Jamie Smith

New Businesses in Humberside: Get a Grant for up to Half Your Digital Marketing Costs with Wordsmith’s Support

If you’re a new business based in Humberside, Wordsmith can help you claim a £1000 grant to fund:
  • Blogs
  • Website content
  • Email campaigns
  • Search engine optimisation (SEO)
  • Online ad campaigns
  • A range of other web and tech costs.
What do I need to do?

To get a grant covering Wordsmith services (above) and any number of other things: –

  1. Book a meeting to learn more and start off your application with us.
  2. We learn your needs and put you in touch with our Humber Business Growth Hub contact.
  3. Find out if you’re eligible.
  4. We and the Hub guide you through the process.
How much can I get?

The ICT for Growth Grant is worth up to £1000, covering 50% of the cost of all the things above excluding VAT. We don’t charge VAT, so that’s 50% of all our prices.

Who is it open to?

Any company founded in the last 12 months in the Humber area can apply for this new business grant. That means businesses in Hull, East Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire and North-East Lincolnshire are eligible.

How do I apply for the grant?
New businesses

We can take you through the process with the help of the Humber Business Growth Hub, making the process straightforward for you.  We’ll refer you to a great man at the Hub to guide you and make the case for your purchase. We’ll investigate for free and all it takes is a brief talk with us and him to find out if your costs can be covered.

Just book a grant meeting to apply for free and find out more.

How can Wordsmith help in other ways?

We work directly with The Hub to smooth the provision process and reduce your workload to the minimum. We provide services, quotes and invoices optimised for the grant when you need them and refer you to other reliable providers of all things from web design to hardware who are familiar with the grant process.

What can I get from The Wordsmith with the grant?

You can get whatever you want from us and a range of things from others with the grant. See the official list here.

As an example though, for your £1000 and the £1000 grant, we can provide

  • A 30-minute content marketing strategy meeting per month for a year.
  • Two blogs per month
  • A year-long email marketing campaign
  • A bespoke lead magnet – A free document for prospects to download in exchange for their contact details. This works brilliantly with a marketing campaign.
  • A content marketing guide for new businesses.
To sum up

New businesses (under one year old) in Humberside can get up to £1000 to cover 50% of their digital marketing and IT costs for 12 months.

Book a grant meeting to apply for free with the support of the Hub, or to find out more.

Older businesses can get in touch to access the Business 4 Growth grant and others.

Jamie Smith

Preparing for the Adventure of Modern Freelance Writing

Quality freelance writing is an exciting, cutting edge business despite the rising threat from banal content farming, cheap SEO churners and big data suedo-news. The situation has changed drastically over the years since I took up the trade and the increasingly multifaceted nature of the craft that makes it such a worthwhile pursuit is exactly what can confuse the unaware. Today alone I have written history blogs, Facebook posts, commissioned tweets and business profiles, all while keeping an eye out for consultancy call ups … and that is just an average day at the office. This is no daily grind. It is an adventure where the writer must be prepared for anything

The mindset

The traditional freelance writer’s career path of finding a specialism, proving your mettle, building some connections and relying on them for work and referrals over many years is now a nostalgic dream for most of us. Those who are coming into the trade must prepare to become competitive, multiskilled entrepreneurs ready to grab opportunities as they arise. 

Above all, don’t view the challenge ahead in terms of building a solid, immobile platform on which to stand and tout your wares (words?). This is the old, boring way. Instead, view it as winding your way up a mountain, choosing from many paths, taking opportune shortcuts and occasionally stumbling back down to learn from your errors. This is the new and exciting career that a freelancer takes. We have access to the internet and all its opportunities, and everyone out there in cyberspace has access to us. It’s hardly a surprise then that we see new paths, new opportunities and new threats emerging all around us. 

Dream or nightmare?

So is this a brave new world or a big new threat? Well, that depends on your outlook. For example, you’ve probably read some version of these two ridiculous claims in the past:

“The internet is the end of quality journalism/copywriting/the world”

“How I earn $20000 dollars a week just like that.”

They’re two extreme views of the same thing. The way the internet is changing opportunities in freelance writing. The world of quality freelance writing definitely isn’t ending and, unless you’re a Pulitzer winner who is willing to work like a dog, you won’t be pulling in the huge amounts of money that some sites promise ‘just like that’. However, the positive view is the right one. With a little work you will be earning a good living and having a whale of a time doing it. You’ll be your own guide on an odyssey which has an unclear destination, and which is all the more interesting for it. People like me can point, guide and talk in your ear, but if you want a truly rewarding career you’ll make your own decisions.

This is intended to be the first post of many guides to the adventure that is freelance writing, so if you do want a few more words in your ear then sign up and pop back later.

Jamie Smith
survey 2019 copywriters

4 Survey Based Insights in to the World of Copywriters

If you’re on this site, there’s a good chance you’re interested in copywriters. So, I thought I’d give you a peek or four into our weird little world with the help of the ProCopywriters 2019 industry survey.

The copywriters survey is based on responses from 514 members of the ProCopywriters directory aged between 20 and 67 from all over the UK.

The gender pay gap is serious

First, some bad news and just a little good news about the gender pay gap. The bad news is that despite what two out of five men and one out of five women believe, the pay gap is there and it’s big.

Yes, the 43% of women and 17% of men who said gender impacts pay are right. Self-employed female freelancers earn less than their male counterparts across the board, around 30% less in fact. Whether they freelance full-time, on the side, or even if they own their own business, women can expect to make around a third less than their male competitors.

The good news, such as it is, is that the gap for copywriters in standard employment is much narrower, and it goes in women’s favour. Female agency workers earn five percent more than men on average while the number for female in-house copywriters is nine percent. Still, when freelancers, who constitute two-thirds of survey respondents, are subject to such a painfully wide gap in favour of men, this is little consolation.

Word of mouth is a force of nature

How did you hear about me? The most popular way to find new clients is word of mouth by far. This is hardly surprising since we spend most of our time giving consumers reasons to talk about our clients. What is surprising is that this year a massive nine out of ten respondents said they get work by word of mouth, a jump of more than a quarter from last year’s 64%.

Word of mouth has always been the best type of marketing for almost any business, but it seems that 2019 is the year of the recommendation. Bringing the issue back up to date, websites and social media come next in the poll on 50% each, so it’s clearly important to keep on top of the web.

Half of copywriters specialise, often in big-money areas

 Do you prefer a specialist or someone who can turn their hand to anything? You’re equally well-served either way as pretty-much half (51%) of copywriters specialise, while the other 49% don’t. The most popular specialism is ‘digital and SEO’, which 18% of respondents have, followed by marketing materials at 15%. In terms of sector specialisms, B2B was the most popular by far on 64%, although I’m not sure if that counts as a sector. The most popular industrial sector specialism is business, finance and law, which 34% of specialists focus on, closely followed by science and tech on 32%.

These are both big-money sectors where each lead can mean a lot of income for the client. This means it’s well worth investing a lot in marketing in the first place to create leads, meaning in turn that copywriters who specialise in these areas have a lot of earning potential. It’s also worth noting that they are both highly technical areas involving a great deal of specialist knowledge, so someone who focuses on the segment can offer much more value to clients than a general copywriter. Consider this when you’re thinking of hiring a copywriter or other marketing professional. I myself specialise in business and finance while still working in a wide range of areas.

Earnings are on the up

Now for the big money announcement: How much do we earn? How much do we charge you, our loyal, dare I say appreciative, clients? The average rate for a copywriter in the UK is £349 per day or £43.62 per hour based on an eight-hour day. That’s a tenner a day more than 2017, which is what we want to see. I’m trying to resist the urge to shamelessly plug my prices here, but I will say that they represent above-average value.

All of these daily and hourly fees result in an average full-time income of £43,092, which has strangely dropped since 2018, while part-time income is up by around £1,500 at £26,968. Do they know something we don’t?

It might help all of you prospective clients out there to know that 59% of freelancers prefer to charge a pre-planned project fee while 40% charge by the hour or day. This is an important consideration for client and copywriter as different pay structures can completely change how a project is conducted and valued.

If you are thinking of hiring a copywriter, or if you want some advice, then get in touch on mail@jamiewordsmith.co.uk

Jamie Smith
blog writing

How to write a rewarding blog

1.      Know what you want from it

It would be lovely to think that companies who write blogs do it simply to entertain and inform all and sundry for free, but we know that isn’t the truth. In reality, they’re created to benefit the creator in some way. If you’re the creator and you want the blog to work for you, first you need to know what you want from it. The most usual reasons for writing blogs are:

  • To gain authority in the market you serve so your customers will look to you for answers.
  • To lure browsers further into your website or online presence.
  • To talk about values or causes you believe in – A blog allows you to broadcast to the world, or at least a part of it. Say something that’s important to you.
  • To give potential customers a sample of your services. From copywriters like me, to accountants and artists, blogs are a great way to give away free samples of the services you provide. (That’s what I’m doing now)
  • A hobby. Some people collect stamps, some people surf, some people write blogs. I’ve done all of these things at some point.
  • To sell. Ironically, direct sales are the least likely aims of most successful blogs. At most, they should only constitute 20% of your content, but its often best to save sales for somewhere else.

2.      Be engaging!

Every topic is interesting and engaging to someone. While some love non-stop action and drama some love … stamps. And entertaining isn’t the only way to engage someone. If you can give readers useful and valuable information in an original way, you can gain their interest for sure. There are just a few things to remember.

First, try not to say what everyone else is saying, and if you are – as in a blog about writing blogs for example – try and say it in a different way, for example by taking ironic pot-shots at yourself.

Second, if it’s not interesting to you, the writer, then it probably won’t be interesting to anyone else. Write about something you’re truly passionate about. Your passion will shine through. Which brings us to the next tip – speak in your own voice. Relax and let the words come to you. This is one I have difficulty with, what with being a professional niggle-finder. But no-one wants a blog that sounds like it was written by a robot. Personality is originality!

3.      Don’t be salesy – especially in a sales blog

People who visit your company website will know exactly what you’re there for. As I mentioned above, you’re not giving them free content for the sake of your health, you’re trying to make a sale. But if you’re too obvious, it will put readers right off before they have the chance to come around to your way of thinking, and your product. Bad enough are the sharp, jarring interrupters who will randomly throw in a link saying something like “Buy the best now.” In the middle of a blog. That’s just bad writing.

But the worst offenders are the repeat offenders. If your big sell didn’t work the first time, it won’t work the second, and you’ll just put off a few more readers.

4.      Do something different

The people who stand out are never the people who do and say the same as everyone else. They’re the people who experiment, try new things, break old rules, rebel, think outside the box and break new ground.

That last adage is a good one, referring to ploughing wild lands for the first time to turn them into farmland. It’s tough – or so I hear – but it’s worthwhile. The same is true of creating new and different content. It’s difficult and risky, but it can be rewarding in personal and economic terms and, no matter what happens, you will stand out from the crowd.

So when writing blogs, don’t box yourself in with unnecessary rules. In fact, you should even experiment with breaking the rules that seem necessary. That’s the way some of the most successful blogs and news feeds, including Buzzfeed and Phrasee, got started.

In case you’re wondering, Phrasee uses artificial intelligence to write blogs. If that isn’t different, I don’t know what is. Now, the company is growing faster than most blogging and marketing agencies on the web.

So be yourself and don’t follow the rules. You don’t even have to follow the recommendations above.

Whatever you do, I wish you luck on your venture into the wonderful world of blogging. May it be both rewarding and fulfilling.

Jamie Smith
content strategy

4 Content Strategy Mistakes Expert Tech Marketers Don’t Make

“Sell me this 180-node GPU-based parallel processing HPC cluster with Omni-Path Architecture.” – Not the Wolf of Wall Street

Marketing and selling technology offerings is not an easy task. The best tech marketers understand how to work with the complexity, the nuance and the bespoke nature of the tech industry. Most of all though, they understand how to work with customers and meet their modern marketing expectations instead of being tripped up by the challenges. 

Here we look at four mistakes made regularly in tech marketing, but not made by the success stories in the sector.

Listing features and not showing benefits

The truth is nobody really cares about features. 

Yes, it’s a shock, but I write this with much experience as a customer and a marketer. 

Consumers care about what your offering can do for them and how its features become benefits in their situation. 

The many tech sellers who simply state what a product does will always lose out to those who understand consumers and tell them how their lives will be improved by it.

Imagine a couple going to two car showrooms. Perhaps they want a zippy, sportscar that’s still easy on their bank account. They walk through the first showroom with no help, walking through rows of anonymous cars, going through long lists of specs trying to balance horsepower against miles per gallon and generally getting tired. In the second showroom, the sporty roadsters are helpfully labelled, an attendant sits them down, finds out what they want and in no time at all has them sat in an MX5 or Toyota Supra knowing it’s just what they want. It’s obvious who is going to get the sale.

Your website is your showroom and with help from analytics, SEO and user experience modelling, you should have the prospect in the right place, telling them how they can benefit from the right product product in no time at all. Then the information that was previously an off-putting jumble of jargon and features becomes a targeted set of selling points that can help close the sale like the attendant in the second showroom.

You need to have an overview of your ideal buyer persona. Then you figure out the benefits that will appeal most to each and how they would be best presented. The most important must be the most obvious, at the top of your main pieces of content. Then you write copy that engages them with the benefits, letting them know how their life or their business will be improved by the product or service. As mentioned below, you can do this multiple times for different segments and buyer personas, but this strategy must be handled carefully

Of course, all the excellent content, SEO, analytics and UX in the world can’t address a prospect as well as a real person. That brings us to our next point.

Not getting prospects talking quickly enough

I’ve been on a lot of tech websites. And I’m always surprised how many expect to keep customers trawling through words, numbers and stock images for ages before suddenly asking them to go to their contact page and buy. This is not a good way to convert

If your offering is more complicated than a hard drive, your prospects are probably going to want to talk about it before buying, rather than trawling idly through your site. Think of the couple looking for a car above. 

So, your online content needs to do three things very well: 

  1. Attract prospects to your site
  2. Get them interested enough to want to talk
  3. Get them talking

Then the people doing the talking can do the selling.

Don’t try to sell a full-service IT offering to a business by having them check out the information themselves. Attract them into a conversation about what they want and how you can provide it.
A website, and a web presence, isn’t a shop window anymore but a conversation, especially for large, nuanced offerings. 

  • Talk to the individual and the decisionmaker, not the masses.
  • Make them want to access your site through social media. 
  • Relate to them on Google using your page description.
  • Tell a story they relate to. 
  • Ask questions they want to answer. 
  • Offer them a chance to respond through comments, social media or direct contact.
  • Be responsive.
  • Utilise user created content.
  • Have a person only one click away at all times. A high-performance computing company I worked for recently allows users to IM their executive board from anywhere on their site.

After this, when it comes to converting the browser to a contact, your prospect will be ready to talk and be open about their needs. A cold browser has been turned into a hot prospect that the sales people can understand, relate to and close with easily. 

Writing too much copy in the wrong place

Get your point across and help prospects to appreciate its benefits with as little reading and searching as possible. There are places to write a lot, but your sales copy isn’t one.

This may sound like a pretty regular tip that’s heard repeatedly, rather than something that sets the pros apart. However, many businesses put too much on their sites and elsewhere and many more don’t appreciate just how little can be enough in some places. A single well-written sentence can do more than 500 words and too much copy can bounce people from your site or have them drop your flyer.  

It’s more challenging for complex, nuanced and often bespoke tech products and services than for simpler goods but it must be done. Distil your offering down to something that is easily grasped. 

Having said that, there are places where more copy gets results. Expert marketers now report that long blogs of over 2000 words are over twice as effective as short ones of 500 or less. This is a recent turnaround from a few years ago when shorter blogs were much preferred. It’s important to take this into consideration and slim down your sales funnel while beefing up your blog.

Using a scatter gun, when a sniper rifle is better

If you’ve ever played Call of Duty or a similar game, you’ll know that the average encounter consists of a lot of people with shot guns and machine guns being dominated by a few pros with sniper rifles. Content marketing in the SME tech sector is a lot like this. Targeting a small group well works much better than spraying out content in the hopes to hit anyone in the area. 

To be honest, I’ve been guilty of this in the past. I’m now an online copy and content specialist for the tech and finance industries.  When I first began though, I was trying to offer every kind of writing service to every kind of business and getting nowhere. 

The trick is whittle down your customers to the most realistic, profitable ones and target all the content in one marketing funnel or campaign at them. For companies selling to end-customers (B2C), this can be a particular demographic, market, area or behavioural and psychographic (beliefs, interests and attitudes) segment. For businesses selling to other businesses (B2B), targets are usually defined in terms of industry, size, needs, budget and their own target market segment. 

If you aim to broad, you won’t be able to engage or appeal to prospects in each particular segment enough to make a sale. Only big or well-known businesses with pre-existing brand appeal like IBM can get away with doing this. 

On the other hand, if you aim too narrow you will get great engagement and a great conversions ratio, but not enough prospects will see your content in the first place.

As I said in the section on writing too much, this is a particular challenge in the tech industry where offerings can be complex, nuanced and overlapping in terms of who they appeal to. Of course, you don’t want to cut valuable prospects out of your content strategy altogether, so the trick for broad-spectrum businesses can often be to spin off the marketing for particular, well-defined segments and create whole new sets of content and sub-strategies for them. 

This can even benefit very large companies. For example, if I as an individual search for Amazon on almost any platform, I will be directed to their consumer sales site and their music and video offerings. I will almost never see their large-enterprise-focused Amazon Web Services offering in my daily life because it is efficiently targeted at another segment.

So …

Each of these common tech content marketing errors are a lesson in what not to do. Cutting them out of your strategy and your content will bring in more prospects, raise conversions and ultimately make more money.

Customers care about benefits, not features.

Your website isn’t your shop window, it’s a conversation starter.

Sales copy needs to be shorter and blogs need to be longer.

A well-aimed sniper rifle is better than a shot gun.

With this, you can level up your content strategy and compete with the best in the business.