copywriting

Hit copy deadlines without compromising the quality of your travel content

How to hit copy deadlines without compromising on the quality of your travel content

1. Hire a Copywriter with Knowledge and Understanding
A travel copywriter needs to understand the emotions of the traveller, and hear their voice. We need to have experienced what your clients experience, first-hand. We need to know about the hassles and frustrations, the ups and the downs so that we understand exactly what your clients are likely to expect.

2. Hire a Copywriter with Authority
Your copywriter needs to know the places and services they are writing about. We can research information very thoroughly, but until we experience the hotel, the flight, food and culture, the city, the country ourselves, our content can’t sing in the way it really should.

3. Hire a Travel Copywriter not a Travel Writer
We may be both but there is a huge difference between writing content and being a copywriter. A copywriter knows how to use words as tools to drive sales. With irresistible headlines, engaging and SEO friendly writing and a strong call to action we have the ability to see through the eyes of your target market and convert readers and browsers into customers.

4. Hire a Copywriter who understands the connections between your blog, social media and your e-newsletter
We don’t have to understand the mechanics of it all, but we should be able to optimise your content marketing strategy.

5. Hire a copywriter who can tell a great story
People remember stories, so a story well told with integrity evokes authenticity. The right combination of drama and suspense, a clear sequence of events and an identifiable narrative with a subtle message can provide the inspiration and encouragement to visit a new destination or try a new service.

6. Hire a copywriter who can set the stage and bring the house down
Good copywriters can provide great hooks to grab your readers, and use powerful writing tools to make their copy accessible. Not only that, they can provide great closing lines to leave the copy resonating with the reader.

7. Hire a copywriter who can follow a brief
Save yourself time by using copywriters who can work to a clear brief, in the style and tone that you desire – enough said!

8. Hire a Copywriter who will deliver to your deadlines
Those that consistently deliver quality copy on time, share the desires of your business and show that they care about your success.

Contact me now, Lucinda@lsmithcopy.co.uk to discuss how I can help you with your copywriting.

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10 Useful Tips to help you with your Travel Blog

10 Useful Tips to help you with your Travel Blog

Creating high quality content takes time, and that is why many people choose to outsource their blogs to people like me, a copywriter.

If you are committed to creating great content then you must properly prepare so that you can ensure you are getting all the mileage out of every word that you write.

1. Be Organised
Have a plan as to the common theme or themes running through your blogging. Think of a general topic then plan out the content needed to create it, in order to cover the entire topic in detail. If you create your content in a structured way, all your blog posts will be intrinsically linked. This is important, as newer posts will help to breathe life into your older ones.

2. Have a Goal
Think about what it is that you actually want to achieve by blogging – maybe it is to have a nice chunk of content that you can package up as a free giveaway, or to write an eBook, or to have an extra 100 or 1000 readers each month – you can then target your blogs for this purpose.

3. Reuse and Recycle
Just because you have posted some fabulous content once, doesn’t mean you can’t do it again by repackaging them for different audiences – maybe for a podcast or video, or can it be reworked in a slightly different slant?

4. Blog to Sell …
If your purpose is to market a particular destination, or a hotel for example, then it is all very well and good to write flowing descriptions to conjure up in our minds exotic experiences. However, copywriting is not just about evocative descriptions, it is ultimately about getting your customers to buy. Your blogging copy needs to sell what the customers aspire to.

5. … but don’t Oversell!
Be honest about what you offer, don’t over-hype it. You need to deliver what you promise or your will get disappointed visitors, who might leave damaging reviews and even worse, reduce your bookings.

6. Be inspired
To be an effective travel blogger, you need to illustrate your passion for travel, backed up by your knowledge. Be inspiring and entertaining and give your readers something to make them come back: information they can’t get elsewhere, delivered in your own unique style.

7. It is not about you
No-one really wants to know about fantastic things they are not doing: make your travel copy evocative: Why is a particular location special, talk about cultural differences and experiences, and provide advice for those who may want to experience what you have.

8. Have some photos
Words used correctly are an effective and powerful tool. But even I, as a copywriter, will concede that a photo can be the hook to snare your reader into reading your blog. Just consider how to use photos (or illustrations or paintings!) in the best way to illustrate your copy.

9. Social Media
You have a great blog, now get it out there to be read. Think again about who your target market is – are they mainly Twitter users, or prefer Instagram, G+ or Facebook? What kind of groups might they follow? The more you put onto social media the more you will get out of it, but remember that you need to be responsive and regular in your use of it.

10. Just do it
I’ll be honest there are lots of travel bloggers out there, and a big handful of really amazing ones. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for another to be a success story: find your niche, be an expert in a particular place or area, be unique and get on and write!

Next up: How to hit those copy deadlines without compromising on the quality of your travel content.

If you would like me to work with you to help create great copy, please contact me at lucinda@lsmithcopy.co.uk

Inside Out Explorers at Basildon Park

Ok, if you haven’t worked it out by now, we love visiting National Trust properties and are lucky enough to have some great ones on our doorstep. Basildon Park is really close to Goring, Streatley and Pangborne. The kids and I usually stop off at The Boathouse by the river in Streatley to stock up on some fabulous hot chocolate and biscuits before embarking properly on our latest escapade.

The house itself is amazing (more on this later), but it is the grounds we come for. Depending on the time of year there is usually something on offer – be it hunting for the fairy doors, following any number of trails in the garden, or searching out the ball runs set up round the park.

Apparently there are great walks through the park. We attempted one on our last visit, only my oldest decided there were ox in the field – to be fair the one near us did have horns and did stamp the ground looking at us – and so we swiftly abandoned that idea in favour of den-building elsewhere. There are some perfect spots for this – an easy hour or so of fun!

What else? There is a mini-maze made of laurel – you won’t get lost for long, but it is fun, and a hazel-hideout which we only discovered on our last visit which has wood-carved animals and garden games.

The house itself is a beautiful Georgian mansion that was restored in the 18th century, and it is stuffed full of wonderful paintings, furniture, ornaments and other interesting items. Kids can the trail looking for particular items in the rooms to keep them interested … Oh, and unsurprisingly you might recognise it from some scenes in Downton Abbey. Clang, clang, clang would be my kids on the piano near the restaurant area – must get them some lessons before we return!

Phew, I defy you to not lose at least 3 hours here – so much to see and to run around and do, oh, and a great place for a picnic in the summer …

Note to self, must do one of the walks next time!

Inside Out Explorers discover Blenheim Palace

‘Almost 2 years we have lived here’ my husband grumbled, ‘and look what we have missed out on! This place is amazing and so close to where we live’. Indeed. Well, it is hard to schedule everything in that we all want to do. Still we made it, and queued, and finally parked, and then walked. So far so good as there was no complaining, and the walk to the ticket office was quite far!

The birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill and home to the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough is magnificent. It was a gift from Queen Anne to the 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, to celebrate victory over the French in the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. It is the only non-royal house in England to be styled a palace.

Inside the stunning Baroque building the children led the way following the handy children’s plan trying to spot various items in all the rooms. We find these absolutely invaluable when we are trying to enjoy building interiors and decorations, so although we move fairly swiftly, we do at least catch the essence of a place.

Outside are 2,000 acres of park to explore, and explore we did. Designed by Capability Brown the harmonious landscape was a real pleasure to experience, with plenty of hiding places and masses, and masses, of room to run wild! The map of the grounds was slightly misleading and are party was divided to those who scaled the large ditch to find the Pleasure Gardens, and those who retraced their steps to the little train to take us there – it was my main complaint about the day – some signs to help, or a more useful map would have saved a lot of tired legs.

The miniature train dropped us outside the Pleasure Gardens and following ice cream sustenance, we got lost in the maze, played giant chess, ran amok in the adventure playground, marvelled at the exotic butterflies in the Tropical Butterfly House and in the case of my husband, caught up with some much needed sleep in the sun.

Was it worth its money? You bet it was and we’ll be back again soon!

Not interested in rowing? Here are 10 other things to enjoy in Henley

While it may be synonymous with the Regatta, it is possible that rowing may not be your thing. While it is hard to escape the river delights, with a little planning having a good time in Henley will rarely hinge on your appreciation of being a coxswain or an understanding of sculling.

1. Live Music
Bigger names might find themselves on the bill at the Henley Festival, but check out the live acts performing at Magoos on Hart Steet. Further afield should give mention to the music nights at the Crooked Billet in Stoke Row and the well-acclaimed Nettlebed Folk Club on Monday nights at the village club.

2. Fine Dining
There is a whole host of dining experiences in Henley ranging from pubs and chain restaurants through to independent establishments and fine dining. Of note has to be the Bull on Bell Street, Giggling Squid and Cau on Hart Street, the Spice Merchant and Villa Marina on Thameside through to the fabulous Shaun Dickens at the Boathouse.

3. Craft Beer and Breweries
Check out the craft beer at Lovibonds Brewery with a range of its own beers ready to be sampled in the tasting room. A little bit further down the road in Hambledon is the Chiltern Valley Winery and Brewery with it vineyard, winery, brewery and liqueur-making facilities with a variety of tour and tasting events available to book. You can also opt for the Breakspear Henley Ale Trail, visiting the 10 Breakspear pubs in the town – The Bell Street Brewery can be viewed from the restaurant in the Bull on Bell Street.

4. Explore independent shops
No visit to Henley should be complete without browsing and shopping in its eclectic range of independent shops, many found on Bell Street, Hart Street, Friday Street and New Street. While you will also find many well-known chains in town, you will also find home interiors, jewellers, antiques, books, toys and teddy bears, boutiques, shoes and accessories, vinyl, cards and gifts. If you are looking for a first edition or other rare books, make time to visit Jonkers on Hart Street.

5. Trivia
Search out Dusty Springfield’s grave at St Mary’s Church, or head to the Fair Mile to see Jimmy’s grave: apparently a marmoset belonging to a nursing sister of World War 1, Miss Jekyl. You can view the Porter’s House of George Harrison’s estate just up from the market place. The golden postbox on Hart Street is to honour over 100 Olympic medal-winning rowers that have trained at Leander Club.

6. River and Rowing Museum
Ok, you may not escape the rowing at this museum, and why would you want to, but there is so much more to see including visiting exhibitions, as well as being able to make friends with Mole, Ratty, Toad and Badger in the Wind in the Willows exhibition. The excellent Quince Tree now runs the restaurant there, with fabulous food to sample.

7. Galleries
The Old Fire Station Gallery on West Street is a hidden gem showcasing local artists; the Lemongrove Gallery on Duke Street showcases contemporary original paintings and limited editions; while British fine art is portrayed at the Bohun Gallery on Reading Road.

8. Take a Walk
Take a stroll along the river past the River and Rowing Museum, through Mill Meadows to Marsh Lock or cross over the bridge and follow the route of the Regatta course on the other side of the river past Leander Club, towards Temple Island above Hambledon Lock.

9. Swiss Farm
A first class experience in camping, caravanning and motor homes, Swiss Farm is right on Henley’s doorstep. The perfect place to stay, it offers a lovely outdoor swimming pool, small children’s play area with delicious cakes, pastries and coffee available from the coffee shop, and coarse fishing on offer!

10. Boating
Ok, I have to mention it, because taking a boat out on the beautiful surroundings on Henley has to be a highlight. Charter a boat or take a cruise from Hobbs of Henley, for a visually stunning experience, and a relaxing and fun way to view the Thames. Alternatively try out canoeing or kayaking from Henley Canoe Hire and spend a lazy hour or two paddling about.

The Inside Out Explorers at the Warburg Reserve

“I can’t see anything” my oldest complained as he peered through the binoculars. This was a step up from the complaints we had received in the car as we took the longest 2 miles ever on a pot-holed, single lane track to reach the Warburg Nature Reserve.

No, it wasn’t the expected looking through them the wrong way I am pleased to say, rather, “I think it is because we sound like a heard of elephants to all the rabbits and wildlife” I countered, “Lets try keeping very quiet …” But no, my youngest was already off pounding down the hill. Never mind.

Still, the binoculars’ first outing with the family was reasonably successful, despite much argument as to who was carrying them and much reminding of the youngest that it was a teensy bit dangerous to walk and look through them at the same time! Intrepid 1 spent ages tracking wildlife with them, and while no twitcher, to be fair, we were encouraged by his fleeting, but real, enthusiasm for the moment.

If I am honest, I expected this excursion not to be the most popular with the intrepid duo, however the hour’s stroll was punctuated with regular sightings of rabbits and pheasants with a beautiful soundtrack of birdsong, and absolutely no car noise at all. Yes, it was quiet, but I can’t claim that we were. Still, what a woodland gem! Ok, there were a few other people around, but we imagined we were explorers making our way through remote woodland, following ancient paths through luscious grassland, marvelling at spring flowers and fluttering butterflies.

Later, after stalking prey in the woods (and a bit of hide and seek, oops we weren’t quiet at all!) we became spies in the hideout to see how many different types of bird we could spot, and who saw the most.

The Sand is not the same as in the Brochure …

Your sand was yellow, but it was white!

I love this complaint, it is up right up there with the complaint my own daughter made last year that the beach was too sandy! Sand really does get everywhere and anywhere as she had found much to her own discomfort. There is almost a British rite of passage to experience the wind blowing the sand all over your picnic rug, food, into your suntan lotion; not to mention the sand sticking to all kinds of places you don’t want it, and forever finding it for days in bags, containers, clothes …

Beaches tend to come in for some quite general criticism: too sandy, too rocky, too dirty even too wet (if the tide comes in then the beach gets wet, it’s a fact!). So here we go: the sand was white, but in the brochure was yellow? Well lets see, firstly in my book white sand is better than yellow sand: white sand is synonymous with tropical islands, warm gently lapping sea, palm trees laden with coconuts, near empty beaches – think Mexico, Mauritius, the Seychelles, Thailand the list goes on and on and on. There is absolutely nothing wrong with yellow sand, or as travel agents more commonly term it “golden sand”. Golden sandy beaches can be found the world over, and maybe they are not deemed as exotic, but they can still be soft and (usually) warm on your toes to varying degrees! Think, for example, of those vast “golden”, sandy beaches of the Algarve – stunning, and even closer to home and just as beautiful the beaches like Filey and Runswick Bay, Putsborough Sands, Mawgan Porth – again, the choice is massive and too many to mention.

Secondly, as someone who used to work in publishing knows only too well, colour printing can vary, so always ensure you are sending optimum press-ready PDFs to your printer and check your colour proofs prior to final printing. If the colour is off on the original photo, then it is going to be wrong in the brochure.

That said, you are on holiday, with a gorgeous sandy beach, white or yellow, in the sunshine – what’s to complain about? Might be worse if you found you had black sand, now that’s a shock if you are not expecting it!

Writing is not dull!

Back in August I read an article that came through via LinkedIn. It was entitled ‘The dullest, most vital skill you need to become a successful manager’ and the answer is, apparently, the ability to write.

At last I feel vindicated! I spent many years as a manager, loathing all presentations that had to be given, and hating wasted time in meetings never getting to the point. I was always far more comfortable and effective with written communication. A written document is something that everyone can buy in to and be accountable for. I have always found that writing clears the head and provides you with some structure for your thoughts – far better to sit down and think something through by writing it down, than having to articulate my thoughts there and then. Something written shows you are taking responsibility, not just talking the talk with no action.

Is writing really dull? Not if you do it right! Effective written communications need to be clear, concise and persuasive. If you can write with impact you can command the attention of your readers who have little time. They want approachable content with clear words, simple explanations and specifics. Your text needs clarity with no ambiguity. Considering who you are writing for, is equally important because you ensure the content, its style and tone is relevant to them.

Effective written communications should be direct, succinct and logical. To evoke a positive response, you need to embrace your reader’s perspective and engage them from the start.

Spoiler Alert

At university I studied Vladimir Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale. This details which elements of the fairytale are constant and which are variable. Simply put, there are basic story structures around which you can weave the words and there you go, you have a winning formula. Of course, it is not just fairy tales that can have a basic template, there are other story structures proven to be successful over and over.

Ok, that’s fair enough – many of us are predictable beings who like a plot varying from story to story but following a known structure (obviously not all the time, there are numerous brilliant stories that strike out on their own). However in advertising, time and time again companies will return to a simple underlying structure proven to succeed – people want to relate to the story. If we can identify with it, we will be persuaded by it. It’s not rocket science is it? Think of all the adverts we can remember on TV – the most memorable ones had a story to tell, a story we can relate to that emotionally appeals to us. It’s not just the story though is it? The adverts don’t always tell us everything, they like to keep us guessing or they leave us to work out the meaning. Just think of those Christmas John Lewis ads … We don’t like to be told what to think, we like to be credited with our intelligence – and it makes us feel positive about the brand telling the story and how we may empathise with it.

Story telling can only go so far though – the company has to have the credentials to back it up. We have to be able to trust the brand as well.

Many of my clients are small businesses and may not have a big TV ad, or one in print in a nationwide magazine. It doesn’t make the story I can write for them in their brochure or on their website any less compelling. Does that mean I am just going to fall in with what everyone else is doing? Oh no, rules are made to be broken aren’t they? A little tweak in the copy for variety could be just the thing …

It’s all about me

Sometimes you just need to tell it like it is.

There is nothing wrong in being straight and to the point, but adding colour and background can be the deciding factors in clinching a sale. A new client asked to know more about me the other day. What to say? Too much detail might bore them and put them off, while too little might leave them guessing and wanting more.

Now I’m not one prone to waffle, and I don’t like to use lots of words unnecessarily. I told them just enough to effectively promote myself by giving my story a beginning, middle and end. By adhering to the rule of three I made my story accessible and memorable. I explained that my background was in publishing, learning the art of working with words, editorial techniques and about printing books. I then moved into management, forming alliances and working with other parts of the business, developing new ideas for different media, and networking. I followed this up by explaining about taking voluntary redundancy and grabbing the opportunity to work freelance, and not looking back!

Of course the redundancy is the obvious, but no less relevant, twist in the tale – a negative situation made positive. I could say that I left the company, but I prefer the truth as it shows me actively overcoming a challenge.

This is me, and my brand. My story, which I can embellish with more or less detail as the situation requires, resonates with others because most people’s experiences have had ups and downs along the way. Company brands of course concentrate on their success stories, and I’ll save that for a later post!