Earlier this week we saw a stark lesson in the power of a label when it comes to promoting your business.
Using the right vocabulary is everything when it comes to writing powerful copy. And though I adore words even more than donuts, it was only recently that I realized I had been using some of them all wrong.
In fact, for far too long, I was beating my thick head against a wall I never should have built in the first place. A wall I built by using the wrong words, or by using them in a way that didn’t support my business.
Shedding a comfortable skin
When Writer Dad first started to take off late last summer, the most frequent responses were compliments on the strength of my writing.
So, like Pavlov’s dog I started to salivate every time someone sent any sort of praise my way.
I began to focus on the way I was writing more than the thoughts that my writing conveyed. I was losing sight of the fact that people were reading my words because of the ideas behind them, not because of the way they were strung together.
There were times I wrote posts with sentences I thought were good enough to frame. But it was doing nothing to pay my bills or push me forward in any significant way. James Chartrand, on more than one occasion, kindly warned me, “clarity over cleverness.” But of course I didn’t listen.
I was a writer. Not only would I reinvent the wheel, I’d make up a new word for it too. Perhaps wheelovation.
Eventually, I swallowed Morpheus’s red pill and started writing something that actually made some money: search engine optimized copy.
At first, I kept it contained to my clients’ site, and a few niche sites I was developing. I didn’t let any SEO copy near the hallowed grounds of my home site.
My secret SEO life
I felt like a clergyman making bucks on the side by writing pornography. This SEO writing wasn’t art.
But it was starting to do something that my “art” wasn’t doing. Namely, paying some bills.
It wasn’t long before I found my utilitarian copy outperforming my “best work” at every level, other than the purrs pointed at my own ego.
I might have been rocking the comments on my primary blog, but the “dirty” copy I kept under my online mattress was garnering traffic, gathering links, and gaining major headway in search engine results.
All of which led me directly to what was probably the single best lesson I have learned in my first year online.
The best word isn’t necessarily the most elegant, intelligent, humorous, fitting, or rhythmic.
The right word is the one that generates the opt-in, sells the product, or invites the link.
Last August, Brian Clark and Sonia Simone released a course for freelance writers, called the Freelance X Factor.
I came away with (among other things) some critical new insights about language. I learned the labels for my business that I should add to my vocabulary, and the ones I should abandon forever.
The course led my business partner and I to make some changes to our promotional web pages. And they’ve made all the difference in the results we’re seeing with our clients.
We no longer use the vague (and undervalued) catch-all label “freelance writers.” Instead, we’ve distinguished exactly what we do at each of our sites: ghostwriting, illustrations, or direct response copywriting.
Seem like a small thing? Tweaking these labels didn’t just communicate our value more effectively to our clients. It also allowed us to tighten our focus and deepen our own understanding of what we need to deliver.
I am not a freelance writer. I’m a direct response copywriter with social media marketing experience. Wearing another hat, I’m a ghostwriter, which means I know how to disappear and let you keep all the credit.
Using the right labels for your business will lead to better clarity in your thinking. It sharpens your focus, and shows your clients exactly what you can do for them.
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