copywriter

I’ll write your brochure, report on your grand opening and still have time to watch Game of Thrones

It’s October- Yay! Although fall began a little while ago, I can’t help but feel like I am entering a new season in my career. It feels like a season of change-the preparation for the long winter before the eventual bounty of the spring. I can say; I welcome this change, because I know it leads to something good.

What changes have begun for me? Well, first of all I began working as a part time ESL conversation teacher. There aren’t many better ways to gain an appreciation of your language, than to try and teach it to foreign speaker. I admire my students. They are dedicated to learn English and try very hard to pronounce the words I frequently take for granted. I mean, seriously, why don’t we pronounce it “Die-Ah-Bee-Tez”?

I’ve also had the opportunity to go back to my writing roots this week, as I took some journalism assignments. In case you didn’t read my bio I started as a news reporter. Actually, it was a freak occurrence that writing professionally even crossed my mind. A daughter of a business consultant, I had been writing pamphlets, brochures, flyers and newsletters since I was 12. My father did not know how to operate the DOS computer sitting in our spare room and my mother was too busy teaching school. So I became the go-to person for my dad’s freelance business career-reluctantly typing up promotional materials my dad had scribbled and drew on a scratch sheet of paper.

After a few years of being an unpaid typist, I began to understand the logic behind his writing. But I also began to detest it. In my 14 year old brain, I swore I’d never write anything for a business again.

Take a moment to reflect on the obvious irony.

Well, just like I eventually gravitated back to what I knew with copywriting, journalism reared its head. With its attractive package it dragged behind it, long hours, OCD moments of scribbling on notepads in the middle of the night and the overwhelming urge to ask a lot of questions. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a reporter. But for the seven pieces I am working on this week, I have already spent 15+ hours researching and interviewing. I haven’t even started writing yet! It’s hard, time consuming and many times, without profit. It’s a love-hate relationship that I wouldn’t trade for the world- $1,000,000,000 maybe – but not the world.

Proofreading vs Copyediting (There Is A Difference)

When interviewing potential clients I often get asked the question about the difference between proofreading, editing and copy editing. I’m sure there are some industry definitions, but since this is my blog, I am going to explain how I approach the topic.

Proofreading

Proofreading is the process of checking for errors and typos. It really is that simple. You read over the work and see if there are misspellings, grammar errors or typos. Proofreading is a basic task, but when you have a lot of content – such as a book or a website, it’s easy to let a few things slip though.

Another reason why someone may hire a proofreader is if their content requires a certain style, such as MLA citations, or AP editing style. A proofreader will check to confirm that the work is written with those guidelines in mind.

Editing

Editing is less about grammar and more about style. Editors answer questions such as: Did you clearly express what you were trying to say? Is your writing redundant or convoluted? Are you using a consistent voice? Editing is useful for most types of writing and can ensure that your writing reads well. Editing includes proofreading and is great for academic writing, novels and online content.

Copy-editing

To understand the difference between copy-editing and editing, you have to first understand copy. Copy is basically persuasive writing. It is used in advertisement and marketing, but it has also become quite popular in the online world. That is because most web-content is copy. If it is not purely entertainment or educational, there is most likely some sort of commercial interest involved. (There’s also some places online where the lines between educational, entertainment and commercial are quite blurred.) Basically any writing that wants people to take some sort of action can be considered copy.

A copy editor is responsible for proofreading, editing and ensuring that the writing fulfills its purpose. They can take an educational blog and edit it into an affiliate site. They can take social networking sites and make them into monetized opportunities with just a few words. They are that cousin that can talk anyone into anything, but they do so with a pen.

If you are looking for a copy-editor for your online content do not hesitate to contact me. I can revise your current content into something that is compelling and engaging. I love creating copy that pulls at heart strings, pushes people to take action, and softly sells an idea or product. You write content for people to take action, hire a professional copywriter to ensure that it does.

Why I Won’t Be Adding You On LinkedIn

I wasn’t very popular in high school. Yes, I knew people, but it was never my goal to be liked by a whole bunch of people. It was always more important to be liked by certain people. I guess that’s why I am baffled by LinkedIn and Facebook sometimes. For some people I feel like they treat these social networks as an extension of our juvenile existences and scream out everyone like me!

Whoa! This is quickly becoming one of those posts where my husband would say: “Are you sure you want to say that?”, but before I virtually put both of my feet in my mouth, stick with me till the point.

I have never wanted to be popular. Not in high school, not in my career and not on the Internet. I’ve always wanted to be the best. When you are the best but not popular you can quietly make your money without having to worry about the paparazzi. Unfortunately, entrepreneurship requires a little bit of self promotion, and our global economy is becoming more and more focused on who can advertise themselves- so, the best is becoming antiquated to the most noticeable.

When I was 14, I worked as the campaign manager for a friend of mine running for student body president. I was not a big talker in those days, but even as a young teen I had a knack for the copywriting.

I was a band geek. I lived behind my saxophone. Unfortunately this meant sitting second chair to a loud and very popular junior who did his best to ignore me. As first chair he was responsible for leading his group of saxophone players, helping us with difficult music, and keeping us in tune. For him, that leadership role meant overplaying the entire section, leaving us to struggle through our parts, and pretending like he was the only saxophone player in the band. Yes he was good, but I wasn’t far behind him, and I was 2 years younger.

His disdain for me was so blatantly apparent that I still get irritated thinking back on it. So when he announced that he was running for student body president, I knew I had to do something about it. I couldn’t challenge the most popular person in school, and I was ineligible to run, but I had to do something.

What my solution ended up being was finding someone to run against him and making them run. This was easier said than done, because seriously, everyone but me loved this dude. I found a shy trumpet player – a first chair junior who would give the shirt off his back for anyone- as his opponent. I then planned his campaign, wrote his slogans, designed his poster and hung them around school. My shy candidate reluctantly went along with it, softly saying “I don’t know Jenn, he’s pretty popular” and I calmly replied: “You are the better candidate, and that is all that matters.”

On a slogan of “Those who talk the loudest say the least” we won that election, and I learned a very important lesson.

Being popular can take you very far in life, but in the end, if you don’t have good content, even the most popular people can fail.

So, bringing it back- I have no interest in adding every random person on LinkedIn to prove I know people. If you want to build a connection, do it the old fashion way- email me. I’ll write back.

I’m a Writer, So I’m Not Very Good with Words!

In another life, I worked in technical support, a job that is highly dependent on getting people to explain their problems. One day, I was assisting an older lady who was having a difficult time explaining what was going on with her device. After rambling on about everything but the problem, she said in an exasperated sigh:

I’m sorry I’m so verbose. I’m a writer, so I’m not very good with my words when it comes to talking.

Unfortunately that is the problem with many of us writers. We are so in love with the sight of our own words, that we struggle when having to do so face to face. I say this from personal experience. Although I’ve got years of  face-to-face and phone sales experience, I am much more comfortable (and logical) behind my pen.

The truth of the matter is writers frequently struggle with the right words. Just because someone writes doesn’t mean they are excellent communicators!  Additionally, if it is not something that the writer is personally comfortable with, the message may become convoluted- just like with the lady I was trying to assist. A skilled copywriter will not only know how to use words (writer), they will also know what words to say (the copy part).

Companies that hire professional writers must be aware that there is a difference between someone who writes and someone who writes sales copy. Writing is a creative skill. It is the ability to create or take an idea and artistically express it with the written word. It does not require any specific knowledge per se, but having a toolkit of good grammar and vocabulary does help. Writing is an art that can be mastered. The world needs writers to express those things that cannot be said, but we also need to recognize what they are and what they are not.

Every writer is not a salesperson, just like every salesperson is not a writer.

So why do so many companies, hire writers to handle their sales writing? Wouldn’t you think it would make more sense to use someone that understands how to close a deal if you want them to close your deal? Hiring a writer with some type of knowledge of your message seems to be just logical.

But apparently it is not. Our data-analytic driven society believes that keywords can take the place of quality written compelling copy.  They have shown that people, just like web crawlers, scan for the important information and don’t bother to read the in-between.  To give you an example of how that looks I will rewrite this post in that format.

Writing is a skill that depends on creativity, passion and knowledge. For the best sales-copy hire a knowledgeable sales copywriter.

That isn’t writing, it’s professional Mad-Libs.

Which by the way was my favorite past-time as a kid.