Updates. Ideas. Rants. Techniques. Opinions. Blog.

Three Things I Learned about Copywriting in 2015

When your seasonal blog post starts life as relevant, passes through 391 days of making your website look dated, then becomes relevant again, you have two options.

You make the most of that fact and get on with some real work, or you finally accept that it’s time to put a new post online.

And what better topic than the issue of not blogging? What exactly have I been doing for the past twelve months? And, if I’ve not been sharing things I’ve picked up during the year, could I share them all at once now?

Yes, I can.

[Continue Reading...]

Copywriter Portfolio Cover

So, I haven’t been the world’s best blogger lately.

In fact, I haven’t posted for what seems like an age. There’s only one person to blame.

Wait, no. It’s not me! No, I’m innocent in all this. The only person to blame is you. If you’re a client, you’ve taken up my time with, you know, writing copy. Copywriting. You should be ashamed.

But I’m not writing this to diss you on the internet. I’m writing this to say thanks.

Because it made me realise something quite useful.

Everybody’s Really Busy.

Yeah, sounds obvious, doesn’t it? I’m too busy to write a blog and you’re probably too busy to read it. But it gets worse.

You’re also too busy to read my entire website front to back, or check through every piece of work in my copywriting portfolio. I get it. I know how you feel. And I’ve found a new way to help you.

From right now, you can download a document I’ve called “Hello.” (If you can’t wait until the end, click here to download it).

It’s as simple as it sounds – the ultra condensed version of me, my work, and how I can help you out.

Mostly, it’s showing through doing. A few handy samples in a self-contained document. But in just a few pages, you’ll come away with:

  • An idea of my personality
  • The names of some clients I’ve written for
  • A few bits of work so you can get a taste of what I’ve done
  • An idea of how much you might be charged

All in one convenient file – because I appreciate how busy you are.

Click here to download the PDF portfolio, “Hello”, now.

I always tend to use a little bold line right at the start of a post.

And my opening lines tend to be quite precise. No fluff. Just a statement.

And you won’t be the first person to notice that I let some sentences drag on much longer than they really need to, just because I like to vary the pace.

Things go fast. Then they go slower, treading more carefully, breaking the pace with clauses.

Often on their own line.

At the same time, there are a few things I don’t do. I don’t really like swearing in blog posts. I certainly don’t use italics very often. And when it comes to punctuation and all that sort of thing, I put commas wherever I like and wouldn’t use a semi-colon if you paid me.

The way I write is my own. And the way you write is your own, too.

That’s what I’ve been talking about in my incredibly original blog post for Rob at Hello SEO Copywriting:

Read it now: The Secret Behind Original Copywriting

It’s a look at what it means to be original, how what you think is original isn’t original at all, and why Rush Hour and Life on Mars are basically the same thing.

Be sure to read it, post a comment, and tell your best friends.

Swiped: How Copywriting Works (And How to Steal That)

I’m not saying Jehovah’s Witnesses have got it wrong.

That’s the first thing I wanted to say. This isn’t about religion, or about what you should believe in. It’s about copywriting (which I suppose is what you’re expecting).

But being a copywriter is being able to sell, at least in part. It’s about telling people about something you have to offer, explaining how it will help them, and pushing them to take action on it. To buy it. Or buy into it.

Recently, I had regular visits from a Jehovah’s Witness.

I kept inviting him back because, truth told, I wanted to take the opportunity to ask him about lots of things I never quite understood. Why can only a certain number of people get into heaven? If that’s the case, why are you telling everyone to join up?

He cleared things up. He answered my questions. But, above all else, he was trying to sell me on an idea.

And I think we could all learn a thing or two from his techniques.

[Continue Reading...]

Nobody’s asked, but you might be wondering why I keep stating the obvious.

Well, when I wrote Four Obvious Things About Copywriting, it was because these were things people sometimes seemed to forget.

The very basics of copywriting. The things you know instinctively, automatically, and from the moment you write your first piece.

They’re forgotten because they’re too obvious. They’re not creative. They’re not clever. They don’t make people say ‘Wow, you’re such an imaginative little fellow.’

But they do help sell things. Which is good.

Now, I’ve decided to state some obvious things about running your business. You can read Four Obvious Things About Running a Copywriting Business as a guest post over at Copywriter Collective.

[Continue Reading...]

A guest post from Lauren Holden.

How to Interview Copywriting Clients

“So, tell me more about your inspiration for Plankton Portraits,” I asked the man responsible for bringing this intriguing exhibition to Lancaster’s Maritime Museum.

“Errr, plankton,” he swiftly replied, before adding, rather rudely: “What a stupid thing to ask!”.

Admittedly, I might have worded the question a little differently, but I was fairly new to my role as reporter at Morecambe’s The Visitor newspaper and I was still learning my trade. Just then, something my wise old dad told me during my years serving meals to the sometimes less-than-polite punters in a well-known restaurant chain popped into my head.

“Joe Public is an a**e.”

Even, it would seem, when you’re doing him a favour – and promoting the event he’s hoping will draw in a sizeable local crowd.

It’s the same when you’re interviewing copywriting clients for case studies, or getting to know a person so you can get to know their brand.

So, just how do you get the most out of an interviewee, a subject for a newspaper piece or a copywriting client?

[Continue Reading...]

Copywriting Empathy

Empathy’s a powerful tool.

But it’s frustrating when it’s not used intelligently. You find that frustrating, don’t you? I know how you feel.

I’ve worked on lots of copywriting projects which demanded a touch of sympathy. A friendly voice that understands your financial predicament, or shows the warmth of a family GP.

Of course, empathy isn’t always real. It’s slight of hand, a trick we use to make copy connect with people. In short, it’s one of the irresistible lies we tell.

But, as I found out when dealing with Microsoft’s Live Support, some people aren’t very good liars.

[Continue Reading...]

Swiped: How Copywriting Works (And How to Steal That)

You don’t get something for nothing.

Take this blog. I spend my time writing and promoting posts, sharing thoughts and advice on life as a freelance copywriter. And I don’t get paid for it.

But I still expect a return. It’s nice to see my subscribers list growing. It’s lovely to get some feedback. It’s great that people share my website through social media, and Google (reluctantly) starts caring about what I do.

If I didn’t believe that blogging delivered some kind of return, I wouldn’t do it. I have better uses for my time.

So you get to read the blog for free.

But not for nothing.

And it turns out that giving something away is a particularly potent form of persuasion.

[Continue Reading...]

Swiped: How Copywriting Works (And How to Steal That)

Copywriting is about getting people to do things.

You might want someone to buy. Or think about a specific idea. Or hire you as a freelance copywriter (hello).

But there’s a problem – people don’t want to do what you say.

In this Swiped post, we’ll look at an example of overcoming that natural resistance to persuasion – by putting the initial decision firmly in the past.
[Continue Reading...]