Is your business ready for Christmas?

It might only be September, but this is the most important time of the year for most businesses.

Autumn is the time when everyone officially starts planning for Christmas and New Year. But before then there’s Halloween, Bonfire Night and Black Friday to get out of the way.

Thinking about your website and marketing strategy now is important. It will save you time and help spread your budget. Plus, the sooner your hire a copywriter, the more time you have to get it right, which means less stress.

Here are just a few things you might need to consider hiring a copywriter for over the next 4 months…

  1. Press releases

Is your business going all out for Halloween or are you looking to entice shoppers with an earlybird Christmas offer? Perhaps you’re running a completely different kind of Black Friday promotion this November? Whatever your activity, a press release can make sure it reaches a wider audience.

Local press loves covering topical stories, and a well-written press release could get you featured on local radio and in the regional magazines and newspapers. If you sell online, a good press release could get your business or product reviewed by bloggers and vloggers or picked up by specialist publications in your area.

  1. Promotional copy

Perhaps you’re running a special pre-holiday spa retreat for stressed out shoppers. Or you want to promote that stunning new range you’re getting in especially for Christmas. You could even have a special offer you want to give your most loyal customers.

Whether it’s leaflet or email copy you’re after, a copywriter can make your words all the more enticing.

  1. Brochure content

A new year, a new start. Many businesses want to showcase their new services, collections and events around Christmas when their traffic is at its peak. From product descriptions to welcome pages and featured items, having a copywriter craft the words for your new brochure or programme will give you a professional edge.

  1. Social media content

In the run up to the biggest shopping days of the year, having a presence on social media is a must. Many shoppers flock to a company’s Twitter and Facebook streams ahead of their physical outlets to see if they can get their hands on the latest products, competitions or time-limited discounts.

Your Twitter and Facebook accounts need to be on red alert right from October. A copywriter who is social media savvy can help compile content for your marketing strategy, making your online presence easier to manage.

  1. Web copy

If you have a website and offer any kind of service, chances are your traffic will be booming in the final months of the year. Or at least it should be.

Enticing your customers with seasonal messages and news, promotions, and well-written content is crucial to securing that all-important transaction. At the end of the day, if your content isn’t up-to-date, accurate and reassuring, your customer will have doubts about parting with their money. Think about overhauling your homepage or landing page copy and increasing your traffic with useful blog posts or strategically placed SEO articles.

September through December are the most important months of the year for almost all businesses. Start planning how you’re going to make the most of the holiday rush and hire a copywriter who can afford to spend the time crafting quality content that does the hard work for you. Contact me today for your free and informal consultation.

How to write a business strategy

Writing a business and marketing strategy when you’re a freelance copywriter might sound overwhelming. It might even sound unnecessary. Believe me, it is both simple and necessary!

Why do you need a business strategy? Because with the best intents and purposes, getting your foot on the copywriting ladder can be a bit difficult.

To make the best impact and not become dispirited, it’s good to implement several different tactics at once. Having a plan will help you stand back, look at the overall direction you want to head in, and start moving.

Before we begin

Jot down all your ideas in a notepad for establishing your routine and marketing your services. Once you’ve got an outline, you can type them up in Word.

There’s no set formula but I use a basic table with 3 columns (first column for publications/activities; second for detail; third for deadlines). You can tweak what I suggest to make it work for you and your business – that’s fine!

Content

Your content is the most important thing to your business. But writing to promote your own cause when you’re probably not being ‘paid’ for it can make you likely to waver. By creating a regular plan detailing which days you write for what publications makes it much more likely you’ll stick to it.

Make a table with three columns. In the first, list publications you write for and then list those you would like to write for (there’s a really good article here about planning to approach new publications). In the next column you can go into more detail such as genres/article types. In the final column list the timeframe, such as when you will publish this content or, if you plan to approach a new publication, the deadline you will set to do that by.

Remember, by publications and businesses I mean those you write for under your own name. This plan is about getting your name out there – not any clients that pay you to write their articles anonymously. At present you might only be writing for your blog. Look for websites that take contributions. Even if it’s unpaid, you’ll be getting your name out there and earning lots of experience.

Digital activity and social media

This includes promoting your articles through social media and e-newsletters etc. On your table, detail which digital avenues you work with (e.g. Reddit, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, your online portfolio…) and next to each one write the days of the week you will promote certain links/campaigns/others’ posts through these avenues.

Try to have something to promote each day (Mon-Fri). For the days when you don’t have original content of your own, ensure you’re reading others’ work and retweeting/sharing. This earns followers and you can highlight the causes/topics you’re interested in.

Remember to use the social media ‘forum’ with respect: interact with other users and post observations. You could even start a regular segment such as your favourite blog or app of the week that you always run on a Friday. It is more engaging for your followers than merely seeing a series of links coming from your account!

And what about starting a monthly e-newsletter through your website? Setting one up is easy with free tools like MailChimp and gives you something free to ‘sell’ to your followers. You can use it to collate your articles from various different publications or even entice followers with articles solely published in your newsletter. Plus you can update your followers with tips, news and offers.

Advertising and promotion

Your copywriting is still a business that can benefit from promotion and advertising. This encompasses print/digital ads, direct mail, sending out a press release

Think about who needs your service. It’ll mostly be other businesses, so where might they find out about you? In your table, list possible publications (e.g. trade magazines, local paper) to advertise in or approach with a press release, as well as businesses you could approach directly with a sales letter, etc.

Then spend an afternoon getting quotes, contacts and artwork deadlines. If you’re going to attend networking events or conferences you’ll need business cards. These are also useful for dropping off in venues where customers can pick them up, such as restaurants, exhibition centres and libraries.

Events

Freelancing can also be a lonely business, so it’s refreshing to make a network of contacts through digital or in-person events. Scour Google for virtual conferences and webinars, and sign up to copywriting websites such as the Pro Copywriter’s Network and Copyblogger, a great way to get information on events. Hootsuite also often has virtual learning sessions helping you learn while connecting with others in your field.

Physical events are also ideal to get you out of the house. A site like Meet Up can help you discover what’s going on in your area that ties in with your interests. List these events under the first column in your table including any dates and activity/materials you want to have completed (i.e. business cards) in advance of them.

Bringing it together

You’ll notice how each field begins to overlap. This is good because you’re drawing connections between your activities. So long as all activities have the same end goal – to bring you more business – they will strengthen each other and, in turn, your brand. It also helps when setting yourself deadlines since one thing usually depends on another.

Next is buying or creating a calendar in Word. Detail everything (so make sure it’s a biggie!). Jot down the days you’re writing for which publications. Then the days you’ll spend devoted to finding new followers, for example, followed by the days you have any events, as well as print deadlines. And so on…

Tip: Use colour-coded keys and back up your calendar with a simple Excel planner like these templates from Hootsuite for more in-depth info on what you’ll be writing each week. That way your main calendar remains like an easy-to-read overview.

From here

Now your strategy is all typed up, scheduled and ready to go, it’s time to implement it. Write down the immediate action points that have arisen from your plan. Use these to inform your workload for the next week or two, to ensure you meet your deadlines.

Don’t forget that your business strategy will evolve over time and regularly need updating.  Depending on how quickly you work, set aside time to update it – every month…or three – whatever helps it stay relevant and progressive for your business.

Finally, good luck! If you have any questions, drop me a comment, I’d be glad to try and answer them.

Next week: I’ll show you how to find your first copywriting clients