My review of Headspace (& How it helps my Writing)

Image by Snapwire from Pexels.

I’m naturally a very busy ‘thinker,’ which isn’t necessarily a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ thing, but I wouldn’t mind having the ability to switch my brain off every now and then – or at least the sound!

I’ve wanted to get into meditation for years now but I took the wrong approach and never seemed to find the right time. I began with the book, Wherever You Go, There You Are, by Jon Kabat-Zinn, which is an incredible book but too deep/heavy for a beginner. Then I switched to various meditations on YouTube, chopping and changing depending on my mood.

I can’t remember exactly how I came across Headspace but I haven’t looked back since. After giving their Beginner’s Level 1 course a go (which is free of charge), I then did session 1 of Managing Anxiety, which is a 30-day course (the first audio is also free of charge). After that, I was in two minds about whether to invest in Headspace. First of all, you can get meditations for free on YouTube, and the app is quite expensive, especially when you compare it to services like Netflix for instance.

As I continued to commit to one 10-minute session a day, a ‘40%-off’ offer came by. I took the plunge and bought a 1-year subscription, vowing to try to commit to one 10-minute session a day.

In the first weeks, during those daily 10 minute meditations, not a lot changed for me, especially outside of the sessions. I still had lots of thoughts coming and going, and my brain rarely stopped ticking. As the weeks developed, I began to notice a small difference as I was meditating, and I occasionally managed to hold on to that calm, focused feeling for a short while after.

But then, without even realising it, the daily meditations began to impact my daily life, from how mindful I was during something as mundane as housework, to my level of concentration within a conversation. I have naturally become more mindful as I am driving (always a bonus), during a conversation with someone, or when writing an article. I now feel much more focused and ‘in the zone’ as I move from one activity to the other, finding more pleasure and enjoyment in whatever it is I am doing.

Image by pixel2013 from Pixabay

Image by pixel2013 by Pixabay.

As a writer, I’m often forced to be analytical and sometimes sceptical about things, and I wasn’t without my doubts when it came to meditation. But this app is definitely up there on my list of top investments!

Don’t get me wrong, like everyone else, I have terrible days where I feel like everything is falling down on top of me. Days where I worry ceaselessly, feel anxious or down in the dumps. Some days, meditation is much harder than others, and sometimes it feels as if my mind has been elsewhere for most of the session and that I’ve actually wasted my time bothering with a session.

But the truth is, I can’t imagine my life without meditation – and the Headspace app – and everything it has taught me so far.

I’m also truly grateful for the impact it’s had on my work. I have fewer ‘fuzzy’ days and my ability to concentrate while writing has definitely been heightened.

I can’t wait to continue with my meditation journey and see how my practice develops and evolves.

Has anyone else tried meditation? What have your experiences been like?

How to Create a Press Kit for your Business

I recently collaborated with an upcoming jewellery designer to create a press kit for her new brand.

Working closely with the designer, we created a press kit that appropriately represented her new brand whilst providing the right amount of information to potential press.

The kit needed to be professionally presented and structured in order to brief the press but also to ensure the information was correctly communicated.

I used an 8- step structure to create the kit, which consisted of:

1. The Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of the brand

This stage involved gathering as much information as possible from the designer. I wanted to create something that would provide the press with an all-round understanding of the brand whilst maintaining the brand’s messaging, voicing and integrity.

Here, I began the press kit with an overview of the company and some background information, including the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of the brand. I wanted to keep the press kit professional and accessible, as the whole point of a press kit is to ensure that the press can access the information they need quickly and easily.

This section included information about the jewellery collection, including what the jewellery items were made from and where the stones and diamonds were sourced from.

We then provided information on how the brand was launched and where the source of inspiration came from for creating the jewellery collection, followed by details about sponsors and exhibitions.

For section one, I also created a Mission Statement for the company, as well as a paragraph of text outlining the company’s vision.

2. Biography of CEO/founder

This section is all about the founder/founders of the company, as well as any notable execs who require a mention. For the jewellery brand, we focused on creating a biography of the jewellery designer, including how she became interested in jewellery and jewellery design/creation, as well as some background information on her work experience and academia.

A biography is something rather personal so you have to collaborate closely with each individual to include the information they wish to be included, in a manner that they are happy with. When working with the designer, there were certain aspects that she wanted to emphasise, and others that she didn’t feel were necessary to mention. We worked carefully together on this section to ensure the content appropriately reflected who she is and how she wants to be portrayed.

3. Any recent Press Releases

If you have any recent press releases, these need to be added to this section.

4. Product/Services Fact Sheet

In this section, I emphasised what sets this jewellery brand apart from the competition. We focused on some key areas of the jewellery that are unique, including where the inspiration came from four specific pieces, what each piece is made from and some specific details about the materials used to create each piece. We also mentioned where the items are available to purchase and some information about placing orders.

Of course, this section is unique to each brand and can be structured in line with your preferences. Some businesses prefer an ‘FAQ’ style factsheet – it is totally up to you. What’s important is that you collaborate with the writer to ensure the section is structured and written in a manner that positively represents your brand and provides all the information the press would require in a clear and accessible way.

5. Case Studies

If your business or brand has received any customer testimonials, these need to be included here. They must be professionally presented and directed at the media, but must not have any promotional ties (remember the press kit is for the media and therefore not for marketing purposes).

6. Any Noteworthy Press Coverage

If the company has any press coverage or up-to-date media (including relevant news) this is where it should be showcased. Anything that shows that brand/founder as an industry leader should be included here. When including press coverage, the name of the original outlet and a link to the original article should also be featured.

7. Industry Awards, achievements and accolades

Here we included any notable awards, achievements, mentions and accolades the brand has received, including a brief description of each. The purpose of this section is to highlight the brand’s importance in its field and position it as a company the media needs to know about.

8. Contact information

Finally, it may seem obvious but a press kit is not a press kit without some contact information! This section needs (at the minimum) an email address and telephone number, but it would also be worth adding a website address, physical address and some social media contacts.

Press kits are unique to each and every business, but this is the structure I personally adhere to when creating one. It ensures that information gets included in a consistent, factual manner that is easily accessible to the press, whilst giving an opportunity to showcase the brand and what makes it special.

If you’re looking for a writer to create your Press Kit or other materials, get in touch!

 

Lessons from 4 Brands that Failed at Content Marketing

Green pencil with shavings

Let’s face it, not every business is going to get their content marketing strategy right, every single time. Even some of the world’s biggest brands have made mistakes, and the biggest positive is that we can learn from these mistakes when we implement our own marketing strategies.

With that in mind, here are 4 businesses that failed at content marketing, and what we can learn from those failures:

Malaysia Airlines

In 2014, Malaysia Airlines was struck with not one, but two flight disasters. In an effort to get the company back on track, they ran a contest asking people to send in their ‘bucket lists’ in exchange for free prizes. Since a bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you die, people were quick to make the link between the previous accidents and the bucket lists – which didn’t bode well for the campaign.

Lesson: Think your campaigns through; be willing to cancel a bad idea before it plays out.

Levi’s

Levi’s infamously created a campaign that sold jeans with the tagline ‘Hotness comes in all shapes and sizes.’ The problem was, the image that went alongside it was of four women with very similar body shapes – tall and slim. The campaign was hugely unsuccessful and sparked immense controversy, with many people complaining that the ad was not an accurate representation of the average woman.

Lesson: Ensure consistency throughout your marketing campaigns to ensure that every step of the project has a cohesive and unified tone.

Nesquik

Nesquik’s campaign went off without a hitch, but the company soon learnt the hard way that this doesn’t always equate to success. they spent a great deal of money and a lot of time on creating a campaign that encouraged people to download their app that created bunny ears for your photos and pushed for a new “National Bunny Ears Day.” The campaign resulted in hardly anything and people had no interest in downloading yet another app that didn’t really offer much.

Lesson: Just because your marketing department loves it, doesn’t mean the public will, so put yourself in the shoes of your audience before launching a new campaign.  

Apple

If you’re an iPhone owner, you probably remember randomly receiving a copy of a U2 album onto your iPhone, without your consent or desire. At the time, Apple thought it would be a good idea to give everyone free music – regardless of music preference or storage space. As you can probably tell the campaign wasn’t much of a success!

Lesson: Offer content for specific promotions, but don’t force it upon people.

Having a strategy, goals and plenty of ideas will definitely help your business to achieve its content marketing goals. It’s also important to constantly analyse your content to gain insights into future creation. What’s worked for your brand so far, and what’s failed? Staying on top of your campaigns will definitely help you to stay ahead of the game!

Need help with your content marketing?

Then contact HQ Content Writer today to discuss your content needs!

Why Hiring a Freelance Content Writer Could be Right for You

Fresh, high-quality content is the perfect recipe for more leads and conversions and improved SEO rankings. By hiring a freelancer, a range of content will be delivered professionally including blog posts, articles, website content, SEO pages and much more.

If you’re thinking about hiring a freelancer writer but aren’t sure if it’s right for you, here are 6 benefits to bear in mind:

Get fresh, well-written, industry-relevant content

The amount of research, time and commitment it takes to create something completely new should never be understated. Professional freelance content writers perform plenty of research into the requested subject, taking their time to determine the right angle and tone of voice. Elements such as quality, grammar and appearance are also taken into account, as well as keywords, metadata and much more.

Increase conversions with CTAs

Freelancers are skilled and adept at writing strong calls-to-action. CTAs have the power to prompt customers, visitors or leads to take action, whether that action involves downloading your e-book, attending your latest event or contacting your company. Your CTA must be simple and to the point while being informative and engaging. It also needs to be positioned somewhere eye-catching to increase the chances of it being seen and accessed.

Increase SEO rankings

With competition so rife across the internet, it’s essential that your content is of the highest quality so that it attracts Google’s web crawlers, and ranks your site appropriately. Elements such as meta titles, meta descriptions, headlines, keywords and keyword phrases are all vital contributors when it comes to improving your search engine rankings. In turn, your target audience is more likely to see your content and respond to it.

Give your company a stronger brand voice

When a potential customer visits your website, they want to learn more about your company and what it would be like to work with it. It’s so important that your content establishes your brand voice, not just across your website but across all other channels including your social media platforms, emails and other marketing materials.

When you hire a freelancer, they’ll work together with you to craft content that reflects your branding and corporate message. Before you know it, they’ll know the ins and outs of your company so well that they’ll be able to create appropriately branded, well-written content quickly and easily.

Bring old content to life

When you scan through your current content, consider what can be refreshed and repurposed. Many times, the information is there, it just needs refining and tweaking to bring it up-to-date and make it more appealing to your target audience. This information can also be used to create new types of content, such as infographics, podcasts, email newsletters and webinars. This gives it even greater opportunities to reach a wider audience and improve your presence on the web.

Save time and money

Skilled content writers are superb timesavers. They get the work done, creating something carefully written, error-free and insightful. They deliver the results you want, in an eloquent, skilled way.

Have you considered hiring a freelance writer?

Freelancers are passionate, committed and always striving to exceed your expectations in order to work with you again. You’ll develop a direct relationship with the writer, and be able to communicate your exact needs.

Contact HQ Content Writer today to discuss your unique content writing needs!

 

 

 

The Benefits of Content Writing

Content is everywhere, from a leaflet that lands on your doorstep to an email that you just received from your favourite clothing brand. Everywhere we turn we are presented with content, and without even realising it, we are massively influenced by the content that surrounds us.

In today’s multifaceted world where we are presented with so many different options when it comes to communication, the world of content marketing has never been more diverse or exciting.

Just a few of the many examples include email and social media as well as text messaging, WhatsApp, Viber, Skype and much more. As you can see, the means of communicating are almost infinite.

As a result of this, content writing is not some sort of passing fad soon to be replaced with something more exciting, but is a meaningful, powerful and important means of communication. It enables us to get our message across not only as individuals but also as businesses, and is a fantastic tool when it comes to promoting a brand, product or service.

As a business, it is vital that you take full advantage of content writing and its many capabilities.

Since beginning my career as a freelance content writer, I have helped countless businesses to get their messages across in an articulate, meaningful and clear way. I have helped businesses to resonate with their audiences, to communicate with them in a clearer brand voice and to successfully sell their products and services to audiences from across the globe.

This is the power of content marketing.

Content is definitely here to stay so if you’re seeking a steady, secure and reliable means of improving your SEO, promoting your products or services, communicating with your audience and increasing your client base, then it is definitely wise to invest in content writing.

Waiting for the Gift of Sound and Vision

When I read a piece of my written work, I listen to the way it sounds. Okay, I’m not writing poetry or the lyrics to a song, but that doesn’t matter. Regardless, my writing has to have a flow, a rhythm, and a pleasing sound, in order for me to be satisfied with it.

Just like the waves crashing against the shore, a car’s tyres crunching against a gravelled driveway or Bob Dylan singing “Don’t Think Twice it’s Alright” (some of my many favourite sounds), a piece of writing must sound satisfying.

Sound is just as important in your writing as other elements such as research, flow and quality of writing, so when you’ve finished a piece of work, read it and re-read it to hear how it sounds. Are you satisfied with how it sounds?

Great, then let’s move onto how it looks!

As David Bowie said in his song, Sound and Vision, “I will sit right down, waiting for the gift of sound and vision.”

Just as sound is important to the flow of your content, so too is vision.

It’s vital for your work to be visually appealing.

It’s no longer okay to write heavy, chunky paragraphs laden with opulent, fancy vocabulary.

Your paragraphs need to be short, sweet and to the point.

When your audience sees a piece of text that looks visually appealing, they will be much more likely to dive right in.

Then, when it sounds just as good as it looks, they’ll want to stay with you – right until the end of the piece.

So sit right down, get inspired and wait for the gift of sound and vision to influence your writing and elevate it to the next level!

Interesting Terminology You’ll (Probably) Never Need to Use

Just to prove I learnt a thing or two at university, here is some interesting terminology that stuck with me since my days as a student!

You can use these terms to impress others; and who knows, they may prove handy at some point or another!

Onomatopoeia

This means that it sounds exactly as it is read. Examples include “Bang!” “Crash!” “Cuckoo” and “Sizzle.”

Some examples:

“The water plopped into the pond.”

“The birds whistled and the frogs croaked.”

“The breeze whooshed above us and around us.”

Onomatopoeia is used by authors to describe sounds and is generally considered one of the easiest ways to do so.

Palindrome

A palindrome is a word, phrase, number or sentence that, when turned around, remains exactly the same. The term is derived from the Greek words, “Palin”, which means again, and “dromos” which means way or direction.

For instance:

“Was it a cat I saw?” or even “Was it a car or a cat I saw?”

“Never odd or even.”

Turn them around and you will see they remain exactly the same!

Palindromes are primarily used for entertainment or amusement purposes and are not really used so much in literature (or not very well, anyway).

Oxymoron

This is a figure of speech in which contradictory terms appear next to one another. Oxymorons are mostly used in literature and other rhetorical devices for a number of reasons, from creating drama for the reader (or listener) or to make a person stop and really think about what they’ve just read or heard.

Some classic examples include:

“She stayed falsely true to herself”

“This painting is painfully beautiful”

“His voice is amazingly awful”

The woman cried happy tears”

“He is awfully good at sport”

“It was my only choice.”

Andy Warhol once famously said, “I am a deeply superficial person” while Winston Churchill once said, “A joke is actually an extremely really serious issue.” Thanks for those confusing thoughts, gentlemen.

Can you think of any examples of oxymorons?

I loved studying the English Language and still love learning all about its intricacies!

What really stuck with you during your studies?