Finding a pro in any field isn’t easy. We’ve all been stung by the GP whose bedside manner stinks, the electrician who didn’t turn up when he said he would, the chartered accountant who gave crap advice.
But at least you know where to start with these guys — they have the right letters after their name, or they’re members of the right association.
With copywriters, it’s a bit different.
We don’t have a concrete career path. We don’t all head straight to uni to do a copywriting degree (it’s not really a thing — at least not yet), score an internship with an ad agency, work our way up and then start our own agency. Which makes it hard for you, as business owners, to know how to weed out the good ones from the bad.
Finding a long list of writers to choose from isn’t an issue. We’re everywhere. Seduced by images of copywriters working from a beach in Bali while making 7 figures a year, anyone who ever scored an A for an English essay (and plenty of those you didn’t even come close) thinks they have what it takes.
So how do you sort through your list? How do you know that they can actually deliver? I reckon there are a few clues for you to look out for.
They have the right ‘vibe’.
That sounds awfully ‘woo’, I know, but bear with me.
You are going to be working pretty closely with your copywriter so it’s important that you find someone you think you can get along with. In fact, anyone who thinks they can find the right words for your business without having spoken to you at length is not to be trusted!
To get a proper handle on your business, your brand, your goals and your personality — all of which is vital to producing great copy — you’ll need to spend some time together. So you want to know if this will be a pleasant experience or comparable to a tooth extraction.
The best thing to do is to meet them.
Since we tend to work remote, in-person meetings might not be an option but I’m a big fan of Zoom (not tried Zoom yet? Give it a whirl, I reckon you’ll love it) or Skype chats. If, after talking through the nitty gritty of your project, you don’t get the impression that you’ll enjoy communicating with that particular writer or they’re just not the right personality type to ‘get’ your business, don’t worry. Not every client is the right fit for every writer and, since your working relationship will hopefully last way beyond the initial project, it’s important to find someone you gel with.
Yes, it is time-consuming but once you’ve found a writer you like you can stick with them for life. They’ll be there to help you through every new product launch, every rebrand, every new email campaign and beyond.
They have insight.
Another thing to look for is the copywriter’s insight. While you’re having an initial meeting and talking through the details of your business and your project, it’s likely (desirable, in fact) that the writer does more listening — and note taking — than talking. But listen carefully to the things they do say. If they know what they’re doing, they’ll likely have a few insights for you right away (we can’t stop those cogs whirring, you see!). They might throw out a new perspective on your target market, your USP, or even help you clarify your business goals. Any of which will give you reassurance that they’ll hit the target when it comes to actually writing your stuff!
They’re big readers.
When it comes to sales copy, grammar is important (in my opinion, plenty of others disagree) — I reckon you need to know the rules before you can decide which ones to break and which ones are sacred — but it isn’t everything.
So you’re not necessarily looking for an English-class nerd, full of chat about dangling participles and Oxford commas.
That said, what you do want to know is that they’re voracious readers. Because if you want to learn how to write well, the number one thing you should do is read.
Firstly, a copywriter who thinks they know everything they need to know about copywriting is kidding themselves on. There is always something more to learn in any industry and ours is no exception. But a copywriter’s reading should go beyond the realm of books about copywriting alone. I’ve found useful insights from books on marketing, PR, general writing, entrepreneurship and particularly, psychology.
Secondly, reading non-business related books can teach your copywriter loads too. It’s how we learn to master different tone, cadence, structure and all of the other elements that make any type of writing shine.
Oh, and though it isn’t technically reading, I’m going to include listening to podcasts and such here as well. A good podcast can teach you a lot about storytelling, how to structure content and how to keep a listener’s interest — all vital components of sales copy.
They have relevant experience.
There may not be a clear career path for copywriters but a lot of us do hail from related fields.
You’ll find the marketing guys will have studied copywriting in some form while training, the out-of-work print journalists will write a cracking headline and the former advertising sales executives (hello!) have gone through ridiculous amounts of training on the sales process, including the psychology of why people buy.
All useful stuff if you want to write shit hot sales copy.
Of course, you shouldn’t necessarily dismiss a writer who comes from a completely unrelated industry, as long as there are plenty of other indications to suggest they know what they’re doing.
They come recommended.
If someone you know has recommended a particular copywriter, you’re probably on to a winner. That said, I’ve heard of networking groups where people recommend other members without having seen their work or used them personally.
So, recommendation or not, it’s worth checking your potential writer’s testimonials and portfolio before you make a decision. And while you’re reading through their stuff it’s worth noting how they’ve tackled writing for different industries and different tone of voice demands. If everything they write sounds the same, it’s not a great sign unless perhaps they’re writing for your particular niche.
What about qualifications though?
It’s always reassuring to see that someone has some letters after their name. And there’s a nugget of logic behind that. While my MA and post-grad certificate are not hugely related to copywriting, I gained plenty of transferable skills that help me do my job well: research skills, time management, editing, clear communication to name a few.
But qualifications aren’t everything.
Let me tell you a quick story. You may not know that I am a fully-qualified early education professional (i.e. I taught teeny tiny kids their colours, their shapes and how not to be arses to each other). And to be honest, I just wasn’t that great at the job. I may have had the right piece of paper but I didn’t have the right attitude, the passion or the desire to improve. All of which I have in spades when it comes to writing.
So that’s my final thing to look out for when choosing a copywriter: do they freakin’ love their job? Because if they do, no matter how many years they’ve been doing this, they’ll view every project as a challenge — and an opportunity — to be better than they were yesterday.
And that’s great news for you and your business!
Want to find out if I’m the right copywriter for your business? Then let’s talk. I can write your web copy, your blog posts, your newsletters, sales pages, email campaigns and your social media content. And if you need something I haven’t mentioned then I probably do that too — or know someone who does, so hit me up.
You need to pitch your product at a networking event, but you’re worried it’ll look like you’re only there to sell.
It’s time to write your website but you don’t want to come across as too ‘salesy’.
You’re great at talking to potential new clients about your business but choke when it comes to actually asking for the sale.
You’re not alone; somewhere along the line, ‘sales’ has become a dirty word.
When I worked in sales I was ashamed to tell people that was what I did. Advertising sales executive; it conjures up a distasteful image of pushiness, of ethically ambiguous suits driven by nothing but commission.
And yeah, it was totally like that!
We were actually told ‘everyone needs this product; you just have to find a way to convince them’. Even if the customer had given 5 excellent, valid, logical reasons that they didn’t need to buy what I was selling, I still had to work with the belief that ‘everyone needs this product’.
But it wasn’t true — it isn’t true for any business — and it’s why I took a nosedive out of that career path pretty early on. It’s also why earlier versions of my own web copy had me crying from the rooftops that I specialised in ‘non-salesy’ copy! The experience had left a dirty taste in my mouth and I let it inform how I looked at the art of sales for years afterwards.
But copywriting — good copywriting anyway — has bog all to do with beautiful writing and everything to do with sales. And it has taken years of running my own business to realise that I’d let a few bad experiences skew my view of an essential element of business ownership.
I bet you can relate. For so many people, sales is that horrible taste in your mouth.
Or at least that’s what it has become.
It’s the intrusive phone call while you’re about to start a meeting.
It’s the knock at the door when you’re trying to get your kids to bed.
It’s the oily salesman who cares more about his commission than about matching the right products or services to the right people.
Because that’s what sales is at its heart. When you strip it of all of the elements that we think make it sleazy:
Sales is matching the right products and services to the right people at the right time.
Without this, you don’t have a functional business. It’s time to make friends with the art of sales.
Let’s look at step one in the sales process as an example:
Building a rapport.
Every trained salesperson ever will have been told that this is step one on the sales journey. It’s why they so obviously throw your name into every sentence.
‘Well, Clare. Yes, Clare. The thing is, Clare.’ It feels false because generally, it is. When a salesperson doesn’t actually care about their prospect (another horrible word), they have to force themselves to talk in this way. It’s a conscious effort for them and that’s exactly why it comes across as forced.
But if you’re running a business, presumably you’ve gone into it out of a desire to help.
Take me; I live for entrepreneurship. While I was still working my day job a colleague mentioned a vague wisp of a business idea she’d been thinking about. By the time we’d finished our lunchtime cuppa soups, I’d worked out 5 different services she could develop, decided which social media channels she should use and had written out a list of next steps for her to follow.
I want to see people thrive while they’re building the business of their dreams. So building a rapport with my clients becomes easy because I’m so excited about what they’re doing.
And I’m guessing you feel just as passionate about the aims of your customers, whether you’re helping them put together their dream wedding or building them an IT package that will revolutionise the way they run their business.
And that’s exactly why I want you to abandon any worries you have about this first, essential step of sales. You WILL be able to build rapport because you genuinely care. You’ve built a business because you love what you do and you know that whatever you’re selling is going to change people’s lives in one way or another.
That’s why you don’t need tricks or to remember to repeat their name five times in every conversation. Rapport will come naturally. Because you know you can help and you’re excited to show them how!
A little experiment.
I want you to take a moment to remember the last time you bought something online. Think about the process you went through as you trawled through the various websites you found. Did you, at any point, feel like you were being sold to? That it was intrusive or dishonest?
Of course not, because you needed that information.
Now let’s imagine that you’re in search of a new VA. You’re determined to work fewer hours in your business and spend more time with your family and you have a ton of work that you want to outsource. Finding the right person to take care of things for you will be a huge weight off your mind. It’ll be bloomin’ life changing!
You search for VAs online. You want to know everything. What they can help you with, how it’ll work, what it’ll cost. As you read through the various websites you ARE being sold to but there’s nothing distasteful about it, you NEED that info.
In fact, if there’s a VA out there who’s just right for you, you’d be pretty pissed if they kept that juicy info to themselves because they were worried about coming across as too ‘salesy’! As business owners, they’d be losing out, but as a potential customer, you’d be losing out too. They’d be doing you a huge disservice.
How this relates to your marketing.
This is exactly the kind of logic I want you to apply when you tackle your marketing, whether you’re writing your web copy, planning a social media campaign, or writing a proposal.
To paraphrase Zig Ziglar, you’re not selling, you’re helping.
Forget your bottom line while you’re writing, forget that you’re selling. Your job right now is to match the right services to the right people. It’s to provide people with the information they need to solve whatever problems are bugging them right now. Please know that if you’re offering a product or service that really does work, you’re doing your potential customers a HUGE disservice by not selling to them.
Sales isn’t as much a set of skills as it is a mindset. And if you approach your sales and marketing with this mindset, you’re on your way to producing excellent sales copy.
The problem isn’t ‘salesy’ copy, the problem is our perception of sales. If we bring sales back to what it really is — helping people find the right products or services to solve their problems — there’s nothing sleazy or unethical about it. Nothing to be ashamed of at all!
And really, if your copy isn’t ‘salesy’, if it isn’t written to sell, you have a problem. Then it’s just words on a page. So when you’re writing your own marketing copy or having someone write it for you, you don’t want to avoid ‘salesy’, what you really want to avoid is sleazy. There’s a huge difference — I’m glad I finally cottoned on!
Try more posts for small business owners:
Fast – reliable – honest – cheeky
That, my friends, is not a tagline. Except it is. There’s a company out there that has actually paid for that exercise in banality to be emblazoned across their delivery vehicles.
Fast, reliable, honest. That’s not a tagline, that’s the bare minimum any business should offer their clients! And as for the cheeky part…I’m not really sure what to do with that. I guess it does make them stand out from all of the other fast/reliable/honest businesses out there but I just don’t get it.
Do I want my delivery men to be cheeky? Um, that’s a definitive no. But then maybe “Fast – reliable – honest – shuts the f up and gets on with the job” just isn’t catchy enough…
So cheeky it is.
I almost fell into the fast-reliable-honest trap myself. I was talking branding with my graphic designer/sister/favourite collaborator, Fi, when she was designing my logo and she was getting all up in my grill about what actually makes me so awesome.
And I was doing that butt-clenchingly cringey British thing where we all pretend that actually we’re a bit crap and owe all of our success to blind luck and cute accents.
“I’m great with a deadline,” says I, “I’m really reliable”. Blush, blush, cringe, cringe.
“No, you eejit”, says she. “Any entrepreneur worth their salt and vinegar crisps is punctual and reliable.”
“What makes you different? If you’re not different, we can’t sell you.” God, I hate it when she’s right.
Can you relate? How do you sell yourself? When you’re networking, when you’re writing blog posts, when you’re talking to potential clients? When writing your tagline?
Let me tell you if you haven’t come up with anything better than fast-reliable-honest or some other version based on a 16-year-old’s first attempt at a CV, then you’re snookered.
So how do you find your tagline?
It’s blindingly simple. Ask your people.
“What do your clients say about you?” Fi asked. Bingo, light bulb, Eureka!
Looking back at my testimonials, my clients consistently express their surprise that I manage to sound exactly like them when I’m writing their stuff. That’s what makes me great at my job, and there’s my tagline: “My Words, Your Voice”.
Four words and I’m tapping into what I do well, but I’m also assuaging a common fear clients have before they come to me, namely that their copy won’t sound like them.
So what do your clients say about you?
Have a good look through every bit of feedback you’ve ever received and I guarantee you’ll begin to see a pattern. Your “what makes you different”, and your tagline, are hiding somewhere in there.
And if you’re a newbie? With no clients, and no testimonials? Think about what you’d like future clients to say about you? How are you planning to blow their minds?
Hint: it ain’t with your fast, reliable, honest service. You’re so much more than that. You know it and I know it — it’s time to make sure everyone else knows it too.
And if you want to be cheeky, that’s up to you!
More on that British reluctance to blow your own trumpet. Not as dirty as it sounds, sorry!
Is Impostor Syndrome holding you back?
How do you feel when you see those super-confident entrepreneurs at networking events? You know the ones who can just grab hold of the mic and tell the room how awesome they are. No apologies, no hesitation. They’re amazing and they know it — and I’ll bet their sales conversion rate isn’t too bad either.
I’ll bet they find it pretty easy to write their web content too.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks business owners come up against when writing their own web copy, is the inability to sell themselves. There are a few reasons that we might find this aspect of copywriting so difficult (I go into this in more detail here) but for some of you, I’m willing to bet that a sneaky little doze of Impostor syndrome might just be to blame.
Now, if there’s a way to banish that particular demon for good, please, please let me know (we’re rather good friends, Impostor Syndrome and I, although he comes to visit far less often than he used to, I’m happy to say). But, while we’re waiting for the answer, there are a few things you can do to make sure he doesn’t hang around for too long when he does pay a visit.
Make yourself a brag book.
Arrogance isn’t cool but damn, you’ve worked hard for the things you’ve achieved, so you’re allowed a few bragging rights. Think about everything you’ve accomplished in your career, the last year, the last week, whatever, and write it down. Add pictures if you have any. Any qualifications you’ve earned, courses you’ve completed, work you’re particularly proud of, relationships you’ve built, demons you’ve faced — write it all down and give yourself a shiny star sticker (okay, that’s the nursery teacher in me coming out now, but who doesn’t love stickers?).
Any time Impostor Syndrome comes knocking at your door, shove your brag book right in his horrible little face and send him packing.
Talk to your pals.
Or your Mum. But only if they’re the kind of people who’ll tell you the truth. This isn’t the time for those friends who tell you that you look good even when you know you’re looking like a troll. This is the time for the folk who call you out when you’re being a brat. When your tact-free friends tell you that you’re awesome at your job, you know you it’s the truth. Impostor syndrome won’t get a look in.
Keep your skills fresh.
There is only one occasion that you’re allowed to listen to Impostor Syndrome’s whispering. If he tells you that your skills are getting rusty and you’re not keeping up with your industry, and you know he’s right, you need to take action.
I know running a business takes up a ridiculous amount of time (hey, I’m right there with you on that one!), but you HAVE to schedule time to work on your skills. You could set yourself a regular appointment to read key industry publications or dedicate some time to completing at least one new course each year.
By far my favourite way of upskilling, is content marketing. Every time I write a blog, whether for clients or for my own blog, I’m learning. All of the research that goes into every blog post is a fantastic way to consolidate existing knowledge and it’s a great incentive to keep abreast of industry developments. And the best thing is that I’m completing serious marketing goals while I’m keeping my skills fresh. Impostor Syndrome, be gone!
Acknowledge that we ALL suffer IMPOSTOR Syndrome.
Yeah, he pays every single one of us a visit at some time or another. Don’t for one minute think that the fact that he’s banging on your door means that you actually are an impostor. We all have those moments of shaky confidence and the suspicion that everyone in the world is doing life better than we are. They’re not.
Let’s make 2018 the year we get rid of Impostor Syndrome once and for all. Whether you’re drafting a social media post, taking centre stage at a networking event, or tackling the dreaded ‘about me’ page copy, I want you to remember that you rock. You’ve got this!
A recent networking event, which focused on the topic of ‘Confidence in Business’ has got me thinking. We all know that confidence in business is vital. After all, if you don’t believe in your skills, talent and business prowess then how do you expect to convince your clients that you are worthy of their hard-earned cash?
How confident are you in business matters? Are you the best in your field? More importantly, do you tell your customers how much you rock?
I have a sneaky suspicion that we Brits do not lack confidence, but rather suffer from an ingrained reluctance to blow our own trumpets. In this country, self confidence and blatant self-promotion are often mistaken for arrogance. While we supposedly live in an increasingly classless society, we do love to hate anyone who we perceive as having ‘ideas above their station’ — Tall Poppy Syndrome in all its glory. How often have you thought that you’d like to bring the insufferably smug Simon Cowell down a peg or two? I wonder if Mr Cowell is received somewhat more warmly across the pond where, in my experience at least, success is cheered and encouraged.
There is of course a fine line between confidence and arrogance and you do need the talent to back it up. Unfortunately I have met a good many talented people who hesitate in talking themselves up precisely to avoid seeming arrogant.
One of my clients is a perfect example. Articulate, intelligent and remarkably talented in her field, she is extremely confident in her business abilities. Yet, when it came to writing her website, she choked. She just couldn’t sell herself. She admitted that it felt completely unnatural to be so blatant in shouting about how fantastic she is.
This is often when people turn to copywriters. It’s not so much that you can’t write, it’s that you can’t write well about YOU! This particular client told me about her business, her skills and her qualifications and I did the hard bit. Since she couldn’t blow her own trumpet, I did it for her and she was thrilled with the results.
How’s that for a bit of shameless self-promotion? I hope you don’t think I’m being arrogant…
So if you find it hard to sell yourself, drop me a line and I’ll help you out: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Have you started a business blog yet?
Or have you started, uploaded a couple of posts and then let it fade?
I mean, you have other stuff to do, right? You know, designing, coaching or whatever it is that your clients pay you to do…
I get it. Blogging takes time and it takes effort.
You have to set aside time to research, write and (for the love of the wee man don’t forget this bit), promote your blog posts.
Given the whole ‘time and effort’ objection to blogging, you might wonder why I made such a big deal of it in my previous post ‘How to market your business when you’re broke’. Sure, it’s free but is it really worth the hassle?
In a word, yes!
Now, if you’re happy to take my word for it, then you can go and get started right now.
If you still need a bit of convincing, I’ve listed below the most basic benefits you’ll get from starting your own business blog.
1. Improved SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Now, many copywriters are SEO experts—I am not. I’m not super- techy and they keep moving the damn goalposts on this one. Google changes its algorithms more often than I change my mind about my favourite Game of Thrones character.
One thing that remains constant though, is that search engines love fresh content.
There is absolutely no point getting yourself an all-singing, all-dancing website and then letting it stagnate.
And that’s what’ll happen if you don’t keep updating your content. All of the well cared for websites, with new and exciting content will float to the top of the search pile, leaving yours to sink lower and lower into the depths.
It’s heartbreaking. Especially if you paid a fortune setting up your site in the first place!
The easiest way to introduce fresh content to your website: a blog.
While we’re talking search engines, it’s worth knowing about long-tail keywords. This is something that probably deserves a post of its very own but I’m going to stick with just a simple explanation for now.
What are long-tail keywords and how are they going to help your business?
Let’s take my own business as an example. A relevant long-tail keyword might be ‘how to write a great landing page’. In search engine terms, this is going to have far less competition than the more generic ‘copywriter’ or ‘marketing copy’.
The more long-tail keywords your website contains, the more people will be able to find it —providing you are not jamming keywords in just for the sake of it. (Don’t do this! Google will recognise that you’re trying to cheat the system and will penalise you for it. Always remember you’re writing for people, not search engines).
Blog posts are a brilliant way of naturally incorporating long-tail keywords into your website.
3. Building relationships
Blogging is NOT about making sales. Increased sales will happen further down the line, but when you’re writing it’s worth remembering that the main purpose of your blog is to help your customers.
Before you even start blogging, it’s a good idea to spend some time putting together a strategy.
Consider who your customers are, what they want to know and how you can help them. What kind of topics could you cover that will improve their lives or their businesses?
Assuming you’re providing useful content and showing a bit of personality, your customers will come to know, like and trust you. When they get to the point that they’re ready to buy, they’re far more likely to come to you, the person they know, like and trust.
4. Establishing credibility
In a similar vein, by posting useful information about your industry you’re proving to your audience that you know your stuff.
Diplomas and qualifications are great but producing relevant content highlights that you are constantly honing your skills and keeping your knowledge fresh.
This shows your professionalism and your expertise —and instils confidence in your customers.
5. Getting to know your customers
When you’re blogging, invite your readers to comment on your posts. The conversations that can ensue here are a goldmine.
Are customers frequently asking the same questions? Great, there’s a topic for a new blog post or even a new page on your website.
Is there a recurring problem with one of your products? Great, now you know about it, you can fix it and tell everyone about the improvements you’ve made.
Maybe some of the comments are highlighting a particular problem that your clients are experiencing — here’s an opportunity for you develop or repackage one of your products or services.
6.Improve your industry knowledge
Not every blog post you write will require research. You are writing about your own industry after all. Some will though and when you’re researching these topics, I guarantee that you’ll improve your professional knowledge along the way. This will ultimately improve the service you’re offering your clients and help you grow your business.
I’ve mentioned it before but it’s worth saying again:
Promote your posts!
There is no point in writing a post that no one will ever read. As soon as you’ve hit publish, promote your post on every social media account you have, including your personal ones.
It is also worth adding any new posts to your newsletter or automatically emailing any new content to your email subscribers.
This is a great way to increase your visibility and stay at the forefront of your customer’s minds.
I’d love to know…
If you were on the fence about starting a blog, has any of the info here changed your mind one way or the other?
Have I missed anything out?
If you’ve been blogging for a while and spotted an obvious benefit that I haven’t mentioned here, let me know!
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Content is king? Design is divine?
Design vs Copy; why it’s time to call a truce.
I rewrote my site’s portfolio page last week and seeing my history of working closely with graphic designers laid out in black and white got me thinking about the designer/copywriter relationship.
We’re not traditional allies — each of us is convinced that we are the most important cog in the machine. Just watch a designer’s reaction if you throw the old ‘content is king’ quote at them.
I reckon it’s time to put down the pens and paintbrushes though and shake hands. When it comes to producing a great website or any other form of marketing, a coalition is the order of the day. When a designer and copywriter work together, a project can truly take off!
Why work together?
Like copywriting, design is primarily about communication.
Most designers will tell you that it makes their job infinitely easier if they have some decent copy to work with before they start bashing out ideas. That way they not only know what space they have to work with, but also get a good idea of the overall tone and theme of the website or brochure.
Even more importantly, the designer can clearly see the message the client is trying to convey — and that’s half the battle! If your copywriter and designer can work together, then as a client you know that everyone working for you is singing from the same hymn sheet — that saves you time, money and much confusion.
Good copywriting requires lots of research into a particular subject; you need to look into the industry as a whole, the client’s specific market and the competition. While there are, of course, certain overlaps, this is not necessarily the same research that a designer would do.
Not all designers are confident in their writing skills.
By nature designers are visual people and while many will have great language skills, copywriting is about more than just stringing a sentence together. Most copywriters will have advertising and marketing experience to bring to the table.
Two heads are better than one.
Two creative heads are better still. Just think of the magic that can happen when you get two creative types, both with different skill sets, different ranges of experience and different ideas, working in harmony on the same project!
And if your designer and copywriter can work together and communicate easily with each other, it will save you, the client, an awful lot of time emailing back and forth, trying to keep everyone’s ego in check.
Now it’s time for the shameless plug.
If you check out my portfolio page, you’ll see that I work closely with my very own graphic design teams. Both are extremely talented and have fantastic portfolios — I wouldn’t trust anyone else!
We’ve worked together on print ads, website design/redisign, corporate identity, promotional leaflets and brochures so if you’re thinking your marketing could use a little oomph, you know where to find us.
The question of how to write a great about me page or bio for your small business is one that constantly crops up in entrepreneurial discussion groups. So many small business owners freeze when it comes to tackling this particular piece of copy.
In my last post I concentrated on what not to do when writing your bio so now I’d like to leave you with 3 things to include and one that (in my opinion anyway), you should definitely avoid.
1. A photo
There are a few reasons that you should really include a photo on your about me page. We really are such visual creatures so use that to your advantage.
Imagine you’ve done the rounds at a trade show or a networking event. The people you’ve worked hard to connect with have likely connected with dozens of other business owners. There comes a point when it just becomes a blur. Later, when they get home with a pile of business cards to work their way through, they’ll hopefully click onto your website. When they do, make sure they know that it’s yours! Seeing your picture will remind them of “that really friendly guy who sells product x” or “that funny girl who does a good deal on web design”. Assuming you’ve made a good impression, they’re all the more likely to follow up with you.
Have you ever heard the old sales adage “People buy people”? It’s spectacularly cheesy but there’s a reason you’ll hear it mentioned at every sales training course you’ll ever encounter: it’s true. Let your customers see the person or people behind the brand. They’ll feel more confident in contacting you when they can visualise who they’ll be dealing with and they’ll be more willing to recommend you too.
Now, I realise this sounds a bit rich coming from me, given that I don’t actually have a photo on my own about me page as yet, but I promise it’s not too far down my to-do list. As soon as I find the time to get myself a haircut, I’ll be right on it!
This sounds so simple but you’d be amazed at how many people get this bit wrong: have you included your USP?
Have you won any awards? Do you have more professional qualifications than the average Joe in your industry? Do you have any celebrity clients? Whatever you have or do that makes you special, that’ll make you stand head and shoulders above your competition, make sure you have included it in your about me page somewhere. Maybe your customer service goes above and beyond and you have client testimonials to prove it? So use it. That stuff is gold dust!
3.A call to action
Your web content should guide the reader at every step along the way and your about me page is no exception. You’ve dazzled them with your natural beauty and professional but friendly smile and you’ve told them all about that industry award you won last year. They like what they see so don’t give up now: tell them what they have to do next. Do you have a contact form you want them to fill in, an email address to write to, a number to call? Make sure it’s there and they can’t miss it.
If you’re writing a bio for a conference programme, magazine or any other type of print marketing, this rule is doubly important. Be sure to include follow up information for anyone reading about your business. They need to know your website URL, your twitter handle, your shop address, if you currently have any special offers. Give them a reason and way to get in touch with you and make it easy for them to do so.
Those are just a few things you should include. As promised, I’m also including one thing that for me is a big no-no when writing bios for small businesses.
I’ll preface this by saying that it possibly falls into the category of pet peeve rather than hard and fast copywriting rule but it just sets my teeth on edge.
If you are a sole trader, use I not we in your writing. You’ll see from my own about me page that I do use we but that is reserved for when I’m talking about copywriters and editors in general. When it comes to talking specifically about Crossan Language Services, I revert to writing in the first person.
As a sole trader I see no need to insinuate that I am anything other than a one (wo)man band. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a sole trader, in fact many people prefer working with freelancers. After all, there’s none of the getting passed from pillar to post that can happen when dealing with bigger companies, our rates are often more reasonable due to lower overheads and you know that if you need to talk to the big boss, you can, because there’s no one else to talk to!
Seeing sole traders write we in their about page as if there are 4 employees squeezed into Jane’s spare room just perplexes me. It feels dishonest and as I’ve hopefully just made clear, there’s really no need for it.
Sole traders, stand up and be proud of what you are; you’re going solo and smashing it.
Embrace the I!
If you want to connect or have a chat about any copy queries you have, drop me a line: email@example.com