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SalahSharief

Outsourcing your editing work – how can freelance copyeditors help you?

By | business advice, editing, publishing | No Comments

 

Outsourcing your editing work to a freelance copyeditor can save you time and money. It provides access to an experienced professional who can deliver top-quality work, without the costs and responsibilities of maintaining an in-house editorial team.

Freelance copyeditors work with a diverse range of industries to deliver accurate, effective written content. Smaller organisations often don’t have the budget to retain a full-time editor on their team. Even larger organisations are increasingly using outsourcing to acquire specialist editing skills for specific projects, or temporarily increase their capacity.

In this article, we explain what a copyeditor does, what outsourcing is, and identify some groups who may outsource their editing work.

What is copyediting (and what does a copyeditor do)?

According to the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading:

‘Copyediting focuses on the detail of a text: agreeing final content, making sure it reads well for its intended purpose, and applying consistency to the language and formatting.’

More intensive than proofreading, copyediting involves a sentence-level review of written content, checking for errors and inconsistencies, improving readability and style, and raising any queries with the client (or the author).

The CIEP website provides a comprehensive list of copyediting tasks.

What is outsourcing?

Essentially, outsourcing is the practice of obtaining goods or services from an external supplier. The practice has broadened over the last 15 years to include the hiring of freelance professionals to work on specific projects. It gives businesses and organisations access to expertise and knowledge that they cannot afford (and do not need) to retain on a full-time basis.

In-house teams will be familiar with the structure and practices of their organisation, but outsourcing brings a fresh perspective. Plus, an experienced copyeditor who has worked across a variety of projects will be able to provide valuable input regarding your overall editorial management plan.

Outsourcing makes economic sense. Yes, it costs to hire a professional copyeditor. But you will not need to fund pension contributions, salary, paid leave, sickness pay, or any expenses except those directly associated with the project. There are also time considerations. It can take well over two months to train an in-house staff member to edit to the required standard. This training will require a considerable investment in terms of training materials and salary. It could also reduce your overall capacity as the staff member cannot work on other projects while they are training.

There is also the matter of consistency and workflow continuity. If your in-house editor becomes unwell, leaves, or takes a holiday, their work must be covered, or key projects will grind to a halt. If you outsource to a copyediting agency that works with a regular team of freelance copyeditors, they can guarantee that your editing work will continue uninterrupted, even during peak holiday periods.

Which industries use freelance copyeditors?

In short, any business, organisation, or body that produces written content could outsource their editing work. We’ve listed a few below, to give you an idea of the scope of a freelance copyeditor’s work.

Medical communications agencies

Medical communications agencies (sometimes called ‘medcomms’) work with healthcare companies to produce and distribute information to different audiences. These could be healthcare professionals (Doctors, nurses, pharmacists), statutory and public bodies (like the NHS), and patients.

Medcomms agencies produce written content in a variety of formats. This includes e-learning platforms, conference documents, educational texts, and printed materials such leaflets. The aim is to engage the audience, convey the client’s key message, and improve the healthcare experience of patients. The material needs to be pitched at wildly differing levels – think information for doctors on the pharmacological mechanisms of a new drug vs a leaflet on diabetes for younger children. Also, the information given must be clear and accurate. False claims of effectiveness or ambiguous instructions for medication can be dangerous. They can also incur steep costs for the client, financially and reputationally.

Medical editors support medcomms agencies to deliver written content. Although many agencies have an in-house editorial team, they frequently outsource to freelance copyeditors. This often happens when large projects necessitate a temporary expansion of the workforce but can also occur when pitching content to a new or niche audience. For example, delivering information that effectively promotes uptake of the covid-19 vaccine amongst marginalised communities will require a medical editor familiar with the culture and customs of those communities. It may also require an editor who is multilingual.

Publishers

Obviously, most large publishing houses have an in-house editorial team, but they will outsource to freelance copyeditors to ensure that they meet strict deadlines. This often happens in the case of typesetting deadlines and unexpected rewrites. They may also outsource to freelance copyeditors where the editing of a text requires a specialised knowledge base – for example, the correct use of Islamic terminology.

Publishers don’t just print books and pay authors. They also promote the books and create the marketing materials to promote those books. The promotional material will be in a range of formats – including letters, leaflets, digital articles, and social media posts. A team of copyeditors and copywriters work together to ensure consistency of style and message across the promotional campaign. Working with this material requires a different skillset to editing a manuscript. The copyeditor must understand SEO and the functions of social media, and how these impact upon the language and style of written content. For this reason, publishers may outsource the editing of promotional material to a copyeditor who is experienced at working with digital marketing content.

Digital news outlets

There’s no such thing as a slow news day. In the digital world, news moves quickly – think up-to-the-second, not up-to-the-minute. In this fast-paced environment, competition for readers is fierce, and delivering relevant, compelling content is key. Digital news outlets are in a never-ending race to break key stories and developments before their competitors do. If they fall behind, their content becomes irrelevant, and their search engine ranking suffers the consequences. That means reduced online visibility, less readers, and loss of income from advertising and subscriptions.

Clearly time is of the essence, but so is precision. Typos and inaccuracies in reports will damage the reputation of any news outlet and undermine the credibility of their journalism. Outsourcing to a copyediting agency allows digital news outlets to deliver on speed without compromising on quality and accuracy. The agency has a pool of freelance copyeditors available to deliver articles to the tightest of deadlines. This leaves journalists free to concentrate on writing and investigating the stories that matter.

Translation services

In the ideal world, a translator would be a native speaker of both the source language and the target language. That’s because, when it comes to translation, the meaning is more important than wording. Good-quality translations should retain all the meaning of the original text but read as though they were written by a native speaker of the target language. In short, they should be idiomatic, not literal.

However, translation work is often done by native speakers of the source language who have variable proficiency in the target language. As a result, the texts produced often read awkwardly, and fail to convey the author’s original meaning. For that reason, many translation agencies outsource to a freelance copyeditor who is a native speaker of the target language, but who also has some familiarity with the idiosyncrasies of the source language.

Academic Researchers

The global Covid-19 pandemic has been a powerful reminder that research is an international effort. The success of the vaccine development programme relates in part to the prompt and open sharing of ideas between researchers from across the globe. To be effective, the information shared needs to be accurate, reliable, and clear. That’s not so easy if reports are written in a hurry, in the researcher’s second (or third) language, or if the usual peer review process has been bypassed for the sake of speed (as happened often during pandemic).

In lieu of peer reviews, researchers are increasingly outsourcing to academic editors to revise their papers and expedite their publication. An academic editor will ensure that the papers adhere to academic conventions in terms of language, style, and citations. They also make sure that all findings are explained clearly and succinctly, and that any ambiguities or inaccuracies are removed.

Charities

Charities can produce a lot of written content – from information leaflets, to fundraising content, to annual reports. This material is predominantly for public consumption, and in the case of accounting reports it may be subject to a great deal of external scrutiny. For these reasons, the information contained needs to be accurate. It also needs to be engaging – especially where content for fundraising campaigns is concerned. Fundraising campaigns make heavy use of written digital content that involves elements of SEO such as readability and keywords. SEO is vital to maintain online visibility and keep donations flowing.

The budget of many charities doesn’t cover the costs of maintaining a full-time in-house editor. So, outsourcing to a freelance copyeditor ensures effective, top quality written material for specific campaigns or high-profile documents.

Wordsmiths provides a professional proofreading and copyediting service to meet all your outsourcing needs. We have extensive experience of working with researchers, charities, publishers, media groups, translation agencies, and the healthcare sector. Our editors deliver accurate, effective, high-quality work, and we guarantee a fast turnaround time to help you meet even the tightest deadline. To talk to us about your outsourcing needs, email us at info@wordsmiths.org.uk, or call us on 07743 518681. You can also get in touch via our social accounts on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Remote Learning – 5 tips for University Students

By | Dissertations, postgraduate advice, Student advice | No Comments

Schools are back, exams are cancelled, and the UK government have a roadmap for exiting lockdown; everything is getting back to normal, isn’t it?

Well, yes, but not for everyone. The newly announced plans for re-opening education settings in England didn’t mention universities. So, although schoolchildren can return to the classroom on 8th March, university students will continue to learn remotely. What’s more, the university exam season is going ahead, and dissertation submission deadlines are looming too.

After months of isolation and remote learning, it’s natural for students to experience zoom-fatigue. The easing of restrictions means that the chance to resume your social life is tantalisingly close. which makes the prospect of more online learning even more onerous. However, these new freedoms come at a key point in the academic calendar, with dissertation deadlines and the university exam season fast approaching. The world may be re-opening, but the pressure for university students remains very much on. The work you do over the next few weeks will make all the difference to your final grades.

So how can you stay motivated for remote learning when the wolrd around you is reawakening? In this article, we discuss 5 ways to keep your studies on-track, whilst also making time for some self-care.

Clean and declutter.

It’s no coincidence that student’s rooms are never cleaner than when they have a deadline! Cleaning is well-known as a work-avoidance tactic, but a bit of cleaning and de-cluttering is no bad thing. We don’t mean re-paint the house and empty the attic but tidying your work area and giving it a thorough wipe-down can help you study. If your workspace is neat, clean, and comfortable, you’ll be more relaxed and less distracted, so you’ll learn more efficiently. Plus, you’ll feel as though you’ve achieved something, which can give you an important boost on those days where studying feels like an uphill struggle.

Write a study timetable and stick to it.

Study timetables are essential for any student. They help you keep track of deadlines, so you get work done in good time, and they allow you to plan your revision and make sure you’re well-prepared for whatever the test papers throw at you. Having a plan puts you in control of your learning and can be useful for those times when you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything you need to do.

So, write a study timetable and stick to it, especially as your social calendar starts to fill up again (more of that later).

Identify your best learning time.

 

“One hour of 7pm is not the same as one hour of 7am”.

 – Dr Salah Sharief, Wordsmiths Director.

 

Those are wise words from our director (and no, he didn’t pay us to say that), but what do they mean? Quite simply, there will be times of day when you learn more effectively, and times when you don’t.

In Dr Sharief’s case, his most productive study time is the early morning, but that won’t be true for everyone. For example, our Creative Content Editor prefers to use mornings for physical and practical tasks (such as exercise and cleaning) before settling down to work in the afternoon when she’s more focussed. You will achieve far more if you study when your focus is highest, so identify when those times are, and plan your study timetable accordingly.

Stretch and move.

The lockdown has drastically increased the amount of time we spend staring at screens, and there are health costs to this shift. Extended periods spent staring at digital devices can cause eye problems, while a recent survey found that 89% of remote workers report musculoskeletal pain. If you spend a lot of time hunched over your laptop, it’s vital that you take regular movement breaks. Being active is important for learning too – research has shown that exercise can improve various cognitive functions such as memory and attention.

Now if you’re not an exercise junkie, don’t worry – this doesn’t mean you need to do vigorous exercise. A gentle walk and some simple stretches will help keep the aches and pains at bay, and keep your brain primed for effective studying.

Plan something nice.

With key deadlines and exams approaching, life can feel stressful for university students. That’s especially true if you’re spending most of the day stuck in your room alone. Much as it’s important to stay on-task with your learning, treating yourself matters too. So, plan something nice – meet a friend for a walk, go get a takeout coffee (and maybe a cake, we’re not judging). Planning a treat has the double benefit of lifting your spirits whilst also making it easier to stick to your study timetable -it’s easier to say no to spontaneous invites if you’ve already got social plans booked in.

Wordsmiths is a UK-based editing company that provides proofreading and copyediting services to publishers, media groups, and academic researchers. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive more of our studying and writing tips – you can also find us on Facebook and Instagram.

5 reasons why copywriters should charge per project (not per word)

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Should copywriters charge per word or per project?

This question is hotly debated. With the huge growth in internet use and content marketing, more people than ever are seeking to hire a professional copywriter. Businesses and organisations who lack the time and skill to write their own content understandably want assurances that they’re being charged fairly. Yet with so much conflicting information and a lack of standardised charging across the copywriting industry, it’s easy to become confused.

 

The simple fact is that copywriting involves a lot more than throwing words onto a page. It requires research, marketing skills, word craft, and sometimes specialist knowledge of a particular subject.

 

In this article we’ll explain the terms “per word” and per project”, and list 5 reasons why copywriters should charge per project.

 

Per word

Per word payments are simple – the copywriter is paid for every word they write. So, at 50p per word, a 1000-word article would cost £500. The per-word charging system makes it easy for customers to compare copywriting quotes. What’s more, the per-word price can also indicate the likely quality of the finished product. (Pro tip: a skilled copywriter is unlikely to charge 10p per word).

But here’s the problem: higher word counts usually mean more waffle.

So, a copywriter could produce a more effective article in 500 words, but they’d be paid more for padding the article out to 100 words.

 

Per Project

There is a growing recognition among writers that they need to be paid for their knowledge, skills and experience. An effective landing page for your website could persuade consumers to buy your products, poor-quality content will send those customers running elsewhere. For these reasons, the copywriting industry is moving towards a per-project charging system.

 

Under pay per project, the copywriter charges a flat rate fee for a specific piece of work. The fee includes their research time, knowledge, and word craft. Look at it another way: if you order fries from McDonald’s, you don’t pay for each individual fry, you pay for all the work and resources that go into producing those fries.

 

It’s the same with copywriting – charging per-project recompenses the copywriter for every element of the work that goes into producing the words on the page. Experienced copywriters produce high-quality content that converts, and per-project charging reflects the value that copywriters bring to their customers.

So now we’ve covered the differences between per word and per project, here are 5 reasons why your copywriter should be paid per project.

 

  1. Copywriting is marketing.

 

Consider the taglines used by famous brands, such as “I’m loving it” from McDonald’s or Tesco’s “Every little helps”. They may be short, but have a huge influence on brand image and consumer perception. This type of creative content adds massive value to brands, and they pay their copywriters a lot more than 50p per word to write them. In the digital world, every piece of content – from website homepages to social media posts – must be marketable. That involves the judicious use of keywords and style to please the search engine algorithms and boost SEO. It also requires the writer to engage the audience and create the desired response, to buy a product, subscribe to a newsletter, or donate to a cause.

Copywriters use word craft and marketing skills to create great copy, and that’s a lot more involved than simply putting words on a page.

 

  1. Fixed wordcounts restrict quality

Sometimes, a piece of content does have a set wordcount, for example, an advertising article destined for a print magazine. But generally, copywriters use as many words as required to get the job done. If a compelling article can be produced in 600 words, then “padding it out” to 1000 words will dilute the quality and effectiveness. Charging per project allows the copywriter to use as many (or as few) words as necessary to produce the best-quality content.

 

  1. Copywriting involves more than just writing.

A copywriter does a huge amount of work before they even begin to put fingers to keyboard. The copywriting process can include market research, SEO research, interviews, industry trends and more. These elements help the copywriter to understand your target audience – what appeals to them and what motivates them – and produce content that is genuinely relateable. They also have to fit their words into your overall content strategy to keep your brand “voice” consistent. This process takes time and charging per project allows copywriters to be compensated for that time.

 

  1. Being concise takes skill.

Producing lean content that adds value to a business is harder than you think.

For example, writing a high-converting 300-word article for a firm that sells lab equipment to the pharmaceutical industry is tougher than producing a 1000-word blog about cats.

This is because the short-form pieces have to deliver a lot of detail. They must include technical information  highlight the product’s key features, explain the benefit to the customer, target the right audience, and persuade them to buy. All this in 300 words. In truth, producing short-form content takes time and experience, and per-word charging simply doesn’t reflect that.

 

  1. Copywriters can have specialist knowledge.

Many copywriters tend to specialise in certain niches, such as education, or technical subjects. This means they can focus on researching a specific subject, and abreast stay abreast of key industry trends and developments. With this expert knowledge, the content they produce will be accurate, detailed, and relevant, and ultimately more effective.

 

And finally…

We hope this article has helped you understand how much goes into producing great quality content. If you’re looking for a professional copywriting service to add value to your business or organisation, contact Wordsmiths. We currently have availability for copywriting projects, so get in touch to talk about your needs. You can contact us by email at info@wordsmiths.org.uk, or WhatsApp us at +44 7743 518681. Follow our social accounts at Facebook and Instagram to keep up with our latest news and writing tips.

What pages should my business website include? (6 must-haves for every business website)

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“What pages should my business website include?” That’s a question all business owners ask at some point. From startup firms building their first website to established companies who are rebranding, getting your website content right is key.

Research from the Welsh government suggests that over 90% of all purchases now begin with an online search. That’s a lot of potential sales leads.

To capture some of those leads you need a website that tells potential customers what you do, who you help, and why they should choose YOU over the competition.

This may sound daunting, but don’t worry, we’ve compiled a list of the 6 must-have pages that every business website needs.

1 Homepage

Your business website is your shop, and your homepage is the window display that draws customers inside. It’s the most important page, and usually the one that most people see first. Crucially, the homepage is also the page that everyone links to, meaning it usually receives more traffic than any other part of your website – so you’d better make it good!

Internet users have a short attention span – some studies suggest that firms have less than 3 seconds to convince customers to stay. The content on your homepage should be intriguing enough to capture the attention of your visitors and encourage them to stay a little longer.

It’s tempting to start telling your business story in the homepage, but control yourself. New visitors don’t want to trawl through 6 paragraphs of your firm’s backstory, no matter how compelling it is. That information goes on the “About” page (see below).

So, what SHOULD the homepage include? All you really need is a short, clear description of who you are and what your company does. Keep it customer-focussed by adding some quick details about how you can help your potential customers, and possibly add a brief summary of your services and products. Clear, concise, and catchy content wins every time.

 

2 About page

The about page is the second most-visited page on most business websites. It’s also the most awkward one to write, and as a result it’s the page that most business owners shy away from. That’s because it’s hard to strike the right balance between talking about yourself and maintaining focus on the customer.

Yet sell yourself you must. Modern consumers are savvy, and they usually want to know a bit more about who they are buying from before deciding to make a purchase. So, your about page needs to give a brief summary of who you are, your company history, your values, and what sets you apart from your competitors. You could also include a profile of your staff team (with photos and biographies of key employees), and highlight any notable awards or accolades you’ve received

Whatever you write, keep it jargon-free, natural sounding and make sure that the tone matches your overall branding. Consistency helps develop a positive business persona and the consumer trust that goes with it.

3 Products and Services pages

If the homepage is your shop window, the products and services pages are the shelves where customers view your stock. These pages tell visitors a little more about what you provide, so they can decide whether what you’re offering is right for them. And for those visitors who are already committed to buying from you, it’s where they get to choose which of your items they actually want.

If you’re an e-commerce or product-based business, begin your products page with a short summary of your products before listing them. Then give a brief description that explains what the customer can expect from each product

“our Bodyboost shampoo adds volume to fine hair”.

If you have multiple products, divide the information into categories and put each category on a separate (linked) page, exactly as you’d see in a traditional catalogue.

Service-based firms should also begin with a summary before outlining their individual services in more detail. You don’t need to list every single task that you’ll complete, but clients do need sufficient information to decide whether your service can solve their problem. Try using bullet points and short explanations, as we’ve done in the example below.

“Our editing service:

  • Corrects spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors
  • Rewrites problematic sentences and re-orders paragraphs
  • Improves the readability and flow of your content.”

If your service portfolio is extensive, consider dividing it into sections and assign a separate, clearly-linked sub-page for each section. This gives interested customers the chance to learn more without overwhelming those who are still at the browsing stage.

4 Contact page

The easier it is for customers to contact you, the more likely they are to buy from you. That’s especially true if your business model involves fact-finding discussions and quoting for services.

Your contact page should show potential customers all the ways they can get in touch with you. Include your mailing address, phone and fax number, and even your business hours. Spam emails are a problem for many companies so consider using a contact form instead of listing your email address. Don’t forget to include links to all of your social media accounts too – if customers follow your social profiles, they are more likely develop trust in your brand and buy from you.

As we mentioned above, internet users have a short attention span – not everyone has the patience to click through to the contact page. So, include your contact details on all of your business website pages, on a footer, side bar, or in the top right corner.

Essentially, you should aim to give your customers every opportunity to communicate with you on their terms. Don’t lose a customer just because it was hard for them to get in touch with you.

5 Customer testimonials

Strictly speaking, customer testimonials don’t need a page to themselves. They can appear anywhere on your business website – in a footer or a sidebar, or as a highlighted feature on your services page. But they DO need to appear somewhere. That’s because feedback from other customers encourages potential customers to build trust in your firm.

Think about your own purchasing behaviour: you check the reviews of a product before buying it, you ask for recommendations when choosing a service provider. Your new clients will do the same, so highlight the positive feedback your company has received. If possible, add authenticity to this feedback by including a photo, screenshot, or link to the customer’s social profile. Authenticity is fundamental to your credibility, and feedback that can be traced to an actual source helps establish trust.

Some firms include case studies on their website. These studies provide detailed account of how a firm works with their customers, and offer businesses the chance to showcase the results that they deliver. Case studies aren’t essential though, and customer feedback doesn’t need to be long to be effective. A short paragraph of praise, or even a sentence or two is enough.

6 Blog

Anyone who says that blogging is dead is lying. In fact, a well-written business blog is one of the most lucrative marketing tools out there. HubSpot suggests that 57% of businesses who blog have generated a lead from it. A blog gives your company a voice, it creates a place where you can tell your company’s story, share your expertise, and engage with your customers. It can also drive traffic to other pages on your website and improve your ranking with search engines such as Google.

Content matters though. Low-quality, irrelevant articles won’t attract new customers. Think about why you’re writing the blog, and who you’re writing it for, and be careful to strike the right tone – not too stuffy or informal. Readability and relevance are the bedrocks of successful business blogging. Check out our handy guide for more tips on what to include (and what NOT to include) in your business blog.

And finally…

Why not let the professionals write the pages for your business website? Wordsmiths provides paraphrasing services to rebrand your website content and boost its SEO. We also offer SEO copywriting for solopreneurs and startup firms. To get a free, no-commitment quote, DM us at Facebook or Instagram, WhatsApp us on 07743 518681, or get in touch via our website. 

What are the benefits of therapeutic writing (and where do I start)?

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Therapeutic writing is a great way to improve develop your writing skills and improve your emotional wellbeing. It helps you to process your experiences, it teaches you to understand your reactions.

In the UK alone, 1 in 4 people experience a mental health problem each year (McManus et al., 2009), and 1 in 6 report experiencing a common mental health problem each week (McManus et al., 2016). As we live through the Covid-19 global pandemic, more people than ever are facing isolation, uncertainty, and financial pressures. Everyone needs a helping hand sometimes, but therapy can be expensive, and waiting lists are growing by the day. Therapeutic writing offers a free, creative, and constructive way to work through your feelings. Yet even for experienced writers, the very idea of therapeutic writing can be overwhelming: where do you start with something so big? In this article we explain 5 benefits of therapeutic writing, and offer some handy prompts to help nervous writers get started.

  1. Therapeutic writing promotes thankfulness 

Count your blessings…

(John Charles Earl, 1878)

Writing with gratitude isn’t a new concept, but it’s an important one. In essence, writing with gratitude means recording the things that you’re thankful for – experiences, events, people in your life, the little things you observe. Having this positive focus doesn’t mean you’re ignoring reality. Rather, it keeps fresh in your mind the things you DO have to be grateful for. Imagine a squirrel, gathering nuts for the long winter ahead: writing with gratitude allows you to harvest a rich supply of positive experiences and memories to warm and sustain you when life gets tough. And what’s more, training your brain to seek out the positives in every situation will boost your overall sense of gratitude and make your more aware of everything you have to be grateful for.

  1. Therapeutic writing helps your mental health

The benefits of writing for mental health have been much chronicled. According to Scott (2018), writing can improve your cognitive functioning, reduce rumination, shift your perspective, and even strengthen your immune system. Writing offers you a safe daily outlet to explore your emotions, release tension, and process your experiences. It helps you leave behind the things that bother you and hastens your recovery from the stress of daily life.

The psychologist Barbara Markway once said:

There’s simply no better way to learn about your

thought processes than to write them down.

She’s absolutely right: to understand our problematic thought patterns, we first have to identify them. Writing is a great way to draw out negative automatic thoughts and reach the root cause of your stress, anxiety, or low mood.

Writing about your struggles (and your wins) helps you explore your experiences, so you better understand what caused your challenges and how to tackle them. Through writing, you can develop self-awareness, identify your triggers, let go of stress, and release those negative thoughts that you’ve kept bottled up. All of this will have a positive impact on your mental state.

  1. Therapeutic writing aids trauma recovery 

Writing can help you heal. That’s a bold claim, but it’s true. Whether you’re reeling from a traumatic event, processing a bereavement, or battling addiction, writing helps you to process your emotions and experiences.

If you’ve been unfortunate enough to experience a traumatic event, writing can even help you to see the positive side of your experiences. That might sound strange, or even insulting, but it’s part of the route to mental and emotional recovery. Think of Mr Rogers’ advice:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things on the news,

my mother would say to me: “look for the helpers,

you will always find people who are helping”.

Focussing on the positives, however small, reduces the fear and pain associated with traumatic experiences, even in the midst of all the painful, negative emotions. In short, writing aids recovery by providing a safe, cathartic way to relive your experiences and memories, set them into context, and develop control over your responses.

  1. Therapeutic writing promotes learning and problem solving

Writing can help you learn; anyone who’s ever re-written a set of lecture notes can tell you that. But the educational benefits of writing extend way beyond the classroom – it can facilitate personal growth and self-awareness too. Therapeutic writing creates a record of your shifting thoughts and altered perspectives, charting how they change over time and why. It helps to solidify what you learn, so you can recall it more effectively in future times of struggle. What’s more, therapeutic writing can help you visualise your goals and solve challenges. Through assessing the possible outcomes of a situation and evaluating your options, procrastination is reduced, and positive actions are promoted.

  1. Therapeutic writing improves your writing skills.

As you’d expect, therapeutic writing helps you develop as a writer. That’s true whether you’re a fiction author or a medical researcher. By reflecting on your thoughts, actions, and experiences, you become more observant and better at critical thinking. More than this, therapeutic writing helps you to develop your sense of self, giving you greater confidence in asserting your feelings and experiences. This is invaluable for those who lack the confidence to assert themselves in personal and professional relationships.

So that’s how therapeutic writing can help you, but where do you start?

If you don’t write regularly (and even if you do), the thought of sitting and committing your innermost thoughts to paper (or keyboard) can be intimidating. So here are some prompts to help you get started with therapeutic writing.

  1. Set a timer for 10 minutes, and write whatever is in your head. Describe the computer you’re staring at, write about what you last ate – anything. Just start write down your “stream of consciousness” and keep going till the timer is finished.
  2. Write with your subdominant hand. You’ll be amazed how quickly focussing on the act of writing helps you forget about the stress of setting your thoughts down.
  3. Practice thankfulness. Keep daily record of the things you appreciate, even the little ones. A compliment, a smile, an unexpected act of kindness. You could even include uplifting quotes you’ve read, and explain why they made you feel good.
  4. Keep a log of your successes, no matter how small. Write about what you did, and why it matters to you.
  5. Write a playlist of your favourite or most meaningful songs. Do you have a song that makes you want to get up and exercise? Is there a tune that evokes string memories of your childhood? Discuss the memories that each song holds for you, or how you feel when you hear it.

Don’t be afraid to reach out

Writing helps, but it can only do so much. If you’re struggling with your mental health, then you must reach out to someone. Don’t suffer alone. Whether it’s a trusted friend or family member, or a professional support service, you must seek help. Your GP can usually direct you to the most appropriate mental health service, and you can also contact the Samaritans on their 24-hour support line – just call 116 123 from a UK phone number.

And finally,

Some people go on to share their therapeutic writing with a larger audience, through self-published life coaching books or articles in print and digital magazines. If you’re considering self-publishing or submitting an article, get in touch with Wordsmiths. We offer a professional editing and proofreading service to polish your words and prepare them for publication. Your emotions may be raw, but your draft doesn’t have to be. You can get a free quote by emailing us at info@wordsmiths.org.uk, or messaging us through our social accounts at Facebook and Instagram.

References:

  1. McManus, S., Meltzer, H., Brugha, T. S., Bebbington, P. E., & Jenkins, R. (2009). Adult psychiatric morbidity in England, 2007: results of a household survey.
  2. McManus S, Bebbington P, Jenkins R, Brugha T. (eds.) (2016). Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult psychiatric morbidity survey 2014.
  3. Scott, E. (2018). The benefits of journaling for stress management. Very Well Mind.  https://www.verywellmind.com/the-benefits-of-journaling-for-stress-management-3144611
editing, proofreading, difference

What’s the difference between editing and proofreading?

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“Originality is simply a fresh pair of eyes.”

– Thomas W. Higginson

 

Originality and quality give your writing impact. And hiring a professional editor to review your writing is a sure-fire way to ensure that your writing stands out. Thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier to hire a second pair of eyes to check your written content. But the most important question isn’t “should I hire someone?”, it’s “which service do I need?”. Many people use the terms editing and proofreading interchangeably, but they are totally separate services, delivering very different results. Hiring a professional editor can be costly, and it’s easy to waste money on the wrong service. So, we’ve listed 7 key differences between editing and proofreading so you can decide which service is right for you.

 

1 – Editing is performed on the first draft; proofreading is performed on the final draft.

Editing and proofreading are different, but connected. They are actually different stages of the same writing and editing process.

The writing process begins with planning, then writing, then editing. Finally, proofreading is performed on the final draft before it is submitted or published for its intended use. Proofreading only happens once, but a document may be edited several times before the final draft is produced. It’s also worth noting that the proofreading should be performed by a separate professional. That’s because fresh eyes detect errors more easily, and they avoid the typo blindness that comes from overfamiliarity with the text.

2 – Proofreading is a surface-level check, editing addresses core issues.

Proofreading rectifies problems such as misspellings, errors/omissions in punctuation, and inconsistencies in terminology and numbers. It’s a surface-level check. In contrast, editing addresses issues with the core features of writing such as sentence structure, clarity, and tone. A thorough editing service will leave your document with a smooth, coherent narrative that is persuasive and – above all – readable.

3 – Editing takes longer.

Editing is usually more time consuming than proofreading. That’s not because that proofreading is a simple process that can (or should be) rushed, far from it. Proofreading requires focus, diligence, and exacting standards. But editing involves collaboration, research, and rewriting, and these features are simply more time consuming. It’s worth remembering that when you discuss your deadline with your editor.

4 – Proofreading will not reduce your word count.

Proofreading corrects the errors in your existing words, but it won’t remove them, rewrite them, or reduce your word count. Those are editing tasks. There are many reasons why reducing your word count is important. You may have a set word limit, e.g. for an essay or article. It could also be that the sheer volume of words makes your document harder to read. Either way, your editor can address this. It is also possible to expand your word count, although expansion is a writing task, not an editing one. If your document needs to be longer, your editor may offer suggestions on sections that could use more detail or explanation. You could also consider hiring a professional copywriter to write additional content for you.

5 – Proofreading and editing have different goals.

If you still aren’t sure which service you need, this key point should help you decide. Proofreading removes the errors from writing that is already good, whereas editing improves the overall quality of the writing itself. Put more simply: proofreading removes unsightly smudges from a nicely-painted wall, editing repaints the wall.

6 – They look different.

Any decent proofreading or editing service will use software such as Microsoft track changes to make alterations. They do this so that you – the customer – can clearly see where your document has been altered. That’s important because not only does it provide evidence of the service you’ve paid for, it can also help you develop your writing skills.

A document that’s been proofread will contain changes to your individual words, and punctuation marks may have been added or removed. But there is usually no change to your original wording. Edited documents contain sentences and paragraphs that have been crossed out and restructured, and the overall structure of the document may also be different. Some phrases and sentences may have been totally rewritten from the original. Your editor may also have left notes, questions, and suggestions throughout the document, this is part of the collaborative editing process.

7 – Editing requires specialist knowledge of your subject and subject-specific conventions.

Proofreading requires an eye for detail and a comprehensive knowledge of grammar. However, editing may require a deeper understanding of your specialism and the associated subject-specific conventions. For example, imagine that your document is an article on biochemistry for a science journal. Your editor would need an understanding of the sciences and scientific writing conventions, along with a more general understanding of the style conventions required for article publication.

So, which service do you need?

Proofreading:

Your document has been edited, and you’re confident about the language and structure. Now you want a final check to eliminate typographical errors, punctuation errors, and misspellings.

Editing:

Your document require revisions for clarity, readability, and flow. You want to collaborate with someone to refine your writing style and develop your argument.

Wordsmiths offers a comprehensive range of services, including proofreading, editing, and copywriting. We also offer a business content paraphrasing service that rewrites every word and sentence of your existing content. This makeover service retains your original message, but delivers it in a way that fits perfectly with your brand image. You can find out more about our services on our website, so get in touch if you’d like to chat to us about your writing project. You can contact us via email on info@wordsmiths.org.uk or WhatsApp at 07743518681. Don’t forget, you can keep up with our latest news and offers through Facebook and Instagram, and by subscribing to our monthly newsletter.

7 common writing mistakes that could harm your business

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Writing mistakes in your business content can damage your brand. That’s because your written content isn’t just a marketing tool; it’s part of your brand identity. Great content improves your standing in the eyes of your customers, but error-strewn content, be it printed or digital, will drag your reputation down.

In this month’s article we identify 7 common writing mistakes, and examine how avoiding them can help your business to:

  • Showcase your expert knowledge
  • Provide proof of your attention to detail
  • Reassure customers
  • Boost your SEO

So, what are the common writing mistakes that so many businesses make?

  1. Spelling mistakes

Spelling mistakes look sloppy and careless. That’s especially true in this digital age where automated spelling checks detect most of the errors for you (although not all of them – more of that later). Beyond the reputational damage, spelling mistakes can affect other aspects of your marketing such as SEO. When the search engine algorithms analyse your documents, one of the things they look for is keywords. So, if you misspell those keywords, your articles and web pages won’t feature in search results.

Consider a keyword from our industry – copywriting (the act of producing written content). If a web page or article misspelled it as copyrighting (a legal action that grants the creator of intellectual property exclusive rights over its use), the visibility of the page/article would be diminished. And even if the article appeared as a result under copyrighting instead, anyone who clicked on it would swiftly realise that the content was irrelevant, and would click away again. If this happened too often, the algorithms would bury the article, causing disastrous results for online visibility.

  1. Punctuation mistakes

Punctuation mistakes have been blurring key messages ever since the famously un-punctuated zoo sign “eats shoots and leaves” transformed a gentle panda into a gun-slinging restaurant diner. Funny as that image is, punctuation mistakes can harm your brand image. We once walked past an organic deli who had listed their daily specials on a large board, complete with unnecessary apostrophes:

Pasty’s, Artichoke’s, Yoghurt’s, Aubergine’s, and local craft beer’s.

Not only is the possessive apostrophe incorrect (you don’t need an apostrophe for plurals), seeing the mistake listed over and over in large lettering made the business look careless and slapdash.

  1. Grammatical errors

Much like punctuation errors and spelling mistakes, the effect of grammatical errors is twofold. Firstly, it distracts your readers and secondly, it gives the impression that your content is shoddy and poorly-written. This translates into a negative perception of your products or services.

“Try our red velvet muffins, there delicious.”

“You’re garden will look great with our artificial grass!!”

If you work in a sector where expertise and precision are key – such as dentistry – shoddy writing gives the impression that your services are equally slapdash, which can be off-putting to potential customers.

As a side note, the automated editor for our word processing programme picked up the error in the second example sentence above, but not the first. Which leads us neatly to our next writing mistake…

  1. Word substitutions

Word substitutions are a common mistake in business content – especially so in these days of automation. That’s because predictive tools don’t always select the right word, and when they do select the wrong word, automated spelling checks won’t necessarily pick up the mistake.

Why? Well, using the wrong word doesn’t always render your sentence nonsensical; instead, it can alter the meaning of your words entirely. Imagine if a portrait photographer posted the following caption under one of their recent baby portraits:

“We think baby Jeremiah looks adorable!”

No harm there, just a sweet and inoffensive caption.

Now imagine if the same photographers posted the following caption instead:

“We think baby Jeremiah looks adopted!”

Predictive text often substitutes adopted for adorable, and as you can see, the substitution gives the caption a totally different meaning. One that could potentially cause huge offence to the customer.

In short, the implications of word substitutions can be seriously problematic for your business. Beyond making you look careless and unprofessional, these writing mistakes can cause real damage to your customer relationships, so avoid them at all costs.

  1. Factual errors

We’ll say it louder for the folk in the back….FACT CHECK YOUR CONTENT.

We shouldn’t need to say this, but: if you’re going to share information with your customers, PLEASE make sure the information is correct. Nothing damages customer trust like giving out the wrong information. In fact, it’s one of the worst writing mistakes you can make. Sometimes, factual errors can be minor, such as your website bio stating that your business opened in 1983, instead of 1984. Other times, factual errors can have more serious consequences. For example, making claims about the efficacy of a product or ingredient that simply aren’t true, or listing the wrong opening times and significantly inconveniencing your customers. Your customers make decisions based on the information you give them, and when that information is wrong, it can be hard to regain their trust.

  1. Typesetting

Typesetting errors aren’t, strictly speaking, a writing mistake, but their consequences can be disastrous. Wordsmiths once proofread a diary that was due be printed and distributed to eager customers. A diary that was impeccably designed and thoughtfully laid out, with crystal-clear fonts.

Unfortunately, during the typesetting process, the dates and days from February onward had been misaligned, rendering the entire document (save the 31 days of January) useless. Had this error not been detected before printing, the entire stock of diaries would have been wasted. Our unfortunate customer would have incurred hefty additional costs in refunds and/or reprints, not to mention significant reputational damage. The moral of the story is this: invest in a professional proofreading service, especially if you supply printed products.

  1. Style

Effective business content isn’t just about precision and accuracy, it’s about style. To convert your ideal audience, into paying customers, you need to deliver information in a relatable way. Take the following examples:

“Yo fam, our roasted turbot with samphire mousse is peng!!”

“Behold our sumptuous repast, comprised of a triumphant combination of ingredients, not the least of which are our golden chicken nuggets, glossy ketchup sachet, and crispy fries served in our distinctively-branded    cardboard container.”

Teenagers may connect with the street slang in first sentence, but if you’re trying to attract an older set of diners, the writing style is all wrong. Equally, the pretentious description in the second example is unlikely to appeal to the target audience of a local fast-food franchise. Style matters, which is why so many businesses invest in a professional copywriting service for their websites, brochures, and digital articles.

And now for the good news about writing mistakes.

You can avoid the first 6 writing mistakes by using a professional editing service. Wordsmiths offer editing and proofreading services tailored to the needs of business customers. So, why not get in touch to talk about your requirements? And if style is your issue, our experienced team of copywriters can create original SEO-friendly content from scratch. To ask about any of our services, drop us an email at info@wordsmiths.org.uk, or call us on 07743 518681. You can also keep up with our latest news and special offers on our social accounts at Facebook and Instagram. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter to receive our articles and discounts first.

 

What is SEO copywriting (and how can it help your business)?

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SEO copywriting is an essential marketing tool for your business. But many business owners don’t understand SEO copywriting and the value it brings to their marketing strategy.

Great original content helps your website stand out from the crowd and rank higher in search engines. This gives your business increased online visibility, which is more important than ever as the already-crowded digital marketplace has grown exponentially during the Covid-19 pandemic. There’s no two ways about it – a robust digital marketing strategy is a must for your business in 2020. SEO and SEO copywriting are a key part of this strategy.

To fully understand the value that SEO copywriting brings to your business, you first need to know how it works. So, we’ll explain SEO and SEO copywriting. And as a bonus, we’ll list 5 ways that SEO copywriting can boost your search ranking and your business.

1. What is SEO?

SEO stands for “search engine optimisation”. It’s a way of tailoring your digital content to the search engines so it ranks higher than content from other sites that use similar search terms. In practical terms, SEO includes things like mobile optimisation, structured data, link building, user intent, and – of course – high-quality SEO copywriting.

But what does that all mean?

Imagine that you’re cooking a meal for a vegan friend. You open Google, type “vegan recipe ideas”, and hit enter. The search engine presents you with a list of results – e.g. recipes, cookery videos, vegan blogs – that are relevant to your search terms. These results are listed in rank order by the search engine, and the ranking is based on search engine optimisation.

Search engines want to please their users and keep them coming back for more. So, the engines reward authoritative content that fully answers the readers’ questions and stands out from competing content, by giving it a higher ranking.

In a nutshell, SEO helps persuade the search engine that your content is worthy.

Ok, so what is SEO Copywriting?

You may be familiar with traditional copywriting: the art of creating written content (“copy”) that persuades the reader to buy a product, subscribe to a list, or take another action that will benefit your business. Traditional copywriters create compelling content to nudge your readers and convert them into paying customers. SEO copywriters create the same compelling content, but they use keywords and phrases in a way that appeals to the search engines as well as human readers.

In the early days of search engines, “keyphrase stuffing” – simply cramming an article with as many keywords as possible – could get you a higher ranking. Thankfully, today’s search engines are more advanced: they rank content based on the QUALITY of the writing. This means that SEO copywriters have to constantly refine and update their technique to keep up with the algorithms.

As a rule, high-quality SEO copy is GOOD writing. Readability and accessibility are key: copywriters should produce natural-sounding content with minimal repetition and a logical structure that educates, entertains, and enlightens your target audience. When SEO copywriting is done right people won’t just read your articles – they’ll love them.

So how can SEO copywriting help your business?

  1. It increases visibility and website traffic

The overall goal of SEO is to improve your search ranking, so your website is visible to more people. It aims to place your website at the top of the first search engine results page (SERPS).

Why does this matter?

Quite simply, when people look online for products or services using a keyword search, they mostly click on one of the top 3 articles listed and they rarely, if ever, click beyond the first page. That’s because these “top” results are seen as the most relevant and reputable. So even if a keyword search yields several pages of results, your website HAS to appear near the top of page one for people to visit it.

SEO copywriting increases your website´s search ranking, and drives more traffic to your site, meaning that more people will read and share your content. Along with other digital marketing strategies, makes your readers more likely to convert into paying customers.

  1. It earns trust and R.E.S.P.E.C.T. for your brand.

In the modern world, trust and respect are everything. Today’s media savvy consumers will usually research a company before purchasing from them, so readers need to trust your brand.

SEO copywriting makes your website sound more trustworthy and professional. High-quality, well-researched content adds a sense of authority and expertise to your business which is attractive to new customers. As an added bonus, if you’re just launching your business, compelling and informative content provides an eye-catching introduction to your brand.

SEO copywriting gives your business the opportunity to engage readers and educate them. The result of good SEO copywriting is great content and a loyal, solid audience, both of which add value to your business.

  1. It saves you valuable time

Setting up an online marketing strategy is expensive, so it’s understandable if you decide to handle some aspects of marketing yourself to save money. When you’re looking to outsource the various marketing activities, weigh the financial costs against how much value – growth, exposure, reputation, leads – they bring to your company. Many business owners start off doing their own copywriting through their social media accounts and business blogs. After all, the internet is full of information about SEO and writing tips – how hard can it be?

The truth is that SEO copywriting can fast become overwhelming. Researching your articles and blog posts, choosing keywords, drafting, re-drafting, proofreading… the whole process takes up valuable time that could be better spent on developing your business. Even if you’re only producing short articles – say 400-500 words – there’s a knack to writing efficiently. In fact, shorter articles are often the hardest to write! Professional copywriters can produce quality content efficiently, often to short deadlines, leaving you free to focus on running your business.

  1. It targets your ideal audience

So, your Gran and her 35 friends read your first business blog post? Great. But if your business sells make up for teenagers, your Gran won’t be buying it. Remember – the ultimate aim of your content is to convert readers into customers. An experienced SEO copywriter knows how to target different demographics effectively, creating content that’s tailor-made for your dream audience.

  1. It defines your brand identity

Don’t underestimate the power of words. Yes, the appearance, speed and usability of your website affects the overall image of your business: but ultimately, you sell your brand with words.

Professional SEO copywriters deliver original content that dovetails with a clear content marketing strategy. They produce natural-sounding copy that attracts potential customers and reinforces the values that your business represents. When it’s done right, SEO copywriting helps define your brand’s identity and the values it holds dear.

And finally…

Great SEO copywriting needs great SEO copywriters. If you’d like to outsource your business copywriting, contact Wordsmiths. Our experienced copywriting team deliver content tailored to your business goals, targeting your ideal audience and delivering the results you need. To discuss your requirements, email us at info@wordsmiths.org.uk. You can also get in touch and keep up with our latest news on our social accounts at Instagram and Facebook.

5 tips for writing an official statement – crafting the perfect crisis response

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Crises are unavoidable, so prepare yourself to manage them with a carefully-written official statement. 

A crisis can happen in any industry. In our digital world, bad news spreads like wildfire, and the effects on your business can be just as damaging. Reactions are heightened in times of crisis, so what you say, and how you say it, matters just as much as any actions you take. A well-written official statement can help you weather the storm and protect your business from reputational harm. But writing a public statement is a balancing act between damage limitation and transparency, and it’s not always easy to find the right words.

So this month, we share our top tips for writing a professional, timely response to keep your stakeholders informed and reassured.

  1. Be honest

We can’t stress this point enough; honesty is always the best policy. Being truthful minimises any damage to your credibility. Trust is a precious commodity for any business, and repairing broken trust can be an impossible task. And while we’re on the subject, never try to hide information. Modern consumers are wise to corporate double-speak, and they’ll spot any attempts to bend the truth. If customers or the media discover any dishonesty, your business could face intense criticism and catastrophic reputational damage. If your firm is at fault, admit it, avoid blaming other parties, and emphasise your organisation’s commitment to openness and transparency.

  1. Empathise and reassure

Official statements rarely contain good news, but avoid using negative language. Negativity will create a divide between your company and your key stakeholders: the public, your customers, and your employees.

Empathetic writing helps limit negativity: include words like “we understand” and “we acknowledge” to show people that you understand their concerns. It’s tempting to try and strike a reassuring tone, but avoid phrases like “these things happen”. It sounds patronising, and what’s worse it gives the impression that you’re trying to minimise the impact of the problem. In the same vein, don’t make defensive remarks either, as they sound seriously unprofessional and can damage your credibility.

Lastly, if you’re working to resolve the problem, then say so. Nothing is more reassuring than knowing that action is being taken. Useful phrases to include are “working closely with affected parties”, “taking appropriate measures”, and “taking immediate action”.

  1. Discuss negatives in a wider context

You can use this tactic to discuss incidents with a lesser impact. Let’s take late deliveries as an example: if a small number of deliveries were late, your statement could emphasise that your organisation has completed hundreds of other deliveries on time. You could also try to isolate the event by stating that it’s extremely rare for your customers to experience problems with your customer services team. Try using words like “isolated event” and “very rare”, but avoid negatives like “another issue” and “frequent mistakes”.

  1. Use three key messages

These key messages will become the basis of your statement. The following example uses facts to inform stakeholders, distance the firm from the investigation, and reassure both staff and customers.

“This morning, West Mercia Police sent us an official statement informing us that a member of our board has been arrested on suspicion of fraud”.
Key message: we are not in charge of the investigation. Questions about the investigation should be directed to the police.

“Our company has agreed to cooperate fully with the official investigation to provide any and all information that can help to reveal the truth.”
Key message: we support the investigation and want the truth to be revealed.

“To protect our customers, shareholders and staff, the board member has been suspended with immediate effect, and his access rights to company files and systems have been removed.”
Key message: protecting our customers and our staff is our first priority, and we have taken immediate action to do this.

  1. Use verified information and don’t get defensive

It’s natural to want the full facts before you comment publicly on a situation, but sometimes that’s not an option. News and gossip spread like wildfire online, and sometimes it’s necessary to put out a holding statement while a situation is still unfolding. Don’t be tempted to speculate at this stage, it will only bring trouble later on if your information turns out to be wrong. Stick with official, verified facts. A simple, generic statement will let your stakeholders know that you’re aware of the situation and are addressing it, and that you’ll release more information when you have it.

“We understand that a few of our shipments failed to arrive yesterday. We are looking into the causes of this, and will keep you informed of our progress.”

Once you’ve investigated further and can answer the “w” questions – who, what, where, why, when – you can release a comprehensive statement to replace your holding statement.

“On Thursday, July 16th, we learned that several orders of face masks failed to arrive. We investigated and swiftly discovered the cause of the problem – the breakdown of a delivery truck operated by our haulage partners. The delayed items are undamaged, and will be delivered this week. We will contact all affected customers individually to arrange a convenient delivery time.”

And finally…
Hopefully, you won’t need to write many official statements, but if you do, use this post as a guide. If you’re still struggling to find the right words, don’t panic. Wordsmiths offers editing and copywriting services for businesses, and we can help you craft the perfect response to any situation. Our team can take on assignments at short notice, so if you’ve got an urgent problem please get in touch. You can contact us through our social accounts at Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Alternatively, email us at info@wordsmiths.org.uk, or WhatsApp us at +44 7743 518681.

6 tips for writing your business blog

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Writing a business blog can boost your online presence and become a lucrative marketing tool.

But blogging is just for lifestyle brands and mommy influencers, isn’t it?

Actually, no. When done properly, a business blog can improve your website’s ranking in search results and drive traffic to your company’s website. This gives you the opportunity to advertise your products and services, and engage with your target audience – which will inevitably lead to more sales. In fact, blogging is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your brand.

That’s great news. But when it comes to blog content, quality matters. You won’t attract new customers by posting random, hastily-written articles. So, if you’re wondering where to begin, we’ve put together 6 tips to help you get started with business blogging.

1. Post consistently

This is important. Don’t post five blog articles one week and nothing for the next few months. Your audience will disengage if you disappear.

Some studies indicate that posting four or more times a week will bring the highest increase in website traffic. That’s a lot of articles, especially if you’re new to writing and you’re trying to run a business. Our advice is this: don’t panic, set a schedule that works for you, and be consistent. That might mean posting weekly, or even monthly. Try keeping a content planner to help you plot out future topics, so you aren’t left wondering what to post about. You can store useful links and make notes in your planner too, to give you a head start when you sit down to write.

Many blogging platforms will also let you schedule posts in advance, so if you have a good writing streak, you can set your posts up to go live at regular intervals ahead of time.

2.  Quality over size

Although longer blog posts tend to rank best in search engines, the key is quality. Your blog posts need to be long enough to explain all the key information you want to share with your readers. And they want material that is interesting, informative, and possibly entertaining. Sometimes that takes 2000 words, sometimes you can do it in less. (Fun fact: shorter articles are often harder to write. There’s an art form to explaining key information clearly, in an engaging way, in less than 500 words.)

Whatever the length, your articles should be clear, detailed, and free of waffle. If you’ve repeated the same information several times, go back and remove the repetition so the article reads better. Ask yourself if you would want to sit and read the post you’ve just written. If the answer is no, chances are your audience won’t want to read it either.

3. Strike the right tone

The tone of voice that you write in affects your business image. Your business blog isn’t a textbook, nor is it a text message to your mate. When you write, you need to strike the correct tone. Aim for friendly, professional, not overly formal, not too informal either. Unless you’re a niche b2b (business-to-business) company, some of your readers may not understand industry jargon. So keep the language simple and clear, and explain any industry-specific terms.

It may help to read your article out loud and imagine that you’re talking to a customer. If it sounds too stuffy, or too colloquial, adjust the tone until you’re happy with it.

4. Use keywords to improve search rankings (but don’t overdo it)

To read your article, people must be able to find it when they use a search engine (such as Google). As a rule, your article needs to appear near the top of the search results on page one; customers won’t trawl through 3 pages of results to find it.

One way to improve your search ranking is to use keywords in the title and body of your blog. Keywords are the words that people type into a search engine to find articles on any given topic, for example “how to grow tomatoes”. Certain keywords will be more popular (and more competitive) than others. So, spend a little time on keyword research to identify the most promising keywords associated with your topic. There are several free keyword research tools available online – try them out and see which one suits you best.

Including keywords in the title of your article helps grab the attention of the search engines, while using questions and action verbs (like plan and solve) attracts readers. Aim for a short, catchy title that captures the meaning of the post, around 6-12 words is usually best.

Remember, your article should be relevant to your industry, but it needs to be relevant to your target audience too. There’s no point writing an article if nobody wants to read it. For instance, people may search “how to grow tomatoes”, so if you sell plant pots your title could be “learn how to grow tomatoes in a patio tub”.

Include keywords in the body of your article too, after all your article should deliver the information that your readers searched for. But don’t overdo it – your words need to flow. The road to hell is paved with articles that are so packed with keywords they are virtually unreadable. In the early days of the internet, search engines were easily fooled by poor-quality articles stuffed with keywords and awarded them high search rankings. Those days are thankfully behind us. The algorithms now reward quality, readability, and relevance. Which brings us to our next point…

  1. Post relevant content

Think about your business, but don’t forget about your target audience. Try and focus on writing articles that will interest them. Keyword searches may help you think of blog topics, but your business itself is a plentiful source of material. Try using your blog to share insights into your company, introduce new products, and promote your business culture. These “behind the scenes” posts allow customers present and future to get to know your business personally. That personal connection will generate customer loyalty, which underpins a successful marketing strategy.

Your customers provide another source of blog content through their queries and frequently asked questions. If one person has asked a particular question, you can be sure that others will be interested in the answer. So, keep a note of customer questions and queries to use in future articles. Answering customer questions through your blog offers numerous benefits. It adds a personal touch, it delivers actionable content for other readers, and most importantly it allows you to position yourself as an expert in your field. This in turn builds a positive reputation for your business and improves customer confidence, which can ultimately convert to increased sales.

Lastly, if you’re stuck for ideas, publish a roundup of recent articles that your target audience would be interested in. Don’t just share the articles though, offer a quick summary of each, and explain how they could benefit your audience. These roundup posts represent a fantastic networking opportunity, as the authors of the articles you share will appreciate the extra exposure, and may even return the favour.

  1. Proofread before you post

Well we would say this, we’re an editing service. But it’s sound advice nevertheless. You could have ground-breaking information, a hot new product, a relatable writing style, and those trending keywords, but the quality of the finish matters. If your article is littered with typos and poor grammar, it makes you and your business look careless and unprofessional.

Automated spelling checks are helpful, but they are no substitute for reading the article through yourself. The most effective proofreading is done with fresh eyes, so leave your article for a few hours, preferably overnight then read it through carefully to catch those last lingering mistakes before you post.

And finally….

Hopefully you’re bursting with ideas for your business blog. However, if you lack the time or confidence to write your own articles, contact Wordsmiths. Our experienced copywriters can provide quality articles tailored to your business needs. Alternatively, if you’ve written your own articles and want to give them a professional polish, ask about our business editing services. More information is available on our website. You can contact us by email, or catch us on social at Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Don’t forget to sign up to our mailing list to hear our latest news and offers first.