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Better Blog Copywriting

5 Quick-and-Dirty Tips for Better Blog Copywriting

Posted by | Blogging, Copywriting | No Comments

Not a writer by trade, but charged with writing your company’s blog? We get it. Sometimes the boss thinks anyone can be a writer. Other times, it’s simply a matter of a small biz budget. Not loving how your blogs are turning out or not sure where to start? Here are five quick-and-dirty tips to guide you towards better blog copywriting:

Photo credit: Jamie Annarino Photography

1. Lead with the Most Important Information

You’ve heard it before: first impressions really do count! When you write the introduction for your blog or article, try to make your audience want to keep reading. Start with a catchy sentence that hooks them in, then follow it with the most important information that they need to know about what they are going to get by reading this piece. In a quick and concise way, give your readers a rundown of what your article/blog is going to be about, and why it’s in their best interest to read more.

2. Get to the Point!

Avoid run-on sentences that “fluff up” your article. You don’t want your blog to be bloated and bogged down with unimportant information. This includes using too many adjectives, as they can get in the way of the main focus and make the whole thing sound too flowery. During an edit of your draft, pare down adjectives, and you’ll notice a cleaner, more easily digestible piece.

3. Include How this Subject Benefits Your Audience

Your audience is only going to spend precious time reading a blog if it’s giving them information that they need. Make sure to tell them why this subject is a must-read for them, and be genuine. If it’s not a must-read, then don’t write about it! Your content should always be directed towards helping your audience in some way.

4. Edit and Proofread

For better blog copywriting, read and reread your work. We cannot stress enough how important it is to proofread your copy before publishing. Even the smallest spelling error can make you lose credibility with your readers. (Hey, it happens, we’re all human, but still try to avoid it if you can…) We suggest writing a draft, taking a step back and coming back to it later or the next morning for a fresh look. Editing and proofreading your copy will help you to keep the subject focused and catch any small mistakes you may have made while knocking out that first or second draft. A polished piece is noticeable.

5. Stand Out with Your Expertise

Tell a story or offer advice that is unique to you and/or your brand. Don’t go off and discuss something you know nothing about. What do you excel at? Which topics can showcase your expertise while offering a takeaway for your reader? Talk about THAT.

Plus, puh-leeze make sure your website’s blog is mobile-friendly. Read this to find out why it’s oh so important.

Squarespace or Wordpress

Website Platforms: Is Squarespace or WordPress Better?

Posted by | Web content strategy, Website security | No Comments

Ahhh, websites! They drive many a business owner or marketing manager quite nuts! So many decisions, so little time to get the website project done. Whether you’re totally revamping an existing site or starting fresh from the ground up, let us help you make your first big decision: which website platform do you want to work with, Squarespace or WordPress?

Why these two? They are two of the most popular website platforms (and quite honestly, we wouldn’t consider any others). Both Squarespace and WordPress are great, and have their pros and cons. So, in this blog, we’ve provided some insight into what each platform has to offer in order for you to make the best choice for your new fabulous, beautiful, functional website!

Side note: When we say “WordPress,” we are referring to WordPress.org (self-hosted platform with any URL of your choosing), not WordPress.com (no custom domains).

Determine if Squarespace or WordPress is Best for You:

Before weighing the two platforms, take a moment to have a little brainstorming sesh. We recommend writing out:

  1. What is the purpose of this website?
  2. Who is your target audience?
  3. What do you want this site to look like?
  4. What are two or three examples of other websites that you like, and what do you like about them?
  5. Do you plan to update the website often, say with new blogs or other types of content?
  6. Who will be updating the blog—you, a copywriter, a website developer or someone else?
  7. What pages do you want on this site, for example, a gallery page, an about page, a portfolio page, contact us page, etc.? List them out and what would potentially go on each one.
  8. What kind of functionality do you need? Do you need e-commerce, for instance?
  9. What is your budget? Contact creative folks to price out the costs of a graphic designer, website developer and copywriter.

If there is one BIG piece of advice we can give you, it is: unless you are a professional graphic designer-slash-website developer, DO NOT build your own website, and unless you are a natural wordsmith or professional writer, DO NOT write the content on your own website.

Armed with the above answers, now you can determine whether Squarespace or WordPress is the right website platform for your new site.

The Differences Between Squarespace and WordPress:

Building Your Website

Squarespace

Squarespace is a highly templated and high-quality platform. You choose from around just 30 themes (good for those who get overwhelmed with choices) and roll with it with very little or no extra coding involved. That is not to say that the site can’t be customized (just take a look at Message Sprout Founder’s Badass + Healthy editorial site, which was customized for her by a web developer), but it has limitations to what you can and can’t do. This is because it is not an open-source platform, meaning only Squarespace’s in-house development team can create tools for its users. That said, the templates are stunning and might work perfectly for you without full customization. And by customization, we don’t mean fonts, colors and logos, etc., which is always changeable no matter the template. Also, if you plan to build your website yourself (again, we don’t recommend that!), Squarespace is a much easier platform to do that on. It’s more “plug and play” … more on that below.

WordPress

WordPress is the most popular and largest website platform (something like 60+ million websites were built on it as of 2012). It has templates that your web developer can work from, but it also enables them to fully customize and build your site from the ground up. It is an open-source platform, which means its codes are open for anyone to use and customize. This flexibility is one of the main things people love about WordPress—you can do anything on it. However, if you’re trying to code and build it yourself, you’ll have a huge learning curve ahead of you! There are endless amounts of plugins to use for your website—some are free; others you have to pay for. The downside is that some, frankly, stink, and the quality of these tools vary greatly. Faulty tools can lead to security issues … more on that below.

Usability in Updating Your Site Content:

Squarespace

Squarespace is user-friendly and easy to use. The platform offers a drag-and-drop content-editing tool that allows users to go through a simple editing process. This process involves adding content “blocks” such as  images, videos, formatted headers and more to Squarespace’s already design-heavy templates in order to customize your site. Whenever you are moving a block, a guideline will pop up to notify you of what exactly the block can do and where it can go. If you’re used to working in the content management system (CMS) of WordPress, it will feel a little like learning a foreign language at first before you get your bearings of where things are on Squarespace, but it’s actually all very simple.

WordPress

Though it may be more difficult to navigate the backend CMS for users who aren’t experienced in doing so, the amount of options on WordPress gives way to a lot of flexibility in the long run. If you’re working with a web developer and plan to update content yourself, let them know that this is important so you’re not stuck when it comes time to make your own updates. Some developers will happily give you a little tutorial (ours did!) to show you where and how to update each page, too. It’s also pretty straightforward once you know where everything is located and means.

What to Know About E-commerce:

Squarespace

Squarespace recognizes commerce as being an extension of your brand. That’s why it does all of the coding for you, so that you can focus on selling your products. Many of the templates that Squarespace offers have e-commerce options already built in! This can all be done on a budget, with templates such as these going from $8-$24 a month. Squarespace e-commerce can be organized through the use of product blocks. This is a blessing to those of us who do not have coding experience, as there is no messing around with third-party plugins! However, Squarespace e-commerce only allows you to use Stripe (which is integrated with both ApplePay and PayPal) for your checkout pages, which can feel restrictive. Though this does not give you as much creative freedom, this allows you to get your e-commerce pages up and running in no time by saving you the time of searching for a payment option. Another beneficial tool that Squarespace offers is the mobile-optimized checkout page. You can customize it by adding discounts, free shipping, brand colors and more.

WordPress

Though e-commerce is not built into WordPress templates, there are several plugins that are used for such purposes. The tools that these plugins offer allow you to integrate e-commerce into your own site so that you can sell your products online. These plugins allow you to utilize any type of payment option, including PayPal, Google Checkout and Stripe. The most popular plugin to date that is used to sell products on WordPress is WooCommerce. This plugin allows you to sell both digital and physical goods, giving your product list some variety. Like many of the features of WordPress, e-commerce plugins can require some coding skills to set up. The upside to this is that once “plugged in,” your product pages will be highly customized and easy to access for your audience.

The Deal about Customer Support and Security:

Squarespace

The Squarespace support team is centralized as well as speedy. As a user, you have access to live chat and a 24/7 email support. This is included with any type of account that you have purchased with Squarespace. We find that this type of customer support is perfect for quickly addressing any issues and moving on. For security, Squarespace has your back. As this platform lives in the cloud,  it automatically backs up your content. This does come with limits, though, as your content will be the only thing that can be backed up. This means that your image galleries, pages and your blog content can be exported. Your product pages, albums, and your blocks (text, audio, video) will not be backed up.

WordPress

Due to the sheer size of the WordPress community, it can sometimes be hard to find help. You do have the options of countless forums, tutorial videos and email support to choose from… depending on the type of domain you have. As a user who is utilizing the free beginner plan, you may only have access to community support, whereas a more advanced domain (for example, the $24 per month Business Plan) gives you the perk of working with the WordPress team. Basically, the more you pay, the more support you get! It may still take a while for someone to get back to you through email or live chat. WordPress also comes with plugin options that allow you to backup your entire database (not just your content and your images). The most popular plugin being used at the moment is Backup Buddy. This plugin allows you to export 100 percent of your content into Dropbox, Stash or Amazon S3, or even to your email.

Our Final Thoughts on Squarespace or WordPress:

We have worked with both WordPress (hello, Message Sprout’s website is a WordPress site!) and Squarespace websites, and we have to say that we love both for different reasons. Our parting thoughts…

Squarespace rocks if you need a smaller site without a ton of customization and the person who is updating it isn’t tech-savvy.

WordPress is perfect for skilled developers and if you need a larger site with customization and/or more complex layouts. You can still update content yourself, but changing the layouts around will require coding knowledge.

If you’re looking for an experience brand copywriter and SEO content expert to help tell your story, optimize your website and consult on your new website project, we’ve got you covered. Contact us. 

Photo credit: Fizzle

Engaging Titles and Headlines

How to Create Engaging Titles and Headlines

Posted by | Copywriting | No Comments

Creating engaging titles and headlines for blogs or digital assets is an easy way to help increase traffic to your content. The headline is the first piece of your content that a potential reader sees. A title tells your reader what they are about to read, and hooks them in. It offers a promise to your reader, and that promise makes them more likely to read the rest of your post in order to satisfy their curiosity and to learn something or be entertained. Not only can eye-catching titles generate more click-throughs on search engines, social media, and email marketing, they can also set reader expectations and provide contextual insight.

While creativity is a huge part of headline writing, there are also basic best practices that should be considered when crafting a headline. For instance, it’s important to be clear about what the reader’s takeaway will be. Once you have determined the target audience that you are writing your content for, using phrases like “Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How” can help you set the foundation for what exactly your content is going to cover. Then, when writing the digital content, be careful not to stray away from your original promise to your reader—use your headline as a guiding tool.

For other best practices on how to create engaging titles and headlines, check out this helpful infographic resource below from CopyPress.

engaging titles and headlines

 

In addition to following a general standard for headline writing, you should also glean insight from previous posts to see what works best for your content and your industry. Basically, looking at historical data of your past successful content can help you find data to support which headline strategies generate the best results for your audience. But keep in mind, what may work for your blog may not work for the next guy.  You may find that content with a headline that poses a question generates much more activity than list-based ones. Historical data can help you better understand how to write engaging titles and headlines for your target audience.

For more information on taking your content writing to the next level, feel free to visit our website!

 

How often should I blog?

How Often Should I Blog?

Posted by | Web content strategy, Writing a blog | No Comments

By now, you know the importance of maintaining a blog for your business. Blogging helps improve your SEO and discoverability, while positioning yourself as an expert in your industry. It also provides you with fresh content to share on social media and in your email newsletters.

But what may be less clear is how often you should post on your blog. While there are rules of thumb for how often to post on social media, there’s no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to the ideal frequency of blogging. Here are some things to consider as you decide how often to blog. Read More

Social media

Why You Need a Marketing Editorial Calendar

Posted by | Social media tips, Web content strategy | No Comments

As a marketer, you’re probably in charge of producing and promoting endless amounts of content. When you’re juggling email campaigns, ads, social media posts, blog posts and other wordy media, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and even run out of ideas.

Creating a marketing editorial calendar not only streamlines processes and helps you stay organized, but it also helps better integrate your market campaigns and maximize the content you create. Read More

How to Use Mind Mapping for Content Ideas

Posted by | Social media tips, Web content strategy, Writing a blog | No Comments

You already know about the importance of content for your business (hint: it’s vital for SEO, social media material and engaging with your customers). But with the need for so much high-quality content, you may find yourself running out of ideas on what to post on your blog or social feeds. When you’re struggling to generate new content ideas and need a brilliant burst of creativity, we suggest you turn to the popular technique of mind mapping. Here’s how. Read More

Why Your Business Needs a Copyeditor

Posted by | Copywriting | No Comments

Professional copywriters and copyeditors are trained to have eagle eyes for every punctuation mark and grammar nuance.

Though we’re all human, and even the best writers and editors may overlook a rogue comma or misspelling here and there, it’s much more uncommon than someone in another profession. It’s vital for non-writers to have someone edit their important work before it’s shared with the world. A stray typo or ill-written copy can wreck credibility, especially if it’s in an important PowerPoint presentation or displayed prominently on your website or via email blast to all of your customers. Here’s why your business needs a copyeditor now, and some common mistakes to watch out for: Read More

Top blogging platforms

Pros and Cons of the Top Blogging Platforms for Small Businesses

Posted by | Writing a blog | No Comments

For better or for worse, blogging gives a megaphone to anyone who wants to share commentary or expertise on a topic. Blogging also has major SEO benefits when you use keywords wisely. Another perk: modern blogging platforms for small businesses make it unbelievably easy for anyone to create a blog and publish content. If you’re not the most tech-savvy person on the planet, you can breathe a sigh of relief since you don’t have to know your html from your ftp in order to run a blog.

What you do need to know is there are several different blogging platforms for small businesses to choose from, and it is key to find the one that best suits your needs. Gone are the days of Xanga and LiveJournal. What are those, you ask? Exactly. They are long gone, so just forgettabout them. If you’re about to launch a blog for a personal calling (you must write about gardening! Gluten-free food! Parenting! Fashion!) or for your business, you’re probably considering the following three blog platforms. What’s so different about these three?

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the top three blogging platforms for small businesses to help you make your very important decision: Read More

Ready to spread your message? Contact us!