Copywriting 101

By Cammi Woodall

Think about your day so far. Have you seen a television commercial? Listened to an ad on the radio? Picked up a brochure for a new travel destination? Looked at a billboard? Logged on to a website for the newest restaurant in town?

Did you answer yes to any of these questions? Then you already have experience with copywriting.

So, what is copywriting? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a copywriter is a writer of advertising or publicity copy. As a copywriter, you are responsible for hooking the consumer with your words. How often do you skim advertising material without a second thought? Occasionally, though, something will catch your eye. A certain phrase or slogan can pull a consumer in, and a good copywriter will keep them there by using persuasive text. You as a copywriter want to make sure that customer feels they can’t live without your product!

What does this mean for you as a freelance writer? Don’t most businesses have a staff that does this for them? Not necessarily. Business today is very different from twenty years ago. There are thousands of companies that conduct business strictly online and more small businesses than ever before. Most cannot afford to have their own advertising department. That’s where you and your unique perspective come in.Writer journaling in a book

Copywriting jobs can range in size from writing the script for a 20 second radio spot to handling all media material for a new product launch. This could include brochures, media copy, social media content, television or radio script, educational material, demonstration videos, product packaging, and more! Every piece of advertising ephemera for a campaign or product is the result of a copywriter’s work.   

How do you get one of these jobs? There are several different ways.

–                      Network. Ask your family and friends. Dear Aunt Irma might know just the person you need to know!

–                      Apply for a job at a physical business. Go to your local newspaper office, radio station, or advertising agency. This could result in freelance work, but you might also become a staff member!

–                      Online job boards – I have never used one of these boards (I am learning about copywriting along with you), so I cannot give any personal advice. The ones that came up most in my research are Problogger, Contena, All Indie Writers, Blogging Pro, and Writers Weekly. My advice is to look at each board and see which one fits your style. On most, companies post freelance positions. You probably won’t get a large job right away, but the smaller jobs are a great way to build your portfolio.

–                      Social media. Does anybody remember when getting in touch with other people meant a phone call or a letter? Twitter and Facebook are both good sources of information. Look for boards that posts jobs, but also advertise yourself.

–                      Newspaper Classifieds. Yes, there are still paper newspapers out there.

–                      Pitch directly to a business. Is there a new store or boutique opening near you? Make a friendly call. New business owners might be more interested in stocking and construction. They might not be thinking about newspaper ads, business cards, Facebook pages, radio spots, or promotional brochures.

This article only covers a small portion of the expanse of copywriting. The internet has dozens of websites and thousands of articles on how to get started, how to create effective prose, how much to expect to earn, and more. Copywriting might not have been something you’ve thought about before, but I recommend you do some research. You could create the next ‘Where’s the beef?’ campaign!

 

Prompt – She squared her shoulders and took a deep breath. This was one meeting she never wanted to attend. She opened the door and entered the room.

Is There Room For Indie Publishing?

By Tammy Trail

The traditional publishing road reminds me in many ways of a dark alley without street lamps. At the end of the block is a shining orb of illumination where an author’s dreams are fulfilled. On that road to publication are potholes of promises not kept. Deep ruts of relentless proposals, and query letters with rejection notices. Like weeds on each side of the road killing off blossoms of hope for a book with your name on it. With this kind of image in mind, it is no small wonder that many wordsmiths are looking at other avenues of success, namely Indie Publishing.

I first thought this was also referred to as Self-Publishing. The more I researched, I found that this is not the case. Self-Publishing is hiring a publisher or press to pay to see your book in print. This is a risky business at best. Some works of print may not be edited well, have unattractive typesetting, and cost way more than it ought to for the privilege. A promise of marketing your book may be just getting it on a list for availability for wholesale before it reaches your local bookstore.

And then there is Amazon. Now granted, I have found no evidence in my research of plagiarized books in the Christian fiction market, but it has happened in other genres. We know how much of a creative toll our works of art take on us. The hours spent developing characters, plotting, and eye strain from spending time in front of a  computer is an investment. Then some unscrupulous, lazy writer comes along and steals your work. Not only do they steal it, they make money from your idea. One author confronted her attacker in an email. The thief apologized. With this apology email, the original author took their evidence to Amazon to demand her earnings. Others have not been so lucky. In Amazon’s defense, they now have a team of folks who watch for plagiarized material.Writers' Resolutions for 2017 by Karen Jurgens

Traditionally published authors didn’t like the idea of self-publishing either. It mocked the literary social norm. To be honest, some of those who flocked to get published quickly just want a book out there with their name on it. These works were flawed and set a bad example for a fledgling writer. They cheapened the hard work of big name authors. It has improved. More writers who follow this path are taking the time to pay for a good editor, realizing a good product produces better results.

Now Indie Publishing has once again rocked the boat. They have cut out the middle man, and all the bumps in the road by doing it all for themselves. From written word, to editing, typesetting, cover design and marketing. Is there a downside to this? I would imagine it takes a lot of time from blank page to whole book. Some would argue that if you honed your skills a bit and studied the craft more, a traditional publisher would eventually buy your book. On the other hand, there are writing styles and genre that the traditional publishers won’t even look at, and that is frustrating. Controlling your own piece of work without worry of what percentage of the profits will line your pockets is an incentive too.

As an Indie Published author, you are the product. You are the company that invests, markets, and gains the profit from your own written works. I don’t really see a downside to that, except that maybe all the middle man stuff could take away from the creative aspect of your work. Perhaps there is someone out there that has managed to do this well enough to teach the rest?

Time will tell.

Click to tweet: Indie publishing has once again rocked the boat. #IndiePub #amwriting

Writing prompt: Sally received another rejection letter. Crumpling it into a ball she vowed to…………

Thanks Giving Tips From The Salvation Army: Serve a Wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner — and Save Money!

Our friend, Nike Chillemi, was kind enough to share this money saving article. It might be June but it’s never too early to start planning for the holidays! 🙂

3 Tips for Keeping Costs Under Control

The Salvation Army works hard to ensure that every dollar you donate is used as efficiently and effectively as possible — Doing the Most Good, for the most people, in the most need. In that spirit, we offer these money-saving tips to help you stretch your own budget this Thanksgiving.

Tip #1: Keep It Simple. Instead of five kinds of pies and a dozen side dishes, trim your Thanksgiving menu down to those favorites everyone loves. Also, choose simpler recipes rather than those requiring the purchase of spices and other ingredients you won’t be likely to use again.

Tip #2: Start Shopping Now. The earlier you shop, the more time you have to take advantage of weekly sale prices and coupons. You can also save money by comparison shopping — visiting different stores, and scooping up the best buys at each.

Tip #3: Use Natural Decor. Look to nature, and save on store-bought Thanksgiving decorations. Bring the beauty of the season indoors with your own display of autumn leaves, pine cones, acorns, and other natural elements.

For more information on the Salvation Army:
THE SALVATION ARMY
GREATER NEW YORK DIVISION
120 W. 14th Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 337-7339
www.SalvationArmyNY.org


Nike Chillemi

Like so many writers, I started writing at a very young age. I still have the Crayola, fully illustrated book I penned (colored might be more accurate) as a little girl about my then totally off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call me a crime fictionista. My passion is crime fiction. I like my bad guys really bad and my good guys smarter and better.

I write hard-boiled detective novels with a soul. My detectives, both male and female, are jump into the fray, tough, shoot it up types. Yet, they’re all vulnerable. They’re not so hard-boiled they couldn’t be actual people.

I’m the founding board member of the Grace Awards and its Chair, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. I writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. I was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category, a judge in the 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories, and a judge in the Eric Hoffer Awards in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

My four novel Sanctuary Point series, set in the mid-1940s, has won awards and garnered critical acclaim. My new contemporary whodunit, HARMFUL INTENT released in the spring of 2014 under the auspices of her own publishing company, Crime Fictionista Press became a best seller in Amazon’s private investigator category, won the Grace Award 2014,  and has also garnered critical acclaim.

I’m a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Christian Indie Novelists (CHIN).

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3 Steps to Living Debt-Free

By Randy Tramp

mombizcoach

We were 30,000 dollars in debt. We needed out—fast.

That began a journey of discovery. For the next few minutes, I’d like to relate to you my findings.

Starting with credit cards. Not only did we need to pay them off, but we also needed a new mentality; one, I’m proud to have obtained.

(1)  Pay off your credit cards monthly.

It may sound like a simple thing, but unless you have this cemented into your thinking, you’ll never rise to financial freedom.

To get our cards paid off, we tackled one at a time. With laser determination, we conquered the highest interest card. Once zeroed, we directed all the money to the next one. It snowballed until we had every card paid off.

Today it feels good to get a monthly reward check.

We didn’t stop there.

(2)  Make payments to your savings account.

With the credit cards paid off, we had extra money each week. Immediately that extra money was designated. Emergency fund. Car savings and regular savings.

Lowered stress happens when you plan for emergencies. Having extra cash when something breaks down keeps a family in smooth waters. You may be asking, “We have a hard time paying our bills, how can we save extra?” Let me answer that, by saying this: “Start with a small amount and be consistent.” If it’s ten dollars a week, keep putting that amount in your savings. Over a year’s time, it’ll be over five hundred dollars. Put more in – well you can do the math.

We’ve saved thousands of dollars over the years by paying for our vehicles with cash. How? We make monthly car payments—to our savings account, then use that money to buy a car.

(3)  Pay Extra on your Mortgage.

You’d be surprised at how a few extra dollars to your mortgage interest adds up. It does.

I’ve calculated my mortgage considering my retirement. When I hit that age, both our houses will be paid off.

The last thing I want to talk about is giving. I know it’s a non-stopper in conversations. That’s why I put it last, even though it should be first.

We’re wired to be selfish and self-centered. Nothing flows when we live in that nature. Giving creates a flow, allowing God to bless. I’m not speaking give a dollar and get two back. Blessings come in all different forms.

Give, and it will be given unto you, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38 (NIV)

Our journey was one step at a time. Are you ready to join me?

Click to tweet: Lowered stress happens when you plan for emergencies.

Writing Prompt: Think of a way one of your characters in your current WIP can give a blessing, expecting none in return. Write it.


Randy Tramp is a freelancer, writing articles for newspapers and magazines. He’s just published his debut novel, Night to Knight.
He served in the Navy for eight years, supervised inmates at a Federal prison for twelve years and ministered as a children’s Pastor for twelve years. During this time, while on a missions trip, he taught African’s about children’s ministry.
His passion is to see families strengthened and relationships restored. He and his wife Kim are parents of eleven children (eight adopted) and five grandchildren, ranging in ages from two to thirty-two.
You can connect with Randy at:

Night to Knight

night-to-knightSpecial Forces Mark Steele commands an operation to save two American Missionaries. He’s injured and dismissed from the Special Forces. Not wanting to take a desk job, the Navy discharges him. Mark becomes discouraged until he discovers a new purpose in life—locate and return abducted children to their family.

To protect his wife from emotional stress, Mark doesn’t tell her. During one of Mark’s missions, Kaitlyn finds a crumbled paper in the wastebasket next to his desk. She calls the number and hears a female’s voice, then Mark’s voice in the background. “We’re a married couple headed to Phoenix,” Mark says…

Read more about Randy’s book here.


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Makes Cents to Me!

by Tammy Trail

Our reality is we have no savings. We are rich in debt, and poor in cash flow. Can anyone else relate? My husband and I  struggle to save money. We have taken the Dave Ramsey course–Financial Peace University–our antelope has broken legs. Dave teaches that we should all have $1,000.00 emergency fund. Typically, when we can get a nice sum saved something happens. A car needs big repairs, an appliance goes on the fritz, or my husband’s commission check goes up in smoke.Our savings account may be bare, but we do manage to find ways to save money. It allows us to treat ourselves to a movie, or a nice meal in a restaurant.

I recall in my youth, our family would spend Sunday dinners seated around my Grandma Quigley’s big dining room table. My mother and I still marvel over how she fed all those family members with the meager salary my Grandpa brought home. Grandma sure knew how to make the food stretch, and I think she passed that gene onto me.

When my darling husband complains about spending too much at the grocery store I know it’s time to go back to my habit of making menus. It is a time-consuming task, but someone has to do it.

The family helps by giving meal suggestions. I take a blank calendar to give each day a meal. Then I pull out my box of recipes and begin making a list. I make columns for my list–one for meat, one for dairy, canned goods, produce, etc. Once I have my list done,   I make sure to have a quarter, and my own shopping bags for a visit to Aldi’s. The quarter is used to rent a shopping cart. You bag your own groceries. I usually buy all my produce, dairy, and canned goods here.

Next, is a stop at Sam’s Club. Here is where I purchase meats  in bulk, frozen vegetables, and frozen items the teenagers will eat for their lunches. After this trip, I spend a bit of time separating the meat to freeze. For instance, I buy a very large tube of ground beef and separate it into one pound zip lock bags for future use.

The plan is not to go back to the store for the month, unless it’s absolutely necessary. I will need to replenish paper goods, bread, and milk.  I try to restrain myself from buying anything else. Do I save money? Every time I go to the store without a plan, I spend $20.00 to $30.00 more. So, yes. I think I do save money.

I remember a time when we had no money for food, days away from a pay check. I took every leftover we had in the refrigerator and mixed it together, tossed cheese on top, and baked it. It was actually pretty good! My kids also know what happens when I tell them it’s the “end of the month slump”. That means beans and rice for a few days.

Click to tweet: Our savings may be bare, but we do find ways to save money.

Writing Prompt: Share your favorite money-saving trick when you go to the grocery store. Consider adding it to a story you’re working on.