Copywriting and SEO Legitimacy

•May 20, 2010 • Leave a Comment

For the past day or so I’ve been reading the gammut of information on SEO and copywriting on the web. There is so much information to glean, and as a newbie, it is overwhelming. Particularly SEO, which entails navigating the blogosphere, learning about tags, backlinking, link legitimacy, ranking, past and present link strategies, and of course, how to get someone to read what you have written.

Personally, I don’t know anyone who is a webmaster for a well ranked search engine who would also place a link to my blog or copywriting business site on their home page. That seems to be the best way to create links, having a real connection. The Google ranking algorithms are heavily guarded secrets, and in the end your content needs to have legitimate links from well ranked sites. Ahhh…You mean I can’t find massive traffic artificially??? I could invest in learning all sorts of strategies, but in the end, my blog content is the key, and my links need to be obtained naturally. That means someone needs to find my information useful, and then place a link to my site on theirs because they see the value of my content. Integrity, what a concept!

So, the details of what I am learning: Write good content. My favorite SEO quote comes from one of the Google executives who said “the internet is a cesspool of low quality content” (this may be slightly paraphrased) Yeeech…. So what does this mean about this blog and my Advertising copywriting landing page? As a newbie I need to focus on providing any reader something worth reading. So– I am writing this blog for a real purpose, to show the rational process of growing a copywriting business. This is not just a “diary” for my closest friends and family, it is a blow by blow history of a real person finding his way into a real business. The point of this is to show someone else who is starting down this road how it really happens, and what is truly experienced. That has value in validating your own experiences.

There is so much that is false and exaggerated, and out right lied about on the web, so integrity should be a great new concept in blogging and selling. That fits right in with the sophisticated ranking models that will weed out poor content increasingly well in the future, so I continue must write, honest, clear content. If you are wondering if this is my own opinion check out this link…It’s lengthy, but provides great, current information on the state of artificial linking strategies.

http://www.zulit.com/2009/12/27/seo-in-2010-artificial-linking-is-dead/

In my next post I will start to write some “big picture”  information on how the web works. You hear so many buzz words, and knowing how they fit together would be useful for me, and perhaps any visitor to my site. For starters, if you have read something here, put me on your favorites, or bookmark me, or place a comment, or send me a link to your website. The links I wish to post are ones that directly relate to copywriting and advertising, but also those who are starting out in businesses of their own, regardless of the type of business. Perhaps I will create an new page for links, categorized by topic. How’s that for a strategy?

SEO Overview

•May 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

So now I have learned something, and want to relay it here to refresh my own memory and give some context on why I am doing new things to grow my copy writing business. I went to a free seminar with a company called Crexendo, and the content was well done. Here’s what I learned about SEO (search engine optimization) from this short but useful seminar.

I learned that search engines rank every web site, but that only about 2% of web sites see the light of day. This means they actually have a ranking above zero, and you can see their ranking by installing the Google toolbar  from:

toolbar.google.com

and enabling the ranking meter. (see the “wrench” or settings menu on the toolbar) This gives you a tiny meter at the top of your browser that lets you know a number from 0-10 on every web page you see. (this shows up as a small meter on the toolbar, which you can get precise numbers on by hovering over it with your pointer) There are only about 3-5 web sites that are a “10’s”, and there are several trillion that are zero’s. Just knowing where you rank helps. Are you just another entry into the “cesspool of low quality content” that fills cyberspace? (My page belongs to the later, for now at least)

Next I learned how to increase those rankings. It’s done with link building, or should I say backlink building. Other web sites need to link to your website from theirs. If they have a good ranking, it will boost yours.

1) You can get some immediate ranking with social bookmarking services, a mere Google search away. Highly ranked bookmarking services can provide links to your website while piggybacking their ranking to your website. Very cool! Do this with enough services and you will glean some website clout.

2) You can see who is linking to you by typing in <links:_____________.com> in your browser (fill in the blank with the website you want the information on) and voila! 

3) Do some keyword research. Another freebie, the google keyword tool, can tell you what words need to show up on your web page based on the number of surfers that use those words to find a product. You get scads of information, some regionalized to your area, and you can therefore see how people look for information on the web. Using those words on your site can draw more traffic to your website.

That was worth the free cost of admission to the seminar. I want to learn more! But for today, that is plenty to work on. Be curious! Look at those informational analytics and find out all the tools available to you. There is plenty to look at.

The tipping point

•May 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment

What have I learned in the last few days? Well, I’ve found out what the tipping point is for making money as a copywriter. It’s getting an assignment. Now we have to actually convince someone to part with their money. That seems to be the big one. What do I say, how do I contact them, How do they find me and see that I am a good resource and can offer them advertising value? It’s similar to establishing credit when you are young, how do you get credit if you don’t have any to begin with? There are plenty of offers out there, for credit (and writing assignments) but which ones are real, and which ones are just someone wanting to part you from your money?

My first line of thought is to just go out and knock on the doors of some local businesses and see how it is that they utilize advertising, if they do at all. In Utah valley the “bedroom” community is composed of small store fronts, and small manufacturing. Computers, education and health care are the primary employers in the area. Here is the list of questions I plan to ask:

How do you advertise?

What has been the most effective means of getting customers?

Who are your customers, do they fit into a demographic profile?

Is business slow, steady, overwhelming?

What do you wish was different?

That is my version of a starting point for market research. This is one of the top suggestions for freelancing, or business planning that I’ve repeatedly seen. Know your market. That is the next step from here. Know my market. Getting out there and seeing the customers is the tipping point. From here I can formulate what is needed, and find out if I can provide that service.

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Groping for Dollars

•May 5, 2010 • 1 Comment

As I look at the world of advertising I see tons of ads for information websites on copy writing. I wonder about the validity of what is offered just as I do any information I see on the web, and it just seems highly unlikely that paying thousands of dollars will give you more information than you can find for free. Will you find secrets you could not learn from a “next to free” book from Amazon? Well, I’m willing to find out.

What am I really doing? I’m groping for dollars. I want to be paid and I’m willing to do something of value to get that money. So where do I go from here? So far I’ve read some of those next to free books I mentioned, I got the four-year degree, and I’ve applied for jobs with ad agencies. I’ve consulted with a job coach who is encouraging of my efforts, I’ve read scads of blogs, articles,  free information, and comments from others on the validity of the information. I’ve started to create a swipe file of sample ads, I’ve written copy for a variety of situations (for free of course) not to mention spec ads (re-writes of existing copy) and I’m still saying to myself, now what? Well, I wrote down information on all the agencies in my area and started calling the creative directors for each company. I wanted an interview for information on what directors look for in hiring copy writers. On my third call I talked to the owner and creative director for an agency and he took me out to lunch and told me he looked forward to working with me. Huh? Was this for real? I’m an official freelance writer? Did I have beginners luck? Was this serious? To be honest, I don’t know yet. Meanwhile, I’m back to “now what?”

As a freelancer I imagine I will need a company name, and do my own search for work if I am not kept busy by my first client, I will need others to fill the gaps. First order of business, write a business plan. Who am I going to target, what can I offer and how much should I charge for my time? How do I advertise that I can write ads? Traditionally you might have a portfolio of copy from your past experience. Well, I suspect that I will need to start with some spec ads, and some of those free items I wrote and talked about earlier. There are several ways to demonstrate my capability, one of them being a blog such as this, and how about writing samples from those college courses I took? That is on the agenda. I’m a greenie, I will do what sounds and feels good until someone tells me otherwise. That’s the scoop for today.
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Finding your Way

•May 3, 2010 • Leave a Comment

If you are wanting to see what it’s like to start a career, this might just be the place to go. There are so many out there that have a variety of skills, and yet have no clear direction. Perhaps you are one of them. I have been floundering for a while, and yet I always felt that there was some particular place that I needed to land, a place to call my home, one that was unique to me. So I am starting to record progress on a career.

First of all, how do you solve the problem of “what shall I do when I grow up?” This was a huge concern, and caused endless ruminating, fear finding, self incrimination, agonizing realizations, hard work, wasted time and resources, and exploring dead ends. During this time a lot of energy was wasted in doing things that had no real meaning, and served only to pay bills. Yet knowing this didn’t solve my problem.

Now what? There were a few key phrases that eventually resonated with me. “Don’t make any decisions based on fear or guilt”, and the other was “if you don’t know what you want to do, it doesn’t matter what you do (so just choose something)”. Armed with this information I started on this journey into the world of copywriting.

I first did some reading. It’s cheap. It’s more likely to be useful because the internet can be full of misinformation, books require some substantial effort to make it to press.

I began with a book by Robert W. Bly. The copywriter’s handbook, vintage 1985. Here is a straightforward book that gives basic information, and gets your feet wet. I’ve read it cover to cover and learned a great deal. As I look at other blogs, articles from copy writing sites, commentary on swipe files, (a collection of ads used for personal reference and idea generation) I have noticed that the jargon is more updated, the technology has had a major effect, and that much the same information is discussed, albeit in more detail, or in current context. The book was written when word processing was new for heaven’s sake!

The other part is how copy writing fits in with my background. The more I learn, the more connections I see to my experience. Psychology, graphic design, music, writing, mixed interests, persuasion, mediation, management, degree etc. all seem to have their use in copy writing. So onward and upward….

Useful things I remember:

What is the purpose of advertising? to sell.

What is the purpose of your headline? to get you to read your next line.

Personalize with your target audience, write simply and directly. Research your product or service so you have a level of expertise sufficient to write effective ads. You are appealing to someone to ask them to part with their hard earned money. Make it about their needs and the benefits they get. Make every word count. Keep them curious, Have integrity. Know your audience.

All these still apply regardless of the technology used to deliver it. Basics, whose inherant value is still overlooked, and misguided in current ads. I’m learning that copywriters are paid to think. Putting all the elements togather to work for a common goal. To sell.

So feel free to add to the list of common, basic rules for good copy. I could use them, and so could others out there.