How do you choose a professional copy and content writer who will polish and bring your message to life? Everyone learns to write at school, but not everyone takes the extra step of becoming a ‘professional’.  If you’ve never engaged a professional copy and content writer before, and you think it’s time, here’s a list of quick tips to help guide your search for the right fit.

Local Life 

While you don’t necessarily need to meet with your professional copy and content writer face to face (thank you technology!), knowing they aren’t far away can be reassuring. It also means they understand the area you are operating in, will have strong networks, be in the same time zone as you for instant real-time responses, and will understand the subtleties and nuances of your market. There are ‘localised’ elements to the way we speak and write that come naturally to locals. And local can mean anything from ‘within 100 kilometres’ to ‘same continent’ depending on what you need!

Marketing Acumen 

If your engaging a writer for blog and content writing for your business then it is vital your writer has sound marketing instincts, after all they will be preparing information that presents your precious brand to the world. Look for a writer who has studied marketing and the copy you commission will be insightful and effective.

Journalistic Discipline 

Ensuring people are being quoted correctly, copyright, fair use, even areas of defamation or false advertising all come into play in writing content. It’s also super important to make appropriate  references to people’s gender,  sexuality and abilities to be inclusive, fair and empathetic.  A copywriter should be able to evidence a working knowledge of the do’s and don’t’s.

Real Relationships 

Building an ongoing relationship with your writer is not only efficient, it can bring a sense of ease and fun to the work. When you find a copy and content writer that gets you and your business, the whole process is streamlined and you will both be passionate and eager to do the best work. There is a mutual benefit in developing an ongoing connection and professional writers adore providing service and ‘extra mile’ support to their valued clients.

Across the backend 

if you’re too busy to write, you’re probably too busy to upload content as well. A good copywriter can offer you the additional service of content loading to your website and may even take it a step further and offer digital support across social media channels. Knowing how the backend of your website works is helpful when writing as it can influence how copy is presented (and therefore how it’s written) and how images, captions and other elements can be worked in together for the best possible read for your users.

Editing Diva

A copywriter who has taken the time to become qualified or educated as an editor and proofreader will always provide you with superior copy. High school English lessons only go so far. If you want to be professional, engage a professional who has done the ‘hard’ work of learning there are nine different types of nouns and what a dangling modifier is! And nothing turns people away quicker than a typo.

Deadlines done and dusted 

Copy and content writers need to have superhuman organisational skills. While you might only see the finished copy at the end of the process, the research, drafting, editing and crosschecking of content is often a time-intensive process. Ask your copy and content writer how they approach deadlines, and if they can facilitate quick turnaround jobs and you’ll get an instant feel for whether you’ll be waiting!

Breadth of experience 

An established copywriter will have a broad range of clients in their back story and be highly adaptable across different industries and writing styles. That is what it means to be a professional writer, not just a writer! Copy and content writers over time naturally build up a solid and broad ‘expertise’ base even when they have specialist disciplines they work in. (And what you learn in one industry can be very useful in another.)

coffee cheers

Connected and Creative 

Successful copy and content writers get to meet many different people in their working lives and naturally gravitate to the service providers they encounter that share the same work ethic and values. This means the right copywriter will also have an instant network of other businesses (think web designers, photographers, graphic artists and so on) to connect you with that offer that same quality work – you’ll end up with a team if you choose wisely!

Portfolio and testimonials 

Always, always, always check out the writers’ folio. If a writer is proud of what they do, they will have a dedicated page on their website with samples of their work and testimonials from clients. Check out the socials and see what others say about them.

Lindy X

Please give me a call on 0417 365 697 or ping me a message if you have any questions!

 

Often we have ‘moments of truth’ without realising until much later what grand epiphanies they are.

Way back in about 1998, I was sitting in the back of a strategic marketing presentation about a new range of toy concepts being represented by Gaffney Licensing in the city. The room was a blackened basement (lest we get distracted) devoid of windows or any sense of life…and I was bored.

Doodling on my notepad I started to write down every word I was hearing that sounded hollow or made me yawn (and I hadn’t even read about Don Watson’s book Death Sentence about weasel words at this stage!).

I quickly had a list scrawled down my page and a sudden spark of inspiration. What if I found a better and more engaging word for each of these hollow over-used, and frankly, lazy words?

Suddenly I felt alive. Words tumbled onto the page.

What about if we used words such as inspiration instead of information?

Considered instead of strategic?

Conscious instead of profit-driven?

Preference instead of plan?
Humanity instead of consumer?

Meaning instead of marketing?

Awe instead of purchase intention?

Gifts instead of KPIs?

Authenticity instead of qualifications?

The fall in the hero’s journey instead of ‘failing to meet budget’?

Visionary instead of CEO?

*and trust me just saying Chair instead of Chairman would have been bold back then…)

 

Now this was feeling juicy…

Fast forward twenty years and I am still bought alive by the search for the right word.

I believe the right word changes everything.

It can change your mind, your connection, your understanding, your desire, your action.

The right word can even change the world.

 

And what is the right word? Well in my mind, the right words are rich words, feeling words, evocative words that reveal the beauty of language and reflect the poetics that are deeply embedded in our minds via every story ever written.

 

These words sing.

They have rhythm.

They build a state of being in your body that is much more than the word.

I didn’t realise back then how much this simple awareness about words would define and refine what I do today. It wasn’t long after that meeting I left corporate life and started to rewrite my world.

The right word really does change everything.

 

Here is a post I just prepared about the Redwood Forest in East Warburton for my client Visit Warburton that has an important message to share. These words need to land…

‘We are all charged with the responsibility to look after the fragile beauty of the Redwood Forest in East Warburton.

Up until two years ago, the Redwood Forest was a little-known stand of Californian Redwoods that was considered a secret and meditative destination among locals. As a National Trust heritage listed site, stepping into the forest was done with a sense of awe and respect – its silence and simple beauty the essence of its appeal.’

Today it is bittersweet to see that its appeal is so widespread. The attraction of visitors has happened at a rate that has far outpaced the Redwood Forest’s capacity to cope, and also the ability of authorities and stakeholders to develop appropriate infrastructure.

From one short TV segment thousands and thousands of people have come to visit – and its all adding up.

So how can we, as lovers and visitors of the Redwood Forest, ensure it remains healthy, viable and respected?

Here are some important ways every individual can help preserve this amazing natural wonder.

  • Please take ALL your litter home with you.
  • Please do not use the Redwood Forest or surrounding areas for toileting – public toilets are available at the hall in East Warburton or make sure you stop in Warburton on the way through.
  • Please respect the homes and people who live on the road to the Redwood Forest (Cement Creek Rd and Woods Point Rd particularly) – drive the speed limit (and avoid dust), be sensible when parking. If it is too busy, come back later, or another time.
  • Please respect the trees – leave branches in place, leave bark on trees and the forest floor undisturbed.
  • There are other fun ways you can have your forest experience – you can ride a bike to Cement Creek Rd via the O’Shannassey Aqueduct, car pool or use bus services.

Other tips for minimising impact are to choose a time to visit that is a non-peak visitation time – avoid weekends and keep your visits short. You may even choose to just walk the perimeter of the forest (there are tracks all around it), rather than walk through it.

Continuing foot traffic is compacting the forest floor, causing permanent damage to delicate micro-infrastructure and biodiversity.

Tred lightly, if at all, and help preserve this natural wonder.

Parking solutions and preservation issues are high on the priority list for local and state governments, but in the meantime we can all do our little bit to help protect this place we all love.

We appreciate your visit and invite you to explore more of what the Warburton Valley has to offer – there’s lots of ideas on the Visit Warburton website, but here are five  quick suggestions:

  1. Rainforest Gallery
  2. O’Shannassey Aqueduct trail
  3. Observation tower on Mt Donna Bang
  4. Big Peninsula Tunnel
  5. The Ada Tree

There are many more secrets to discover!

If you have any questions and want the advice of a local, pop in to the Waterwheel Visitor Information Centre on the main street of Warburton.

READ MORE 

or https://www.visitwarburton.com.au/blog/redwood-forest-a-place-to-care-for

Dear Writing,
I am so sorry I abandoned you. It’s been two weeks since I last wrote a single word for myself. You’ve waited patiently in the background, but the sense of words choking my veins, needing to get out, words shapeshifting into feelings of anxiety and self-doubt, has been palpable. You Writing, did not abandon me as I have abandoned you.

What a relief it is to sit right here, right now – to go to the page today and write this ‘blog-to-self’ – the post I most need to read.

The truth is I’m a bit crap at prioritising my own writing time. If every writer has their ‘wound’ then that is mine. It’s not that procrastination or writers block keeps me from the page, but rather the ‘stuff’ of life. Eminently justifiable stuff such as the paid freelance work I need to do most days, magazine deadlines, the preparation of my Life Writing workshop (I delivered week one last night and it was wonderful), the seemingly endless stream of social media attendance I do as part of my work that has no determinable end (unless I myself draw a line). There are children and school events, horses and friends and family. And rest. Sometimes it feels that everything exists to steal my time, and while I can be effective in stealing it back, my writing soul aches for long stretches of musing time to wander through the words, rather than the snatched sentences I manage in between other moments.

How can we ‘cocoon our practice’?

I have an artist friend that I admire greatly for many reasons, one of which is her deep commitment to her painting as a first priority every day. This is a mindset, a true expression of the value we attribute to our own art making. Nothing gets in the way of her practice to paint first. She declines just about every invitation or obligation that would take her away from her painting.

I admire this.

I struggle with this.

But I think this is what cocooning may be about.

We value what we create first and most, before all our other endeavours.
We honour our work and the time we give to it.
We defend the time we set aside for it, vigorously, without obligation to others, without hesitation. We simply say no.
We protect our space physically, psychologically even. We create buffers that protect us from intrusions, be they the visitor, the ding of social media, the news of the day.
We immerse our whole self in our practice and we emerge full from the experience, and our writing becomes self-perpetuating.
We give ourselves the right to pleasure and recognise our deepest need to do our art as the truest part of our selves.

And at the heart of cocooning our practice is the deepest held belief that art is worth it.

Writing is worth it.

We are worth it.

Cocooning your practice is a form of fierce love, for the self, for the soul and for all that is created from that space.

I’m working on it.

Want a Life Writing tip to get you started with writing a piece of your own history? Life Writing is a style of writing that draws out your unique story and preserves it for you or whoever you choose to share it with. It’s a wonderful way to honour your life and anyone, regardless of their writing skills, can start today.

Read my guest blog Bring Your Story to Life here.

If you would like to know more about this course or wish to enrol call Simone on 5967 1776 or email simonewhitehead@cire.org.au. Life Writing with Lindy Schneider commences Tuesday 15th May at 6.30pm to 9.00pm (4 sessions).

Held at Cire in Yarra Junction.

You can listen to my radio interview on YVFM (1.5.18) here.

Brochure with more details on this course is below.

Ten years ago, being a Self-published author carried with it the same stigma as admitting you’d met your partner online. Fortunately, both scenarios have changed immensely in the past decade.

I am proud to say that I am a Self-published author and what this means for me is I bring work to the world that might otherwise languish in slush piles at publishing houses for months, perhaps years. I’m not alone in being empowered enough, and brave enough, to take the step to have my voice heard and to take steps to realise myself as an author.

Taking the publishing process into my own hands has meant I am living a truth. I am a writer, and this is the way I make my writing visible. I can’t imagine how choked my writing would become if I did not have this way of ‘releasing’ my words to the world. That moment when you push the button and the words that have been ingrained on your heart are set free into the world is a scary moment, but it is also the moment that makes you as a writer. And you do it again and again.

Carl Jung referred to the capital S Self as the unification of the conscious and unconscious– a wholly complete and integrated Self. As people, as writers, isn’t’ this is what we aspire to? Self-publishing could be part of our Self-actualisation.

While there are dozens of ‘vanity publishers’ out there prepared to take your money and turn your book into a reality (often with very poor editing and production standards, minimal author support and desperately woeful marketing), Self-publishing a book and actually taking on every step of the process is the hands-on way to nurture the birthing process of your book and ensure it gets the life it deserves.

And does being a Self-published author mean you will never be traditionally published? There are many stories of successful Self-published authors being picked up for second books by publishing houses and there is also the emergence of the hybrid author – that is an author who cleverly develops a range of titles across both Self-published and traditional published formats. For many authors the Self-publishing financials make better sense, and the ability for authors to ‘cover all bases’ is their best chance at establishing income streams that are sustainable.

The From This Place book is a great example of a Self-published book that has been nurtured every step of the way. Photographer Angela Rivas and I invested hours in our publishing process. We went to printers, and worked through a myriad of specifications and quotes. (Our printer even came to our book launch we had such a strong relationship!) We sat with our graphic designer, and brought people into our editing and marketing team that we truly loved and respected. The end product is an ode to collaboration and the spirit of ‘making it happen’.

And that is what sharing your gift with the world means. If you’ve resisted Self-publishing because having a large publishing house like your work is the only way you might feel legitimate as a writer then I invite you to examine what is really going on inside your head. If is feels hard, consider a coach. Don’t resist the impulse of your own heart to share your work. If Self-publishing is within your means, honour your work and let the world see you.

 

Photo Credit: Angela Rivas

Know thyself.

I don’t think there is a single place in our lives where this isn’t relevant.

I am often asked to write PR releases or web content and, for me, the client’s self-awareness of who and what they are about is far more important than their latest SWOT analysis, or KPI (in fact I avoid this jargon on purpose).

Writing great copy requires emotional integrity and honesty. That’s the key to connecting with purpose to the people you are communicating with. You could say it’s part psychology, part writing and part marketing. The questions I ask of clients are the same ones I have muddled over in my own working and personal life. The answers shift over time as I evolve and respond to new opportunities but the ‘work’ in having strong and thoughtful responses to these questions makes everything else that you do flow.

Contemplate your responses to these questions and the writing – whether you engage a professional or want to prepare something yourself­–will be richer, easier and real– touching people where it needs to. Sometimes it’s just a few words that make all the difference.

Here are 10 provocations that can inspire deeper thought (and always more questions!)

  1. My work matters because…
  2. I am passionate about this because…
  3. My authority in this lies in my…
  4. Without this (your service/product etc) the world will…
  5. The three things you will learn/gain from my service/product are…
  6. This is unique because…
  7. How I want you to benefit from this is to…
  8. I stand for (3-5 defining words about who you are)…
  9. What is or where is my edge? Where will it grow…
  10. What do I yearn for?

The more you know your Self, the easier the answers will be, and your brilliance will flow naturally from this source.

As I scrolled through what must have been hundreds of posts this morning offering resolutions and advice for your ‘best 2018’ I couldn’t help but come to one conclusion.
There is just one word that pretty much provides a solution to most of life’s laments.
So in the spirit of sharing and stimulated conversation, I’m going to share my one word today (knowing full well that we suggest to others what we most need to hear ourselves!)

So my one word is this…

OUTSIDE

Yes that’s it – seven letters
O.U.T S.I.D.E.

Try this…

Feeling sad? – go outside
Lacking creative inspiration? – go outside
Kids spending too much time on screens? – go outside
Carrying a few extra kgs? – go outside
Electricity bills too big? – go outside
Lacking motivation? – go outside
Seeking community?- go outside
Feeling stressed about something? – go outside
Lacking appetite? – go outside
Can’t sleep? – go outside
Cranky children? – go outside

(you get it, right?)

Cooking, eating, living, sleeping – do more outside-even meetings (cos let’s face it any time we can get out of the white wall boxes we confine ourselves to has got to be good right?)

So there it is, one word I am going to steer my compass for 2018 by. Enjoy!
Feeling gratitude outside.
(Pic: @wedgetailrides)
#liveoutside

Last week I was planning a trip into the city alone and would be returning late at night. Chatting to my man about my options for travel, it occurred to us that it was safety not ease, or cost or efficiency that was my only concern. My man commented he had never had to think about it for himself. So i wrote this…

IT’S THERE

There it is…
Those small ways
Every day
That I am aware
Aware of my safety, aware of my body, aware I cannot let myself be truly free
Hidden in tiny gestures
Mine and others
The moment that flickers though my mind when I choose a car park that is visible to others,
The way I put my window up if a stranger approaches my car
The tiny moments where I have learned I need to be alert

This is not normal for everyone
Just most women, most of the time, in most circumstances through the world they live in
When I carry my keys instead of putting them in my bag
Hell when I put my bag across my body instead of on my shoulder
All tiny moment in which I know somehow, have learnt somehow, I might not be safe
And it seems it is my role to be a step ahead of those who might seek to harm me

This is not the story of a women in trauma, although we all are somehow.
This is ordinary
This is life
Be alert, you are vulnerable.
The choices you make every moment will contribute to your assault, your rape, your own abuse.
I tried to explain this to my beautiful man, the father of our daughter.
He could not believe the tiny moments a woman felt, that it seems most men, most of the time, don’t need to think about.
But I do, like a reflex, We do. Don’t we?
An unconscious reaction to a world where being female is a risk factor.

Behind the choice of flat shoe versus heel, the twenty dollar note I tuck in my bra just in case, the finger I have on the button that locks my car doors – it’s there.

Before I’ve considered what I wear, or how outspoken I will be, before I have stepped from my home I have made a cascade of choices.

Take the car, don’t walk.
Text my partner my ‘last known location’ just in case.
Stand near the call button in a lift with a stranger.

Not free.
Deeply embedded, enculturated, ground in.
Choices I think, I hope, will preserve me, at the very least make me less of a target.
This is the world we live in. Vulnerable. Always.
Because tiny acts of violence are normal…
Unless we say it’s there.

Lindy Schneider October 2017

The best logos are rich with symbolism and truth. They are more than marketing strategies – they are emanations from the soul and tell our stories in so many more ways than words convey. So I chose a dandelion to represent my mark on the world – my soul in colour and line to show you a little more of who I am. I dreamt on it and followed the scatter of seeds on the wind until I understood what the dandelion symbolised for me.

When I was a child the dandelion was a magical wish maker – it still is.

The tiny flowerets that float out on the breeze show us the magic of breath, the basis of all of life.

The spherical nature of the dandelion head is also called a clock, but it represents the multi dimensional non-linear form of time – circles and cycles of the seasons and the natural world.

Dandelion is also a wonderful medicinal herb. Every part of the plant has its use. It cleanses the liver and promotes balance and health. It restores and supports us to live from our essence.

And she is every where.

When the spring comes the ubiquitous dandelion bobs her fragile head in the green spaces of our lives. She shows us how many small things create a whole.

]She is life in perpetuity as each seed head releases its growth potential gently supported by its own tiny set of parachute-like wings.

I watch my own children delight in finding a dandelion and blow all the expectations and beauty of childhood into the winds of time.

The colours of the rainbow ripple through my dandelion representing creativity and the diversity of life.

I am also a Leo so the ‘dandy Lion’ feels like a fine expression of my Leonine ways.

If we use the breath to breathe life into our words, we bring meaning to the world.

The dandelion is a symbolic embodiment of what that means to me.