Mar 142014
 

This thing was all over my Facebook feed. Awkward, cute, strange. I watched it, curious about the backstory… who would think to do such a thing? With over 46 million views as of this morning, it’s a viral sensation, capturing a moment of pure… something.

But then things turned a tad curious.

The New York Times best summed up the situation with a story reporting the beautiful, viral vid was, indeed, an ad for a clothing company.

Melissa Coker, 35, the founder and creative director of the clothing company Wren, commissioned the video to showcase her clothing line’s fall collection for Style.com’s Video Fashion Week. Style.com had created the video series for brands that might lack the financial wherewithal to put on a runway show during Fashion Week.

Did it work? Yup.

Ms. Coker said that there’s been a “significant bump” in sales on Wren’s online store since the video made its debut. And the song accompanying the video, Soko’s “We Might Be Dead by Tomorrow,” sold 10,000 copies in North America on Tuesday and Wednesday. Her album also sold an additional 1,000 copies, said Bryan Ling, the co-president of Community Music, which licensed Soko’s album in North America.

In her defense, there’s this:

And Ms. Coker said that there was no intention of hiding her company’s involvement. The video flashes “Wren presents” at the beginning and also mentions the company in the credits. “There was no part of it where this was a secret,” Ms. Coker said.

So… good? Bad? As a copywriter, I’d say it was rather good. The fact they didn’t hide the branding, to me, makes the project one heck of an effective viral ad effort. The fact people didn’t really notice the whole “Wren Presents” at the beginning makes it an even more interesting case study, considering the jump in sales.

Down side? The people in the vid weren’t “walk off the street” folks. They were evidently models and/or actors. Also, the branding at the beginning of the film? The whole “Wren Presents” thingie? Yeah. It’s on the vid for a very short time. So, it could be construed as a tad misleading.

Either way, I have a hunch we’ll see many more of these in the future. Heck, we’ve even got a parody, giving the original vid even more traction. NSFW, btw:

Additional links:

HLNTV

Interesting quote:

Turns out, at least some of the attractive strangers (why are they always attractive strangers?!) are actually models or actors. Slate has identified a few of them, which makes us feel better knowing that not every person plucked off the street looks like he stepped out of an Urban Outfitters catalog.

WREN Twitter

Wren Fall 14 – First Kiss Video

To celebrate the debut of our Fall 14 collection, we asked 20 strangers to kiss for the first time

Independent

Interesting quote:

True love is dead and everything is just a cynical plot to extract your money, it emerged today, when the First Kiss video featuring “strangers” making out was found to be just a commercial for an autumn/winter clothing line.

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May 162012
 

The video/article I posted yesterday has been picked up by a few interesting media outlets.

The New Yorker listed the article in their “Weekend Reading” recommendation and calls it one of the “Best Magazine Stories of the Week.”

Boing Boing picked up the article calling it, and “Incredibly Detailed Look at Internet Marketing Scams.” A quote:

The Verge‘s Joseph L. Flatley delves into the world of Internet marketing scams (those stupid spam pitches you get for “lead generation” and such) in eye-watering detail. Fundamentally, these things are exactly what they appear to be: con artists who suck money out of desperate people by lying to them about the money they can make with “work from home” businesses.

Finally, Andrew Sullivan over at The Daily Beast calls the video a, “long but excellent video.”

Very cool. If you haven’t seen the article or vid, head over to The Verge.

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May 152012
 

Here’s an interesting article outlining some of the dastardly deeds committed by some of the best-known online gurus.

Instead of being a conduit for help, the internet was just one more part of a complicated trap — a trap which perverts intimacy and turns it into money. The disembodied voice that identified itself as Ron Martino was able to single out Joseph, fabricate a bond, and then exploit that trust for financial gain. And after he had Joseph’s money, Martino simply vanished. Almost like he never really existed.

Interesting stuff. Here’s the vid if you’re so inclined:

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Oct 022009
 

I began my illustrious freelance career with visions of tweed coats, elbow patches, cigars, and pensive photos. My mind’s eye saw a cluttered office, checks strewn across my desk, and waking to one illuminating thought after another. I believed I’d tap at the keyboard, mail queries, read my articles on glossy paper, and assignments would flow like water.

Small problem with that scenario. Tweed coats don’t look good on me. I don’t smoke, never have. And I usually wind up looking goofy in photos, no matter how hard I try to strike a pensive pose.

Ah, but my desk is cluttered. I do occasionally find a stray check in amongst the mounds of papers. But illuminating thoughts? Bah.

There’s a fundamental problem with my original scenario: my freelancing model missed a crucial element necessary for financial success.

For example, the cash I expected to earn from writing articles just didn’t add up to the numbers I hoped they would. Seriously. Spending weeks writing, rewriting, and finally submitting an article, only to reap a whopping 25 bucks just didn’t pay the bills.

Then I decided to write books. Unfortunately the small royalties barely covered my promo expenses. It’s exciting to sell books, but we needed some large volume sales to make this endeavor financially worthwhile.

How ‘bout publishing? Again, after wholesaler discounts, distributor expenses, author royalties, and postage, we’re talking some pretty slim profits. And again, we’re talking volume sales to lower expenses and prop profits.

But then something magical happened. I discovered the wacky world of copywriting.

In case you’re unfamiliar with copywriting, a copywriter is a master persuader. They write ads, direct mail, sales letters, and such.

And (little did I know) proficient copywriters earn a lot. World Class Copywriters earn astronomical fees.

Copywriting isn’t difficult. But there are definite tricks to the trade. And you can cut your learning curve by years if you receive proper training.

But here’s where things really get cool.

Turns out these new persuasive skills made it far easier to write awesome queries. Boom. Article sales jumped.

Next, I revised the sales copy for my books. Boom. Another jump in sales.

I applied “copywriting language” to everything I wrote and kaboom… even more sales, more exposure, new readers found me.

And I haven’t even gotten into copywriting as a business: writing for clients turned out to be quite lucrative as well.

Now, I love to write. It’s my passion. There’s nothing like receiving a complementary e-mail outlining how something I’ve written has made someone else’s life easier, gave them hope, helped guide them through this wacky profession.

On the other hand, I hate marketing. It sucks. One rejection and I’m down for the count. At least for a while.

But by combining my writing skills with copywriting psychology, my self-promo time is automatically sliced in at least half because I’ve learned stealth persuasion to draw clients my way.

So now, clients (and publishers and editors) are attracted to me rather than my gunning after their very fractured attention.

So… where does the “farming” come in?

Simple. Rather than concentrate on one aspect of your writing career, think like a farmer. Plant many seeds and watch them grow at different rates.

Instead of becoming an article writer extraordinaire, write articles when the spirit moves you. Submit them when they’re polished. Start writing the novel that’s burning your heart. Eventually publish it. Research a nonfiction title. Write ad copy.

You can even take this further. I speak to the local high school. Elementary schools, too. How ‘bout local organizations and the Chamber of Commerce? Once a businessperson sees you in action, they’ll be hooked.

Just keep planting seeds (remember, you’re a “farmer”) and before you know it, you’ve got more paying clients than you know what to do with.

But copywriting’s the linchpin that binds all these endeavors.

That’s because effective persuaders control their destiny… and their income.

So here’s to effective “farming” and inevitable success.

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 Posted by at 1:20 pm
Jun 092009
 

As a writer, you need to acquire a readership, whether you write articles, advertising, fiction, and/or nonfiction. You’ve probably heard that you need a website to help promote your writing and start building that readership.

It’s true. The Web is a fabulous means to build a writing biz. You can connect with like minded individuals, you can present opinions, you can experiment with your writing (beyond what our predecessors could ever imagine), you can interact with your readers… you can have fun.

The thing nobody tells you about this process is that once you’ve got the website up, you have to generate traffic to start this incredible web adventure.

That can be an interesting task.

In fact, lately this “web traffic” situation seems to be on more minds than mine. I get e-mails (nearly) daily promising me that (for a hefty price) some company or another will get one of my sites “to the top of the major search engines.”

Yeah. Right.

There are effective ways to get your website listed in the major search engines. There are also some not effective ways as well.

This article outlines one ineffective way to get web traffic.

I’ve coached a few writers, so-called professional communicators, this past month who were discouraged because although their websites were rising through the Google ranks and were receiving a good amount of organic traffic, they weren’t making any book sales.

I had a hunch I knew what was going on.

When a well-written book doesn’t sell, it’s usually for a number of reasons, the most probable being that there isn’t a large enough market for the topic, the price point is too high (or too low), or the web page doesn’t properly sell the title.

One look at the site confirmed my suspicions. In all the instances brought to my attention, the problem was with the website. Every single writer was more concerned about web site optimization rather than properly describing and selling their book.

It’s one thing to make your website favorable to search engines, in fact Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an important part of building a website, but it’s quite another to engage in clumsy tactics to make your site climb up the ranks.

Disclaimer: I’m not, nor do I pretend to be an SEO expert. The following is pure opinion based on my web adventures.

What each of these people did was, as they built their website text, they inserted copious numbers of “keywords” to the point that they were literally “keyword packing.”

Keyword Packing occurs when you take a particular keyword and pack that keyword into a keyword sentence as many times as possible so that when the search engines spider your site they’ll see your keyword and assume that keyword accurately represents your “keyword” website and will appear when someone inserts that keyword into the engine. (Note: this sentence is packed with a keyword. Betcha you’ll never guess which one it is.) :)

As you can see, keyword packing makes for some very awkward writing. Combine keyword packing with keyword placement on menus, subheads, and titles and you’ve got one, big keyword, mess.

Here’s the problem. When you receive good search engine rankings, you will receive traffic. Problem is when you do receive that traffic, you’ll quickly discover it evaporates once your visitors experience your awkward writing style.

It takes a writer with the skill of a master to elegantly weave keywords into a website while maintaining flow and sales effectiveness.

Very difficult.

So, suppose you’re not an SEO expert (like me). What can you do to get website traffic without sacrificing content?

There are multiple ways to generate some website traffic including writing articles, article distribution sites, creating videos, visiting forums, blogs, zines, Google Adwords, and much more. I’ll discuss these more in upcoming issues of Writing Etc.

You’ve got options, many of them not costing one red cent, to generate web traffic. Approach SEO carefully, never sacrificing content for keywords.

Remember, a site receiving a few relevant, smart, interesting, and engaged visitors is far more powerful than a bunch of people who visit and leave thinking you’ve got an awkward, repetitive, unnatural writing style.

My two (very opinionated and probably antiquated) cents.

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 Posted by at 1:06 pm