybe that’s calling a toll-free number, returning a card for more information, or going to a certain page on your website or a splash page with information about your service that they need.

See, it’s not enough to get them to read your brochure or save it for later. You want them to take action right now! It’s now or never with direct mail.

• Focus on “you,” not “we.”
Don’t “we” on your prospective customers. In other words, they don’t care about your statement that “we” have 234 trucks and a 34,000-foot warehouse. They care about themselves, and how you can help their business. Bragging about yourself in a brochure is a big no-no. You’re asking the reader to connect the dots between what you have to what he or she needs. Too much work. Do the work for them. Tell them how you can help their business right now! And make sure to tell them how to reach you right now.

• Talk about benefits, not features.
Your company may have a lot of admirable features, like warehouse floors so clean you could eat off them, or a cadre of sales people ready to help you 24/7. But how do you translate those into benefits for the customer? If a customer is looking for a completely rat-free warehouse, maybe the clean floors are appealing. And having sales people available 24/7 is okay, but what if you positioned it as a team of problem-solvers who can respond to any emergency situation you have, any time of night or day? For instance, if you have a building maintenance company, and a water heater blows at 2:00 in the morning, isn’t it great to know your customer can call your company for emergency service? That’s a benefit.

• Create a compelling brochure cover.
Did you know you only have about five seconds to save your brochure from the recycle bin? Yup. We’re all busy, and we get a lot of mail. Make sure that headline goes right to the heart of a big concern your reader has and offers a solution to it.

By the way, please don’t write or design any of your sales materials, including your website, yourself (or let your computer-savvy teenager do it) to save money. Hire a professional writer and designer. When your materials look professional, so does your company.

• Let subheads tell the story in brief.
Most people scan headlines and subheads before deciding whether they want to read the text in between. Short, pithy subheads that tell enough of the story to draw the reader in are good. So are bullet points. Keep body text to a minimum. You don’t want to tell them absolutely everything you do in this brochure. That’s a sales person’s job. You only want them to know you can solve a specific problem they have, and then make it easy for them to call, visit your website, or send in a postcard for more information.

• Build in a ticking clock.

Do it now!

Do it now!


Why should your prospect call or send in that card or go to that website right NOW? Because the longer they wait, the smaller the chance they’ll respond to you. Emphasize they need to act NOW. Offer a time-limited discount on a service, a free demonstration of your service in the next week, a free gift to the first 25 people who call to meet with a sales person, a notice that prior to raising your fees next week, you’re letting them in on your old prices this week.

• Make contact information impossible to miss.
Your phone number, website address, and physical address (if relevant) should be easy to find, rendered in large type, in a different color, or done in any way that will allow people to find it easily. In the Western world, we read from left to right and top to bottom. So the lower right-hand corner is a fine place to put this information. But ask the designer for a couple of different versions, and see which seems to pop best.

• Include a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
If your prospect has any qualms about hiring you because she or he doesn’t know you, put them at ease by saying, “Look, try us out, and if you’re not completely satisfied, we will return 100% of your money.” Then there’s no harm in trying you, is there? When you visit with them, have with you a contract that says you also will pay for any damages to their facility, lost work time, or whatever is appropriate for your business.

keep-up• Keep up the good work.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Once it was said that a person had to see an ad in the newspaper 10 times before he or she actually read it. I’d say that was a poor ad, since it obviously didn’t address the reader’s (or non-reader’s, in this case) urgent problems.

But even if your brochure is a strong piece, you don’t just mail it and sit by the phone, waiting for the calls to come flooding in. You continue to send your carefully selected prospects different, on-strategy brochures or post cards on a regular basis, maybe once every four to six weeks. Then, after a few have been mailed, you follow up with phone calls. You’ll find out if the brochure hit the mark with potential customers or not. If so, you may have some new customers. If not, you may either want to delete some customers from your mail list or hone your message to make a greater impact.

• Don’t be discouraged.
They say a 2% response to a direct mail campaign is good. I think you can up the odds by being relevant, using creative design and cogent headlines and subheads, and repeating mailings at regular intervals, then following up with phone calls. After all, these customers will need to give their business to someone, so why not you?

Freelance Writer Files: Remembering Jack Klugman

Posted in Advertising Related, Other Stuff on December 27th, 2012 by liz – Be the first to comment

He was one of “Twelve Angry Men,” a visitor to “The Twilight Zone,” a slob in “The Odd Couple,” and a doctor in “Quincy, M.E.” And before that, a Broadway star in “Gypsy.” But to me, he’ll always be the guy who couldn’t pronounce “Ak-Sar-Ben” to save his life. I’m talking about Jack Klugman. He died the other day, and when I saw the notice, a shock ran through me, because I knew Jack.

Jack

Let me backtrack a little. As a horseman, Jack was a perfect spokesman for Ak-Sar-Ben racetrack, a client of the advertising agency where I worked as a writer/producer at the time. Amazingly, he agreed to do a set of TV spots for us for a reasonable fee. It must have been the horse connection that sealed the deal.

Before Jack arrived, we were instructed that he must have an excellent toupee stylist available on the set at all times. Wow, I thought. Was this guy going to be a handful? I was a little scared to meet him. He was a big star, and I was an Omaha writer/producer charged with keeping him content and doing his best job for what was probably a fraction of his normal fee.

"Blueberry? Strawberry? These aren't bagels"The first day of shooting, I brought bagels to the set. Poor Jack, who had arisen at 6 a.m. (4 a.m. California time), was greeted on Day One by fruit-flavored bagels (the only kind I could find the night before at Albertson’s). “Blueberry! Strawberry! These aren’t bagels!” First the demand for the toupee stylist, now the dissatisfaction with our Midwestern bagels. How difficult was our Hollywood star going to be?

But my fears were quickly dispelled once we started shooting. Jack took direction without a fuss, and he was open and easy to talk to, particularly when a couple of attractive young women from the agency came to visit him on the set. He enjoyed joking and chatting with his star-struck fans until we called him for the next scene.

During the shoot, the one thing that bugged him was something rather important: the name of the client. Take after take, he struggled unsuccessfully to pronounce it. “ARK-si-bin!” “Come on out to As-KIB-In!” “Awk-SER-ban!” Frustrated after a series of blown takes, he turned to me and pleaded, “Aw, honey, we don’t have to keep saying the name, do we?” Unhelpfully, I told him it was “Nebraska” spelled backward. Eventually, he got the name right, and in the finished spots, Jack’s personality and enthusiasm shone through every scene.

One day, while the crew set up for the next scene, Jack decided to bet on a race or two. I thought, “Wow, Jack knows the horses. I’ll bet with him.” So I bet the same horses he did (with one-tenth the money). We both lost, but what the hey. I got to bet with Jack Klugman.

When I read accounts of his death, I learned he had agreed to do “Quincy, M.E.” because he hoped to do stories that focused on issues like preventing child abuse and rape. His social conscience put him at odds with his producer, who didn’t think viewers wanted to see shows about those subjects. But Jack was right. “Quincy, M.E.” was the first of a new genre of popular crime-detection shows focusing on those and other social issues, among them “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”

In the 1980s, Jack pushed hard to get the Orphan Drug Act passed. In fact, he had his brother, Maurice, write two episodes of “Quincy, M.E.” about the problem that pharmaceutical companies weren’t inclined to spend money developing drugs for rare diseases like ALS and cystic fibrosis. The first episode acquainted the audience with the problem. The second dramatized the real-life battle Jack was having with Washington. A senator was holding up the bill, and after the episode, the bill finally passed. Jack used the power of his own convictions and the power of the media to help people with rare diseases. For more about his crusade, read this.

Most people don’t know about Jack’s dedication to social issues. In fact, many people think Jack was Oscar Madison of “The Odd Couple,” a shambling, sloppy loudmouth with green meat and brown cheese rotting in his fridge. That’s a tribute to his ability to make a bizarre character seem real. Jack was not Oscar. He was smart, talented, dedicated and socially conscious. But okay, he was a little disheveled-looking. Rreferring to Tony Randall, his “Odd Couple” co-star, he told me, “Tony has suits that are 30 years old. He brushes them, hangs them up, and they look like new. Me, I wear a new suit for two minutes, and it looks like it’s 30 years old.” He was funny, self-deprecating, and someone you wished you could keep on being friends with after the shoot was over.

I’ve worked with other well-known actors. But the one I remember most fondly is Jack Klugman. The natural everyman. The socially conscious actor. And the guy who couldn’t pronounce “Ak-Sar-Ben” to save his life.

Freelance Writer Files: Is Bad News “Good News?”

Posted in Other Stuff on November 25th, 2012 by liz – Be the first to comment

Local newspapers are an endangered species, so I choose to subscribe to the KC Star and read it most mornings while I munch Rice Chex and sip coffee. But I’m beginning to wonder if reading it is such a keen idea.

This bright, sunny Sunday morning, I got a double whammy of depressing input. As I was reading the first section of the paper, I was listening to an episode of “This American Life” about how the settlers and Indians in Mankato, Michigan had attacked, murdered, and hanged thousands of each other in the 19th century.

In the paper, here are a few of the stories from this morning:

On the first page, there was a wonderful story about a family that had taken in homeless people, including a black student and a young family, and were helping them over the hump to a better life.

So much for the good news. Here’s the rest:

• Article about how KC Art Institute donors had reneged on a $7 million pledge because they now claim to be broke. KCAI is suing, since they’ve already built the building.
• Article about things breast cancer patients don’t know. I don’t even want to hear the words “breast cancer.” How about you?

Page A2:
• State Department headquarters blaze seriously injures three maintenance workers.
• Drug-seeking man arrested in Aurora, CO on Black Friday for shooting a hole in the ceiling of a Target store.

A4:
• Article about a couple who tortured a 16-year-old “sex slave”

A6:
• 17-year-old dies in car accident

You get the idea.

After all that news and information, I was ready to crawl back into bed and pull a pillow over my head.

The news is not going to start you out for the day with a smile on your lips and a song in your heart. And I’m not just talking about print news. Or even just the morning. The evening TV news is designed to give you nightmares all night long. The newscast starts with a tragedy (a baby injured in a rolling gun battle or a horrendous car accident), and then you see a reporter standing at the crime scene by a length of crime tape hours later, when the scene is obscured by darkness. And even if it weren’t, there’s NOTHING TO SEE! Well, there’s the crime tape.

“You Are There” was an old TV show from the 50s. It appears TV news operations are trying to bring you There, even when there’s no THERE there.

I recall Walt Bodine telling of an experience in the early days on the WDAF-TV news staff. He had been doing human interest stories, and his boss called him on the carpet and said, “What’s all this human interest stuff? I want BANG! BODIES!”

Why do we humans slow down to see a car accident? Why is the bad and the ugly considered “good news?” Why are human interest stories that lift the soul considered boring, and must-not-see TV, except maybe around the holidays? I imagine evolutionary lessons learned in millennia past make us study frightful things closely to make sure similar things don’t happen to us. We take the usual good or neutral news as the norm, so there’s no threat and no reason to take notice.

Maybe someday, bad news won’t be considered “good news.” In the meantime, if you read a newspaper or watch TV news, expect to see “BANG! BODIES!”

Freelance Writer Files: Fearless Google Optimization

Posted in Advertising Related, Helpful Hints, social media marketing on July 4th, 2012 by liz – Be the first to comment

The word is out: too many keywords, and Google will zap you. Keyword-stuffing, the numbing repetition of keywords in blog posts, to the point of nausea, is, thank goodness, now out of favor with the Google Gods.

Google SEO Gods

Too many keywords can get you zapped.

So what do you do to climb the ranks of Google?

• Have a blog on your website.
• And in your blog posts, use keywords. But sparingly.
• Make sure your keywords are ones people would logically use to find your company.
• Use two or three keywords in the context of a blog post that has real content, and another in the sign-off. Like this:

How much is a good roof worth?
By Liz Craig

If you’re buying or selling a house, you know that the quality of a house’s roof can dramatically increase or decrease its sale price.

That’s because if the roof is in poor condition, it can cause a lot of costly problems. Dampness, loss of heat, water leaks, and structural damage can all result from a bad roof. So even though the upfront cost of putting on a sound new roof is nothing to sneeze at, it can save you money on repairs in the long run.

If you’re not sure how sound your roof is, find a good roofing company to come out and check it out. Not just a guy on a ladder looking it over and saying, “Looks okay to me.” You should expect a full, professional assessment of your roof, including a close inspection of gutters and downspouts. Any problems with your roof or drainage should be fixed before they create bigger problems. When you use a reputable roofing company with good references, you’ll have peace of mind, and you’ll be able to maintain the value of your home.

Another reason to have your roof inspected by a professional roofing company: If you plan to sell your home, you don’t want a buyer’s survey to reveal problems with the roof that you didn’t know about, which lower the value of your home. Even if you’re not planning to sell, if you neglect needed roof repairs, you may have to pay higher homeowner’s insurance premiums or have trouble with the insurance company if you file a claim. So it’s a smart idea to keep an eye on roofing material for any signs of damage, check and clear gutters regularly, and make small repairs as soon as you notice any damage, so they don’t turn into big problems.

Liz Craig is a freelance writer who writes about roofing topics for ABC Roofing Company.

Blogging with relevant content is one of the most effective ways to get high rankings from Google. Blog content has to be brief, well-written, and interesting and helpful to the customers or clients you hope to attract.

You can’t make your blog posts “All About My Company.” You need to offer advice, tips, information, guidelines and so on, from your position as an expert in whatever industry you’re in. Be helpful. Be generous. Be heavy on relevance to the target audience (and current customers or subscribers) and sparing in your use of keywords. Oh — and this is vital — regular in your postings. That’s the way to optimize for Google without fear of the Google Gods zapping you off to Nowheresville. Which is Page 2 or lower.

Sometimes, companies’ blog posts are so old they’re festooned with spider webs. What a waste of a good marketing tool. The problem, I suppose, is that someone in the office who’s supposed to do it doesn’t have the time, the desire, or the ability to write and post blog entries on a regular basis. That’s where a professional writer can save the day. For an affordable price, the writer (in this case, me) can help you develop an ongoing blogging program that will help you climb the Google rankings ladder.

So, for help developing your fearlessly Google-optimized blog posts, give me a call.