The Sarky Type – content with more bite

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say you want your business to make money.

I’m going to make the further wild assumption that any investment you fork out for should bring in the cash. 

So it makes sense that you’d like, very muchly, to make sales with content writing because seriously, why else would you bother with it?

Sure, you might enjoy writing (sweet), and you might be ‘passionate’ about the guff you bosh out (lovely).

However it is still work and work that needs doing.

There’s a possibility you hate writing. Like really detest thinking up new stuff to entice your people. See, content creation takes serious toil so if writing bums you out, you’ll resent the time it steals away from the things you enjoy. You’d certainly like to see a return on your efforts. 

Let’s say you can’t be arsed with all that and you hire a writer, hang about…

Content writing is a saturated market.

There are hundreds (probably more, I haven’t counted) of content writers (oh, hi there). So many in fact, that these bastards are making the place look untidy

And like any market, it is, in part, saturated with shit. 

You can’t tell if a writer is a Dacia or a Rolls Royce. And is it really your job to know?

Doesn’t the burden of proof fall to them (I mean, me)? Aren’t they supposed to be demonstrating their expertise so you can make an informed decision?

Whilst those in my industry squabble about the difference between content writing and copywriting, you stand, open-mouthed, wondering when anyone is going to notice you.

Notice your cry for help.

You know the cry for help I mean, this one: hey, you over there, how does content writing make me dosh?

I see you, gurl! It’s a ruddy minefield. And that’s one of the many reasons I blog. To demonstrate my expertise.

Content has loads of benefits.

Coz you is smart, you already know that content does this:

  • Brings more traffic to your website (organic and direct)
  • Builds trust and authority
  • Is the answer to any question a prospect is ever likely to have
  • Is the reason someone says yes to your product/service

All the above indirectly and directly makes you cash.

Some of those things take time and others happen quickly. Content should always be working hard to attract yo peeps and keep them interested long enough to buy/sign up/download.

Sounds pretty rad (anything but rad).

Yeah, you could learn to do this yourself. 

If you have the inclination you can buy books, sign up for courses and learn the art of content writing. 

Freelancers do that shit all the time because they don’t have the resources to hire people.

But the boss of a small business doesn’t have the time for that.

And if they do, I doubt wanting to write their own content would excite them enough to learn. (And there’s golf to play. I do love a stereotype, don’t you?)

These business folks have the money to hire someone to take care of content. 

But they usually don’t.

Like I’ve said before, people in business don’t understand the importance so they ask someone unqualified within their own organisation to do it. Often a person who already has a day job.

I teach you to write your own stuff.

I show you how to make your content good. 

This blog tells you to get your content arse in gear. Because even a subtle improvement will be a huge step in elevating you above your competition.

Why?

Because most business content is terrible. Again, businesses are getting unqualified people to do it (or doing it badly themselves). If you don’t believe me, go and look at your competition. 

Read the copy on their homepage, I’m telling you, it will be average. And by that I mean, dull, cliched, and full of meaningless garbage. 

Listen, if you’re learning to do all this yourself, you understand why it’s important. So you’re investing time (lots of time) to get your content better than it was before. 

You’re gaining new skills – yay! And you understand the value of the words you type for your biz. (Also, yay.)

Hold up, value is subjective.

Lemme explain: when I tell you about my services, what I charge and what you get for that cost, I’m deciding what my value is. You’re free to agree or disagree.

You are sitting here now (standing or reclining) reading this for a reason. There is value in this for you.

Maybe you’re here for the LOLs. Perhaps you want the free help, and maybe one day you’ll decide to hire me in some content capacity. It isn’t my job to tell you what the hell you’re getting out of all of this. 

Content makes you cash.

And that’s a pretty good incentive to get serious about it. 

But let me skip back to value – just for a moment. 

I am expensive. So I offer a high-value product in terms of monies (It’s all about the monies, monies, monies.)

I charge more than your average content writer. 

I don’t give you the ‘best price’ or a ‘reasonable price’ nope, I do not. I cost up my services based on what I think they are worth.

Let’s suppose I pen you a piece of long-form, a wondrous article that lives on your blog. 

The purpose of that piece is to help warm leads make a decision. 

They need to decide whether to buy from you or to bugger off and stop fucking about, umming and ahing. These prospects understandably have questions about the product you sell. They want to know exactly what’s involved.  

So off I pop, writing tasty content that answers all those questions. 

I throw in the benefits – the reasons why your prospect should be hot for this great new thing you got. And at last, they have everything they need to make the best choice for them.

That bit of content is valuable straight off the bat. 

There’s a lot of juicy info in that article, all organised logically in one easy-to-access place.

But it’s the gift that keeps on giving because it saves you time. 

(Lorra lorra time.)

The time it would take for you to learn to write such a sexy bit of long-form and the time it takes rehashing the same tired conversation with each tepid lead. 

What tired conversation, you scream?

The one that drones on about price resistance… what’s involved?… what do I get?… and something about cheese.

(There’s nothing about cheese. I just got so bored writing for a second. It happens sometimes.)

Time is money (and all that jazz) so although you haven’t made any (yet) you haven’t lost any either. 

We all waste so much time explaining stuff to prospects. This kind of content stops that and it also gets rid of the tyre-kicking arseheads who have no intention of ever hiring you. 

See, LOOK AT ALL THAT VALUE!

Here’s how you make sales with content. (At last!)

This is surprisingly easy.

Let’s suppose you spend £1500 on a single blog article. 

(Yes, £1500 on ONE blog. I can hear the price buyers shitting a brick.)

If you lump all the value on just the spend, that cost will immediately make you run. Good, you get an enthusiastic hand clap from me because if you’re that shortsighted I’d rather you sod off now.

That beautifully written, detailed article (that’s saving time, building trust, and driving traffic) is also going to convert a potential client.

If that blog post is banging on about a product that costs say, £6K and you only sell one as a direct result of that blog, that would be money well spent. 

But you’re not aiming for one conversion.

You’ll be using that article time and time again. 

And as long as the content remains relevant, that will continue to make you money – and you only paid for that piece ONCE.

The price of an article/blog/sales letter/case study will depend on how much the offering is. 

Any content writer should charge a price that reflects the potential earning power of that product/service (so think on next time you crib about the cost). 

If you wanna know more about conversion rates with content marketing, read this article.

Ill-conceived content is as useful as a gelatin condom. 

This is why you need a purpose.

Remember the three W’s: who is it for, why are you doing it and what do you want it to do?

Keep in mind the three S’s: strategystrategy, and strategy.

(Yeah, I’m making this up as I go along.)

But remember this…

There are no guarantees content will make you coinage.

WHAT?!

(Really, did you think this would be a safe bet?)

Humans don’t work like that. There are so many variables when you’re selling. If the conditions aren’t right, magic doesn’t happen.

And what works for one audience may not work for another. Investing in your written word is a long term thang. (Ah, long-form, long term. LOVE THAT.)

You try stuff out, you record the results, and you make the necessary improvements.

Every day is a school day with content creation. 

And that’s why hooking up with a writer on the regular will benefit your business. 

They can focus 100% on the task at hand and no one is shoe-horning the role of content writer into their current day job.

So maybe it’s time you started behaving like a proper grown-up business and got serious about the blurb you’re churning out?

If you’d like to know how you do that, click here.

Ok before I start moaning again let’s define what the eff I’m talking about.

What is social selling?

Hootsuite reckons it’s this:

“Think of social selling as modern relationship-building. Actively connecting with potential customers on social media can help you be the first brand a prospect considers when they’re ready to make a purchase. And it can replace outdated relationship-building and sales techniques like cold calling!”

(Blimey, Hootsuite really doesn’t like cold calling – calm down love.)

Something happened the other week.

Sometimes things happen to me.

This guy happened. 

He was dead keen to have me on his copywriting team. 

(It’s always impressive when someone reads my content and still wants to work with me.)

So this guy, right, he hires freelancers and thinks I’d be quite a weapon in his marketing arsenal.

Hold up, let’s not get excited just yet.

When agencies contact me I know it’s going to be a waste of time.

They have a way of working and you either bend to that way or you don’t get hired. 

I get that but freelancers are also business owners – not employees. 

And as fellow business owners, they have their own values and boundaries. 

(You already know how this is going to go.)

After three messages I knew this would be a match made in hell. And the reason why was all because of social selling.

You know I’m a grumpy bastard and anything that has ‘social’ in the title is liable to make me irritable. 

Sure I connect with potential clients on the socials – that bit I’m totally cool with but other aspects of this marketing phenomenon have made doing business unduly complicated and frankly, awkward.

Let’s build a relationship…?

Sweet Je-huzus Christi.

This guy was more out than anyone on Dragon’s Den because I didn’t want to nurture a connection with him.

Now you might love that idea.

You also might get giddy about receiving a Calendly link for a virtual coffee. But for me, this stuff feels fake and fucking cringey.

This is why I hate social selling. 

It’s like you’re trying to soften the blow of making money. Guess what, you’re still selling but now it’s under the pretence of getting to know a prospect. 

Honesty in business is something I hold dear. I am very comfortable with folks openly selling their products and services. 

I appreciate that people, like me, need to pay bills and support families.

Listen, I’m not saying you can’t be a decent, genuine human that enjoys becoming besties with prospects.

(Prospects that may not convert to paying clients.) 

If that’s you, brilliant. You’ve clearly got loads of cash and not enough friends.

I’m not saying this guy wasn’t genuine.

I have no idea what motivates him. If I took the time I could’ve built that relationship and found out, right?

Wrong.

I don’t know how one call does that. It’s taken me months – years to build any relationship I’ve ever had.

Also – most of us are not our true selves with strangers. 

We are often overly polite and accommodating. That isn’t relationship building, that’s theatre.

I was pretty confused.

Didn’t this guy contact me because he wanted to hire me? Hadn’t he seen my content and felt like I was a good fit?

Imagine going to a job interview only to be told this:

“We can’t consider you for the role until we have a deep understanding of who you are.”

Well, shit.

Let’s suppose you do spend ages involving yourself with this crap.

What happens when you don’t get the job? 

Well, nothing except you’ve just lost time you can never get back and there’s still no money in your pocket.

Your CV tells a prospective employer all they need to know before granting you an interview. My website and social media profiles do the same for potential customers.

You’re either qualified or you’re not.

If someone makes contact in view of hiring you, you’d be forgiven for thinking they think you’ve got what it takes.

(Or it’s a dirty ploy to sell to you or sext you.)

Hey, this guy is entitled to run his company how he wants.

And if his core business belief is to have a relationship with everyone he hires BEFORE hiring them, so be it.

When I have worked as an employee or as a freelancer the one thing has always been true: I’ve fostered any kinships AFTER I got the job.

For example, if you hire someone like me to write your content and you’re impressed with the service, chances are, you’ll hire me again. 

And the more you interact with me the more we will GENUINELY get to know each other.

Conversely, if you didn’t like the experience, you can avoid me at all costs.

Social selling has become a gateway drug to emotional incontinence.

I think it’s the reason why businesses now piss and shit out feelings.

I almost wish we could go back to the old days when brands would talk about the thing they sell and not some past trauma.

It’s very on-trend to reveal every intimate detail of our lives on social media.

And it seems to be the new way to make a sale. 

We overshare in the hopes that someone might buy from us. Even by my standards that’s pretty cynical and anything but honest and ‘authentic’.

It makes me feel dirty (and not good dirty) when I see brands doing this and yes, that probably does mean I’m not their target audience. 

I get a similar feeling when advertisers use feminism (or some other social issue) to sell shit. 

Dove spews out inclusivity ads like there’s no tomorrow. Beauty brands like L’Oreal coin slogans like “Because you’re worth it” – companies built campaigns on women not feeling worth it. 

If you’re not careful social selling can make you sound like a self-indulgent little twerp – some really do take the personal brand twaddle literally. 

And for that reason, I’m out.

If you’re after some new content via the means of a simple transactional process, I’m here for the foreseeable, so why not find out about my services.

You’re not at all surprised that I am my own ideal client.

To you it’s beyond obvious and yet it comes as quite a revelation to me. Yeah, seriously, I can hardly believe what an idiot I have been.

And what a time-saving hack!

Don’t you see it’s perfect? And for a lazy person (of which I am) it’s positively inspired.

All businesses need content and copy.

I could have chosen to target practically anyone in the entire world.

(So I did, I chose me.)

Some peeps aren’t so lucky. You might be selling a product that only a select need. 

But if you’re like me (lazy and self-centred) you might be your ideal client. 

I know all about me.

I need only ask myself this: what keeps me awake at night?

(I mean, so many things and not fun things, sexy things or things that I’d gladly give up sleep for, no, what keeps me awake at night is wondering if I should change the copy on my homepage for the fiftieth time – and don’t say yes you should!)

Like my ideal client, I want decent content.

The kind of stuff you read and think, yes, this is brilliant, I want to consume all the content this person and/or business has written. 

My perfect customer (get ready for another vomit-inducing marketing phrase), has the pain point of not having content that is scrummy to devour. 

Currently, what they have is the same as most other B2B brands. And that is dull, tired, clichéd verbiage that does naff all for their audience. 

Are you me?

Not completely me but are you like me in the ways of business?

I know what you’re thinking – what is this, some kind of fun game? Or is she touting for business?

Ok, I have a confession (I have many but no one has that kind of time): everything I do for The Sarky Type is me touting for business.

Fancy some role-play?

SURE YOU DO.

Imagine you’re sitting with me in a classy, beautifully lit hotel bar.

Somewhere a piano is playing (not by itself – it’s not a pianola – this isn’t an East End boozer).

We’re having a little chat, a sort of low-key interview – nothing for you to get nervous about, it’s a very casual work-related conversation.

We have snacks.

(Snacks I said.) 

Tea and coffee but alcohol is available (thank Christ for that).

And so we begin…

“I appreciate you meeting with me.” 

(You nod, looking very grateful for the opportunity.) 

“So, let’s see if you’re eligible to be my ideal client. I notice from your file that you love sarky humour and swearing, can you tell me more about that?”

You adjust your collar and respond: “For me, life without LOLs would be awful. I love laughing, especially at inappropriate things.”

I’m smiling in quiet agreement.

“And the swearing, Tony?”

(You may not be called Tony. I like to use a name though and I like to throw it in mid convo. Creeps some people out but I love it when my name is used during a chat.)

“I do love me some swears, Sarah” (see what I mean? Perfect client right there). “We don’t need to swear do we but we also don’t need art and chocolate. And in my view, the most interesting things in life are not necessities.”

Again, I agree with you and go on to ask: “It says here that you enjoy B2B marketing that is different, what do you mean by that?”

You take a sip of coffee (hoping the booze comes sooner rather than later) and continue…

“Businesses selling to other businesses have other things to consider than say a single consumer – I get that but I don’t understand why B2B marketing has to be so fucking terrible. And that’s where I feel you come in.”

“That’s very kind of you to say, Tony.” I glance at my list and as I do you ask: “Can we order cocktails? It’s five o’clock somewhere, right?”

I point to the drinks menu and take a furtive look at my watch: it’s ten in the morning here.

“You’ve answered yes to question three, can you expand on what you consider to be a ‘direct approach’?”

“Of course. I really don’t like faffing. If I want to hire someone, I have all the info at the ready before I make contact. I value your time as much as my own and if I don’t have a budget for the work, I wouldn’t dream of contacting you.”

It’s no surprise that I agree with that statement too because I am you and you are me. 

No, this isn’t a real conversation.

But as I’m having so much fun (and as you’re me, you are too) I will keep this up a little while longer.

Our cocktails arrive. 

You’ve gone for an old fashioned which is my subconscious wanting a date with Don Draper.

(Some clarity: there are those that feel Draper is a problematic character in these post-feminist times. And he is but Mad Men is a period piece and the mid-century styling is amazing also – the script is fabulous.)

I sip my desert-dry Martini and peek at what’s next.

“You accept the process. What does that mean?”

“I never question your methods, Sarah.” Again I’m nodding. “I do exactly what you ask. Otherwise, you can’t do your job. And I’m petrified you might cause me physical harm if I don’t.”

“You’re joking, of course.”

You laugh nervously “Yes, obviously” and quickly finish your cocktail.

But seriously…

We’re here for a good time, not a long time, yeah?

This is what it means to have fun with your content, right? RIGHT? 

I dunno, I think I’m having fun. 

I can’t actually remember the last time I experienced jollification but I’m sure it has happened.

You might kinda nearly be my ideal client but without the daytime drinking.

Look, I don’t want to be rude but you’ve been around the block – just like me – a forty-something business owner (still looking smokin’ hot, obvs) that shares the same cultural references (unlike younger millennials and gen z).

So my question to you is this: are you my ideal client? If you’re still not sure why not read this and find out.