Copywriting and Conversions

Writing great titles will make people click your content, read longer and share even without reading the entire thing. They can make or break your content, give you an edge and inspire people to respond to your copy. Your headline is the first thing that shows up when people look browse through the search engines for certain keywords. If your title is catchy, it has a better chance of being clicked than if it is a regular ole’ thing. There are different ways to craft effective headlines and titles and increase engagement with your content online. The next time you are at your computer trying to come up with a title, consider these killer title tips to get your creative juices flowing.

Make the Title Match Your Target Audience

A great tip for click-tripling title writing is to ensure you understand and are addressing the right audience. Even if you have the best title concept in the world, if it doesn’t click with your audience, they’ll simply keep scrolling away from it. Your headlines and titles need to resonate with your target readers. If there is zero engagement, you’ll need to take a step back (or several), and locate where the lack of connection is coming from. Without understanding your audience and their interests, you might continue to write titles that generate less than a few bored clicks. Match your title to your audience like a pro by understanding your goals and objectives and make them show up in your title choices, and don’t be afraid to push the boundaries of what readers expect.

Keep it Simple

A simple and straightforward title allows you to get right to the heart of things. Forget about playing with words, explaining or slipping-in a joke. Don’t try to sound intriguing or witty either – you could lose some readers who don’t get what you are trying to say. Go straight to the point. Let there be no doubt about what your title is about and what’s going to be in the content of the copy. Creative product copywriters in particular know that keeping a title direct and simple is especially useful for copy where you are trying to sell a product, service or idea. You will be able to highlight their clear benefits for readers better. Some good examples of simple and direct headlines include:

  • The Ultimate Guide To A Clean And Sparkling Bathroom
  • How To Do X (A Special Skill)
  • All You Need To Know About Eggs

Research Existing Titles

Not all titles have to be unique. Some of the most clicked titles are generic and straightforward. This is because simple titles are effective, especially from a search point of view, where readers need quick answers to burning questions. A great idea therefore is to research previously written articles and titles that rank high at the top of search engines, they offer a unique starting point. If you face writer’s block coming up with your own titles, get inspired by other titles and add your unique twists to create your title. Useful tips to easily navigate effective title research include:

  • Find out what already exists on Google and Bing
  • Check Buzzsumo to see recent viral titles
  • Look for gaps in the results to see how your title can be designed to stand out

Make the Big Benefit Clear

Pinpoint the benefit your post offers and transform it into a headline. Your readers have questions they want answers to. If your title shows promise of providing the answers they seek, then they will be motivated to click and read. To craft a title with clear benefits, you need to understand your target audience so that you can craft a headline that will successfully convince them that your content has their answers. Examples include:

  • Fast and Easy Way to Make Delicious Rice Pudding
  • Make Your Own Luxury Throw Pillows In Minutes
  • Start Your Own Blog In Five Easy Steps

Use Attention-Grabbing Hooks

The biggest challenge to headline creation is usually creating uncommon and powerful hooks. With a hook, you draw your reader in and get him or her interested in clicking your title. You need to spend more time to discover the best hook that will lead to greater audience engagement. You can find attention-grabbing hooks by researching your past posts to find out what worked, what generated the most clicks and reader engagement, and the main reason behind it. Trend-jacking can also be used to tie your content to a recent event and increase its relevance. Look through related issues in politics, celebrity behaviour and internet memes to improve your title. Using exaggerations or hyperbole can also work in your favour when it comes to crafting catchy titles, as long as you do not create a disconnect between reality and expectations. Great ways to use hyperbole for your titles include:

  • One Million Reasons To Buy Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty Products
  • The Most Romantic Holiday Destination Of Your Life
  • Why Barbecue Chicken Is The Best Food In The Entire World

Make an Exciting Announcement

People are naturally curious. An exciting news in the title will grab the attention of your readers and make then click to find out. By simply researching a new angle to present existing material, you can have news for your post. Focus should be on recent events with images, interviews and take outs added for more value. This tip also applies if you are writing titles for product or service advertising copies. Excitedly announce new options, offers, pricing strategies and discounts. Consider the following examples of exciting news titles:

  • Now you can get the new Samsung S8 at your local store!
  • Introducing the latest in innovative toothbrush technology
  • Top Marketing Trends in 2017

Tell Readers Exactly what They’ll Get

Great headlines control readers’ expectations by following some simple principles. Identify the Who, Where, When, What, Why and How in your post, and choose which one should be featured in your headline. In addition to the W’s and H, the four U’s emphasising being Useful, Unique, Ultra-specific and Urgent will improve audience engagement noticeably when applied to title writing. The main reason is because they know what to expect in the content, and they are sure it will provide value. Therefore, before you can begin crafting your title, you should know what you want readers to gain from your content.

Use Guiding Titles (How-to)

When you write a title that focus on making it easy for people to create something they have always wanted by themselves, your title will look potentially fulfilling to readers. Most people are looking to improve their life in one way or the other, so make sure your title highlights exactly what the benefit of reading your post will be. Leave the process out of the title and allow the reader scrolling through the search engine to click your promising title to discover the process in the content. Your title should also target the real driving motivations of the reader and the end result. For instance, instead of writing How to Find a Full Time Online Job, reel in your reader with How to make money working from home. Other examples of great guiding titles include:

  • How To Make A Profit Selling Books Online
  • How To Make Friends And Talk To Anyone
  • How To Design A Modern Living Room

Make Use of Useful Tools

Different online tools and strategies exist to improve title writing. If you are struggling to come up with a creative and engaging title for your post, try the SVO or Subject Verb Object topic creation formula. This method emphasises actionable title writing, which provides a great opportunity for increased clicks on your titles in search engines. Take it further and assess your titles with a headline analyser tool from CoSchedule to ensure your titles are interesting and clickable.

Make the Title a Provocative Question

Questions encourage readers to get involved, and the lure of finding the answers in the post will earn you more clicks too. It is important to make the question clear and to make sure your question relates directly to your content. If your copy is supposed to sell products and services, then your title question should highlight their major benefits. The trick is to design the questions to make the reader answer with a resounding ‘Yes!’ Consider the following examples:

  • Do You Want To Triple Your Clicks From Search Engines?
  • Want To Find Out How To Keep Your Kids Entertained Without Going Crazy?
  • How About a Tried and Tested Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe?

Use the Direct Command Method

Create a headline that simply tells the reader what to do. Make it a direct command. When faced with a command, people tend to ask – why should I do that? Your title should provide a benefit and offer readers directives on how to do something that would ultimately be good for them. Even if you’re writing copy for an ad, including the benefit of the products while telling them to take action will get reader’s interest. Sounds tricky, but here are some simple but highly effective examples:

  • Stop Wasting Money on Unused Gym Memberships. Buy A Home Gym And Get Fit From Home
  • Forget All You Think You Know About Copywriting And Practice This Tip For Better Results
  • Subscribe To Our Service And Get Free X

Offer Helpful Information

People go to search engines to find solutions and if your title shows promise of this, then it will get clicked. Not everyone online is eager for more information. Results and solutions to various issues and help with reaching set goals will be more attractive to readers. Your titles should offer practical tricks, rules that work, steps and tips. More importantly, the value you promise in the title should be delivered in the content. Examples include:

  • The Best Money-Saving Tips for Shopping New and Used Cars
  • 5 Easy Steps to Start Your Fitness Journey
  • 6 Different Ways to Cook Healthy Breakfasts Every Morning

Look Before You Post

Before you even get started on your post, it’s a good idea to create a list of different titles. Usually, the content will dictate the title and not the other way around. So before finishing up or posting your article, you should return to the title to make sure it meets all the requirements of a great clickable title. If there are any revisions that need to be made, then they should be done as soon as possible before you can go ahead and post the article. As important as your title is, you want readers to be satisfied when they click to read your write-up.

Add Some Zing to Your Titles with Adjectives

Adjectives inject fun, whimsy or curiosity-inducing angle to just about any kind of title. If you think you have crafted a good title, by including a well-placed adjective you can take it from good to spectacular. Readers can hardly resist spectacular titles so there’s no harm in trying. Some of the most common adjectives that work great with titles include:

  • Killer (probably why you clicked to read this post)
  • Outrageous
  • Amazing
  • Mind-blowing
  • Ridiculously good

Use Quick Fill-in Title Formulas

There are some easy fill-in-the-blank spaces title writing formulas when you need a fast topic that works. By simply inserting the missing words which are relevant to your subject matter you can have a ready title that will keep the clicks coming in.

  1. Here’s How [Well-Known Personality] Does [Desired Skill]
  2. [Number] Top Tips To Create [Something]
  3. [Number] Quick Ways to Achieve [Something]
  4. All You Need to Know to about [Something]
  5. [Number] [Adjective] [Something]

Pay Attention to Title Length

What’s the ideal title length for a blog or article? Kissmetrics believes that six-word titles wok best and where your title needs to be longer, putting the most important words in the first three and last three spots will make a lot of difference to your clicks. If you’re wondering why, it’s because these are the ones people pay the most attention to. The key is to convey as accurately as possible what the post is about while keeping it succinct. Shorter titles are easier to scan and easier to share as well. So, the easier it is to share and scan your title, the better your chances of getting three times as many clicks from search engines.

Are you ready to make the leap into tripling your clicks from search engines? It’s easy to get great titles and awesome content when you sign up for an account with us today.

Traffic generation is what you get; conversion optimization is what you do with all that traffic, which is significantly more important because that’s’ how you turn your website into a source of income. We’ve pooled together a list of tips to help you transform your site visitors into buying customers.

  1. Easy to use interface

This might sound simple but its’ complex for many companies trying to put too many features and pages on their sites. The harder it is for visitors to navigate your site, the lower the chances of new customers. Visitors need to understand the layout the moment they enter your site. Flashy graphics, annoying popups and adverts in the sidebars are distractions that cause customers to run to your competitors. Use a simple website layout optimized for browsers other than Internet Explorer. How to do users purchase items on your site? What happens when the purchase button isn’t obvious? Can they view their purchases at the top of the screen while they keep shopping?

  1. Call to Action Button

If your conversion goal is to obtain visitors information with a lead, you should display the submission form in a way that is easy to find. Some websites use large colourful arrows, exit redirects and pop-ups to catch the lead. Your call to action should be simple and clear. If the goal is to make purchase, replace words like “add” with “buy”. CloudSponge was able to increase conversion by 33% with an updated website design featuring a demo, clear call to action and reasons to choose CloudSponge.

  1. Be clear and Honest

If a product is out of stock, say so. This is an annoying trait employed by some companies when customers go to checkout only to find the product is unavailable. It also applies to pricing; a product might be a bargain deal at £200, but when users find out the cost of shipping is £100, they are unlikely to continue the purchase. Show delivery charges to countries or regions where most of your customers come from or use IP to country database to figure out the country of your customer and the shipping charges that would apply. Transparency is everything when you’re trying to make a sale.

  1. Only collect data you need

Some websites ask for too many information on their customers before letting them make a purchase. Don’t ask for information you don’t need to know, especially information users deem private. You don’t need their phone number for an email enquiry form, what if the customer is only making a one-time purchase? Give the user the option to fill out those details but don’t make it compulsory.

  1. Trust

People are cautious when buying online. With all the hacking attempts on big name brands, it’s not every website that is worthy of a user’s details. If you have a SSL certificate, display it. If you use secure payment, let the users know. Write copies that describe your product accurately instead of writing what will sell the product. Users are more likely to buy from you if you use a direct, honest approach in advertising.

  1. Return Policy

This is one of the most important ways to convert customers because returns on the web are still a big issue. With brick and mortar stores, you know the physical address of the shop so it’s easy to return a product if you’re unsatisfied with a purchase, online purchases are a bit tricky especially in relation to clothing items and accessories that people can’t try on until they’ve made a purchase. Some websites increase conversion by offering free returns on items as long as it’s within the stipulated grace period.

  1. Improve user experience on your site

People buy from you because they are convinced your product will do what you say it should. If a user picks one product, show them others along the same line of their purchase. Cross-selling and upselling are proven techniques marketers use to boost conversion rate.

  1. Identify your USP

One of the most important strategies for online marketing is the Unique Selling Point. This is the killer feature that sets you apart from the competition or the reason why customers buy from you in a sea of similar products. What’s’ your USP, do you run a family business? Free delivery and return? Alternatively, is it unique items at affordable prices customers won’t find elsewhere?

  1. Who is your target audience?

If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’re not a big name brand like Amazon or AliExpress, you have a select product you want customers to buy so you have to understand your audience and identify what they want. Collect feedback regularly to understand what their experience was like on the site and if there were any changes or product they would like, to enhance their shopping experience.

  1. Offer discounts

Discount offers and bargain deals are a great way to drive sales but they can go wrong when customers start feeling that they are not getting a good deal after the offer expires. One good trick is to make sure everyone has a discount or to move code redemption to the account system instead of at checkout.

  1. Understand the four elements of action

The four elements to any action are ability, willpower, incentive and opportunity. Before you think of increasing conversion rate on your website, you should understand that:

Potential buyers can’t find your website if it doesn’t rank well in search results

Customers won’t make a purchase if the website is in a language they don’t understand or the “buy now” button isn’t clear.

What incentive does a customer have to complete a purchase?

Is the purchasing process misleading in any way that causes frustration for the buyer?

  1. Use a variety of landing pages

Successful brands use a variety of landing pages to showcase different product categories to their customers. They exist outside of your site so you should create a landing page copy that increases conversions, and highlights the best products or services for each of your target demographics.

  1. Optimize your site for mobile

Most web users are mobile which means your visitors will have to click interactive buttons, read text on a small screen so ensure it’s comfortable, and function for the larger portion of your customers. Use Google’s mobile friendly test to find out if your website is optimised for mobile if you’re unsure about the status of your site.

  1. Reduce the options on offer

Consider how you present your services or product on the website. Reduce the options you offer to users because less is more when offering the best online experience. Its’ easier to make a decision on a product when you have few options to choose from instead of stuffing the site with pages of different products that could confuse the buyer.

  1. Memorable headlines

The headline is the first thing that grabs the attention of a visitor to your website. Creating a good headline is an art form that requires certain best practices to make it as concise as possible. Get a copywriting expert to help you write a headline that describes what you offer in a compelling and attractive way.

  1. Use action based language

There is a fundamental barrier to users making purchases on your site. They might be interested in the product and consider them of good value but they need a push in the right direction to urge them into taking action. Powerful adjectives that spur people to actions and emotional action words are ideal when trying to instil urgency in your visitors. Such words include:

Everything you need

Instant

Guaranteed

Powerful

Real results

100% money back guarantee

Premium

No obligations

  1. Use simple language

It doesn’t matter if you’re a great writer, no one is going to buy your products if they don’t understand a word you say. Keep in mind that the average consumer has a low reading level so you need to use simple language that appeals to the core of your audience. Avoid using big words or complex sentences that might lead to text misinterpretation.

  1. Focus on the benefits

Some inexperienced copywriters focus their attention describing the product without properly highlighting what the product can do. People don’t buy products, they buy solutions. Focus on the benefits and explain how the product can be used to enhance the customer’s life.

  1. Avoid guesswork

To drive sales and improve conversion you need to connect the needs of your potential customers with the solutions offered by your product. An impactful way to drive conversions is with A/B testing to determine what users want as assumptions have been known to be the biggest killers of conversion.

  1. Live customer support

Sales doesn’t end when a customer makes a purchase. Self-service is great but sometimes people need to talk to a support staff in real time.  Ensure there are detailed information for phone, live chat or co-browsing to make online conversations more effective. If your customers are satisfied and happy, they are likely to become repeat customers.

  1. Use content marketing

Develop your web presence and brand visibility with content marketing. Your appearance on numerous websites gains trust and credibility, which leads to more backlinks and conversions.

  1. Use visual media

Pictures of people on landing pages are effective and increases signups by 102.5%, as revealed by 36signals website redesign. You could also use simple visual cues to guide the user’s eye to your call to action button or conversion form. Pinterest is a perfect example of utilizing visual media to increase conversion. People are likely to trust other people rather than a faceless brand so use pictures from your target demographic on your landing pages or homepage.

  1. Test bright colours

Red colour establishes a sense of urgency, purple is calming and everyone loves a call to action buttons with orange colours. BMI increased their conversion rate by 2.5% with a red background behind their message. However, test colours to see what works best with your target audience.

  1. Add a short video about your brand

Generally, visitors will skim through your site looking for keywords that describe your products and the benefits they offer. Videos are an ingenious way to connect with your audience because people by nature are visual learners. Show your product in action, teach people how to apply it for best result and assure customers of your commitment to their satisfaction.

  1. Social media is a powerful tool

Businesses have succeeded on the sheer power of their social media following plus it’s a great way to advertise your products and get people talking about your brand. People won’t believe a word you say until they hear it from other users who post in the comment section talking about their buying experience, your return policy, how it really works, the efficacy of your product and the type of service they received from your customer care. These are important factors that could break any company or improve conversion rate so show off your social media following if you have a respectable one. Highlight comments from satisfied customers to give your brand a high level of authenticity that will serve you in the long run.

  1. Use testimonials

Testimonials are probably the best way to connect with your audience on a personal level and convince them that your product works. When displaying a testimonial, display some personal information of the customer so it looks credible and not entirely made up. Alternatively, you could have a small sidebar beneath your website where the best customer feedback is aggregated from your social media accounts and displayed in real time on the website for customers to read through.

  1. Free samples

This is an effective tactic to assure your customers that they are getting their money’s worth when they make a purchase. Fewer strategies have been successful to convert customers like hooking them with the bait of a small taste of the benefit of your product.

  1. Be accessible

Include your personal details in your website, especially when you’re a startup trying to gain the trust of your customers to add legitimacy to your company. Some customers don’t want to conduct business over the internet or they might need further reassurance from you before making a purchase.

  1. Trust badges

In order for trust badges to carry any weight, they must be common at online checkouts and possess security features that encourage customers to trust brands where they find these badges. Popular trusted badges include Trusted, Trust Badges, Baymard and Truste.

  1. Offer multiple payment options with last minute discounts

There are various methods of payment options and the type of payment you accept impacts on your site conversion rate because not everyone has access to all types of payment options. Ensure you have a handful of popular choices including PayPal, credit cards and Google Wallet. To prevent users from backing out at checkout, offer last minute discount that popups in their shopping basket to entice them to follow through on the purchase.

If you’re looking for professional copywriters to complete a project for you then get in touch with us or sign up for an account today.

Web contentWhen you start a new website for your business, you’ll need to have a good amount of content on it before it goes live. There is a lot to consider when creating content for a new website. You have to think about the purpose of your site, what you want to showcase, what kind of content you want to share with your readers, the overall tone of your writing and who will be the person writing all of your content.

Creating new website content is essential if you’re looking to have a successful content marketing strategy for your business. It isn’t something to be taken lightly, either. Although content marketing doesn’t directly do anything for your company’s bottom line, a properly carried out content marketing campaign can turn website visitors into customers. A properly maintained website with new content added regularly can also help improve your business’s online presence, since fresh content helps you achieve and maintain a high search engine ranking.

What Pages do You Need?

When planning your website there are certain pages that you’ll want to have in order to have a decent online presence. Of course, you’ll want a blog page, which will hold your article and interest pieces, but there are other desirable pages.

First, your website should have a homepage – this is your website’s main page. A successful homepage will have some kind of welcome for visitors to read. There might be links to new content or to social media pages but most importantly there should be a call to action. Tell visitors to contact your company for help, ask them to visit your business’s main website or e-commerce site, or even just write a simple push to call your company for information. This will give your page a purpose and help visitors understand what you can offer.

Your website should also have an “About” page. This page will tell your visitors about your company, you as an individual (if you’re a sole business owner), or you can have short biographies on key members of your staff. There could also be a company mission statement and links to contact certain people or divisions, on this page you want to humanise your company.

Your third web page should be a “Contact Us” page. This is where you’ll have all of your direct contact lines spelt out for visitors. You may only want to include a generic contact form for visitors to fill out if you don’t want people calling or emailing specific numbers or addresses. There should also be a call to action on this page so a visitor understands why they’d want to get in touch with your company.

The fourth page is your blog. This is where new content will be published. A proper blog page will feature the latest and most popular posts but also provide access to archived posts, in case readers want to check out more of your older content. You may also want to organise this page with categories on a sidebar for easy navigation.

The last pages of a successful website are your online store sections or service offering. If you do have products to sell you’ll want to make sure that your shop is easily accessible to all visitors, increasing your chance of gathering new custom. Your shop’s page should work well with your blog page, in order to turn your readers into buyers. Links from one page to another, or even links to outside blogs regarding specific products (reviews, introduction of new products, etc.) can also be a great aid in converting readers into customers. With service pages ensure you spell out what you do and your unique service proposition- what makes you better, more experienced and a more compelling proposition than the competition?

Brand Voice and Style Guide

When you begin writing websites, keep a consistent tone that represents your company’s brand. When considering your brand voice or tone, you should take your target audience into consideration. If you’re targeting professionals your writing should be more authoritative and formal but if you’re speaking to a young audience, then your writing can maintain an edgy or casual tone.

Once you have an established voice, you’ll want to make sure that you have a set style guide. A style guide contains all the rules for writing your company’s content so that writers can refer maintain a consistency in style through all of your blog’s articles. These rules may deal with grammar, capitalisation, keywords to use, and length restrictions; anything you want. This can be a house style guide that is created specifically for your business or it can be a known style guide used throughout the wider world of writing, such as the Oxford Style Manual or the AP Style Guide.

In-house Writers vs. Freelancers

When choosing your regular writers, you can decide to use in-house staff members with a knack for writing or you can choose to hire freelance writers or a writing agency to do the work for you. There are advantages and disadvantages to both strategies. The bottom line in this debate comes down to cost. In-house writers are paid employees that you keep on payroll, but freelancers are usually paid per assignment, so may save your company money in the long run. The main disadvantage to freelancers is that they may not know your business as well as a full-time employee will.

The best thing to do is to try out different systems; in-house writers and freelancers or writing agencies, and see what works best for you and your business.

“Content marketing and copywriting are two different things” says Anik Singal. “While content marketing represents your overall content strategy and how they are integrated into various online media, copywriting is a technique of writing content for this strategy.”
In order to produce SEO content that impacts your website’s visibility on search engines or compelling material that persuades web visitors to convert, a good understanding of copywriting is necessary. Copywriting isn’t ordinary writing, far from it. It requires insight, flair and art.
To give your business an edge over competitors online, an artfully written copy could be all it takes. Here are some trusted tips from Anik Singal guaranteed to give your content more value.

1. Research more

Every copywriter or advertiser knows the importance of research. In fact, it is hard to get any quality work done without thoroughly researching the details. According to Advertising guru, David Ogilvy, fill your conscious mind with enough information so you can have enough to work with.
The most talented copywriters are unswerving researchers. The hunger for knowledge is evident; for every word they write, they will have read multiple articles. Like miners, they dig, bore, blow up and hack away until they find that pertinent information they need. Research is the ultimate cure for writer’s block.

2. Infuse your personality

When writing, it doesn’t matter whether it is for millennials or older audiences, it is important to give your readers an idea of who you are. Even if you are writing as a professional brand, a personality breaks the ice and forms a bond immediately. Every brand should have a personality and it will do you plenty good to reveal yours in written content.
It is also effective to have a positive attitude when writing. Because, like it or not, people can sense your mood in the context of your writing. So, clear up all negativity and transfer that interesting personality into your work. Tell about personal experiences, communicate emotion, slip in the odd joke or two and your readers’ interest will grow.


3. Work on your headline

This is something journalists seem to have perfected. A catchy headline will lure people to your webpage, and good content will keep them there. Once again, advertising guru, David Ogilvy said five times as many people read the headline as they do the body copy. According to him, a headline accounts for part of your advertising expenses.
Here are some top points
● Work in a juxtaposition of words and figures
● The 4 Us; Urgent, Unique, Useful, Ultra-specific
● Use some alliteration
● Be straightforward
● Add a hint of benefit, then deliver in the main body
When you sort your headline, the body will follow.

4. Simplify your content

As a follow up to a kickass headline, the main body should offer what it promises. Ensure your content is comprehensible and straightforward. However, this doesn’t mean you do away with the professional terms that make your industry unique. In fact, it would be improper for a lawyer to ditch the specific terms of their practice for the sake of simplicity.

There are smart ways to use professional ‘jargon’ while educating and taking the reader along. This way, you impact new knowledge and increase interest in your content. Use short blocks of paragraph and enough white space. From time to time, buttress your points with bullets. They make reading more streamlined and easier to process.

Other useful techniques include storytelling, using the magic word “you” and speaking the customers’ language. It is always important to know who you are writing for and how they process information. It is only when you know your audience that you can craft content they will enjoy and share.

If you’re going to be a successful writer, you need to learn how to focus when it’s time to work. You might have heard that creative people are often polymaths who tend to get pulled in different directions at the same time, but to put your best efforts into your writing, focus is key.

What is focus?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines focus as the simple act of directing one’s attention or efforts at something specific. Focus in writing may be understood in different contexts, the first of which is the ability to fully concentrate on the task at hand. Focus may also be understood as a feature of effective writing that enables a writer to establish and sustain a single topic throughout a piece. This article is more concerned with the former, but of course, focus in the first context also affects the latter.

Why is it so difficult to focus?

We’ve conditioned our minds to believe that multitasking is good for us and have been convinced of the myth that multitasking makes us achieve more and work faster in a fast-paced world. However, research has proven that this approach is not only detrimental to the task at-hand but also for the health of the brain. Dividing your attention and jumping from one task or activity to another makes it more difficult to stay on a single task for a prolonged period of time.

We’re also constantly bombarded with sensory stimuli, like TVs, mobile phones, and of course the internet. When we fail to be disciplined about a task, we find ourselves relying on our phones for a distraction right in the middle of what we’re doing.

Other reasons for a persistent lack of focus include fatigue and stress. Both of these feelings are a result of unhealthy habits, indiscipline, procrastination, and poor time management practices. When you’re unable to finish a task on time, you may end up ruminating about the deadline, which cuts into sleep time leaving you tired and in a foggy, unproductive state. It’s like a domino effect that continues to spill over into every following day until the problem is addressed.

 

How to focus better

  • Banish distractions

The first step to focusing better as a writer is to get rid of all possible distractions, whether that means your phone, tv, or any other screen devices. This requires some discipline but can be done once you have the right mindset. Turn off the sound and vibration on your phone and hide the TV remote.

  • Take more breaks

Write for about 2 hours and then give yourself a 10-minute break. Use this time to reward yourself by eating lunch, taking your dog for a walk, or doing something mindful that can help switch your brain off. It must be a restful activity that doesn’t include checking social media.

  • Try nootropics

Some people may greatly benefit from getting a bit of a brain boost from nootropics. They’re safe when used with the proper guidance from a nootropics expert who has a thorough understanding of how they work. Always make sure to consult your doctor before trying any new health supplement.

  • Don’t edit yet

To remain focused on writing, try not to edit as you write or during breaks. It’s more important to just get the words down on paper and edit after—that way you can stay totally focused and organized. Editing during the writing process might also make you feel frustrated and nitpicky, which might lead you to writer’s block.

UK US ENGLISH

Whether you’re from the UK or the US, as a writer you’re likely to receive work from both countries, which means you need to know how to adapt your writing style to each culture. While UK English is more deeply rooted in history and the original form of the English language, the American US adaptation of English is just as influential and hugely important for any versatile writer. You may not realise how different the two variations are, or how necessary that awareness is, in which case here’s a 101 guide describing the major differences between the two – and some tips for working around them.

1. Change your Language in the Word program you use to UK or US English

The choice should be under Language, For All Text, then either UK English or US English. This will help with simple spelling differences between the two variations of the language. See the screenshot for clearer instruction.

2. Familiarize yourself with the common spelling differences.

There are numerous spelling differences between UK and US English, but a few handy rules of thumb can be learned to help you navigate the pitfalls. UK English often has words that end in ‘-our’, such as colour, while US English often has words that end in -or, such as color. Once you recognise that simple pattern, you begin to notice instances of the discrepancy wherever you look: honour being the UK spelling opposed to the US’ honorfavour for the UK and favor for the US etc.

Another common variation is the suffix ‘-ise’ for UK English and ‘-ize’ for US English. A small selection of words that follow this pattern: recognise as the UK English and recognize as the US English; patronise for the UK English and patronize for the US; generalise as the UK English version and generalize as the US English and so on.

Another suffix discrepancy is that of ‘-re’ for UK English and ‘-er’ for US English. This one is a little less intuitive, so some examples are words like centre as the UK English version and center as the US English version. Following this pattern are lustre for the UK and luster for the US, and, of course; theatre as the UK English against theater for the US.

Some spelling differences don’t follow a particular pattern however, which is why it’s important to make sure that whatever text editing program you favour is set to recognise the correct English dialect. For instance, gaol is the UK spelling of the US word jail; jewellery is the UK spelling of the US word jewelry, and licence is the UK version of the US word license.

The more practice (or should that be practise?) you get using both English dialects, the more you will become familiar with these and more spelling differences.

3. Be aware of vocabulary differences.

English speakers in the UK and US often use completely different words to refer to the same object or action. We’ve put together a short selection of a few common vocabulary variations:

UK English speakers refer to the ‘toilet’ whereas US English speakers tend to call it the ‘bathroom’ or the ‘restroom’.

UK English speakers refer to people wearing ‘trousers’, whereas US English speakers call the same clothing ‘pants’. To a UK English speaker ‘pants’ most closely resembles ‘underpants’, rather than outdoors wear.

‘Subway’ to US English speakers refers to an underground train system, whereas to UK English speakers, the underground train is the ‘tube’ or, simply the ‘underground’. For the most part, ‘Subway’ refers to sandwich outlets rather than forms of public transport, in the UK.

A few other vocabulary differences: UK speakers think of ‘British Summer Time’ where US speakers think of ‘Daylight Savings Time’; UK speakers refer to a ‘coach’ rather than a ‘bus’ to US speakers; UK speakers call a ‘dual carriage-way’ what an American might call a ‘divided highway’; and ‘bank holiday’, to UK speakers, is a ‘public holiday’ to US speakers.

US speakers also refer to taking ‘vacations’ rather than the UK speakers taking ‘holidays’. For most US speakers,  ‘holiday’ is usually a public holiday, most typically used in reference to Christmas, Thanksgiving, and other religious holidays around the same time.

 4. Be aware of your use of verb tenses

Present Perfect

UK English is much stricter on the use of present, perfect verb tense. To say ‘I have eaten lunch. Will you have dessert with me?’ expresses that the first sentence has a direct effect on the second sentence. US English speakers would understand these sentences, but they might also say, ‘I ate lunch. Will you have dessert with me?’

For UK speakers, this would sound incorrect, since the past verb tense is combined with the present tense.

‘Already’ and ‘Just’

US speakers tend to be laxer with their use of ‘already’ and ‘just’; these words can be combined with a variance of verb tenses. US English speakers can say ‘I just had food’ and ‘I already saw that movie’, whereas UK English speakers are stricter when it comes to combining those words with appropriate present perfect verb tenses. A UK English speaker would likely say, ‘I have just had food’ and ‘I have already seen that movie’.

‘Have’ and ‘Have Got’

While using both ‘have’ and ‘have got’ is acceptable in both UK and US English, UK English speakers prefer the use of ‘have got’, while US English speakers prefer the use of ‘have’. US English speakers would probably ask, ‘Do you have any friends?’ while UK English speakers would generally ask, ‘Have you got any friends?’ Likewise, US English speakers would say, ‘She has a new car’ while UK English speakers would say, ‘She has got a new car’.

Past Simple vs. Past Participle

US English speakers tend to use the simple past verb form more often than UK English speakers. US speakers would say ‘She dreamed of sugar plums last night’ while UK speakers might say ‘She dreamt of sugar plums last night.’ The past participle form of verbs is rarely used in US English, although it isn’t incorrect if they are used.

‘You learned’ is more common in US English, whereas you might have ‘learnt’ something in UK English. The same can be said for ‘smelled’ in US English and ‘smelt’ in UK English, ‘leaned’ in US English and ‘leant’ in UK English, and ‘spoiled’ in US English and ‘spoilt’ in UK English.

 5. Pay attention to preposition usage

UK English speakers and US English speakers think about prepositions slightly differently. Where US English speakers like to ‘go out on the weekends’ and UK English speakers like to ‘go out at the weekends’. Neither one is incorrect, in either form.

Another preposition usage difference is with ‘on’ and ‘in’. UK English speakers would say they were chosen to be ‘in a team’, where US English speakers would say they were chosen to be ‘on a team’. In contrast, what US English speakers refer to as an animal being ‘in heat’, UK English speakers refer to the animal being ‘on heat’.

 6. Understand time-telling variations

The most noticeable difference between UK and US English time-telling is the use of the colon. UK English writers would write 12.00 to indicate noon where US English writers would write 12:00 to indicate noon. Thirty minutes after an hour is called ‘half-past’ in both UK and US English, so 12.30 would be referred to as ‘half past twelve’ in both variations of English. However, UK English speakers would say ‘quarter past ten’ to indicate 10.15, while US English speakers might say ‘a quarter after ten’ or even ‘quarter after ten’.

7. Learn punctuation differences.

There are a few key differences between punctuation usage in UK and US English. UK English has a more open punctuation style; you can write ‘Mr Yuko’ in UK English, but would have to write ‘Mr. Yuko’ when writing in US English. For UK English, the full stop, or period, is only used when the last letter of the abbreviation is not the last letter of the full word.

Comma usage is more strict in US English. American writers distinguish between restrictive and non-restrictive clauses and use commas in the case of non-restrictive clauses, but UK English speakers do not use commas in either case. For instance, US English speakers would say ‘The cat, which was sleeping, was full’, or ‘The cat that was sleeping was full’ since ‘which’ indicated a non-restrictive clause and ‘that’ indicates a restrictive clause. For UK English users, either ‘The cat which was sleeping was full’ or ‘The cat that was sleeping was full’ would be correct.

Having versatility in your writing is important, and understanding the key differences between writing both in US English and UK English will help you increase your potential audience and your value as a writer. Once you get the hang of the variations between the dialects, you’ll find yourself switching between the two effortlessly and writing for audiences in both countries.

There are many benefits to being a well-paid, full-time remote writer. Apart from being able to work from any location of your choosing and being in contact with people across the country (in many cases across continents), there is the satisfaction that comes with earning a living doing what you love, while setting your own hours (most of the time).  However, it is not all rosy. There are several challenges that are part and parcel of the role. If you are not ready to surmount these challenges, you career is bound to be relatively short lived. This piece takes a look at some of these challenges, with solutions to them.

Time Management

As a remote writer without the challenge of finding work, you will always feel as though you are in a perpetual race against time. The standard working hours will never be enough. However, the most successful writers have perfected the art of time management. Solution:

  • Set out fixed working hours. Do everything else that guzzles your time outside this period and focus solely on work during working hours.
  • Reassess your work processes. Are you spending too much time on research before writing content? Do you struggle with building up a head of steam?  Reassessing your work processes will help you understand where improvements are needed. With excess research, setting a time limit can help you to gradually start recovering lost time. Creating a quick outline in 2 minutes is usually a solution to going blank mid-task.

Ideas Generation

You’ve probably seen it happen to you time and again. You accept a barebones writing task where you have to find a topic on your own and on reading the brief, you are at a loss on how to approach.  When this happens a few times, it is easy to start wondering if remote content writing is for you.  Solution:

  • Avoid taking on projects you don’t feel confident about. It could be difficult when there is little work coming your way, but when you can, only take on projects you are absolutely certain about.
  • If you have to take on a task that you are unfamiliar with, you can quickly generate ideas by looking at where people congregate in the niche or other high profile sites in the niche.  A quick search on Google News will also throw up recent discussions in the niche. A quick look through some of these should throw up sufficient information to work with.

Mental Challenges

Have you ever been on your work desk and got lost in thoughts about debt, your partner, your children, sick parents, injured pet, damaged car and other similar problems? You are not alone.  As humans, problems are inevitable. How you react to these issues determine whether you would end up a success or not.  Solution:

  • According to Anik Singal, the keys to dealing with the mental and physical difficulties that life throws at us are persistence, strong determination and a positive attitude.  Therefore, instead of winding up when the mental strain hits, stand up to them and fight them off.
  • Give yourself a reminder of why you are working as a remote-writer. By keeping in mind your goals and objectives, you will be able to treat mental challenges as the distractions they are.

General Distractions

From your partner and your kids, to your TV/PC and your mobile phone, distractions abound. Heck even your bed can be a distraction from time to time. Solution:

  • Get a secluded office space if you are working from home. If this is not possible, register a spot at your local café or get an office sharing agreement. When you are in a strictly work environment, you can cut down on 3rd party distractions.
  • With distractions you indulge in on your own like social media or movies, there are tons of productivity tools that can help you focus. Most importantly, train yourself to mentally tune off distractions.

The remote-writer career is one that has a lot of potential. Tackling these challenges increases your chances of success.

 

Website Creation concept on chalkboard

Website content is now key to online strategy

Imagine you’re sitting at a desktop computer, searching for your website on Google. It’s 2005 – before “Googling” was a common term – and everyone with a website is trying to figure out the Internet giant’s ranking system, with very little idea of where to start.

A lot has changed since then, from the way we use the web to the value of websites and social media. But a lot of people still don’t realise just how much these changes have influenced Google’s content ranking.

Below are three of the key areas affected by Google’s search algorithm changes over the past 10 years, and how they influence and inform website content today.

1. Keywords: useful until they’re over-used

Keywords held the crown for SEO from the 90s through to the early 2000s. These words and phrases help Google and other search engines organise and rank search results, and were relied on heavily in the early days.

By 2005, search engines had realised that many webmasters were stuffing their content so full of keywords that there was no substance. They adapted, and keywords became just another tool to help with SEO, alongside qualities such as incoming and outgoing links and content quality. This also saw a trend towards guest and sponsored posts of varying quality (which Daily Posts CEO James Cummings has a lot to say about).

These days, keywords are still an important feature for content ranking, but they are valued based on how well they are included in the content. As Google’s Matt Cutts has told Daily Post, when keywords are used with consideration, search algorithms reward content with a better ranking.

2. Content length: shorter vs. longer

Up until a few years ago, many people assumed that Internet users didn’t read that much. This assumption, and Google seeming to not care about content length, led people to focus on creating short content, with “ideal” lengths often considered to be between 200-500 words. Even today, there are content creators that will aim for content around this length.

In more recent years, experts have actually realised that longer, higher quality content leads to a better Google ranking. Research has even shown that web pages ranking in the top 10 for many searches on Google have an average of 2000 words or more.

From an SEO perspective, longer content gives you an opportunity to increase search traffic, include more keywords in an organic way, encourage link-backs and increase shares. Analytics expert Neil Patel has even quantified it, reporting that his posts “receive 68% more tweets and 22% more Facebook likes than the articles with fewer than 1500 words.”

As more people have realised the benefits of increasing content length, Google has also focused on content quality. They now include tools in their search algorithms to measure the quality of content as well as its length. The key is to find a balance between length and quality or, as Patel puts it:

“Just because long content trends better doesn’t mean that yours automatically will. It helps to have an active social presence, rock-solid copy, and stuff worth talking about.”

Think about mobile when you write content

The situation is confused still more by the fact that more people than ever are reading websites on smartphones and tablets. You, therefore, have to balance your content based on purpose, user profile and a lot more. You probably don’t want people coming to your site on their mobile waiting for the train and being met by page after page of 2000 word articles. You need to cater for all the people visiting your site, which means creating a customer journey for mobile and non-mobile visitors, and leading them to the right places.

3. Search data and website content development

As people started to realise the value of search engines and SEO, they began to seek out more specific information about what they could do to optimise their content. Google found a way to provide them with this information through services such as AdWords (launched in 2000), the keyword planner (2013), Google Insights/Trends (2008) and many others.

These tools gave people a way to view the search data Google collected and use it to create content that would be more relevant for search engine results. When people saw what keywords were being searched for the most, for example, they started trying to include them in their content more often.

It became more common to see searches and keywords that were very specific and only loosely connected to the main focus of the website. For example: a florist could find “roses” is the most searched for term relating to their business.

This awareness of search themes inspired two trends: microsites that separated products to emphasis keywords, and bigger websites that grouped information in categories or themes. These days, blogs are one of the most useful features in utilising specific keywords and search phrases, as people can write posts that directly or indirectly include popular search terms.

But as the Internet continues to change and grow, so too do the factors that affect Google’s search ranking algorithms. From keywords to webpage length and style, right through to images, videos and social media engagement, there are all kinds of things to consider when it comes to getting Google’s attention. There’s one similarity for all these things though: quality always wins.

Watch our marketing video to find out a bit about how our virtual office works, and how we get our content flowing so smoothly. If you need quality content regularly then sign up with us today!

Good content is not good enough. We firmly believe that here at Daily Posts. Content should be inspiring, thought provoking, even awe-inspiring. Bringing content to life takes time and effort, but, as we will see, it also takes a great imagination.

happy website visitors, website visitor attention

In Hey Jude by The Beatles, John Lennon and Paul McCartney challenge Jude to take a sad song and make it better. How is Jude supposed to achieve this? They tell him: “Remember to let her into your heart, then you can start to make it better”. Lennon and McCartney are some of the best songwriters the world has seen. From them we learn that success in converting ordinary stuff into great content begins with taking the content to the heart. If it doesn’t come from the heart, the chances are that it will only be good enough, but not great. Below are five top content tips to help you to tell your story with passion.

 

  1. Understand Your Audience

Different audiences require different approaches to communication. Imagine for a moment that you’re writing a web tutorial for beginners; you need to start the story in a way that welcomes the audience and promises to add value to their lives. You could thus start your tech blog by saying:

Coding is fun for beginners. Indeed, I still recall the excitement I got the moment I managed to get my first script to display the words: “Hello World” on the computer screen using C++. That was twenty years ago. I did it using close to ten lines of codes. However, I am amazed at how much I can do today with a similar number of lines of code in Visual Basic or JavaScript. This is thanks to Microsoft’s inclusion of a friendly user interphase that now ships with every version of Visual Studio.

Such an introduction creates interest in the topic and motivates the reader want to discover the power of Visual Basic and JavaScript. A great way to create and sustain reader interest in your article is to identify your target audience and speak directly to them at the beginning of the article.

  1. Create Catchy Headlines

How do you introduce your story? Statistics from various sources suggest that while 80 per cent of people will read your headlines in an article, only 20 per cent will proceed to read the actual story. If you want to boost your readership, then the headlines and sub-headings must be really enticing, impactful and brief. Another way to headline this story could have been:

 How to bait your readers, hook, line and sinker

  1. Engage Your Audience

Great writing appreciates the reader as an intelligent being with his own perspectives on the issues that you are writing about. Look for creative ways to encourage the reader to participate in the story. So, go ahead and pose some thought-provoking questions. Don’t be afraid of stating your opinion and challenging the reader to counter your arguments. Occasionally think about using the shock factor. Tell the story from an angle that the reader wasn’t expecting.

  1. Illustrate Your Story

Bring your story to life with great images, videos and illustrations. If you’re writing about an obstacle in the decision-making process in an organisation, for example, use an illustration to show the reader just where the hitch is and the impact that this has on the other stakeholders in the process. Use graphs and tables to present statistical results, or throw in an illustration to show the queen’s beauty in a fairy tale story.

  1. Build Trust in Your Information

If you can tell a story truthfully, citing your sources and including links to websites that your readers can click on for further research, you become a credible source of information. Your audience will read and share your story with others via email and social media with full confidence that what you write is factual. For more information on how to authenticate your information, please click on this link: http://blog.kissmetrics.com/ingredients-of-great-content/.

So, we are through our whistlestop tour of five expert tips to make web content great. Dream up different scenarios and perspectives and tell a story worth hearing. Imagine how great your content could be if you do that!