Essential Tips For Keeping The You In Your Writing

I’ve often come across editors looking for writers with a distinctive voice. Someone who has their own unique style and persona and isn’t afraid to let that show in their penmanship. How you write is just as important as what you write.

In fact, having your own distinct voice and style is what will set you apart from other writers. And here at The Content Fair, we’re all about helping writers succeed in an increasingly competitive market.

When I started to work as a full-time writer, I realized that almost all editors were looking for writers with a special voice. Some editors wanted someone with a quirky voice, others sought for a frank, no-nonsense writer that wasn’t afraid to rip the Band-Aid, and still some wanted writers with a flowery and colorful voice.

So, how can you keep the you in your writing and really shine through in the industry? Here are some useful tips for writers:

Add your personality

Are you an old-fashioned person? Or do you like being blunt? Or are you really funny? Identify your personality and add a good measure of it in your writing. Your blogs should reflect who you are.

Add your own style

Now that you’ve added a generous dose of your personality in your writing, it’s time to add a dash of your personal style. One of the most useful tips for writers for developing their specific style is by writing just like the way they talk. Your voice should be a reflection of what makes you, well, you. Your attitude and the tone of your voice make up your personal style. Just like a singer has their own signing voice, a writer has their writing voice. Identify that voice by just letting go and writing from your heart. Let is flow naturally.

To better understand the concept of personal style, consider this: You might feel like you’re “hearing” my voice while reading this but it’s actually my personal style that makes you feel like you’re “hearing” me right now.

Use a strong and consistent voice

Have you ever noticed that when you read a good book, you tend to develop the author’s voice and writing style? Your voice can change over time and be heavily influenced by the books, articles and blogs you read. But it’s important to maintain your voice and style consistently so that editors can rely on you to produce work that always reflects your individuality.

Take your time in developing a distinctive voice

New freelance writers should nurture their authentic voice by writing a lot. The more you write, the more your natural writing style shines through. This process takes time and patience, but it’s worth it in the long-run.

Be natural

Set your heart free and just write. Sometimes, you might over-think things as a freelance writer, but it’s important not to. One of the most useful tips for writers that I’ve come across is to simply let go of all the fears, inhibitions and mental blocks and stop chasing perfection. Just write.

Later, when you’re editing, remember to ensure that you read the words out loud. They should just roll off of your tongue. You should feel like you’re talking to a friend.

To summarize, identity your personality and add it to your writing. Then, write like you talk in order to find your inimitable style and maintain it. Be patient in developing your voice and finally, just be yourself, don’t worry too much, and have fun penning that article, blog, essay, novel or poem.

5 Market Research Tips You Can Use On The Fly

Here at The Content Fair, we’re all about helping the freelance writer. Whether you’re struggling to make a career out of your God-given talent for writing or you’re already at a level each writer wants to be in, you could always use a little bit of help here and there.

When I decided to become a full-time I was picky with whom I wanted to work with. But then later, I had to swallow my pride and accept what was given to me by my editor. Now I’m happy and content. But what about the millions out there wishing they could be on their own and be sought after by companies waiting for get their hands on their writing.

So are you now are at that level of having a few followers and you’re kinda-sorta sought after but don’t know how to stand out? The key is to do some market research. I know the word “research” is probably one of the most dreaded or feared word. But you have to do it, be good at it, and in fact, love it to keep your dream clients happy.

Here are a few tips on how to at least stay afloat with the market.

Remember some basics

By understanding who your customers are will give you a clearer path on how to reach them. Start with the basics by gathering data. If you create buyer personas within your niches, you could get a wealth of information. Use the U.S. Census Bureau for data by age, business, profession, city, state, etc.

Then you could find out where they are most active online – reading blogs, interacting in forums, commenting on Facebook or YouTube views.

Going online

Google is the most popular search engine in the world. But if you want to see just how popular a topic is in searches by region or area, you should use Google Trends.

This is perfect for small businesses to find out local interest on their product or service. It even ranks by city.

Another great tool called BuzzSumo can be used to dig up what your competitors are publishing and what is being shared the most. Big businesses can also get information on theirs and their competitors’ brand health and compare data and see what areas need to be addressed. See what campaigns are working for them and know what you can do to emulate them.

Keyword research tools to use

What are searchers really doing in Google or Bing? They’re all searching for something. If you could take a peek into what it really is they’re looking for and then write that killer paper that they so need. Wouldn’t that be an awesome superpower?

Understand what keyword phrases people are looking for then create your content. Some great sites to help you are Answer the Public and Seed Keywords. They work similarly in helping you create topics or give you content ideas.

Want to know what important keywords are being used in a competitor’s web page? Use  Tag Crowd and it will show you keywords by importance.

Engaging in communities

You may not agree but the best advice, opinions, advocacies, interests and just about anything a person has to offer can be found in online communities. It’s a great source of information for your market research if you just engage the right people with the right topics. If you want writing advice, there are lots of forums with your specific problem. And the best part of being in an online group is, each one is craving to be heard and eager to help.

Using feedback from customer reviews

Getting feedback isn’t just about asking how satisfied a customer is. It’s actually more than that. By collecting feedback you’re gaining new customers’ trust, you’re fixing a problem or you’re opening up to new ideas from your customers.

Your customers’ reviews can be used as testimonials especially those that are specific about a certain service or a special feature of your product. Don’t use the generic types like “Great product!” or “Good service.” They offer no help in decision making.

Reviews offer more than just insight to how you can improve your product. This is why curious customers always read reviews and recommendations before even considering a purchase. By reading the reviews, a writer can get into what the customer is trying to say, and feel his emotions as he explains his dilemma or his delight. It’s a view not often seen by writers as a content helper but it can be an emotion-grabber because you know where his exact sentiments lie.

Think of market research as a serious investment into your freelance writing future. Remember, research is a never-ending learning process. A decade ago, doing market research to better understand your target audience and current readers was such a difficult and expensive task. Take advantage of what simple things you can do online to get so much valuable information about your cherished brand and their beloved customers.

Transitioning To Fiction Writing? Consider These Tips

Any writer wanting to delve into the intriguing world of fiction dreams of having best-seller successes like J. K. Rowling or Stephen King. If you’re already from the “other side” or the nonfiction genre, and want to cross the border into fiction writing, you must have had some confidence with your writing. If so, then you’d think transitioning won’t be so difficult, right?

Wrong!

The lines are clearly drawn in knowing what some essential elements of fiction writing are – elements like point of view, conversation, conflict and climax. But it’s also another line in mastering these elements. Isn’t it obvious that bestsellers are those that captivate readers and get the rave reviews?

So before you expect to be the next Sidney Sheldon, consider some writing tips when transitioning to fiction writing.

The habits of the nonfiction writer

More often than not, the nonfiction writer will seem all-knowing and a bit cocky – that they will only need a few edits here and there. But I’ve been asked a few times to proofread some transitioning authors’ works and right from the get-go, I notice that there are no attention-grabbing words that jump right at you. No interesting banter in the dialogues.

In other words, there is no engagement with the audience.

Plus, the English is just too stiff. You can’t have fiction following all the writing rules. It just won’t work with conflict, intrigue, tension, conversation and an overall bit of pizzazz! Let loose a little with your language and let your story be told by the characters themselves using emotions and feelings to bring out the truly charismatic appeal of your hero that everybody loves.

The following are writing tips for those who want to be good at storytelling:

Your protagonist’s POV

Show the events of your story through the eyes and feelings of your hero. Let your readers know him personally so they can be emotionally attached to him, feel his inner turmoil and cheer for him.

So stick with your hero’s head and stay there. Then move on to the others and let them do the storytelling. Weave the characters’ interactions in a natural way without having to explain with too much information to your readers. It’ll come out naturally and they will get it.

Make interesting conflicts

Your characters should have ample conflicts but not too much or else you’ll drown your reader with too many intricacies. Remember, conflict is the backbone of fiction. Make each scene have one conflict to keep readers in suspense with the tension in each page.

Show their emotions

The sure way to make your characters come alive is to make them show their emotions, touch feelings, hurts, aspirations, inner and outer sensations. Don’t just describe what your hero is seeing. Write what his senses are telling him. Even his sense of taste.

Dialogue should be animated

It’s all about attitude. Even in the conversations. Don’t make your dialogue sound like the author again is speaking. As mentioned before, you don’t have to use perfect English. Don’t make it too rigid with a lot of narration. Nobody likes reading too much description, unless they’re really interesting.

It’s not an easy ride when transitioning to any form of writing but it’s not that difficult either. These are only a few writing tips and a few of the many steps you can do to master fiction writing.

Remember, nonfiction sees things objectively while the novelist makes up things in an engaging way. In the end, it’s all about imagination, language, practice, patience and a lot of heart.

Dear Me, What Is The Ideal Copywriter?

I came upon an email that made my heart skip a beat. It was from someone who wanted to get my services as a copywriter.  I was humbled by the message but it made me think: Am I the ideal copywriter she is looking for? What then should my qualities be?

My imagination went wild and with a wave of a wand and a cloud of smoke, I whisked myself in front of Ellen Degeneres and created a self-serving interview scenario and I got to answer her copywriting questions and giving out writing tips. It went something like this:

Ellen: And so what is a copywriter? Do you copy? And then write? Isn’t that the same thing? I imagine it being a bit boring.

Me: No, no! Actually, it’s never boring! We don’t just write something and then copy it over and over again. I feel it’s actually a misnomer.

Ellen: So what do you do?

Me: It’s simple, I have a client who has this message she wants to announce to the world. I write her message in a way that people will respond in a positive manner.

Ellen: Oh, like a street vendor saying, “Hey you! Come buy this watch!” And I buy it?

Me: Well, not really! Let me explain. As a copywriter, I’ve been asked so many times what makes me different from the millions of copywriters out there. Each time, I came up with different answers but all of them led to one definitive quality, I communicate the message of my client very clearly.

Ellen: So what other qualities do you need to have?

Me: The question is not what else do I have but rather one big question: Can my writing inspire?

Ellen: (stunned silence) Go on.

Me: The answer should be, yes! If it doesn’t inspire, then why bother hiring me?  Copywriters should not only inspire others to do some kind of action after reading, but also make them feel something. You read something about a kid falling from a bunk bed and you feel the pain from the fall. Just by reading, you cringed!

Ellen: I can feel some pain just by listening to you.

Me: Exactly! That’s good copywriting! Feeling something from what you’ve just read or heard.

Ellen: Man, you’re good!

Me: Thank you! Anyway, a few writing tips to add. Great copywriters can manipulate and appeal to strong emotions. And that’s what I do to make audiences react. But first, I need to get a deeper understanding about the business. Like for you, Ellen, I need to know what makes you tick. Why does your audience love you?

Ellen: That’s easy. I give away money!

Me: Yes, that’s true but what is the real Ellen? I need to do research about you and your company and ask you tons of questions to get the total picture. I need to be curious and inquisitive about you, and not just ask questions that everybody already knows.

I will then write about your company and embody your voice with my writing style.

Ellen: Then you should live in my house because we’ll never finish in one day!

Me: Why not! Anyway, a good copywriter needs to have some form of strategy in writing all the information at hand. Strategy is key! It starts from having good titles and headings. Why then do we need a catchy title? To get people to read my first sentence. I can just put “Interview with Ellen” as my title but that’s not too attractive. Now if I write “Unboxing the Real Ellen” Then people will get curious and engaged from the get-go.

Ellen: I’ve never been unboxed before.

Me: And that’s good! Copywriters write about brands that will give audiences more information about it and use that information to better their lives. In your case, Ellen, what I will write about will make audiences feel the need to listen to you and follow what you say because you have a message. I know you as a brand and I know who your audience is.

Ellen: You’re very creative.

Me: Copywriters should be. It doesn’t end in headlines. It’s also in the meat of the content. It’s a lot of hard work and experience because there are no shortcuts in making your brand seen in a different light. It has to be in a way that’s entertaining, playful, informative and even funny. Just like you.

Ellen: Shouldn’t you be good at selling?

Me: Well, not exactly. But I should be good at making readers think about the product, give the good points and what great value they are getting and then make them decide whether it can really be good for them or not. Everything is a sales pitch, after all. But the way copywriters should do it is not too obvious or else from the beginning, readers already know. It’s a big turn off. The result? They won’t get to know you and what message you really want your audience to know.

Ellen: And what is that?

Me: After knowing you, you really are a good person and that in everything we do, we just need to do one thing: Be kind to one another.

Poof!

Smoke is gone, I’m back to reality.

So you’re an aspiring writer? You want a career as a copywriter? Take these writing tips even if they were in a dream sequence with Ellen.

In the end, what makes an ideal copywriter is all heart. And creativity to use the right words that will work in communicating and persuading people. And dedication to really feel for a client’s business in building a bridge to reach their target audience.

Hopefully, the end result is, more and more people will eventually be crossing that bridge.

How To Create Killer Infographics In 4 Easy Steps

Who would have thought that the lowly infographic would be such an important content marketing tool this year? Three or 4 years ago, infographics gained popularity with its dynamic imagery and concise text aimed at educating audiences on varied topics.

Marketers predicted an increased use of infographics in 2016 and this year, more high-quality infographics are liked, retweeted and shared 3 times more than any other form of content.

Today’s popular crowd are more visually attuned that infographics can play a major role in engaging them. When properly planned and executed, infographics can become a writer’s best friend. One thing to remember though, your infographic should provide great value rather than receiving value, for example, promoting your brand.

But how does one go about creating that killer attention-grabbing infographic? These steps will hopefully demonstrate how – and you don’t need artistic capabilities.

  1. Topic or concept choices

What then is the most engaging topic that audiences these days want to see?

It should either be actionable or informative. You’re either giving good advice to your audience in helping make their lives better (actionable) or you’re giving an in-depth explanation that’s easy to understand through your data, stats and other images (informative). At the end of digesting your infographic, your readers leave with deeper knowledge they didn’t have to begin with.

Too broad topics will entail a longer infographic and might not be easily digestible with our short-attention span audience. Your infographic may have more than one focus, too, leaving the readers confused. Too narrow and you’re left with longer research time.

Topics can come from old content that can be repurposed with gorgeous infographics that weren’t there before. Evergreen topics and customer surveys are great candidates for creating infographics.

  1. Data and fact gathering

Good writers are also good researchers and Wikipedia is a good source for writers giving them an overview of what they’re writing about. It usually is loaded with statistics you can use or grab from. But remember to always cite your sources for the data. This is to show you’re not just making stuff up. When using quotes, always cite the writers especially if they’re industry experts who are relied upon. Quotes not only give a great impact, they also show the human side of your infographic.

  1. Time to write

And so all data are in, topics are organized, stats are confirmed, now it’s time to write that powerful infographic text. Instead of thinking of the words, think of the images that will go instead of letters. Visually imagine how your narrative will look like with fewer text and more images. Texts should be concise but enough.

Your infographic can be any size but the most popular ones are the vertically skinny ones for better embedding. So organization of topics should be well-planned. You don’t want your readers to be scrolling back up and then down again if your topics do not flow smoothly.

Start with an impactful headline. It is the first thing that readers will see when they decide to give your infographic a second or third glance. And the most text-heavy part is the introduction. Make sure you only summarize and not give too much information.

Just like normal all-text content, the information you present shouldn’t be jumping from one topic to another. By the middle of the infographic, you should be elaborating more on your topic and building it up to your climaxing conclusion. Will you use a shocking fact, a funny anecdote or a rare bit of trivia? Or is it going to be a call to action?

  1. Designing your infographic

The less graphically-inclined writer will come up with a wireframe of his ideas and pass it off to a real designer and work hand in hand. The designer will have great ideas on how to visually present your data, stats and other information.

The designer may give out his ideas of what you have in mind so it’s best to listen, too. You can come up with lots of texts, data and images that may drown the reader and lose its primary objective – to inform. The concept of negative space come into play here – be sure to use it. Not only will it be a great way to present the information, it will also be pleasing to the reader’s eyes.

As to the fonts and colors, a good designer will readily give you what’s more appealing, more popular and less straining. Consider it as good advice.

Conclusion

Promoting your infographic may well be out of your responsibility as a writer. Give it to your content marketing team and let them come up with promotional strategies. They know how to do it.

So for the humble writer who only wish is to convey and give his readers valuable information, infographics can be a really great ally.

Bottom line is to visually give useful material to your readers. Don’t just write it, show it! Give your readers a visual journey that will make them come out enhanced and better informed. So a great infographic is not just a good image. It’s actually thorough research, great writing, effective organization and a touch of artistic graphic design all rolled into one. With all these elements, readers will definitely better understand even the most complex topics.

Are you ready to test your mettle in infographics creation? Then why not join our content creation pool of writers at Iris Content. Even if you’re not into creating infographics, you can still write great content with us. Write for us today!

How To Write for Millennial Audiences-Keep Them Engaged

MILLENNIALS – it’s a word that’s heard all over the Internet, print media, movies and television. But who really are these Millennials? Is there a Millennial in your family? There are differing classifications though. Some say they are born in the 80s and 90s. That would make them in their 20s to 30s now. Who knows what the exact age range is? What’s important for writers (be it you’re a Millennial yourself or not), is to be able to reach out to them, make them engaged in your content and keep them coming back.

Writing for Millennials may not be an easy task but the key to making it manageable is getting to know who they are. If you want to reach out to them emotionally, you need to understand what they hold valuable and where they are coming from. What makes them tick? Are they really one in their thoughts and actions? Or is this just one great big marketing speak aimed at 80 million prospective followers?

Do they even read at all?

There is evidence though showing that Millennials DO read. They read more news today than about a decade ago. And they spend about 50 minutes a day reading their interests. But what they read are probably not what you’d expect a normal Gen-X working class hero would read. Here is where writers must draw the line between writing for Millennials and writing for the rest of the world.

The now-famous “attention span”

A Gen X-er once said that the attention span of a Millennial is 140 characters or less. Which is probably true so don’t blow the chance of grabbing their attention in that wee little bit of space. This digital generation is bombarded with content and they have a selective and discriminating taste for what appeals to them. It’s like they’re afraid of missing out on the next big thing and won’t be in on it because of the overwhelming flow of content to take in. Their click-happy, devil-may-care and skeptical attitude towards life and reading in general are what makes them a tough crowd to please! And we, writers love them for it. Well, challenge accepted!

They read differently

Millennials read for information and entertainment. They read for a purpose. If it can’t inform, no thank you! If it can’t entertain, move on to the next. If it’s both informative and entertaining, no universal force can get their glued eyes unglued – even if comes once in a blue moon.

But why does it happen few and far between? Because these Millennials have acquired a skill that no other pre-Millennial generation has done before: scanning. They scan a lot of information and blogs quickly and can perceive what may or may not be worth reading. These Millennials had digital technology shoved up their consciousness right from birth. Their visual skills were due mainly to being exposed very early to computers, internet, gaming consoles and smartphones. Plus every bit of visually attracting things like television, movies and print media. In short, Gen-Y (as Millennials are also called), was practically raised in a truly visual world.

What writers can do

  • Be up-to-date as possible – This is probably one of the most important aspects of writing for a Millennial audience. You have to be the first one out and must be able to discern which ones have intellectual depth and which ones are just downright shallow.
  • If it’s deep enough – Then move on to the point lest we lose our superstar’s interest. Get to the point as clearly as possible. If you don’t have a point, maybe you can write for next week’s post.
  • Have a clear message – If your advocacy is making the world a better place then have a consistent voice each time you write. Millennials may not be into the “we-have-a-voice” level yet but it’s never too early to get them involved. Whether you write about scandals, celebrities, politics or whatever injustices you feel, the message is clear – it’s not good but it can still get better.
  • Make them relate – The internet is very interactive – something Millennials like doing. Be entertaining but at the same time, invoke an emotional response to get them to relate to your subject.
  • Be unique – You don’t have to follow the norm, sometimes weird is kinda cool. It can be entertaining while drawing attention. So be weird and unique. Some of the best stories have a certain touch of unique weirdness. And Millennials identify with the awkward and the weird.

Conclusion

If we can understand what kinds of information these Millennials are seeking, then writers can fully grasp at ways on engaging them. And it’s not difficult to find out what these are: trending topics, keywords, and other tools will help you know what they are looking for.

It may be amazing to discover that Millennials are capable of consuming an endless amount of visual information all at once. If it doesn’t have these two criteria: attractive and easily digestible, then it won’t be appealing. Therefore, writers must not just be good at what they do, but are also good designers of content. While the older generations seem not too particular at a page’s design and focus more on the information, the Gen-Y-ers are more in-sync with how information is presented on a page – and it’s the information they need – no more, no less.

If you can incorporate a unique and current voice that’s relevant, funny, witty and controversial all at the same time, then you could just have what it takes to write for Millennials. Join our content writing agency at Iris Content and be heard!

 

The Art of Writing Ad Copy: A Few Essential Tips

What is it?

Ad copy: that term used in marketing referring to the text of a clickable ad. If you see an ad when you Google something, the ad copy are those 2 to 3 lines under it describing the ad. But who clicks on these ads anyway? Aren’t we all too wary already of the schemes that ads bring?

It’s all in the writing

You can hire a pro to do your ad copy or you can do it yourself. But you should know some basic tips for writers of great ad copies. Who knows, you might be good at it and then do the writing yourself.

How the ad copy is written is far more important than you think. Some minor tweaking of your ad copy to just the right combination, could spell the difference between a successful campaign and a waste of PPC money.

Believe it or not, ad copy writing needs to be taken seriously. It deserves as much attention as any other advertising models of you PPC campaign – probably even more. So the trick here is to create an effective, eye-catching and noticeable ad copy.

Pay attention to these tips for writers who want to get the best results with their ad copies:

Text limits

Be aware of the limits Google puts on your ad copy. You have 35 characters per line, and you have only 2 lines to work with. Use them wisely.

Words that might easily attract buyers are words like “free,” “cheap” or “discount.” Use these words only if your product is really free, cheap or discounted.

Numbers and symbols

You can increase your CTR by using numbers and symbols. Numbers include dates, prices or percentages (for discounts). An ad copy with the words 50% discount may be clicked more than one that doesn’t give any form of discount.

Symbols like the trademark sign exude authenticity. Even a # sign can indicate a rank of some list. Don’t put too many symbols as this might be misconstrued as a spammy ad.

Grammar and punctuation

Yes, correct grammar and punctuation must be observed. You shouldn’t sound like the telegrams of olden times where sentences don’t stop with a period but with the word stop. You get the picture. Stop. So use the correct punctuations.

Poor grammar will tick off a potential customer. Have someone proofread your copy. Ask for any typographical errors.

Keywords in the text

Never forget to insert your keywords in the text of your ad copy. You want to reach the right audience so include those main keywords and write separate ads for customized keywords. Your target audience knows what they’re searching for, so make sure your ad copy is exactly what they need.

The benefit

Make sure you show clearly in the small amount of characters, the exact benefits or value that searchers can get once they click your ad. Don’t focus on the features of your products, zoom in on the value of your products.

Calls to action

Don’t forget to tell those searchers what it is you want them to do once they see your ad copy. If you compel them to do something, they just might do it. If you don’t ask for some form of response or action, don’t expect to get any. Some calls to action words are:

  • Click here to buy
  • Call Now
  • Order Now
  • Watch video here
  • Get it here
  • Reserve now
  • Learn more

Once any of these are clicked, people will get redirected to the correct landing pages. Make then a call to action that invites a searcher to click because you wrote words that they are looking for.

Practice, practice and practice

The art of carefully crafting your ad copy takes a lot of practice, patience and testing. But that’s the beauty of this art. There isn’t any fixed formula or scientific method. If nothing is happening to your ad copy, change it up a bit with a better call to action or a much appealing benefit.

With these tips for writers on honing ad copy skills, you’re on your way to reaping the perks of your ads.