For Dad: A Newsletter As Straight-Talking As He Is

All you dads out there know what it's like to be without a paddle. This is why Fatherly, the wonderfully snarky on-point parenting resource, should be your life preserver.

You'll know from first read that Fatherly's for "Men who want to be great fathers without turning into cliches." And then you'll sign up for the newsletter and see this slice of realness:

I love this signup form for 3 reasons:

1) The adverb *Actually* is a promise. 

You're not signing up for fluff. You're signing up for hands-on solutions that'll get you through whatever kind of crazy your day has devolved into, at any given moment.

2) The confirmation button doesn't merely say Sign Up.

"Give Me the Goods" is deliciously on tone. 

3) The return to the blog link (Ahhh freak out ...) is a reminder of what life will be like if you do not opt-in to the newsletter.

The definition of insanity, my friends.

So whether you have time to read useful advice or not, happy Father's Day to all you dads out there aspiring to greatness.

Impending Parenthood & Pinterest Projects

 

There's nothing like a deadline. And having a baby in a few days is certainly a formidable one!

Actually, it's more like I had a list of stuff I've always wanted to get to, so waiting around for baby to arrive has its advantages.

This week, I took to Pinterest to start some projects I've always envisioned but never found time to tackle.

Designing Song Lyric Excerpts

First up, I wanted to present my original song lyric excerpts in a fun and engaging way, and then link them to the songs themselves. Thus, my "Lyrics to Live by" board was created.

Lyric Excerpt from "Listening"
Lyric Excerpt from "Listening"

 

My hope is that people who are unfamiliar with my songs will be intrigued or moved by the excerpts and want to read all the lyrics, or even listen to the songs.

My design skills are limited, but it was a blast to express my artistry as a songwriter even further in this manner!

Compiling Clever UX Content Writing Examples

Always seeking to balance out the two aspects of my professional life, my next project was to take the folder of screenshots of content writing samples that have impressed or amused me over the course of the past year and link to their respective websites of origin. The result is my compilation of Clever UX Content Writing.

Even the most seemingly insignificant content on your website can go a long way in creating a fun experience for your users, members or visitors.

UX Copy Samples Pinterest Board
UX Copy Samples Pinterest Board

You'll smile and/or laugh at some of the silly, even snarky, ways companies interact with their customers. Like Groupon giving you a chance to inflict pain upon a staffer; it's all in good fun, and all to build a rapport to put you in a good mood and keep you coming back.

As both a writer and a customer of these sites, I admire the decisions to express themselves and their brands in engaging ways.

Take a look; what you see just might inspire you to do similar things with your site content!

What kind of boards will you create to stretch your artistic muscles or help others discover your work?

Happy pinning,

Carla

Stretching My Copy Muscles: Introducing Copper Fields Design

My first foray into writing high-end retail product content is the recently launched site copperfieldsdesign.com.

New York artisan Sam Spano creates handmade outdoor copper planters that add instant charm to your home or garden. It was a pleasure to craft copy for such a gorgeous product.

An added bonus is that Copper Fields uses sustainable materials like reclaimed ipe in fashioning their decorative planters.

 

 

Visit the Copper Fields site to browse their collections of copper planters, planters with trellises, copper furniture, window boxes, vases and more!

Congratulations to Sam and Suzanne Spano on the site launch. I so enjoyed telling your product story!

Cheers,
Carla

Establishing Business Policy: What's Your Honor Code?

If you wear glasses as I often do while working, then you know how great it is to walk into any eyewear shop and get a free adjustment when you need it. Until about a year ago, I'd offer money for the service, and the answer was always, "No charge."

One day, after passing by such a shop reminded me that my glasses were a bit off-center, I went inside. Curious about the no-charge response, I asked the clerk and he replied, "It's an unwritten code in our industry that we make adjustments for free. We do that as a courtesy, and hope that you'll think of us the next time you need new frames."

Such a simple policy, and while many people who take advantage of it may never return to that particular optician, it's far more valuable to get the occasional taker for a new pair of frames or an eye exam than it is to charge $5 for every adjustment. This big-picture thinking can help build your customer base, slowly but surely, and a loyal one at that. But don't be discouraged if you currently lack a professional code or company policy; it's never too late to establish one and build trust with your customers or clients.

ESTABLISHING AN HONOR CODE FOR YOUR BUSINESS This got me thinking, What's my honor code for my clients? My immediate answer has to do with quality control: When I come across a glaring typo online (usually in a headline or subhead), I will always speak up (and tactfully so), regardless of whether that website belongs to a client of mine. That's because I not only have a deep respect for the written word, but also for anyone trying to put his or her best foot forward, and I want that person's marketing materials to be presented as professionally as possible.

Yes, there is always the risk that my pointing out a typo could result in a defensive or adverse reaction, but this hasn't been the case so far; most people are grateful that the typo was caught. And if I'm lucky, that caught typo will make a person think of me the next time he or she needs copywriting or copyediting services.

Do you have an honor code for your business? Please share it by adding a comment below. I'd love to hear it!

Onward,

Carla

Connect with me on Twitter.

Talking Social Media Strategy & Crowdfunding with America’s LinkedIn Lady

It was my extreme pleasure to join Carol McManus America's LinkedIn Lady — on "The LinkedIn Lady Show" on Toginet Radio. Talking shop with Carol is one of my favorite things to do, and we covered a lot of ground, including crowdfunding and my latest musical pursuits.

Listen to the podcast on iTunes (choose the 10/19/11 episode) or you can download it directly from my site. Carol began our chat by focusing on my corporate experience, then transitioned to the significance of my domain name, my recent site launch and my songwriting news.

PODCAST HIGHLIGHTS By listening to the podcast interview, you'll get in on:

1) The name Saidandsung and how my songwriting informs my copywriting (8 minutes into the podcast).

2) My involvement with the new musical IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU (10:20 into the podcast), now playing at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick.

3) How Crowdfunding can help you move projects forward (18:36 into the podcast) and why I chose RocketHub.com.

4) How I used Social Media for My RocketHub Campaign and how I use it for my business (32 minutes into the podcast).

5) The #1 tip I learned from @BloggingMentor Annabel Candy to help separate my 2 selves on Twitter (34 minutes into the podcast).

6) A frank discussion on Social Media Strategy — thoughts on automated tools, the future of Facebook and more (45 minutes into the podcast) — with Carol's "Marketing Minute" partner Ken Herron a.k.a. @PurpleComm.

UNDER THE (POSITIVE) INFLUENCE At one point in the podcast, Carol asked me about my business influencers, and I gave her a handful:

+ Annabel Candy of @GetInTheHotSpot a.k.a. @BloggingMentor (34 minutes into the podcast): I learned such great Twitter tips and blog tips from Annabel and her "Successful Blogging in 12 Simple Steps" book!

+ @RobinDickinson (39:52 into the podcast): Robin was the first source I turned to for lessons on how to tweet. His Success with Twitter video was terrific for learning nomenclature, strategy, etc. He continues to inspire through his Facebook page.

+ @JasonWomack and @DyanaValentine (40:45 into the podcast): Two superb coaches/professional instigators whose workflow and big-picture ideas (often in the form of fiery I-dare-yous) are all kinds of inspiring.

+ The authors of "The Wealthy Freelancer" — @EdGandia, @petesavage & @steveslaunwhite (41:10 into the podcast): This book not only helped me get to the next level in my freelance career, but it also lead me to form a friendship with freelance illustrator @DonnaBarger, who is also a terrific accountability partner.

+ Jennifer Shaheen of Technology Therapy (48:15 into the podcast): Jennifer's Advanced Facebook for Business webinar is full of tips and long-term strategy ideas.

And, honestly, Carol continues to be one of my biggest influencers. Each week, I learn so many great pointers from her show, especially about LinkedIn and business strategy. You can tune into "The LinkedIn Lady Show" every Wednesday at 5 p.m. EST on Toginet.com, or listen to her half-hour show at 9 a.m. EST Wednesdays on WGCH AM 1490 in Greenwich, Conn.

I've had a lot going on this past month or so, and like I said in a recent blog post, it takes a village. I'm so grateful to be surrounded by inspiring collaborators, colleagues and friends, and look forward to what's to come!

Onward,

Carla

Zeitgeist Marketing: NYSC Takes a Cue from Weinergate

In previous posts, I've discussed the importance of paying attention to your target audience's changing needs, keeping an eye on what your competition is doing and taking advantage of Proximity Marketing as opportunities present themselves. Today, I want to share an example of what I call Zeitgeist Marketing, or creating key messages that reflect current events or trends at the forefront of our collective consciousness. While out and about in Manhattan the other day, I came across this sign in the window of a Midtown NYSC (see photo):

politicians, get in shape for your next scandalous photo.

Pump up your approval ratings. Join now for our special summer rates.

The sign's snarky copy stems from the recent Anthony Weiner Twitter photo scandal. But the subhead "Pump up your approval ratings" further speaks to the run-up to the 2012 elections and also includes a double entendre in the verb phrase. From concept to execution, this campaign — you'll have to excuse that pun — is brilliant.

Use the News in Your Copywriting & Design

Whether you're an entrepreneur, a small business owner, a national chain or a global enterprise, consider how what's happening in the news, in pop culture or in your community affects your target market. Or, as in the NYSC example, use it to craft your message toward a potential new audience.

Of course, you'll want to be careful not to offend your potential customers by crossing the line into vulgarity. NYSC avoids this caveat with aplomb.

While you may have your marketing plan for the entire year mapped out, promos can be just as mutable as your customers' tastes. Don't merely stick to what's worked for you in the past. Look to the world beyond your URL or your brick-and-mortar store — attention-grabbing, of-the-moment taglines await.

Onward,

Carla

Converse with me on Twitter.

Saidandsung Is All Talk … Radio, That Is.

Tomorrow, I'll have the pleasure of being a guest on business coach/life coach Carmen Carrozza's radio show, Forward Motion (named by yours truly). The show will be broadcast on News Talk AM 1490 WCGH, out of Greenwich, Conn., from 4-4:30 p.m.

You can stream it live online or tune in old-school — the reach extends to the Bronx, parts of NYC, the North Shore of Long Island, Brewster and all of Westchester.

This is a thrill for me because it gives me a chance to discuss how I got started with Saidandsung.com and what sort of challenges I've experienced, as well as how awesome my clients are. Plus, it's really great of Carmen to want to promote my business!

You can read more about Carmen on his Web site.

Listen if you can, and thanks for reading,

Carla

From Sophisticated to Snarky: Saying It Just Right, Part II

The tone of any copy you print or publish speaks volumes about your company. So what's the best voice for your Web site copy, press release or brochure? In other words, how do you want your message to come across, in terms of attitude, and how do you think your target market wants you to speak to them?

Maybe you want your potential customers to know that your company is a hip assortment of idea people and creative thinkers who will bring a sense of urban wit to their work. Or perhaps you're a multi-generational family business whose customers share the same tried-and-true conservative values that you espouse?

Refer to the examples below (and those in Part I) to help differentiate between casual and conservative, hip and snarky, and so much more.

A note about the FAQs category: The Frequently Asked Questions section of your Web site or brochure is a great opportunity to showcase your personality. For example, if you are a fun-loving but get-the-job-done kind of company, then your FAQs should reflect that balance, providing useful to-the-point information, sprinkled with fun, feel-good phrases.

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Saidandsung.com’s At-a-Glance Guide | Copy Tone Comparison

TYPE OF COPY: PLAN DESCRIPTIONS

TONE: Conservative

1) from asmallorange.com

Powerful and Secure Hosting Plans

Service designed for high-traffic sites and online business

• Essentials

• Plus

• Premium

TONE: Casual and Clever

1) from mailchimp.com

Forever Free Pricing Plan

Loved by more than 225,000 people.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

TYPE OF COPY: FAQS  (see the note above about FAQs)

TONE: Conservative

1) from ping.com

Below is a list of our most frequently asked questions.

TONE: Sophisticatedly Hip

1) from beezag.com

Get answers.

TONE: Casual and Clever

1) from wufoo.com

A collection of answers, replies and clarifications to our users’ favorite questions. It’s like a quiz, but with the answer sheet.

2) from vimeo.com

I don't know how to make videos. Where do I even start?

You don't need to be a Steven Speilberg to make videos. All you just need is a camera, and a little motivation.  [cont'd …]

3) from wufoo.com

How can I get at the data collected by my form?

In so many sweet ways, my friend. In addition to giving you the ability to design your own awesome reports, you can access your data within the admin interface, have Wufoo email you new entries, subscribe to them as via RSS feed or export them as an Excel document.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

TYPE OF COPY: REPORTS/STATS

TONE: Conservative

1) sample copy (no source)

You have no reports created. Click here to create one.

TONE: Sophisticatedly Hip

1) from beezag.com

Accurate, Real-Time Monitoring

2) from wordpress.com

Stats to obsess over

Our stats are designed to give you up-to-the-minute data about your visitors: how many there are, where they’re coming from, which posts are most popular, and which search engine terms are sending visitors to your blog.

TONE: Snarky

1) from wufoo.com

Oh no. Buddy! You don’t have any reports! Let’s go make one!

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NOTE: Creating perfect copy isn’t an assembly-line process. Saidandsung will customize your information in the exact tone your target audience expects, even demands.

Missed Part I? Get up to speed.

From Sophisticated to Snarky: Saying It Just Right, Part I

In preparation for a new project, I recently asked a client to clarify the style they were seeking for the text on their Web site, and explained that the tone or voice of the copy can range from conservative to hip to casual to snarky and more. They asked me to explain the differences, and so I created the following guide, which I'll post in two parts.

If you're unsure about how your site or brochure or e-newsletters should read, scan over the examples below to help you pinpoint the correct copy tone for your target demographic, and check out my tips at the end for making your copy less formal.

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Saidandsung.com's At-a-Glance Guide | Copy Tone Comparison

TYPE OF COPY: Forgot Password

TONE: Conservative

1) from skype.com

Forgotten your password?

Change your password in three easy steps. This helps to keep your new password secure.

Type in the email address you used when you registered with Skype. Then we’ll email a code to this address.

TONE: Casual and Clever

1) from wufoo.com

Forgot your password? That’s Okay. Everyone Forgets. Just tell us the email address you used to create your account and we’ll send you a new one!

2) from beezag.com

Word is you forgot your password. No worries — we’ve all been there. Click the link below and we’ll send you a new one your way!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

TYPE OF COPY: Contact Us

TONE: Conservative

1) from capitalone.com

Questions about your account? Log in to send a secure e-mail/message.

2) from asmallorange.com

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or criticisms, please feel free to contact us any time by e-mail at info@asowebdesign.com, or by phone at (404)-627-7789.

TONE: Sophisticatedly Hip

1) from apple.com

Have questions about MacBook? Just ask. Call to talk with a knowledgeable Apple specialist.

2) from mailchimp.com

How To Get In Touch

MailChimp's a small, nimble team that supports over 225,000 users

TONE: Casual and Clever

1) from zendesk.com

Drop us a line.

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TYPE OF COPY: Join

TONE: Conservative

1) from linkedin.com

Ready to get started? Join now.

TONE: Casual and Clever

1) from thrillist.com

Get on the list.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

TYPE OF COPY: Login/Logout

TONE: Casual and Clever

1) from wufoo.com

Don’t have an account?

No worries.

TONE: Snarky

1) from wufoo.com

Parting is such sweet sorrow

Are you sure you want to logout?

Yes, I need to leave.

No, I want to go back.

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A small sampling of tips to make your copy less formal:

+ Remove formal verbs

before: No download is required.

after: No download required.

+ Utilize half-phrases for short copy (such as subheads)

before: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it …

after: If it ain’t broke …

+ Remove serial commas

before: connect via e-mail, print, web, sms, and social networks

after: connect via e-mail, print, web, sms and social networks

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Stay tuned for more tips and comparisons in Part II of this guide.

And keep in mind that creating perfect copy is hardly an assembly-line process. Saidandsung.com will customize your information in the exact tone your target audience expects, even demands.

Thanks for reading,

Carla

Spaced Out?

The quickest, easiest way to tighten up your copy is to follow this rule: Only ONE space after periods and colons.

Back in the day, two spaces after end punctuation was the norm; these days, it comes across as anachronistic. Reducing your spaces to one makes the copy look neater, more streamlined. In a small way, it also is a space-saver — you can squeeze more letters on any given line when you only skip one space after each period.

This especially comes in handy when you're writing for a newspaper, a magazine, a brochure or anything with fixed columns, and you are trying to avoid having or solve existing widows (more on widows in a future post).

I've used two spaces in the sample paragraph below to illustrate:

If I had a dollar for every time I reviewed a document with two spaces in between sentences, I'd be a wealthy woman.  Many people are taught this in school.  They never realized that they could only use one space.  One space not only looks more pleasing to the eye, but it also saves a couple letters per line.  That can be extremely helpful to a designer.  Having to kern (reduce the space in between letters) copy is less necessary with more overall space.  As a copy editor with an eye for layout, I've been in the situation many a time when we needed one more letter to make a two-line headline a one-liner.  And skipping just one space makes it that much easier.  One space is now standard practice now.  Venerable publications like The New York Times practice this style.  And so should you.

Let's look at that same paragraph with one space after end punctuation:

If I had a dollar for every time I reviewed a document with two spaces in between sentences, I'd be a wealthy woman. Many people are taught this in school. They never realized that they could only use one space. One space not only looks more pleasing to the eye, but it also saves a couple letters per line. That can be extremely helpful to a designer. Having to kern (reduce the space in between letters) copy is less necessary with more overall space. As a copy editor with an eye for layout, I've been in the situation many a time when we needed one more letter to make a two-line headline a one-liner. And skipping just one space makes it that much easier. One space is now standard practice now. Venerable publications like The New York Times practice this style. And so should you.

The difference is slight (11 lines as compared to 12, because of the widow "you"). This concept especially makes a difference in copy with small columns, as well as large fonts, headlines and subheads.

Got a question or comment? Let me know!

Carla

Visit saidandsung.com

Better Writing (and Business) Begins Here

Welcome to the blog for saidandsung.com! My name is Carla Fisher, and here is where I’ll share writing, marketing and business tips that will make your copy fresh, sharp and engaging. I'll also offer up ideas on creativity, business operations and systems (such as file organization) and social media tips.

From time to time, I'll share my songwriting developments and any announcements (Yippees) and my Harrison (N.Y.) business column as well as radio show, Forward Motion, based in Greenwich, Conn.

Please feel free to add comments and ask questions! Let's make this a dialogue.

I have a great deal of social networking experience, having worked in the space for five years in the areas of user experience/quality assurance, search engine optimization and marketing, blogging and community-building, writing/editing and Web site consulting.

My 13-plus years of writing and editing projects have been vast and varied:

+ Call-out copy, landing pages and banners

+ Site copy, executive bios, FAQs and privacy policies

+ Voiceover scripts, TV and radio ads, and CD inserts

+ Brochures, feature articles and sidebars

+ E-newsletters, press releases and press kits

+ Sales letters, annual reports, formal letters and resumes

+ Greeting cards, speeches, songs and children’s writing

Please note that the editing style I favor is that of The Associated Press Stylebook. So those sticklers for The Chicago Manual of Style or The New York Times, know that I have used those styles in the past but I choose to follow AP.

If the kind of writing you need is not listed in any of the above projects or areas, ask! I am always up for a new challenge, and have found that my skills are easily transferable.

Thank you for reading this, and I hope to hear from you soon!

Carla

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