Entries Tagged 'copywriting' ↓

Are Your Words Driving Customers Away?

You hate ‘in your face’ marketing, right? Marketing

I’m talking about those websites and landing pages that are full of hype and insincere drivel that’s supposed to make you want to buy a product you don’t need.

All you really want is the basic facts about the product and how it’s going to benefit you. Then, if it is something you can’t do without and it’s the right price, you’ll buy.

If that’s how you think, why is your website full of marketing drivel that’s driving your customers away?

I’m not talking about jargon; I mean the stuff that’s damaging your conversion rates.

Over-used phrases

How many times have you read that something’s ‘ground-breaking’ or ‘market-leading’?

“Our product is world-class…” – really, where’s your proof?

“Our new widget is first-rate…” was the old one second-rate?

These words and phrases are meaningless. Instead of wasting space with these, tell your reader why your product is great and why that is important to them. Will it make them happier, save them time, make them happier?

Over excitement

If you’re launching a new product you’re bound to be excited about it, but resist the urge to claim it’s a ‘breakthrough’ (unless you have proof), ‘innovative’, or ‘pioneering’.

It’s new; we get that, but tell us why. Explain what’s new about it and, more importantly, what it means to us as consumers. In that way you’ll be converting this new feature into a benefit.


Don’t tell us you’re the best, or incredible or the ultimate, instead tell us what you’re really like and leave words like that for your testimonials.

If you over-hype your copy no one will believe you.

Stop being meaningless

Come on now, tell the truth, does your website copywriting claim ‘fast delivery’ or ‘great customer service’?

If you want to show your customer service levels use specifics, such as the results of a customer survey. This will increase your credibility.


The last on my list, but one of the biggest offenders in the ‘meaningless website drivel’ stakes.

Leveraging and alleviating are not as powerful as ‘using’ or ‘easing’ – stop trying to be clever and write what you mean.

Come on, be honest, how many of these are you guilty of?

You see, writing simple, straightforward copy isn’t as easy as you first thought. It’s easy to splatter your copy with meaningless drivel that dilutes your message until there’s nothing left to impress your customers with.

Before you start writing think about your customer, who they are and what they want. Then keep them focused in your mind as you write using their words.


Author: Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd

Changes at Freelance Copywriter’s Blog

As a regular reader of this blog you’re used to seeing 3 new posts per week.

It’s been like that for quite some time now, so it’s time for a change.

You’ll still find the great information  you know and love, but it will just be a bit more spaced out – time-wise.

Rather than posting every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from now on I’ll just be posting once a week.

Why the change?

To be honest I just want to try something different and see how it goes.

Keeping up with the demands of this blog is tough, so consider this a little experiment.

My next post will be next Wednesday so don’t forget to pop back, or sign up for my RSS feed (link on the right) to make sure you never miss any of my pearls of wisdom.

Thanks for being such a loyal follower and I hope the new regime will suit you too.

Best wishes.



Writing Copy is Easy. Writing Great Copy is Tough

Pah! Writing is simple. writing copy

All you do is write down a load of stuff about your company that tells the customer how great you are and that they should buy from you.

If that’s what you truly believe your website is probably way under performing and your marketing materials are falling on deaf ears.

Any professional copywriter will tell you that writing copy is quite easy (once a fill brief has been obtained and the research done), but things start to get tricky when you refine and edit your text to create the final draft.

How to edit your copy effectively

1. Going from long to short

It’s much, much easier to cut copy down that to pad it out, so always overwrite.

Write anything that comes to mind and then, once the first draft is finished, go back through it, be ruthless and strip out anything that’s sloppy, doesn’t fit or is irrelevant. You might also want to rearrange your copy to create a better flow.

2. Find the perfect start

A common mistake by many writers is to waffle before getting to the point. When looking back through your copy, you may well find that the first paragraph or two don’t really drive the message you want to get across. If that’s the case, cut them and start the copy from where it really gets going.

3. Be lean, mean and active

What does that mean? Well, your copy should be fast and easy to read, that means short sentences and paragraphs with simple vocabulary and punctuation.

As for the active part, this happens when you use active verbs. Rather than saying “you can improve your sales technique” try “improve your sales technique”.

4. Build credibility

You build credibility by not over promising. Make sure your claims are realistic, which can be reinforced by admitting a limitation, such as “We can’t promise to make you a millionaire over night, but our investment course will help you identify the right places to put your money.”

Credibility also relates to the price you’re asking for your product. The idea is to show the value of what you’re offering. Saying “you will have access to over £300,000 worth of photos for just £29 per month” shows value for money as opposed to “subscribe for £29 per month for unlimited access”.

As you can see, there is far more to writing copy that first meets the eye.

Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd

How to Write Copy People Will Read

It’s not the first time I’ve addressed the subject of how to write clear copy and it won’t be the last. Writing clear copy


Because of all the terrible content I see.

One point a lot of marketers miss is that good copy is simple.

Working as a copywriter, it amazes me how often clients expect their copy to be a literary masterpiece that makes them look super intelligent.

Communication is all about clarity. Your message must be simple and so should the language you use to convey it.  And don’t even get me started on the pedants who love nothing more than to scream and shout at the slightest divergence from what they class as correct English usage.

At the risk of causing an uprising I would like to point out how, over the years, English has evolved. It’s changing all the time (whether you like it or not) and if you want your copy to resonate with your readers you’re going to have to get with it.

That doesn’t mean you can ride roughshod over basic grammar rules, but if a slight deviation helps you get your meaning across…

Anyway, back to the point. Simple language will always win when it comes to copy. So here are a few basics to bear in mind.

1. Stop using big words

Once upon a time, usually during your teenage years when you were desperate for people to start treating you like an adult, you would use ‘big’ words to make yourself look intelligent.

The problem is if you use that approach in your copy you’ll lose readers like there’s no tomorrow.

Always use the simplest form of language to get your ideas across.

2. Keep things brief

Have you noticed how journalists always use short sentences? They make the story easy to follow, but having said that it’s always good to mix in a few longer ones too – variety will keep your reader interested for longer.

The same can be said for paragraphs. Make sure they’re no longer than 2 or 3 sentences.


Huge blocks of text will scare your readers off (remember those tedious novels you had to read in English Literature and their page after page of continuous text?), whereas short paragraphs look far more inviting and readable.

3. Front heavy


Your readers like to get the information they need quickly, so by placing it at the start of your sentences (headlines, sub heads etc.) they will get the important information even if they skim the rest.

4. Cut to strengthen

When writing your content you will add extra words that aren’t needed – for example “get to the point as fast as possible” is more powerful when written as “get to the point”.

A lot of the extra words will be modifiers such as fairly, totally, very etc. Again, they don’t add value to your copy so cut them.

The same goes for sentences that use “if/then” and “in order to”:

  • If you want glossy hair, then our latest smoothing shampoo if ideal for you
  • Want glossy hair? Try our smoothing shampoo

Once you’ve written your first draft, read through and cut any words that don’t add value.

5. Metaphors and similes

Both of these help add the important emotional connection to your writing. They help your readers see, hear, taste and feel what you’re talking about.

When used effectively they will multiply the impact of your words, lodging them in their brain, making your message very difficult to forget.

How about you?

Do you have any other writing tips you’d like to share?

What favourite tricks do you use to get people to take notice of your copy?

Leave a comment below.

Author: Sally Ormond

How to Work With a Copywriter

Over the past 18 months or so, I’ve noticed that more and more of my clients are first time copywriter users. Sally Ormond

As such, I have been explaining how the whole process works several times over, hence this post.

If you’re considering working with a copywriter, but aren’t too sure about what that entails, what follows is a brief outline of the process (at least the way I work) so you know what to expect.

Before I get started I just want to stress a couple of things:

  • It is a collaborative process, so you will have to be involved
  • You will have to provide information and direction to your copywriter

It doesn’t matter how highly recommended your writer is, he or she isn’t a magician or a mind reader, so you’re going to be the primary information source about your business, market and customers they’ll need to tap into.

Briefing your writer

The first step (once you’ve chosen your writer) is to brief your copywriter.

Just saying ‘we’re a financial services firm that deals with professional people’ isn’t going to cut it. You must to tell your writer everything:

  • What your business does
  • Who is does it for
  • What’s unique about it
  • How your products/services work
  • What the main benefits are that you offer
  • The background of your business
  • Why people want your product or service
  • What the factors are that stop them from buying from you
  • What is your offer?
  • What do you want your website visitors to do?
  • Who your customers are and what they need

Once you’ve gone through all of that, you must also think about the style of the writing – do you want it conversational, professional, something that makes you sound approachable? A great idea is to provide links to examples of the tone that you want to achieve.

Oh, and before you start rambling in your industry jargon, don’t. You’re copywriter will not write in jargon. Instead they will adopt a plain English approach because that works.

This process may take a while and may involve several conversations, but bear with your writer because it’s in your best interests that they get all the information they need and have a firm understanding of your business. Trust me, there’s nothing more frustrating for a copywriter than to get as far as the first draft only to be told they’ve missed out information that they were never party to in the first place.

Also, if there is a style that you really hate, provide examples so your writer knows not to go down that particular avenue.


You’re probably thinking that they’ll now go away and write something for you within a day or two.


It’s at this point they go away and do some research into your industry and your business. Plus, there’s a lot of thinking that has to go on – creating eye-catching, powerful copy doesn’t happen overnight.

Only when they have everything they need will they begin to plan and structure the first draft.

First draft review

OK, let’s get one thing straight right now, this is the first draft – it’s called that because it’s not the final draft.

You wouldn’t expect your web designer or graphic designer to hit the nail on the head straightaway, so give your copywriter the same chances.

Writing is very subjective and, because the copy is being written for your customers, it may take you a while to ‘get it’. The copy is not about you, it’s about what you can do for your customers; that’s something a lot of clients have a hard time dealing with.

I’ve lost count of the number of clients who say ‘oh no, our website is there just for information, we don’t want to sell through it’ when they read the first draft, worried that it’s not talking about them enough. Firstly, a website is there to sell (otherwise what’s the point in having it) and secondly, the writer you are using has years of experience so trust them – they know what they are doing.

Once you get the first draft, read it through several times to get a feel for it. Resist the urge to attack it with red pen if you find a typo or two (these will be gone by the final version). Remember, this is a first draft; it’s used to test the water.

Frequently, I’ll be asked for an informal, conversational tone, but when the client sees it they decide it’s too informal. You see, everyone has different ideas about what a style should mean and it’s only when it can be seen for the first time that decisions can be made as to whether it’s the right approach or not.

Ideally, when reviewing the copy, go through and highlight the areas you like as well as those you don’t to give your writer a clear idea of how you want to proceed. Also, this is the time to check facts and content to make sure everything is covered from the brief.

Provided you’ve given constructive feedback that is clear, your writer will have enough to work on to produce the second draft.

Second draft

Having taken on board all your feedback, your copywriter will now go away and produce a second draft.

This will incorporate your comments about the tone, content and layout, shaping the copy into something that you will want to use on your website (brochure, case study etc.) and be proud of. It’s also the time for thorough proofreading to banish any typos or grammatical errors.

Once ready, this new version will be sent back to you for your review. Assuming every thing’s now exactly as you want it, congratulations you’ve got great copy. But if there are still a few changes to make, these can be easily sorted and a third draft sent to you for your sign off.

As you can see, the whole process is very collaborative, which means you must talk to your writer.

The chances of hitting the right tone and content straight away are slim, so you shouldn’t be surprised if it’s not quite right. If the first draft is not working for you, pick up the phone (or send an email) to talk about it. They can’t work with you if you don’t talk to them.


Author: Sally Ormond