Entries from September 2009 ↓

The Ego Website


Sat on a train on way my home from London yesterday, I was doing what all good writers do – ear-wigging other people’s conversations.

There was one conversation in particular that I just couldn’t help but tune into. There were a couple of stereotypical city suits sat together having a bit of an ego battle. They spent two and a half hours (typical trains as the journey should only have taken one and a half hours) trying to out do each other.

If one had had two pints at lunch time the other had had four; if one had closed a six figure deal the other had closed one that was closer to seven…

This went on and on.

What does all this have to do with websites?

I have already blogged about the importance of using the word “you” in your website copywriting. It is the one word that allows you to connect directly with your reader. And, after all, that is what your website should be about – making a connection.

Sole trader websites and I

At times within your copy, you will need to talk about your business, but how you do that is crucial.

Even if you are a sole trader, when referring to your business use ‘we’ or ‘our’. This has the effect of making your company sound bigger than it is. It generates an image of experience, expertise and stability.

I came across a website the other day that was promoting a one man band. He was a photographer and used the word “I” repeatedly throughout his website copy.

The effect was an Ego Website. That sounds a bit harsh but effectively that’s exactly how it came across:

“I do…”

“I do…”

“My portfolio…”

“I will…”

The mistake he made was that he never addressed what he would do for his clients. The entire site was stating how marvellous he was (and I’m sure he was an excellent photographer). But his readers want to know what he will do for them, what makes him different? There was no attempt to build rapport with them.

You can still make your site personal even when it is written in the third person. You can create a connection between you and your reader which will grow into a trusting relationship.

If you fill your website with “I” it will come across as though you have an ego the size of your website – probably larger.

Website copywriting is absolutely crucial. At the end of the day people visiting your website will only want to know what you are going to do for them. Ignore that and you’ll be waving goodbye to loads of business and sending it to your competitors who understand what their clients want.

A Copywriter’s Guide to Dieting


No, this isn’t going to be a huge sales pitch for a new fitness video – I am not joining the ranks of the ‘not so famous’ individuals who’ve jumped on that band wagon.

A copywriter‘s diet is more to do with their writing skills.

Writing any copy, regardless of what it is for, can be an excrutiating experience. Writers’ block, blank page syndrome, call it what you want, but we’ve all experienced the inability to place words on paper.

The easiest way (in my experience) to get over this hurdle is to write. And I mean write anything. The action of putting words on paper (or screen) normally gets the creativity flowing again. Of course that does mean that the first draft is rather poor – but that is where great editing comes in.

Your client is never going to see your first draft so it doesn’t matter what it looks like. Writing in this way will open the flood gates and what you’ll be left with is something relevant, tight and powerful.

How you edit is crucial and I’m sure I’m not the only freelance copywriter out there who gets very attached to words and phrases. But editing is vital and has to be ruthless.

Michelle Russell wrote an excellent post on copyblogger tackling this very issue. She offers some brilliant tips on how to edit your writing to create a more toned version. Read the post here and give your writing skills a workout.

Are You The Right Person To Write Your Copy?

If you are a business owner, are you of the opinion that there is absolutely no need to hire a copywriter to write your sales materials because you know your product better than anyone else?

I can’t argue with the fact that you probably do know your product better than anyone, but that is the exact reason why you shouldn’t write the copy.

How can you tell if a company has written its own copy?

Because it is focused on what the product is rather than what it will do for the customer. It’s only natural. After all if you spend every waking hour with tumble dryers you will end up thinking about them a lot. You will know what every programme does and will probably be able to explain how it works in your sleep. It would be same if you made top of the range, ultra expensive shoes or any other product for that matter.

The problem with this is that it tends to lead to descriptive writing rather than powerful sales writing. So you will be writing about how great it is at drying clothes and perhaps the different colours it is available in – great, but a freelance copywriter would describe it as a specially designed labour saving device.

The same applies to the shoe example. Being too close to them, you will be selling them as high quality and stylish, which I am sure they are. But your sales writer would look at them and think ‘what does your potential customer want to know?’ They aren’t interested in the quality of the leather, or shade of colour. The will want to know that they are the latest must-have item for the woman-about-town and they’ll make her irresistible to men.

OK, that is potentially a little far fetched, but I hope it illustrates my point.

No matter how much blood, sweat and tears went into developing and producing your product, your customer won’t give two hoots. The only thing they are interested in is what will it do for them?

• Will it save me money?
• Will it save me time?
• Will it make me look successful?
• Will it make me feel like a million dollars?

Knowing your product well is vital but what is probably more important is the ability to dramatise them it terms of their benefits. A skilled copywriter will make your reader believe that not only will their lives be made easier with your product, but they couldn’t possibly live without it.

That is the skill you need to harness through a professional copywriter; the skill that will make your readers reach for their credit cards.

5 Sure-Fire Cures for Headline Headaches


The headline – it’s the biggy. It’s the element in your copywriting that gets someone interested enough in your advert, article, letter or email to want to read it.

Oh yes, many an hour have I sat at my desk with my head in my hands desperately searching every last grey cell for the inspiration to find that illusive killer headline.

I know I’m not alone – every freelance copywriter in the world has gone through it. One day you’re on fire with headlines pouring out of you, the next, your creative flow has mysteriously dried up.

Get a kickstart

So how do you rehydrate those creative juices? Simple, look around you – books, newspapers anything that has copy can give you enough of a spark to get you going again.

Dave Navarro has written a post on Copyblogger called 5 Sure-Fire Sources For Headline Inspiration. This is a great blog describing how by looking at magazines, ads, email subject lines and Digg you may be able to find the inspiration you need to carry on.

How do you get your inspiration?

Do you find it in an unusual place?

Hey, that’s a thought, I wonder what is the most bizarre place you have been for inspiration….come on, who’s first to share their experience?

How Newsy is Your Newsletter?


In the business world a newsletter is a great tool to keep in touch with your customers to keep them informed with what’s happening in your world and, of course, keeping your name in their minds.

But there are so many companies out there who are getting it badly wrong. In my post about newsletter marketing I gave you some tips about how to use a newsletter. Sadly, many companies are using them as glorified adverts.

That is such a bad idea.

Your newsletter should give added value to your relationship with your client. Granted, that would mean once in a while you may want to convey a special offer or details of a new product. But do that only once in a while.

Adding value is all about reciprocity. Give information, share tips, bring them some news that will benefit them. By doing this regularly you will earn your clients’ trust. In return, they will be more likely to come to you when they need your services.

The temptation to write a newsletter thinly veiled as an advert is too much for some people. I came across this post recently by inbox marketer explaining that Good Newsletters Aren’t Brochures which has some useful tips on this exact point.

Q: What happens if your newsletters are just selling, selling, selling.

A: The recipients will unsubscribe, forget who you are and buy from your competitor who has been providing them useful hints and tips.