Humor? It’s a Good Thing

Humor is so important in life. It helps us deal with difficult situations and makes good things even better. But I have to admit – as a copywriter, I don’t often use humor in my writing. Too many clients ask for formal language (such as don’t use “don’t” but use “do not”) or it’s assumed that a particular kind of language is preferred or more appropriate for the job.wilkinson_1.jpg.CROP.promovar-medium2

For a time, I wrote for a very formal client that is a leading provider of online testing, writing courses on various things like business writing and becoming a fitness trainer. When writing these courses, I would download iStock photos to use with the content. I often giggled at the ridiculousness of the photos – the serious glasses-clad secretary staring at a computer screen, or a group of business people standing around a boardroom table congratulating each other.

That’s why when I heard that faux iStock photos were being released to promote a new movie, I scoured the web until I found some of the photos. And I laughed. They were so spot on, so ridiculous in their adherence to the integrity of the usual iStock photo standard, I just had to laugh.

Now, this is not a ding at iStock. I’ve used the photo provider for years and those photos have helped to Business team enjoying victoryillustrate business materials, eBooks, white papers and more. But sometimes, just sometimes, those photos are silly in their staged qualities. And that’s why these photos tickled me so. It also made me curious to see “Unfinished Business”, though I fear the photos are the best thing about it.

Humor is a good thing.

Great Copywriting Not Always the Answer

As passionate as I am about really good copywriting, sometimes no words are better than words.

A few months ago, the California Lottery announced that California residents could participate in the Powerball jackpots. Before I heard an official announcement, however, I saw a commercial on television that gave me chills. Seriously. I can’t completely attest to why, but I was really taken with the visuals, the perfect song to tie it all together and then the moment when I realized what the commercial was for, as that red ball dropped into that dude’s hands. Chills!

Here’s the video:

Recently, however, a new commercial was introduced (or maybe it wasn’t new but I just saw it). I thought it was far less effective. Why, I wondered. Why .. ? Then I realized it’s because there is actual content on this video, that the use of a copywriter was required beyond a slogan (which is fantastic on its own).

As a copywriter, I realize that arguing AGAINST copywriting seems a little odd, but in this case, the images are striking and powerful enough that I don’t need the voice over. I much prefer the original version (above) to this “newer” version, which I was unfortunately unable to find on YouTube or the Ca Lottery website.

Suffice to say, however, it dilutes the original version. The power of that first video is perhaps based completely on the lack of copywriting or a voice over. I guess what that means is that a good slogan can take the place of a bunch of other words, that sometimes fewer words are better.

As a writer, I can actually live with that, if the result is this good.

 

 

 

’50 Shades’ of Bestselling Mystery

I have a “50 Shades of Grey” guilty habit.

No, it’s not what you think.

I finally downloaded the book on my Kindle recently because I was tired of always being the only woman who hadn’t read the book. I had no interest in it and within a few months after its release, I began hearing that it was quite bad. But still, everyone I knew had read or was reading the book.

I found it harder and harder to engage in these discussions, but would only ask, “Is it really bad?”  Most told me no, and a few proclaimed it awesome, engaging and a book they couldn’t put down.

So I relented and paid the $10 to download it on my Kindle (and thank goodness for e-readers… I seriously doubt all of us would be reading this book if our only choice was to read it in paperback for all to see).

Within a few pages, I regretted my decision. It was so bad. So very bad. I still can’t believe how bad this book is. I forced myself to finish it and it was so very difficult. I literally did a fist pump when I finished it, so relieved was I to be done with it.

I immediately headed to Amazon to read some reviews. Surely I couldn’t be the only one? At Amazon, I found hundreds of negative reviews. Hundreds upon hundreds. And best of all? They are deliciously written. They are fluent, cohesive, witty and intelligent. Everything this book is not. Everything this book should be, given that it was published. Given that it’s a runaway bestseller. Is it too much to ask that the book be fluent, cohesive, witty or intelligent? Apparently so.

But the reviews are. They are funny, entertaining and express as much bewilderment at the success of this book as I also feel.

So lately, I have adopted a new habit: When I am digging through the Kindle store looking for new reads, I head to the “50 Shades of Grey” page and read the newest negative reviews. I giggle my way through these (increasingly numerous) reviews and remind myself that I have no need to keep reading the trilogy. I can’t imagine it gets any better.

Good Copywriting Feeds the Soul (no kidding!)

I love really good copywriting.

To me, it’s like the first day of spring after a cold, dark winter. You open the windows, breathe in the fresh air and hear the birds sing. It’s good for the spirit.

Really good copywriting does more than sell a product. It makes you stop and listen, think, admire. If it’s the right kind of copywriting, your spirit will soar.

It’s possible (if not likely) that I am more in tune to this than most people since writing is what I do for a living, but I think that the very best of the best copywriting can do this for just about anyone.

One of the most recent examples of superior copywriting that comes to mind is the Chrysler commercial that was first shown during the Super Bowl. You know the one – Eminem is the mystery person behind the wheel and the voiced words during the ad are paired with stark and gritty images of Detroit.

It might be that the sheer beauty of the writing is rooted right there in that pairing of words and visuals but not all copywriting would say what this ad says with as much grace, fluidity and beauty as this one does.

See for yourself:

 

The Working ‘Vacation’

I’m at a lovely 4-star resort and I’m writing. Yes, I could be getting a spa treatment or sitting by the pool (though it is a bit cold here by Palm Springs standards), but I’m working.

Why?

In short, I see this getaway as a forced evaluation of my business. That is, I don’t often have time to sit back, reflect and figure out where I’m going. This trip is actually a business trip for my husband; the wives come along to rest, relax and get reenergized. The job the guys do is hard, involves long hours and can tax even the strongest marriage.

I’m getting a break from the kids, the house and the usual endless parade of weekend activities, but not from work.

Why?

Because I’m doing what my husband’s company is doing. I’m rethinking where I’m going with my business, hatching a new mission statement and opening my mind to change. I realize that the way I’ve been working isn’t really working for me. It’s not brought me the desired results.

Oh, it works. Often, my personal business model works quite well. But as I get older, think about new priorities and goals and where I want to be, I have to consider if my current working model is getting me there. And frankly, it’s not.

That’s why I’m sitting in my beautiful room, sucking down water while chomping on almonds and tapping away on my laptop. Sometimes a break isn’t just about spa time or pool time or even movie time. Sometimes it’s about taking a moment to reflect, to revise and to come out on the other side ready to do battle once more.

Dollar Articles? Here’s What you Get

I get a lot of heat from other writers for using bidding sites, but I find a good deal of work at the bidding sites.  I don’t believe, as some writers do, that bidding for work somehow degrades what I do. I see it as just another means to an end.

Many writers believe that there’s no point in bidding on projects when non-native English speakers can offer articles for $1 each. Often buyers say outright that they will pay no more than $1 or $2 for an article. It can seem like an American writer is wasting his or her time at these sites.

But I view it a bit differently. Since I often find decent paying jobs at bidding sites, I find it’s worth the effort for me. The buyers who are interested in paying $1 an article will get articles worth $1. I don’t believe that I’m competing against these sellers who offer super cheap work. Buyers who are interested in those writers aren’t interested in me; the opposite is true as well.

This means that I can find humor in some of the postings from these non-native English speakers. Here’s one particularly enjoyable bid I saw recently:

“Hellow,

First let me tell about meself. I am not a native English speaker! I dont want to be a lier or cheater so I disclosed it to you at our first conversation.

But I want to work with you because I belive I can write some excellent quality articles as well i am concerned on SEO and keyword placement.

I hope my writing quality will impress you. I expect, you will select me as your winner if my sample article match with your requirement. Otherwise i will not be unhappy!”

Gosh, Word is not happy with me right now! Here’s another favorite:

“Hello sir. WE are a working comany and have long experience of aricle writing and project developemnt. we are amny persone in the company who have work individualy now we r working as a whole. we assure you that you will not have a work quality anywhere else. Kindly provide this work to us Thanking You.”

I’m not sure how American writers believe they are competing against people with these kinds of writing (and English) skills. If buyers on these sites believe they will get copy that’s at all readable when they hire someone with these skills, then they will get what they paid for. And that, in case we aren’t paying attention, is copy that is not at all readable.

It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to hire a good American writer. It does cost more, however. It’s actually my hope that buyers will begin to see that paying a bit more will bring them more visitors, more sales of their products, and more success, ultimately. One can hope anyhow.

Don’t Roll the Dice on Good Copy

I was thinking about good copy the other day as I drove into Las Vegas. I know that’s not what people are normally thinking about as they head into Sin City, but I’d been carsick on the way in and my mind wandered to odd things.

Anyhow, I was taken with how well written most of the ad copy is in Las Vegas. With short words and even shorter sentences, the writers craft compelling and enticing copy that’s designed to piqué your interest. And it usually succeeds.

I was there on business, though, or rather family business. My daughter was in a cheerleading finals competition and we spent much of our time at the convention center cheering on the various cheerleading squads.

It was here I noted that not all copy is good copy. The handwritten menu board at the convention center spelled ‘bagels’ wrong, and some of the graphics on the overhead video screen had misspelled words, incorrect punctuation usage, and improper word usage.

But the thing that struck me the most was the wording on the T-shirt I bought for my daughter. It simply says “U.S. Finals” on the front and on the back it says “The Final Destination”.

It’s so vitally important that our writing is not only smooth and cogent, but that it also says what it needs to say. Good writing, especially writing that is designed to sell something, advertise something, or highlight something, should be clear, concise, to the point, and unwavering in its message. Sure, “The Final Destination” is concise, but what is it about? What does it tell us?

It tells me that sometimes the need for a writer isn’t obvious, but it’s there. Underneath the layers of poor writing, bad word usage and questionable spelling, what’s missing from so much copy these days is a good writer.

What should the T shirt have said? How about “U.S. Finals” on the front and “Las Vegas … Where Cheerleading Takes its Final Stand” on the back? Or “Bring it on! Cheerleading Finals 2010.”

Small things make a difference.

MojoCopy: Where Good Writing Gets its Groove on

That’s what MojoCopy is all about — bringing the groove back to writing.

I’m passionate about what I do because many people are writing their websites and business documents these days and doing a poor job of it. Don’t get me wrong — I’m sure you are fantastic at what you do, but if you’re not a writer well versed in how to write business documents, how to write for the web and how to make your copy sing, you need to hire one.

Hire me.

Make it Sing. Make it Dance!

Why hire a professional writer to do your writing for you?

I say, why not?

I could liken it to hiring someone to install an air conditioning unit or to fix your car, but those are not equivalent comparisons. So instead I’ll compare it to business cards. When you decide it’s time for new business cards, you have a few choices. One of those choices might include printing the cards from your home computer, and the other choice would include hiring a professional who has professional equipment and skills to print your business cards for you.

Since I recently made this decision myself, I was torn between printing them at home and saving money (and having the option to make changes and print additional cards quickly) and hiring a professional to print the cards for me. In the end, I decided to order my cards from a professional printer because I was convinced that the cards would simply look better and present my business in a better light.

Writing is much the same.

Although you could do it yourself, you may not do the high-quality job in a professional writer will do. Writers are generally trained and well-versed in the craft of writing. And writing, in fact, is a craft. While anyone can do it, there are people who will simply do a better job. They might have better natural skills, more training, or more experience, or a combination of all three.

While it’s important that your website look good, it’s even more important that it sound good. It’s important that the writing is fluent, cogent and informative. The most beautiful website will still die a slow and sure death if the writing doesn’t back up the visual beauty of the site.

Contact me today so we can talk about how I can make your content sing.