How to Write in Your Client’s Voice

www.relianceoutsourcing.com writing in your client's voiceYou’ve written for yourself for a number of years, which means you’ve developed your own written voice, but now you are branching out to writing content for clients. Congratulations! You’ll learn some new skills, and soon you’ll master writing in your client’s style.

More often than not, you ghostwrite when you write content for others. This means that your writing publishes with someone else’s name on your work, and you must write copy or content that clearly communicates in your client’s voice.

How do you write in your client’s voice? It isn’t so difficult, but it does require some “homework,” mainly research, to build a client profile that enables you to write in their voice. To portray the written hand of a client you need to become familiar with many aspects of your client’s verbal and written communication, including speech patterns, writing style, objective(s), tone, and focus on their ideal audience.

Here are the steps (I encourage you to take notes as you build your client profile.):

Know your client’s business goals. Ask your client what their values, goals, and mission is. Check out your client’s About Us website page to gain clarity. Why is this important? You cannot write in your client’s voice if you don’t know their “why.”

Get to know your client’s speech patterns. Talk with your client. You don’t have to meet in-person. Video chats work well for this purpose.

Notice how your client expresses themself. Are they casual or strictly business? Do they speak in-depth with descriptive facts and helpful information, or do they speak in short sentences in a friendly conversational style?

If you cannot meet the client in-person, search for videos or podcasts to pick up on your client’s communication style.

Read your client’s written materials. Compare your client’s tone and writing style from piece to piece. Determine the audience your client is speaking to. Note any patterns or differences in word selection or sentence structure.

Note differences in your client’s writing style between platform types (social media, blogs, website copy, and other marketing materials).

Take note of what your client likes to use in their writing, for example:

  • Descriptive words
  • Frequently used phrases (especially specific to your client’s brand or industry)
  • Bullet points
  • Numbered lists
  • Em dashes
  • Ellipses
  • Long (or short) sentences
  • Technical descriptions
  • Expressive, casual, or friendly comments
  • Quotations or links to other webpages
  • Personal or descriptive stories

Read competing written materials. Ask your client who they are competing against. If they don’t know, your next step is to do the research—find well-written informative pieces that give you clarity into your client’s industry. What information do they provide through their content? Look for written pieces with similar writing styles to compare to.

Create a client profile. Mesh what you’ve gleaned from your research. You now have an image of who you must be (yes, you become THEM) when you write in your client’s voice.

Save yourself future research time, hang onto your client profiles. As you gain more and more clients, you will appreciate profiles that you can flip back to when your clients seek you out again in the future.

Receive feedback and revise. Some clients have in-depth editing teams, who may push written pieces back to you to correct voice, tone, or sentence structure. Some clients are solopreneurs or small business owners who may read your work and then publish it on their own once they approve. I always recommend a review—you need that second set of eyes. Revision is a great skill-sharpening and learning tool for a writer…be thick-skinned and continue to grow!

I am curious…

I would love to hear the strategies that you have in place for writing in a client’s voice. Also, have you experienced opposition from people (business owners, etc.), “Nobody can write in my voice, I must do my own writing.” My thought is that they must enjoy writing, whether they realize it or not. What do you think?

Are You the Writer (Do you have a team?)

www.relianceoutsourcing.com writing servicesA question that I frequently receive from prospective clients is, “Are you the writer, or do you have a team?”

This question has baffled me from time to time. In fact, I brought it to the table in a recent mastermind call.

Here is the compiled (and paraphrased) response from the mastermind group, “You are the writer that the client requested. They know and like your writing style. They don’t want to blindly pay for the services of a writer that they don’t know (and likely has a different writing style, background, etc.)”.

Despite the excitement that I had as I entertained the idea of hiring a back-up writer—my initial thoughts were that I could act as their editor, I decided to not pursue an assistant to do the actual writing.

BUT, since my entire goal is to save time in the writing process, without losing any amount of quality, an assistant will help with initial research.

So … my answer to the question, “Are you the writer?” is yes. Do you have a team? I do collaborate with a couple of experienced people when clients request blog packages which include more than writing, such as, graphics and social media posts. An assistant helps me gather information—research topics, keywords, and competition from time to time.

Side note: Mastermind groups are enormously helpful to small business owners. Instant peer feedback is priceless. Also, I’ve embraced this valuable thought for many years, “What you don’t know, you don’t know.” We don’t always see the possibilities. When we collaborate with other small business owners, we gain the gift of fresh perspective and clarity from others.

Basics Your Freelance Writer Needs from You

www.relianceoutsourcing.com Freelance WritingYou’ve hired a freelance writer to write your blogs or online content, congratulations!

The most common question that I receive from new clients is, “What do you need from me to get started?” This may be one of your first questions as well.

The basic information that a freelance writer needs from you before they begin an online writing project is:

  • Examples: If you have examples of your own writing, or of the writing style that you prefer, provide the freelance writer with links to the copy.
  • Competition or Competing Articles: Who and what are you competing against?

Provide links to copy that you are competing against. If similar posts are not available (note: a good writer never plagiarizes, besides that, it is illegal), provide links to the businesses or entities you are competing against.

  • Keywords: What are the keywords? These are the words your freelance writer will include in the piece for SEO (search engine optimization).

Long-tail keywords include three or more words, such as, “Flowered jeans with lasting color,” which should be included in your blogs or copy only once or twice. Long-tail keywords get much less traffic than short keywords, such as “flowered jeans,” or “colorful jeans.” Include exact short keywords no more than five times in a standard blog post.

  • Audience: Who is the target audience? Audiences typically consist of a specific group of people who will benefit from your content.
  • Tone: Describe your tone as professional, serious, authoritative, humorous, friendly, kind, etc.

To determine the tone of your copy, ask yourself what is the focus? The focus may be to highlight your authority, or the focus may be to provide information, to uplift the reader, or to provide instructional how-to assistance. Ask yourself, who are you teaching and what is the purpose of your content?

  • Length: Number of words (length) of the post.

Blog post length has been a hotly debated this past decade.

We (writers) went from hearing that we must post blogs with over 1,000 words for readership traction. We were later told that today’s readers steer away from long posts (over 500 words). Finally, with a length of 750 words, the experts say we might generate an influx of comments. There is no set standard for blog length.

Today, if you are writing a post that has required a great amount of research, such as an informative post, you’ll want the length to be no shorter than 1,000 to 1,500 words to create sharing power.

If your goal is search engine ranking, consider opting for no less than 2,450 words.

Disclaimer (with humor), all the above blog length advice may change tomorrow. Just know…it will morph.

Needed by Date

Only you know the date you need the online piece completed. Just remember, you must allow time for proofreading, editing, formatting, and uploading before the needed-by publish date.

Proofreading and Editing

The best writers in the market still require proofreading. Remember, writers don’t always see their own mistakes. Another integral part of proofreading and editing is to ensure your freelance writer keeps to the style of your content.

The final proofreading/editing must include looking for forbidden words, topics, or references. Make sure your freelance writer knows your requirements before they begin writing for you, but also ensure your editor (or editing team) are aware of these stipulations as well.

Uploading and Formatting

Who will upload posts to your blog or website? Who will insert meta tags and other SEO information? Freelance writers often include uploading and formatting in their services.

Images

Who is responsible for finding and inserting images into your copy?

Final Words

The process of instructing the online freelance writer that you just hired may seem like a lot of work but remember, the more that they write for you, the fewer directives they will need.

Tip: Create a template that outlines some of your standard copy/blog information (competing against/competition, keywords, audience, tone, and length). This will help save time when you create new writing projects.

Best wishes in the online publishing world!

My Focus on Writing

I started this business journey as a virtual assistant.www.RelianceOutsourcing.com Freelance Writing

As many solopreneurs do, I listed all of my skills before I launched my business and I lined up my services accordingly:

  • I have been a full-charge bookkeeper several times in my corporate world career journey.
  • I am well-versed (and extremely organized) in administrative work.
  • I have managed my business social media for well over a dozen years.
  • I manage several WordPress websites of my own, as well as five WordPress blogs.

Writing is key to my business, however, despite all of my other non-writing skills and experience.

My Writing History

I am an avid reader! I journaled throughout my youth. I’ve since self-published a handful of books, and I have enjoyed helping others with their proofreading and editing needs for book projects (before I began offering these services as a business). Most of my freelance writing work has involved blog or article writing. I truly enjoy this work! Writing is my gift…and it serves many unique purposes for me.

Switching from Task to Task

As a business owner, reflecting on Reliance Outsourcing’s journey for the past three years, I realize that I cannot “do all and be all” for everyone. For a handful of years, I was all over the place with my service offerings, and it became difficult for me to switch from task to task. For example, when a person switches from administrative work (i.e. data entry or a similar task) to proofreading and editing, it typically takes 30-60 minutes to get “into the mode.” Writing is no different. When we reset from social media to creative writing, for example, it takes time to adjust the brain to the next function…no matter what that task is, it simply takes more than a minute.

I am one person. Short of not sleeping or maintaining time to be with family, or to make time for myself, I cannot be the expert at everything. I cannot give my best to a wide variety of services. None of us are machines, and this is the reality a solopreneur must embrace from the beginning!

Virtual Assistant “Always Available”

As a virtual assistant, we are “always available,” meaning, we may be our client’s right-hand person. So, if our client needs to cancel a class, or correct a blog post, we’re pretty much there on the spot. I do not function well with interruptions to my writing. Of course, the way to resolve this is to set boundaries (contracts and agreements) to begin with, but, a general virtual assistant is typically available to their clients during their set working hours.

So, to do my very best work, which means quality—completion of the work in a manner that blesses the client by giving them what they need at the moment, I found that shifting gears between types of tasks is not efficient.

Why Freelance Writing

Today, I consider myself a freelance writer. This is my main service. I do offer writing-related services, such as proofreading and writing. What I offer, however, continues to sharpen my skills vs. pull me away from my purpose.

My Business “Why”

My “why” is to help other people and businesses grow through my gift of writing. My “why” is to make a difference in the world, one written word at a time.

Have you etched your way through several business-purposes, or “recreated” yourself in a business sense? I would love to hear your story in the comments below!

 

 

Content Writing vs. Copywriting: What is the difference?

Remember the lyrics from the ’70s song, “Does anybody really know what time it is (I don’t)?” The question amongst many of us, to the tune of the song, is “Does anyone really know what copywriting is (I don’t)?”

Unknowingly, bloggers tend to identify themselves as content writers, or even copywriters, without an inkling of what they are saying. A blogger may be a writer who crafts a 200-word post because they are inspired to do so, or because they are skilled at creating a quick message. There isn’t a solid connection between writing when you feel inspired to do so vs. writing compelling content that keeps the reader reading or copy that compels the reader to plop down something personal (i.e. money or an email address). So, is there a connection between content and copywriting? Yes!

Purpose is the Defining Element

content vs copywriting www.relianceoutsourcing.comPurpose is the defining line between content writing and copywriting.

Think of a copywriter as an immensely talented salesman who persuades people to take action through text (written or printed work). A copywriter’s precise purpose is to promote, advertise, and directly market through written copy materials.

The purpose of a content writer is to capture the reader’s interest, to inform, and to build trust.

The two roles intertwine, so buckle your seatbelt for the twisty ride as I sort it out.

Content Writing

Content helps to market brands.

Through well-structured blogs and website articles, content educates readers and markets brands as the experts.

You may have heard the advice, “Keep the blog post short. In today’s society, people are no longer readers.” Content writers do not follow this “rule.” They spend a sizable chunk of their time completing research and fleshing out content to create comprehensive and evergreen articles that captivate the reader—basically keeping them on the page (reading…and reading…and reading).

Why does content writing not follow the “keep it short” rule? Content is a tool that establishes brands as authoritative and knowledgeable leaders in their industry. I recently read an article where it was obvious that the writer knew nothing about the topic. The post was short and sweet, granted, but I didn’t want to linger long. I learned zilch! I wondered, “Why even bother reading this filler material?” It was a waste of my time, and I vowed to never visit the website again.

Tip: Think of content as web real estate that never goes away. Real estate that search engines index. The more acreage your content claims, the more success in search results.

Basic components of a content writer role:

  • Completes research, which enables writing from a wide range of industries
  • Writes in different voices, which requires studying both the brand itself and competition
  • Writes in a friendly, compelling, and “human” style (content should not read like a procedure manual)
  • Is knowledgeable with social media—informative writers must keep up with the trends (right?)
  • Understands keyword density and current SEO best practices
  • Some (not all) use “light” web formatting tools, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Completes pieces within reasonable deadlines, with time allotted for research and formatting (not “we need this done by tomorrow” requests)

Copywriting

Written copy is geared towards pitching either a product or a brand.

Unlike content, the focus of copy is to influence the reader with a short-term goal—to sign up for the newsletter, or to leave an email address, or better yet, to buy a product!

Remember, the purpose of content is to educate the reader, and even though this is important for the trust of a brand or product, it does not compel the reader (emotionally) to subscribe or to buy—as does copy.

Copy is found in a host of places, anywhere there is an audience for advertising.

  • Online in web content and pop-ups, sales funnels, taglines, social media/banners/profiles, and email
  • Printed materials – packaging, magazines, brochures, and paper handouts
  • Public spaces – public transport (buses, taxies, delivery vehicles, etc.) as well as billboards, posters, and murals
  • Media – television, radio, digital (gaming, apps, phones, and technology devices)
  • Visual arts – movies, video, and photography

Basic components of a copywriter role:

  • Completes research, knows the market and the competition
  • Writes in different voices
  • Writes in a professional and compelling style (pointed at a brand or product)
  • Is knowledgable with social media—market trends are a key element to sales
  • Understands keyword density and current SEO best practices
  • Some (not all) use “light” web formatting tools, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Completes pieces within quick turnaround times (when focused on smaller projects)

Let’s spread the word – content writer vs. copywriter

So, the next time you hear someone say, “I am a copy (or content) writer,” you’ll know EXACTLY what they do. We can only hope…and perhaps you can help (us/other) writers educate the world (remove some of the mystery), so potential clients, and want-to-be writers understand the foundations of copy vs. content.

Credit: Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?