Friday, 30 August 2013

10 Tips for Writing More Effective Copy

Hello everyone,

When it comes to writing compelling, informative and original copy, it can often become tough to figure out where to start first. As freelance copywriters, we are expected to deliver 110% each and every time we write up new content. So when it comes to improving our game, what are some tips that we can apply to write more effective copy?

I have prepared a modest list of 10 tips for your viewing consideration to make you (as well myself) more proficient in writing copy - whether it be for marketing, informational, academic or any other purpose.

Below are 10 tips for writing more effective copy:

10. Grammar - as a prerequisite, you should know where semicolons belong, where to place exclamation marks and the best times to use contractions. Basic English is a must to advance to better copywriting.

9. Avoid cliches - you should at all times expect your audience to be seeking only relevant information and content that's entirely original and genuine. So try to not quote Shakespeare or Hemingway the next time you write up a professional copy and instead make up your own quotes or at least use something more relevant and up to date!

8. Use action words - whether your writing a sales letter, PR email or padding your personal resume, you should include a few power words like "challenge," "succeed," "delight," or "love" - among others. Be sure to check specialty websites that provide loads of lists relating to actionable words and verbs used for copy.

7. Be wary of jargon - try to avoid using technical language and jargon as best as you can. You don't want to alienate readers. However if the situation warrants, then use it moderately so as to not sound too pretentious or full of yourself.

6. State the facts - avoid inserting value judgments and personal opinions into the copy as doing so will undermine any credibility that you seek to attain. Instead, use concrete, reliable sources for supporting your argument and validating your conclusions.

5. Be flexible - any decent writer can write on a wide variety of topics with ease. However, it takes a good writer to write topics using different angles and styles. Good writers can write an article humorously, tragically or in a totally stone-cold no-nonsense manner with no emotion whatsoever. What's important is that the angle must be the most appropriate for your audience.

4. Generate feeling - you wan't your audience to relate to you and express sympathy, affection or support. Whether it's to urge them to a call-to-action or sign them up to a newsletter, you need to captivate readers and make them some desired emotion(s).

3. Know your audience - even before putting pen to paper (excuse me for the outdated cliche), you need to first figure out who you are writing to. This helps you tailor your writing more to the interests of your target audience better by making the content more relevant and worthwhile for their viewing.

2. Mind the formatting - if your content looks sloppy and unprofessional, then the chances of the audience reading on will drop significantly. You'll have to familiarize yourself with the basics of copy formatting whether it's: optimum sentences per paragraph, where to place bullet points and lists and how many, choice of titles and subtitles and use of summaries before the main article. Basically, you want your copy to look as amazingly eye-catching as possible to entice your audience to read it and take action.

1. Have a goal in mind - what's the purpose of your copy anyway? Is it to provide information? Is it to generate goodwill? Or is to sell your company's products? Having a clear goal in mind before writing your copy will help to ensure that your final draft will have the correct call to action and will maximize you and your company's targets and objectives seamlessly.

So there you have it. A humble list that you can reference to hone your article writing and copywriting skills. Frankly speaking, I myself am still learning a great deal about the fine art of copywriting and am acquiring something new everyday. There are practically HUNDREDS of tips out there that promise to improve your copywriting so in no way is my list comprehensive. What's important is that it should serve as a foundation for improving your writing and copywriting abilities.

For my next article, I will dabble on the mystical nature of inbound marketing and it's important for online (and offline) businesses.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

State of Copywriting circa 2013

Hello everyone,

We all know that what we read and what we see around us all relates to marketing. Whether it's reading the newspaper, skimming through a magazine or gawking at a billboard, we are all exposed to marketing media. Apart from the pictures and colours embedded into the media, an equally powerful element of any marketing communication is the wording - that is, the copy of the content. Those people (like myself) who specialize in creating unique and compelling copy are by profession called copywriters. However, today most of us are no longer entirely dependent on physical forms of communication like we once were. With the internet and Web 2.0 at our doorstep, convenience and customization matter more to us than authority and reputation.

Copywriting wordcloud
With the continued onslaught of digital technology seeping into our lives, it's no surprise that since 2010, internet news sources have overtaken traditional print newspapers in terms of news consumption. That means more than 50% of all Americans and Britons rely on online sources like RSS feeds, news aggregators (News Republic, News 360) and social media postings (Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and blog sites) to keep updated on local and international events. The situation is obviously even more tilted in favour of online content three years past.

What does that mean for the copywriting industry? It means quite a lot of things. Namely:

  • Online copy is fast replacing traditional print copy. This has been driven by technological advances, the increasing saturation of internet usage as well as greater environmental and 'green' initiatives to cut down on paper consumption and production.
  • More and more attention is being devoted to social media outlets both major and minor. Nowadays, it seems that every other company has a Facebook page, a Twitter account or a LinkedIn company profile to broadcast company and industry related news and events. Obviously, it's copywriters who are responsible for creating such promotional content.
  • Extensive use of audiovisuals. You can't turn a newspaper ad into a 3-D graphic or start making the ad talk to you (at least not yet). But it's definitely possible online. Besides the actual copy for an ad or article, companies and individuals alike are more inclined to apply more elements into their content to attract more visitors and customers. It's common practice nowadays to see images, videos and links being attached with an article or ad simply to catch more of your attention and interest.
  • Greater use of online marketing tools and terms. As an online copywriter, you need to be familiar with a host of terminology that at first, can seem a bit bewildering. Buzzwords like affiliate programs, AdSense, Analytics, backlinks, indexing, keyword density, link farms, meta tags, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine review pages (SERPs) and Wordpress are commonly used among those 'in the know.' However, it doesn't take a genius to get the hang of it and can easily be grasped over time.

Well I've outlined just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how modern copywriting is transforming in the face of technological and social upheaval. The future is one that will be increasingly dependent on digital forms of content - whether it be news, messages (think of email and SMSs), work (digital memos and software) and play (online & mobile games). It's no use trying to resist the changing dynamics - rather, we should try to adapt and take advantage of the changing conditions to reap the plentiful opportunities that abound for not only for digital copywriters but for any freelancer interested in doing work online.

For my next article, I will be discussing some useful tips and strategies that aspiring copywriters can apply in order to be more successful online.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Making Money through Blogging - Part 2

By: Red Rahman aka the Frontier Freelancer

Hi everyone, sorry for the hiatus. I've been busy the last few days writing up assignments for various clients. Classes take up some time too.

When we last left off, I talked about how Google AdSense helps provide an essential source source of income for blogs and other web content. It is, as already mentioned, the primary source by which bloggers and webmasters monetize their content and earn income from their online sites.

However, apart from AdSense there are other, lesser known (and used) alternative sources of earning income from your online content. I will now explain some of them in greater detail below:

1. Sponsorship 
Businesses are increasingly relying on advertising their brands by investing in greater social media engagement. Advertising on Facebook, Google +, Twitter or any other social website is no longer trendy but necessary. Blogs too, are now riding the wave as more and more companies are finding value and opportunity in advertising in general and specialist blogs. Depending on the nature of your blog, whether you are into photography or enjoy roller skating, niche companies will pay generously to have their ads placed on your blog if you can show them that you have a sufficient audience and that you are a dedicated and regular blogger.A more nuanced version of sponsorship is when companies pay you to discreetly mention their brands or products within your posts or as embedded links.

2. Affiliate programs
If you are already member of a commercial website with a user-affiliate program, whether it be Freelancer, Elance, Amazon, Linkshare, etc, then you can cash in on their specific referral-based payment schemes whereby you get paid for each new qualified referral referencing your account. If you already have a sizable network or audience, then this is definitely an attractive option.

3. Proprietary content
Apart from cooking up new and unique blog posts, bloggers can also create other online content or digital assets ranging from newsletters, e-books or videos. It's also possible to link up your blog with your own personal website to both increase your audience base and cross-sell your products seamlessly.

4. Merchandising
Similar to proprietary content, except that here you are partnering with a designer/manufacturer to produce physical products like T-shirts, mugs, bags, etc. The more popular or distinct your blog is, the greater the potential reception.

5. Online communities
By joining one of the many blogging forums or general freelance writing forums/groups on the web, you can take advantage of new job recommendations, offers or tips that can lead to making some extra cash.

6. Donations
Who doesn't mind receiving some charitable contributions for their hard work? Although traditional and unreliable, donations remain a decent way to receive some cash for your blog or website.

So as we can see, your options of making money through blogging are not limited at all. Although AdSense dominates the internet landscape in terms of coverage and usage, you can still rely on secondary sources of income to further capitalize on your digital content.

On the next article, I begin a series of articles related to digital copywriting and freelancing.

Until then, bon voyage!

(Red Rahman is a business student by day and a frenetic digital copywriter and freelancer by night. He can be reached by Twitter@ReduanRahman)

Friday, 23 August 2013

Making Money through Blogging - Part 1

By: Red Rahman aka the Frontier Freelancer

Before I dive in to the juicy methods available for tech-savvy bloggers to start earning money online, we should first clarify what blogging actually is. Literally, the term blog is simply a contraction of ‘web log.’ Basically they are web-based personal journals written by individuals that are usually updated with new content frequently. Blogs can be about just about anything – from accounting to playing xylophones or from zoo keeping to agricultural economics. The variety of topics covered by blogs (collectively called the ‘blogosphere’) is nearly as vast as the reach of the modern internet itself. In fact, two of the internet’s most active websites being Facebook and Twitter, are in fact ‘micro-blogging’ sites that also have multi-author blog (MAB) systems embedded within. Then of course, there are professional blog outlets like Tumblr, Wordpress and Blogger that are incredibly popular and frequently used and accessed by web denizens.

Blogs are created by different people to serve different purposes. Most blogs on the net are personal blogs that serve as personal spaces for people to provide social commentary, express their opinions, write about personal feelings and events (sort of like a diary) or to simply source content from other blogs or websites. Increasingly, large and small businesses alike have found relevance and profit in establishing their own social networking profiles whether it be a blog, Facebook, Google +, Twitter, Linkedin or YoutTube accounts. Organizations and groups, just like individuals, understand the importance of reaching out and communicating with others whether it be friends, customers or the public at large. All blogs usually have standard elements and generally have textual elements and may also contain images or links.
Now we move on to the meat of the article. So how exactly can you expect to make money from blogging? Lucky for you and me there’s more than one option to start earning cash while writing about stuff that’s fun and interesting to you. Below is a list of popular methods by which you can earn money:

1. Advertising programs - AdSense
By harnessing the strength and scale of Google’s AdSense or lesser known programs like Yahoo’s Chitika, you can start monetizing your blog right away.
Owing to its broad popularity, I will only discuss AdSense in this article. Using Google’s super-powerful and uber-popular Google search engine, Google can place advertisements within your blog based on your site’s content, your audience’s geographical location or other factors. Essentially AdSense is a contextual advertising program whereby Google places ads on your blog related to your subject matter. The ads can include automatic text, images, videos or interactive media advertisements that are carefully targeted to the blog’s site content and viewers. The application of AdSense is usually a default choice for anyone starting a new account on Google’s Blogger site but covers all publisher mediums within the Google Network. The program also provides income through input of a Google search site tool as well as referral tools. The main channel by which revenue is generated is either through a per-click or per-impression basis.

Today, it is the internet’s most popular advertising network for websites - used by around 15% of all websites and controlling over 75% of the total advertising network market (1). For individuals and small businesses, it is an especially crucial means for generating income owing to lack of available funds for developing advertising sales programs or hiring sales staff. There are a variety of means by which webmasters (the owners of a website) can maximize their AdSense revenues. To keep this article brief and relevant to the titular topic, I will cover this important topic in the future.

My next article will focus on the other lesser-known ways to earn money through blogging.

Until then, bon voyage and stay tuned!

(Red Rahman is a business student by day and a frenetic digital copywriter and freelancer by night. He can be reached by Twitter @ReduanRahman)

Wednesday, 21 August 2013


Hello everyone!

The purpose behind creating this blog is to educate and inform others (as well as myself) about the exciting and fast-changing world of online freelancing and internet marketing. I will also cover other related topics like blog and article writing, copywriting, general marketing concepts and trends as well as search engine optimization (SEO) topics.

As a business student studying marketing, I'm in a pretty good position to grasp and understand the fundamentals of marketing. I'm also quite handy when it comes to other marketing and management skills like branding, communication, copywriting, promotions and strategy. Apart from my 'formal' skills, I am constantly learning day by day about online freelancing and its various technicalities and operations as all its associated concerns like online article writing, blogging, social networking as well as SEO.

I hope to be regular with posting new content and will try to make it fresh and interesting. My goal is to captivate readers like you and keep you hooked and wanting to come back for more.

My first real article of a series of articles which I hope to post here soon is on Making Money Through Blogging - Part 1 (AdSense).

Until then, stay tuned and be prepared to read and experience something new and refreshing!