Shrek – how to structure your content like Shrek

%name Shrek

I’ve developed something of a resemblance to Shrek in recent years – the waistline has expanded big time, my grumpiness occasionally rears its head and I sometimes end up with clients who are donkeys: stubborn, answering back and reluctant to pay for work done.

But, back in the day, I used to show “Shrek” on DVD regularly: one, because it is a class film; two, students and I enjoyed it; three, I could relax knowing that my fetish for showing films in English engendered high GCSE grades and instilled intrinsic motivation.

Like business, innit, if you like where you work and who you work with, you produce better results. Films did that for me – and my students.

“Shrek” though, the original film, has other crucial factors too as I explained to Joshua over the phone last week, who rang me to pick my brain about writing.

I used the Shrek analogy then and make no apologies for repeating it here.

Ogres have layers, onions have layers, content has layers.

“Shrek” begins in one place (the swamp) and your blog posts should begin and end in one place: like the swamp.

Here’s why.

Your subject line or title should contain enough enticing detail to get people clicking through to read; the opening should compel your reader to continue (that opening can also become your metadescription – that snippet Google shows); the content should be informative and entertaining and take the reader on a journey (like Shrek does to rescue the Princess) and the finale should return to the start.

It’s called in media circles: Freytag’s Triangle but in copywriting it’s called structure I guess?

So there you have it: some pearls of wisdom from someone who graduated in 1986 with an English degree, taught the subject from 1987 to 2014 from ages 8 to 18 and is now sitting in his Norfolk swamp, wondering when Donkey clients will pay up and when his partner, Fiona, will knock out a fresh stovetop coffee.

 

 

“Lorem Ipsum” be gone – use a proper copywriter

%name Lorem Ipsum

Ah Lorem Ipsum, or Lorem Ipsum Dolor (I think) if I’m feeling expansive – the beige text place filler that says put text here and a sight that many web designers and clients sigh over when they see it.

Lorem Ipsum needs replacing you see. And that causes navel gazing and head scratching, because trust me, as a seasoned writer (no salt though as it induces strokes) that is the biggest part of any web project. Well that and the bloody images.

You can find copyright-free images on Pexel, Pixabay and Unsplash and download to your heart’s content, but you can’t find the equivalent for words – because the equal of VAR (topical World Cup reference – tick), Google, will penalise you.

So if you’re faced with this as a web designer or client, how do you react?

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

To my mind, you’ve several options when you’re faced with Lorem Ipsum:

  1. Die slowly inside.
  2. Play client-designer ping pong. Designer asks client for content, client bats it back to designer, ad infinitum.
  3. Outsource it.

3 is where I come in.

I’m a Lorem Ipsum warrior, a word hero without the cape, and increasingly, designers and clients are dropping table tennis rackets, looking at me, esconsed in my foxy office and asking “Stuart, fancy being our Lorem Ipsum surrogate?”

The answer is invariably yes – particularly if you can provide me with a staging or development site or an outline of what’s needed where.

My words

I do it quickly, efficiently and creatively too, a man on a mission if you like to write copy that answers web visitors questions, speaks to them like a human and gets a fist bump from Google.

As a client wanting a website, you could try doing it yourself with inferior results – that’s not me being cocky, but I’ve had years of destroying Lorem Ipsum – or ask the web designer to pay me or head directly to me and say “Stuart, don’t launch into a WordPress sales pitch, we’ve already got someone doing that, but the copy is beige, vanilla and Latin and needs some pizazz.”

I’ll do it.

I quickly assess the word count and quote you a fixed price for optimised, human copy that will have Lorem Ipsum disappearing, embarrassed.

There’s conditions of course – I don’t have scope stretch – by that I mean I quote for 2000 words and you ask me to add a blog or improve 3 you’ve drafted. No way, Jose. You pay upfront too as I hate spending days working and waiting for a month to dine out on it.

Web Designers have it easy

But I’ll tell you this now as someone who has learned a little bit about WordPress web design (I’m on page 14 of Google you know), I could train a 4 year old to ADD NEW – PAGE / POST – CUSTOMISE – APPEARANCE – MENUS – ADD PAGE TO MENU (I hope it goes like that) but said 4 year old, 40 year old client, 50 year old web designer couldn’t craft content as well as a skilled website copywriter, like moi or t’others.

Enough.

I’ve Lorem Ipsum to banish on three websites alone this week – you want me to banish yours?

Drop me a line (no, not that type of line) to stuart@getprocopy.com or connect with me on LinkedIn (don’t worry, I don’t bore on there) and watch Lorem Ipsum disappear, whilst website traffic and sales increase.  

Will Alexa replace humans in the property industry?

%name Alexa

I’ve switched gas and electricity suppliers in the past month in our new build from British Gas to EDF, mainly, sadly, to witness a Smart Home meter from Netatmo (supplied and fitted free) along with a free Amazon Echo.

They’re both impressive pieces of kit, and I think if I’d forked out £250 for them, they would still please.

“Alexa, what’s the weather like today?”

“Alexa, turn the heating up to 23.”

“Alexa play The Lumineers from Spotify.”

have become daily utterances, along with its question of the day and bad jokes.

I can see though a use for Alexa or Google Home or Siri in the wider property industry.

A house for sale by an estate agent could have its accompanied viewings replaced by a smart speaker, answering questions like “Alexa how long has this house been on the market? Alexa what is the likely rental yield of this home? Alexa why do estate agents drive Minis?”

Obviously there’d be the risk of theft of said devices and perhaps Alexa would need some software tweaks to allow them to use estate agent speak (similar to politicians) with some selling spin, but it could work?

Voice control has already impacted on our family of four at home so the next steps surely will impact further on the wider industry of home selling and home building?

Alexa could replace the high street estate agencies too? Passers by could ask to be emailed properties that are listed in a locale by voice command? The industry behemoths of Rightmove and Zoopla who are charging a king’s ransom monthly to estate and letting agents or access to monopolised portals could be killed by Alexa?

Those branded BMW Minis could become electric, driverless and voice-activated?

Access to properties for sale and let could become smart controlled like some hotels and many smartphones now have.

Fantastical thinking on my part?

Maybe.

But I reckon this week, with the closures of Maplins and Toys R Us (two companies, along with BHS, Blockbuster, et al) that sadly failed to move with the times, property developers and estate agents need to futureproof their businesses.

Alexa may not be ready any day soon to replace the human service but it will happen, I believe, in some form, and in the not too distant future.

I’ve just asked: “Alexa how much are Countrywide shares worth?” and that should be a warning to all.

Goodbye 2017, you were a fine and dandy year

%name new year

2017 – the year of the Phoenix for me – the year I stopped looking back and started looking forward, and built on successful businesses, as well as developing new ones.

Get Pro Copy became a Ltd Company with my wife asking for (and being refused) a shareholder role. That business has served me well for over two years now and deserved a Nick Clegg type honour – I think?

Read moreGoodbye 2017, you were a fine and dandy year

How to change from teaching to selling easily

%name street selling

When I first went into estate agency, I thought I had no eye for sales, as it wasn’t something I’d done all my career.

After estate agency, setting up Get Pro Copy, I still had the same doubts.

How could I convince people to pay for my services with writing or social media, when I’d been a public servant for 27 years?

Ergo: 321 Websites, then Man Stress.

But I’ve realised that I’ve been selling stuff since 1986 and have not been aware of it.

What stuff?

A love of English.

Read moreHow to change from teaching to selling easily

Website copywriting services – without the delays

%name website copywriting services

Website copywriting services – increasingly I find I’m asked if I offer this and the answer is an emphatic yes.

You see a website without compelling words and fresh content just hangs in limbo so to speak.

To make your online presence standout and get hits, you need copy.

Copy for your landing pages, about, services and news.

I’ve got another admission to make about why it matters too.

Read more:

Read moreWebsite copywriting services – without the delays

Illy coffee is my new wine, and chain coffee is arse gravy

%name Illy

Illy coffee is my new wine, and chain coffee is arse gravy.

Let’s just look at my daily caffeine intake: 6.45 I rise to shine to knock out a feeble boost of Earl Grey, and I ruin it by adding both sugar and milk – not to builder proportions but enough to drown the delicate Bergamot. Shocking I know.

Mid morning, after I’m employed as an unpaid Uber driver by son and daughter, I plunge head first into caffeine after my breakfast toe-dip with the Earl.

Read moreIlly coffee is my new wine, and chain coffee is arse gravy

Norfolk copywriter misses home and search volumes.

%name Norfolk copywriter

You’d think  after 16 months of deliberately ignoring Google searches for Norfolk copywriter, I’d be nowhere on that search engine.

But despite my best efforts to ignore the search, I’m blithely sat today on the middle of page 2.

I’ve blogged before about search volumes for London copywriter and Manchester copywriter, but never Norfolk copywriter.

Why?

Read moreNorfolk copywriter misses home and search volumes.