Write … to the Point

– writing tips and tricks

Archive for the tag “High-quality writing and blogging”

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

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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

Games to improve your vocabulary and spelling

Improve spelling and vocabulary with games

How many words are in your vocabulary? Do you know how to use them in the right context? How good is your spelling? Do you know your ‘there, their and they’re’?

If you’d like to improve either your vocab or spelling (or even both), a fun way is through word games — both the ‘old-fashioned’ variety board games, and the electronic versions.

 

Board/card games

One of the most iconic word games in the world is Scrabble. In this game, first released in 1938 , players use letter tiles to form words on a grid. Each letter is assigned a certain number of points, and the aim of the game is to score as many points as possible.

A relative of Scrabble, Upwords allows you to stack letters on top of existing words to create new ones.

Another great game is Scattergories. This is a creative thinking game where players list as many words as they can within a certain category, beginning with a particular letter, within a time limit.

If you want to continue to use your creative thinking skills and develop your vocabulary even further, play a game of Taboo. The aim is for a player to give clues in order to have their partner guess a particular word, without using the word itself, or other words typically associated with that word in question.

For those of you who love learning new meanings of words, then Balderdash can be great fun. The aim of the game is to win as many points as possible by listing definitions of obscure words. If you know the correct definition, you are awarded points, and if other players choose your definition as being the correct one (even if it’s incorrect), you also are awarded points.

For a fast-paced, quick-thinking game of words, why not try Bananagrams? It’s similar to Scrabble in that there are lettered tiles. However, everyone makes words at the same time with the objective to create a word grid (like a crossword) before anyone else can.

Another quick-moving game is Boggle. Players compete to find as many words as possible in a 4 x 4 grid, with a three-minute time limit.

 

Online games

There is a myriad of online word games, some of them versions of the games listed above. But perhaps one of the most popular is Words With Friends. Modelled on the game of Scrabble, you compete against online players to create words on a grid.

If you’re looking for a game you can play on your own, there are a couple of options. In the game of WordBrain, you move your way through increasingly difficult word puzzles.

Another game to play by your self is Bonza. This word puzzle game requires players to assemble a variety of crossword-style letter tiles, so they make a full word grid.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced game, try Scramble. The aim is to find as many words as you can on the grid of mixed up letters before the timer runs out.

Finally, 7 Little Words is a series of word puzzles you need to solve, with each puzzle containing a list of 7 words you need to find. You are provided a clue for every word you need to find.

And if you like using a pen and paper, don’t forget crosswords.

By no means is the above list an exhaustive one. But if you’re new to the world of word games, why not give them a try. Not only will you have fun, but you’ll be improving your spelling and vocabulary at the same time!

If you have any favourite word games you play, comment below. I’d love to try something new.

Cheers
Nerissa

Why you should be reading to your kids

Why you should read to your kids

This week (20-20 August 2016) is Book Week.

Each year, across Australia, The Children’s Book Council of Australia brings children and books together celebrating Children’s Book Week. During this time schools, libraries, booksellers, authors, illustrators and children celebrate Australian Children’s Literature.

Although don’t feel that you only have to read Australian stories. Book Week is a great opportunity to read anything, particularly with your child.

Literacy rates are lower than you think

You may think that here in Australia, we don’t have a problem with illiteracy (the inability to read or write). However, it may surprise you to know that around 46 per cent of Australian adults don’t have the literacy skills needed to cope with everyday life.

That’s almost half of us!

Furthermore, 51 per cent of Australian adults — that’s more than half! — don’t realise that reading and sharing stories with children from birth gives them the best start in life.

Sadly, Aussie kids spend around twice the amount of time watching TV as they do reading.

 

Benefits of reading

Reading has so many benefits. As a book-lover and a writer, I could go on for hours about how great reading is. But let’s just stick to a few. Did you know that:

  • Reading helps children build a solid language and literacy foundation before they go to school
  • Children who are read to have better cognitive skills later in life. And they aren’t just limited to spelling and language skills. Numeracy skills are also impacted in a positive way.
  • Reading sparks imagination, creativity and an enquiring mind
  • Reading relieves boredom
  • Reading provides opportunities for you to bond with your child
  • Children who read, tend to become readers for life.

 

Memories can be made with books

The other great thing about books is they can help build special memories of your children.

My son (who is almost 14) has always been surrounded by books. I read to him the first day he came home from hospital as a baby. I read to him in the morning and in the afternoon. It became a routine which he loved. Snuggled up on the couch, touching pages, repeating words — it was a very special time together.

In the early days of motherhood, when most things would bamboozle me, and I was feeling like a terrible failure, I would take solace in the bookshop. My son would sit or lie in his pram and soak up the atmosphere. We both became calmer versions of ourselves in a place where there were other worlds to discover, new people to meet, new adventures to be had.

By the time we’d bought a book (or a few books), and had a coffee, the world would be a happy place again.

I did the same when my daughter was born. Although the trip to the bookshop wasn’t always as calm, as I had a 2 ½ year old boy who kept excitedly bringing me book after book, asking if we could buy it.

As my kids grew older, I would ask them to choose several stories to read. They would both excitedly run into their rooms, search through their books and pull out five or six stories. Some of them would feature every day. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” was a particular favourite. But sometimes we would be treated to something different, like the story about “The Little Yellow Digger”, or “Lettice: The Flower Girl”.

Classics like “Guess How Much I Love You”, “Possum Magic” and a variety of “Hairy Maclary” were read over and over. As were books on dinosaurs, dogs, rabbits and birds.

 

Books bring you closer together

Both my children outgrew their picture books a while ago, and I no longer have the pleasure of seeing them run down the hallway and emerge triumphantly with a pile of books almost as big as themselves. But I do have the pleasure of seeing them enjoy more grown up stories. And I do have the pleasure of introducing them to stories that I love — stories I grew up with and loved like “The Faraway Tree” books, “Little House on the Prairie” and “Anne of Green Gables; and more recent stories like “Harry Potter” and “The Hunger Games”.

Regardless of how old they get, and the likelihood that they will forget just how much reading we did in those early days, I will never forget. I’ll never forget how a cappuccino (or bottle in my son’s case) and a new book made the world a better place. And I will never forget the warm snuggles and soft pyjamas as we would settle in for several stories each night.

So this week — just because it’s Book Week — read to your kids. If they are too old to be read to (are they ever??), then talk to them about the books they are reading. Talk to them about what you’re reading.

You know you’ll be helping them improve their literacy and learning. And you may just enjoy it too.

Cheers
Nerissa

If you struggle writing a good sentence and would like me to help you out, just flick me an email. I promise I’ll answer it – as soon as I’m finished reading!

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

7 things you need to be a great health writer

A tablet computer on a desk - Health and Medical

If you’re new to freelance writing, you may be wondering whether it’s better to develop a niche, or to keep your market wide open.

For a newbie, developing a niche market can seem scary. After all, it does mean a smaller pool of potential clients. And when you’re starting out, you need all the clients you can get, right?

Not always.

Developing a niche can be one of the best things you can do for your freelance business. It means you no longer have to be ‘all things to all people’. Instead, you focus on becoming an expert in area or field. This means you can more effectively market yourself and bring in more clients than before.

If you have already been working in a particular industry or field, you may have already developed your niche. You just don’t know it yet.

That’s how I developed mine. During the 3 ½ years I wrote for a corporate wellness company, I developed many skills that most freelancers don’t have. And so when I eventually went out on my own, I decided to utilise these skills and market myself as a health writer.

 

The future of health writing

Personally, I believe health writing has a bright future. It’s no secret the healthcare industry is booming right now. A combination of an ageing population, along with an increased interest in health and well-being, has made this one of the fastest-growing industries.

As a result, there are more companies and agencies popping up devoted to healthcare. Along with them, are many more opportunities for health writers. Potential clients can range from pharmaceutical clients to health-related brands, through to government health organisations and private practitioners.

 

What makes a good health writer?

However, just because there are health writing opportunities doesn’t mean you are right for the job. If you want to make it as a health writer, there’s a few key attributes that may come in handy.

 

  1. Have an interest in health
    It sounds simple but it’s true. You really need to have some kind of interest in health. If you’re not interested in what you’re writing about, you’re going to find your work pretty boring.

 

  1. Know your market
    Who will you be writing for? While you may write the odd thing for an overseas client, chances are you will be focusing on content here in Australia, so you need to understand your market. What are the primary health concerns facing Australians? What barriers do we face when it comes to improving our health? Does our culture influence our health? Knowing your audience will help you tailor your content accordingly.

 

  1. Know how to research
    I can’t emphasize enough the importance of researching health content. There is so much conflicting advice in the health arena, it’s crazy. Many writers base their content on anecdotal evidence rather than fact. Or they simply rewrite copy from other websites without checking the facts. Publishing incorrect health information not only leads to lost credibility, but it may lead to a loss of income, or even a hefty lawsuit!

 

  1. Only use credible sources of information
    The information you present is only as good as the sources you glean it from. When researching health articles, ensure you use only credible sources of information, such as peak health bodies, government websites, or internationally accredited organisations. A newspaper report, or information posted on someone else’s blog is not credible.

 

  1. Be able to interpret scientific studies
    This skill goes hand in hand with researching. Being able to read and interpret scientific studies is a valuable skill. Referencing bona fide health studies improves your credibility as a writer, and adds weight to your story. Your readers will walk away knowing the information you presented to them is true. They also have a reference to go to if they wish to read further on the subject.

 

  1. Write in simple language
    When it comes to all writing, simple is best. When it comes to health writing, simple is a must. Writing on health, disease and illness can involve a lot of complex information. As a health writer, it is your job to ‘de-code’ this information, and write it in a form that the average person can understand.

 

  1. Write to empower
    While you are busy translating complicated information into an easy-to-understand format, please take the time to write it in a way that will empower the reader, rather than frighten them. There are many topics that are quite scary for the average reader, so it is your job to present the information in a way that will inform, not scare.

    As a health writer, my job is to present accurate, up-to-date health information in a way that is easily understood. I also see it as my role to empower and inspire people to make a change to their personal circumstances. By all means present facts (i.e. we all know that smoking causes cancer), but present them in a way that empowers and inspires change, instead of trying to ‘scare’ people into action.

 

Writer or blogger?

Finally, you need to know whether you are a writer or a blogger? You can actually be both, but you are likely to be more one than the other. If you are a blogger, then you probably have your own following and know your readers quite well. Your readers probably know your brand and what you stand for. You will also be used to writing in one ‘voice’ and this will be understood and embraced by your readers.

If you are primarily a writer, you need to be more diverse in your skills. You may be asked to write on a range of different topics and for a range of different clients. Each client will have a different target audience and therefore a different ‘angle’ for their story. They may also want you to use a different ‘voice’ (i.e. informative, expert etc.).

Knowing which category you fall into will make it easier for you to adjust your writing style accordingly.

So there you have it. My 7 tips for being a great health writer.

And if you are looking to engage a great health writer, please contact me. I’d love to help.

 

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

 

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