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

Baby CarriageI’m a copywriter. I’m freelance. I’m all for fair rates for good work.

But I’m also a human being. So I’m dead against grown adults acting like little babies.

It’s with some discomfort, then, that I’ve seen a trend for childish, aggressive, and downright rude behaviour from fellow freelancers – particularly on those job sites we all hate so much.

Yes, they encourage bargain-basement rates.
No, that doesn’t make your behaviour okay.

“Try adding a zero to your budget,” they say. “Professional? Get real.” “Thanks for wasting my time,” I read (which presumably means someone is mourning the loss of the 45 seconds it took to read a ridiculous brief with a subpar budget).

We’re throwing our toys out of the pram because things aren’t how we’d prefer them to be. We’re using our creativity to come up with clever ways to put strangers under attack.

And we’re not doing our business – or our rates – any favours.

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Email Copy IconI’d like to always start from a blank page, but I’m often asked to work from something that’s already drafted. It’s the closest a copywriter gets to high-octane rescue missions.

Just recently, a client forwarded me a prospecting email that had been written by someone in-house – but, even though the writer knew the business inside out, it was lacking.

The client couldn’t tell me what was wrong. It wasn’t easy to spot where the copy fell down. It was just something you could feel.

They said it needed ‘the Stephen Marsh touch’ (which made me feel like a giggly schoolgirl).

But it also made me think about all those in-house marketing people putting together emails and not being able to see what was going wrong.

I like being helpful (and I’m particularly helpful if you book me). So here’s what I do when I’m faced with some email copy that’s not working – and how in-house writers can make their emails more interesting, engaging and high-performing.

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OMG SEO Short CopyWading through the world of Google My Business listings.

Interesting in a very frustrating way.

Then I rediscovered this and got my priorities back in check.


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.

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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.
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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.

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