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Archive for the category “Copywriting”

Active voice, passive voice — what’s the difference?

Active and passive voice - what's the difference?

Remember back in school when you learnt about the different ‘voices’ in your writing?

No? Active voice and passive voice?

Still nothing?

Well that’s okay. This blog post will explain all you need to know about active and passive voice, and when you should use each voice.

 

The difference between active and passive voice

In its simplest terms, active voice occurs when the subject of the sentence (or performer) is performing the action. For example:

Tom loves Jess. Tom (the subject) is performing the act of loving.

Passive voice is when the subject receives the action. For example:

Jessica is loved by Tom. Jessica (the subject) is receiving Tom’s love.

 

 Using the active voice

It is generally recommended to use active voice when writing. Active voice is clearer and more succinct. It clearly identifies the action and who or what is performing the action. It is stronger, and enables us to communicate our message more effectively. It also can be used to point the reader in a particular direction

Active voice has a kind of energy that passive voice lacks. It is the perfect choice in business writing — particularly when using a ‘call to action’ (e.g. ‘Call us now!’). And it is usually the choice for creative writing.

 

Using passive voice

While passive voice is often wordier than active voice, it is useful to use it in certain situations. For example, health writing often use the passive voice, because the ‘performer’ is less important than the action.

e.g. Carbohydrates are found in fruits and vegetables.

While using active voice in scientific writing is sometimes preferable, passive voice is useful because it is considered inappropriate for scientists to insert themselves into the paper.

e.g. The subjects were tested instead of We tested the subjects.

Passive voice is also used when the performer is unknown, irrelevant or obvious.

e.g. Every year, thousands of people are diagnosed with cancer.

It is also useful when hedging around a topic. You will notice that police officers, managers and politicians often use passive voice when they don’t want to, or are unable to identify the person who has performed the action.

e.g. Mistakes were made and the procedures were misinterpreted.

 

How to recognise passive voice

As we have seen, using passive voice is not wrong. However, active voice is preferable in most cases. To determine if your writing is passive, look out for the following tell-tale words:

  • be
  • is
  • are
  • a
  • was
  • were
  • has been
  • have been
  • will be

If any of these words appear, then you have written a passive sentence.

 

Changing from passive to active

Active sentences follow a logical order:

i.e. doer of action (performer) + action + receiver of action

To change a passive sentence into an active one, simply:

  1. begin the sentence with the doer of the action
  2. make the verb active
  3. put the receiver of the action after the active verb

e.g.                                        

The novel The Power of One was written by Bryce Courtenay (passive)

 CHANGES TO:

 Bryce Courtenay wrote The Power of One.

  

Final tips

Remember, passive voice has its place in writing too and in some instances if preferable. The type of voice you use in your writing will depend upon what you’re writing, who the audience is, and what the aim of your communication is.

But if you want your message to be snappy and clearly understood, always choose an active voice.

If you need help deciphering active and passive sentences, or just don’t want the bother of doing it at all, please contact me.

Cheers
Nerissa

 

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9 problems associated with writing for FREE

Problems when you write for free

Starting your freelance writing career can be very daunting with many challenges along the way.

One of the most challenging aspects is landing work; gaining clients; winning writing jobs.

What can sometimes make this difficult is that potential clients want to see your portfolio. But hang on! You don’t have one because you’re just starting out! So how are you supposed to get work without a portfolio? And how are you supposed to create a folio without any work?

So, you decide to write for free for a while, until you build up a worthy portfolio to show your potential clients. Right?

Wrong!!

 

Problems when you write for free

While it may seem like an easy solution to your problem, writing for nothing can actually lead to more problems — for you and for your fellow writers.

Problem #1: You set the precedent that you will continue to work for free.

Once a client or editor realises they can get writing from you without paying for it, guess what they’re going to do next time they need something. Yep. Ask you to do it — for free. Why would they begin paying you when you didn’t request payment the first time?

Problem #2: You tell people your work is not valuable

When you don’t place a monetary value on your work, you send a message that you don’t see value in your work. And if you don’t see value, why should they?

Problem #3: Exposure means nothing

Many potential clients will offer you something called ‘exposure’. That is, they will promote your work on their social media channels, etc. While that sounds appealing, ‘exposure’ rarely leads to paid work, because their target market is usually not YOUR target market. Besides, most of us write to make money, and last time I checked, you can’t pay for your groceries or your mortgage with ‘exposure dollars’!

Problem #4: Writing for free actually costs you

You might think you’ve got nothing to lose by writing a few articles for nothing. But how much time do you spend doing that? Time is money. And if you’re not earning money with your writing, then you should be spending time working on tasks that WILL bring you money, or building your business. Don’t use your precious time or your talents making someone else successful at your expense. You’d be better off getting paid employment.

Problem #5: You encourage the exploitation of writers

Every day, in every city, around the world, writers are asked and expected to write for nothing. In short, this is exploitation. When you agree to work for nothing, you’re sending the message that it’s okay to exploit the writing profession in general. Stop doing that.

Problem #6: You undermine the value of artistic industries

Artistic and creative professionals have always struggled to be considered as valuable as other professionals. When you agree to work for free, you contribute to this misunderstanding and perpetuate the problem.

Problem #7: You make it harder for other writers to earn a living

Each time you say ‘yes, I will write for free’, you empower that editor to ask the next writer and the next writer the same thing. Soon, there is a belief amongst editors and businesses, that it’s not necessary to pay for writers, and so they stop investing in the industry.

Problem #8: You contribute to poorer writing standards

You may be a top-notch writer, but not everyone is. When clients no longer believe they have to pay for writing services (see problem #7), they will go looking for people who will write for nothing or for very little. Those who are willing to work under these conditions are usually those who can’t write very well or simply sit and churn out article after article with little thought to the quality of their writing or their target audience. What we are left with, is a bunch of hacks writing content, and poorer writing standards.

Problem #9: You waste your education, experience and talents

How much time and money have you invested in gaining your skills as a writer? How long did your education take? How long have you been honing your craft? Remember, the whole point of gaining professional writing skills was so you could make a career out of it. So why would you suddenly agree to work for no pay, now you’re out on your own?

 

Some final warnings…

Before I move on to when it is okay to write for free (because sometimes it is), I want to warn you about a couple of tricks found in job ads for writers.

Trick #1: “We aren’t in a position to pay right now, but there is the potential for payment down the track”.

Don’t fall for it. The likelihood of you ending up being paid later on is remote.

Trick #2: “We aren’t currently making a profit right now, so we can’t pay our writers, but you’ll get your work noticed”.

Don’t fall for this one either. That’s like you going into Officeworks and telling them you’re just starting out as a freelance writer, so you can’t afford to buy all the office equipment and stationery you need. So, instead of monetary payment, you’d like to write an article about how awesome they are. Yeah. Not going to happen. Besides, if you landed a position at a not-for-profit organisation, they would still pay you a salary for the work you’d do.

 

When should you write for free?

Even though there are numerous problems when it comes to ‘gifting’ your writing services to others, there are a couple of circumstances when it is okay.

  1. You donate your services in-kind for a charitable or community organisation that you feel strongly about.
    There is nothing wrong with doing this. Many professional writers donate their services to support charities and their local community groups. It’s no different to volunteering or donating money.
  2. You provide free writing services as part of an internship.
    An internship is a great way to gain experience as a writer and to put together a portfolio. However, under the guise of internships, the person performing the work should be getting the main benefit of the arrangement. Further information about internships (paid and unpaid) can be found at https://www.fairwork.gov.au/pay/unpaid-work/work-experience-and-internships

Finally, I came across this video which may help explain it in real life terms.

Don’t sell yourself short. Your writing is valuable and so is your experience.

If you’re not a writer, but would like to hire me (for money), please contact me. Not only will you receive high-quality writing with exceptional customer service, you’ll be entering a partnership with me which includes a promise to never take your business for granted.

Cheers
Nerissa

 

 

How to spot a good copywriter

How to spot a good copywriter

Unless you’ve been given a personal recommendation, it can be hard to know if the copywriter you’ve chosen is good at their craft or not.

While spelling and grammar are both important when it comes to copywriting, they aren’t the only measures of success you should be looking for. So to help you discern the good writers from the hacks, here are a few qualities to look out for.

 

They have a portfolio

A good copywriter will have a portfolio (e.g. samples of published work) and will be happy to share it with you. They should also be happy to provide you with a list of clients they have worked with. Understand however, that due to the nature of some projects, writers aren’t always able to provide you with actual copy they have written for some clients. In this case, client testimonials may also work well.

 

They prefer to work to a brief

An experienced writer will ask for and prefer to work to, a client brief. A brief is important for both parties. It contains vital information to assist the copywriter to come up with the type of content you are seeking. It will also save you money, as it reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings, and the need for expensive re-writes and revisions.

 

They ask questions

You know you’ve found someone who will do a good job when they ask questions and seek clarification when they are unclear on something. Steer clear of the copywriter who seems self-assured and seems to ‘know it all’ when it comes to your needs — unless of course you have delivered a very detailed client brief to them!

 

They know how to research and reference their work

The craft of copywriting sometimes requires the writer to undertake research. This is particularly the case when it comes to health and medical writing. If your content needs some background research, make sure the writer you engage knows how to research, where to research, and how to correctly reference this information. After all, YOU will be responsible for the accuracy of the end copy, not the writer you hire.

 

They have a good understanding of the industry they are writing about

This is not a pre-requisite, but it does help. Engaging someone who understands your industry will save you time and money. For example, if you need someone to write about diabetes, hiring a health writer who understands the key health concerns facing the general population will result in better and cheaper copy, than someone who specialises in financial technology. Better, because they are familiar with the topic and the health concerns unique to diabetes, and cheaper because they won’t need to spend as much time researching the topic as the fin-tech expert.

 

They are flexible, yet firm

Flexible but firm? Yes. Your copywriter should be reasonably flexible when it comes to considering suggested changes and revisions to text. They should also understand that you, as their client, have other priorities to juggle, which may mean you can’t always drop everything to attend to their queries.

However, they should be firm when it comes to providing you with a quote, their terms and conditions of contract, as well as changing deadlines, or the scope or focus of the project. If the deadline or scope of the project must change, then you should both negotiate these changes. Chances are, they are juggling more than just your project, and need to fit your needs in with the needs of their other paying clients.

 

They focus on building a partnership

When engaging a copywriter, you should want more out of the relationship than just good copy. Look for someone who views your working relationship as a partnership. While price is obviously a factor in hiring someone, having a good working relationship with someone who understands your brand, your needs and the way you work is priceless. Once you find someone like that do all you can to keep them. You will find they will go the extra mile for you.

 

By all means, the above isn’t an exhaustive list but it will certainly give you a few things to think about when selecting a copywriter.

Want to know if you’re a copywriter’s dream client, then click here.

And if you’re ready to work with me, or have some questions, please contact me. I’d love to hear from you.

Cheers
Nerissa

The freelance writer’s guide to working in the school holidays

Writing in school holidays

If you’re a freelance writer with kids, school holidays can be a tricky (and sometimes, frustrating) time.

Let’s be honest. In the freelance writing game, it’s very often ‘feast or famine’ — either too much work or not enough. And for the first few years, it’s very tempting to say ‘yes’ to any work that comes your way, until you are well-established in your field.

As luck (or Murphy’s Law) would have it, my busiest times have usually been during school holidays. This has often meant a stressful holiday period, trying to balance meeting deadlines and holiday fun. It is further compounded by the fact that writing for a living isn’t as simple as sitting down for a few hours and ‘getting it done’.

 

The zone — a near impossible place to find with kids around

Writing often means needing to be in the ‘zone’ — feeling the inspiration and getting the words to flow freely, rather than trying to extricate them one by one. As a health writer, I also need time to research my topic.

As any writer would know, the zone isn’t something you can turn on and off. It’s either there or it’s not. Sure, there are things you can do to help you get in the zone, but with a couple of noisy (and sometimes arguing) children in the background, getting there can be difficult. Even if you manage to find your way there, that magic place where the writing comes easy, can be shattered in an instant with the words “Mum, I’m hungry” or cries of “Stop it! Leave me alone!”

In the past, working during school holidays has meant early mornings, late nights and working across the weekends. By the time school term started up again, I was in need of a holiday myself. But of course, everything else that had been put on the back-burner while I was juggling work and school holiday activities was beckoning.

 

A different approach

After a couple of years trying to juggle deadlines, business activities and school holiday activities, I realised something had to give. So I started saying ‘no’ to new projects for those couple of weeks.

Instead, I work intermittently while I can, on things that are not urgent. They also don’t require me to be ‘in the zone’ so much, which means that I can make the most of snippets of time that becomes available.

 

Attend to non-urgent but important tasks

Things I focus on during this time include updating my website, researching for upcoming articles, planning out the remainder of my year, setting goals, planning social media posts, updating my folio, learning new things that will have a positive impact upon my business, as well as building relationships with key people.

Quite frankly, it’s been great. Instead of fitting school holidays (and the kids) around work, I’m fitting in my work around them. The great thing about this approach is that I don’t feel guilt. No guilt about not spending time with the kids when I’m working, and no guilt about not working when I’m with the kids.

 

Do less and be more productive

Interestingly, the quality of my work is a lot higher because I’m focusing more on what I want to get done, rather than the ever-present ticking clock when it comes to deadlines. I also don’t have to deal with the problem of how I’m going to fit it all in. There is a lot less frustration, because writing deadlines are not in the picture. It’s an arrangement that seems to work for me, and one that I will endeavour to employ in future school holidays.

 

Do you need to pull back in the holiday period?

It’s very easy to get caught up in the busyness of work and family life It’s even more easy to be swamped by the juggle that is work and school holidays. One thing I have learnt however, is that sometimes we need to take something out of the picture in order to have more balance, more fun and less stress.

And funnily enough, having that bit of time off means I am more than ready to get stuck into work when the kids return to school.

If you’re a freelance writer trying to juggle kids and school holidays, try pulling back a bit to see what a difference it can make to you.

 

Cheers
Nerissa

NOTE: With only one school term left this year, and my diary filling up, opportunities to work with me this year are dwindling. If you don’t want to miss out, contact me TODAY to see how I can help you.

 

 

10 tips when writing for business

10 tips when writing for business

Writing copy for your business is very different from writing for other media. With many other companies competing with you for the same customers, it’s essential that your message hits all the right notes.

Here’s a list of things to consider when putting together your business communications.

1. Know your message

What do you want your potential and current customers to know? What’s the one key point you need to convey to them? While you probably have a few things you’d like to tell them, stick with the one message to avoid confusion.

2. Be clear

Once you are clear on your message, convey it with clear and concise writing. Use simple, easy-to-understand language, avoiding clichés and jargon. Write in short sentences and get right to the point. When your message is clear, you customers are informed.

3. Watch your tone

Ensure that your tone matches that of your audience. If you need to be authoritative, try not to be patronising. If you need to employ humour, ensure that it’s not full of corny ‘dad jokes’. Whatever tone you choose, your audience should feel a connection to you.

4. Remember your branding

What does your company stand for? What is your brand all about? Your written messages are another opportunity to increase your branding. Remember that when you write. If your brand is all about fun, then inject some fun into your message. If your brand is factual and scientific, ensure your message is factual as well.

5. Follow your style guide

This comes back to your branding, but ensure all your written communications follows the same style guide. Not sure what a style guide is? Put simply, it’s a list of ‘rules’ and ‘standards’ to follow with your writing, that promotes consistency, branding and marketing. If you want some tips on how to develop a style guide, click here.

6. Be professional

While standards of business communications have become more relaxed over recent years, always maintain a sense of professionalism. That means avoiding slang, text-speak, too many exclamation points (!!!), and language or topics that may offend.

7. Include a call to action

Don’t leave it to your readers to decide what to do next. Tell them. And make it easy for them. If you want them to call, then give the phone number. If you want them to email you, include a clickable link. If you want them to follow you on social media, include a clickable link. If you want them to visit their website — you got it — include a clickable link.

8. Don’t forget grammar and spelling

When you are busy paying attention to what you want to say, don’t forget about how you say it. Grammar and spelling really do matter. Communications that contain grammatical and spelling errors will only detract from your message.

9. Proofread before you send

Most of us do our best proofreading after we send — whether that be via email, social media or through the post. Check and double-check for errors before you disseminate anything. Some useful tips on proofreading can be found here.

10. Hire a freelancer

While this is not exactly a writing tip, it’s good to keep the option in the back of your mind. If writing is not your strong suit, or you simply don’t have the time to devote to crafting your message, consider hiring someone who can help. A good freelancer can help craft letters, blog articles, press releases, memos, training manuals, business letters or just about any other kind of writing you need.

Great writing is key for business. Using the tips above, you can greatly improve the likelihood of your key business messages hitting the right note.

However, if you would like help crafting communications for your business, please contact me. You’ll find I’m very easy to work with, and my rates will surprise you!

 

Cheers
Nerissa

How to juggle multiple projects…and a family…and a life!

How to juggle multiple projects

Life as a freelancer isn’t always on an even keel.

You’ll have periods where the work dribbles in (or even stops for a bit), and then you’ll have times when the work is flooding in and you’ll wonder how you’ll ever get it done.

And while others around you might say ‘don’t take it on’ or ‘tell them you’re too busy’, you know there will be times when the work won’t be so plentiful, so you elect to make hay while the sun shines.

But in the meantime, how do you juggle it all, particularly when you have a family and a life outside of writing?

Plan, plan, plan

I’ve just come out of one of the busiest periods I’ve ever had. In a nutshell, I have written 35 articles over three weeks — 30 of them were part of a big project for a leading health fund. In that time, I still had to find time for my other clients, my family, my training, social life and writing my novel. (Did you know I’m working on my first one?).

One of the best pieces of advice I can offer you is to plan out your week before it begins. I have this amazing planner I use every week, and I write everything on it — training sessions, kids’ activities, medical appointments, deadlines, reminders, social activities and what bills are due that week. My life is that planner. And the great thing about it, is that I can see my week at a glance.

Colour code and write ‘to-do’ lists

I like colour. It brightens my day, but it also helps me see how my week is panning out. Work time is assigned a colour, as is deadlines, kids’/social activities, training and household chores. I also write to-do lists and tick off or cross off my tasks as I get them done. Not only does it feel good, but it tells me whether I have attended to that task or not.

Prioritise

We all have the same amount of time, so why do some people get so much done and others don’t? It’s because they prioritise their time. Focus on the things that are important (e.g. working on your projects, feeding the kids) and letting some of the other things go for a few days (e.g. ironing, housework). Those things will always be there, but when you have deadlines looming over your head, you really need to work on those first. And be disciplined when it comes to social media. You may need to use it for your business, but schedule time for that. Don’t let it suck your day away.

Make time for you

When you’re snowed under, you may feel tempted to keep ploughing on just to get the work done. You’ll skip lunch (and maybe dinner), and will only leave your desk for a bathroom break. But if you make time for yourself and schedule breaks (and eat lunch and dinner), you will be more productive. If you are a regular exerciser, keep that up. Exercising is a great way to clear your head, de-stress and recharge your batteries. And don’t forget to take regular breaks away from your computer to avoid headaches and neck problems.

Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’

You know, there’s a bit of an assumption that freelancers have all the time in the world because we work from home and are ‘flexible’. While flexibility is great, too much flexing will leave you with too little time to get your work done. During busy periods, be prepared to say ‘no’ to that coffee date, or shopping with your friends. Get your work done first, and use social activities as a reward for when it’s done.

Ask for help

Sometimes, it’s just impossible to keep doing everything you usually do, and complete your writing projects on time. So don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask your partner or kids to hang out washing, chop the veggies for dinner or clean the bathrooms. Ask a friend to bring your kids home from school so you get another precious hour of writing time. Ask someone else to cook your meal for you (aka take-away). Whatever help you can get, make the most of it. It will help you stay calmer and more productive. And you know it’s only for a short time.

Take time off

When your project is finally completed, and your client has signed off on it, take some time off. It may be a day, a couple of days or a week — depending upon how long your busy stint has been. Don’t be tempted to keep going, or you will run the risk of burning out. Get away from the computer and your phone and re-engage in the world around you. Go for a walk, go shopping, or just sit and read your book. Everyone needs a break from work — even us freelancers.

And on that note, my final task on my ‘to-do’ list has been ticked off. So it’s time for me to shut down the computer and take my book outside.

If you would like to engage me for one of your projects (after my break), then please contact me.

 Cheers
Nerissa

How to write (better) without a computer

Write better without a computer

Let’s face it. Most of us spend way too much time sitting down during the day. And if you’re a writer, then you probably spend most of your work time, sitting in front of a computer.

But have you ever tried writing away from your computer? I mean write without using it?

No?

Well you may want to consider it.

As a freelance health writer, I have the freedom to pick and choose my hours. This means that if I have lots of competing deadlines, I have the opportunity to work across the weekend to meet my deadlines, and then the luxury to take another day off in lieu.

What sometimes happens on my day off, when I have gone out for the day, is that I am inspired to write. It might be something relating to an article I am writing, I might get a great idea for a new article, or I may be inspired to work on my novel. (Did you know I’m working on my first novel?)

But how do you write when you’re not near your computer?

Well, I have a few strategies.

 

Write the old fashioned way

Notebook and pen — this is probably the most obvious because it’s what we all used to do before the advent of the computer. I always have a notebook, and what seems like a gazillion pens at the bottom of my handbag for when I need to write something down.

Serviette and pen — if for some unknown reason, I don’t have a notebook with me, I will head to the nearest café, grab a coffee and a wad of serviettes and get writing. Even if all I can do is write dot points, it’s better to get it down in some form.

 

Use technology

Most of us have a Smartphone, but do you use your ‘notes’ app? If you don’t it’s worth considering. While it may take longer to type using your phone, it can be very handy. Then there is the added bonus of being able to email the note — which means when you get back to the office, you have an electronic version of your notes/writing ready to go.

There are also a range of speech-to-text apps that you can use as well. Personally however, I am an old-fashioned girl when it comes to writing, and much prefer the power of pen and paper.

 

In my head

It may sound strange, but I often draft things in my head. I draft article outlines, letters, emails and even conversations between characters in my book. I do this when I’m stuck at traffic lights, waiting for my daughter at school pick-up or even going for a walk.

 

Write anywhere

When it comes down to it, we really don’t need a computer to write. Yes, it comes in very handy, particularly if you are using the internet for research or you’re toggling between different documents. However, computers can be distracting — the ding of your email, the temptation of social media — you know what I’m talking about.

While being away from your computer may be frustrating on some level, I think you may be surprised at just how focused you can become when it is just you and your writing.

Why not try it this week and let me know how you go?

Cheers
Nerissa

 

 

 

The importance of a client brief

The importance of a client brief

You’ve done your due diligence and found a great copywriter who has loads of experience, has positive reviews and is within your budget. You’re feeling pretty happy with your decision and are excited to start working with them.

After contacting them and having initial discussions, you’re even more sure you’ve made the right decision.

But when the copywriter sends you a client briefing document and requests you fill in several pages of information, you start to wonder if you’ve made the right decision. After all, isn’t it the job of the copywriter to do the writing?

 

What is a brief and why do you need one?

Believe it or not, the fact that your copywriter has sent you a brief to fill in is a sign they are on top of their game.

A great copywriter is someone who will write copy that meets your needs — not theirs. Which is why they require a client brief.

A client brief is a bit like a road map. It contains directions, guidelines and pertinent information in order for your copywriter to come up with the content you are paying them for.

A client brief reduces the chances of ambiguity and misunderstandings when it comes to your content, eliminating the need for countless (and sometimes expensive) revisions and rewrites.

In short, the more information you provide, the better.

 

A brief is not…

While it’s important to understand the purpose of a client brief, it’s also important to understand what it’s not.

A brief is not:

  • A list of terms and conditions of engagement — that should be a separate document and something I will address in a future blog post
  • A contact of agreement:  — this too is a separate document which outlines the scope of the project, (including fees) which both parties need to sign.
  • A promise — while a good copywriter will produce great content according to your specifications, they cannot promise particular outcomes such as website hits and clicks, or sales.

 

What should you include?

There are no hard and fast rules about what a client brief should include. After all, every writing project is different. However, the following gives you a good idea on what type of questions you may be asked.

  • Your business: What is your business (e.g. what do you do, your core operations) and how long have you been in business?
  • Your brand: What does your brand stand for? What is your tone? What are your values?
  • Engagement objectives: What is the purpose of this communication? Are you looking for a specific outcome or action (e.g. increased sales), or do you want to increase your brand awareness, and increase brand loyalty?
  • Target audience: Who are your primary and secondary audiences (e.g. age, gender, socio-economic status)
  • Audience persona: What are their interests, concerns, or personality?
  • Campaign objectives: What are the key messages you want your consumers to receive regarding your brand or product?
  • Key messages: Are there any key messages you want to convey in your content? Are there any messages that must be avoided?
  • Key words: Are there any key words that must be used, or avoided?
  • Type of message: Is this communication a blog piece? Article? Advertorial? Report? Tender? News article?
  • Tone: What is the tone of the message? (e.g. friendly, authoritative, casual, formal, humorous, etc.)
  • Content channels: Where will the content be published? (e.g. online, blog, print, social media, advertising etc.) How will it be published? (e.g. bound report, booklet, loose-leaf binder, electronic)
  • Images/graphics: Are there any images or graphics that must accompany the content?
  • Style guidelines: Is there an in-house Style Guide that must be followed?
  • Research: Is credible research required for this communication?
  • Examples: Are there any examples of existing material that you like?
  • Brand ambassadors: Are there any brand ambassadors associated with your product/brand?
  • Scope of the project: How big is the project? (e.g. one-off report, blog or article) What is the word length?
  • Budget: What is your budget for this project?
  • Deadline: What is the deadline for the project?

 

You still need to be involved!

Once you have filled in as much information as possible, your copywriter will get busy doing what they need to do. However, don’t think that your job is over just yet! As you are the client, you will be required to provide ongoing feedback or ask any relevant questions for the scope of the project.

If your copywriter requests further information or clarification from you, it’s because it’s relevant to the project. They really aren’t messing with your head!

Oh, and if you have a deadline for this project, then it will be important to provide information, reviews or feedback in a timely manner, in order to meet that deadline. So make sure you factor that into the scope of the project.

 

Take the time to brief your copywriter

One of the reasons you engage a copywriter may be because you just don’t have time to do the job yourself. However, I highly recommend you take the time to fill out a client brief with as much detail as possible. It may take an hour or two, but in the end, the detail in that document could very well be the difference between mediocre copy and fabulous copy.

Speaking of fabulous copy…. if you’re ready to hire a great copywriter — and are willing to fill in a copy brief! — then please contact me.

If you’re still wondering if you should hire a copywriter, then 10 reasons why you should hire a copywriter may answer some of your questions.

Cheers
Nerissa

8 Ways reading helps you become a better writer

8 Ways reading makes you a better writer

Can you imagine a chef who never ate at a restaurant? Or a musician who never listened to music?

What about a writer, who never read?

Truth is, if you aspire to be a good writer — regardless of whether you are writing fiction, poetry, or marketing copy — you need to read.

Reading is a great pastime. It provides a way to visit different worlds and meet different characters. It provides an escape from the (sometimes) mundane aspects of life. It provides an opportunity to rest the body (how many of you move around while reading?), and it offers an affordable way to de-stress.

But beyond purely pleasure, reading is one of the most important tools available to help you become a better writer. So how does it help?

  1. You improve your vocabulary

The more you read, the more words you are exposed to. The more words you are exposed to, the better your vocabulary, and the more interesting and dynamic your writing becomes.

  1. Your spelling improves

Similar to the point above, the more words you are exposed to, the better your spelling will be. One of the most important and effective ways for children to become better at spelling, is to get them to read. So if your spelling needs a bit of work, then get reading!

  1. Inspires new ideas

Reading opens up new worlds, new characters and new ideas. The more you read, the more inspired you will be to create new worlds yourself — whether it be fiction or a world where your marketing copy screams off the page. Reading shows you different ways of approaching different subjects, which leads to more interesting copy.

  1. Helps you understand your genre better

Whether you write advertising copy, scientific journals or health pieces, reading in your genre will help you understand your genre better. It will give you a base knowledge and a solid understanding of the market you are writing for, which will allow you to adjust your style accordingly.

  1. Helps you learn language conventions

Whether you know it or not, reading helps you learn the rules of grammar and language conventions, without having to do boring grammar exercises, or learning the rules of grammar by rote.

  1. Connects you to the rest of the world

Reading connects you to the rest of the world. It allows you to learn new things, and become more educated in a range of different subjects. Reading material can give you something to talk to others about, and provides a platform to examine your core beliefs and how you relate to the world. And when you have a good understanding of who you are and what you stand for, your writing becomes stronger.

  1. Improves your knowledge

The wider you read, the more knowledge you will have. Don’t limit yourself to one or two topics. Sure, American History might be your passion, but read more widely. The more you know, the more interesting you will be. And the more interesting you are — that’s right — the more interesting your writing will be.

  1. Improves brain function

Finally, reading has a positive impact on overall brain health. It helps overcome stress, improves cognitive function, helps keep your brain active into old age and reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. And you know what that means? You’ve got more time to write!

So the next time you feel guilty about grabbing that book, remember you are doing your writing, and your career, a great big favour!

If you’re looking for a great writer to help you with your project, please contact me. I’d love to see how I can help.

Cheers

Nerissa

 

So you want to be a writer…

Becoming a writer - Write to the Point CommunicationsSo you want to be a writer but not sure how to begin?

Rest assured, you’re not alone!

Writing can seem like some mysterious craft that only a select few can do. But really, writing is one of the easiest (yet hardest) things you’ll ever do.

Easy, because all you need to do is begin writing.

Hard, because beginning (and continuing) takes creativity, courage and lots of discipline. And even then, you often question whether what you have written is worth reading.

But before you settle for a career as a writer, there are a few key questions you should ask yourself.

 

Why do you want to write?

What is it about writing that thrills you? Does it thrill you or only interest you? Have you always liked writing or is it something you’ve only just begun to enjoy? If you could write anything in the world what would it be? What do you hope to get out of writing?

 

Do you want to earn a living from writing?

Writing for pleasure and writing for a living are two very different things. Firstly, writing for pleasure means just that — for your own pleasure. There is a kind of luxury in being able to write what you like when you like, and to indulge in your creative side.

Writing for a living means writing for other people. Very often, it means writing to a brief — which means producing a piece of writing for a specific purpose and specific audience. It may involve writing content that you find boring or hard to understand. It may mean interviewing people to hone your story. It may involve copious amounts of research. In short, it can be very hard work, but also very satisfying in producing something that someone else values.

 

What do you want to write?

When the word ‘writer’ comes up, most people think of a novelist. And while writers do write novels, there are many different styles of writing, all of which are valuable and fulfilling. For example:

  • Fiction: Even the world of fiction has many genres and sub-genres (i.e. fantasy, science-fiction, drama, romance, children’s fiction, young adult fiction)
  • Poetry
  • Plays and scripts
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Journalism
  • Copywriting
  • SEO writing
  • Medical writers
  • Health writers
  • Education and training writers
  • Tender and Bid writers
  • Legal writers
  • Academic and research writers

The list could go on and on….

If you have some idea on what you’d like to write, then you’re halfway there.

If you have aspirations to write a novel, fantastic. But remember, many successful authors earned their keep by writing in some of the fields listed above, while they were writing their masterpiece.

 

Do you have a niche?

What do you like to write? What interests you? What are you good at writing? Have you had experience in writing for a specific industry or field? What are your natural talents? Can you combine those with your love of writing? Developing a niche market for your writing, instead of spreading yourself too thin trying to write everything, can lead to a very lucrative and successful career.

 

Do you need new skills?

Finally, you need to ask yourself if you need new skills? Perhaps you want to become proficient at SEO writing, but need some training in the concepts surrounding SEO. Maybe you dream of being a health writer, but need to learn how to research and reference academic research. Writers should always be honing their skills. Sometimes it’s just putting your bum on the seat and writing, but other times, you need to acquire new skills to keep your career moving forward.

If you want to be a writer, then go for it. It’s wonderful, it’s scary, it’s boring (sometimes), it’s difficult, it’s inspiring, it’s exciting, it’s rewarding and it’s courageous.

The best way to begin is simple — just begin.

If you’d like to work with a writer who has superb skills in health and medical writing, shoot me an email. I’d love to have a chat.

Cheers

Nerissa

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