Entries from October 2009 ↓

The Copywriter Vs The English Teacher

For many people, the ghost of English lessons past tends to curb their ability to write compelling and powerful copy.teacher


Because as soon as they get taken over by the wondrous writing that flows from their finger tips a little voice pops into their heads; the voice of their old English teacher.  At times slang, sentence fragments, contractions, colloquialisms etc., are perfectly acceptable.

Here are just a few occasions when you can ignore the voice:

Sentence fragments

The rules state that all proper sentences should have a subject-verb-object construction. But if they communicate complete thoughts, they are a perfectly acceptable part of your writer’s tool chest.

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Contractions and slang

Why can’t you use contractions? It’s perfectly acceptable in my book. As for slang – why not? If it helps communicate a particular message to your audience, go for it.


Hands up everyone who was told they couldn’t start a sentence with the conjunctions “and” or “but” – hogwash!!

If you refer to Fowler’s Modern English Usage you’ll be told that this particular prohibition had been ‘cheerfully ignored by standard authors from Anglo Saxon times onwards’ (Fowler’s Modern English Usage, Third Edition, p.52). Even Shakespeare used it in King John.

If it’s good enough for Shakespeare, it’s good enough for me.

Talking of Shakespeare, he also paved the way for another overruling of the grammarians – use of the split infinitive:

Root pity in thy heart, that when it grows

Thu pity may deserve to pitied be

(Sonnet 142)

And of course, another famous example will be known by all the Trekkies out there:

To boldly go where no man has gone before

Ending a sentence with a preposition

Those that believe this don’t have a leg to stand on. If they did I would’ve had to write “Those that believe this don’t have a leg on which to stand” – I don’t think so, I prefer my version!

It is perfectly alright to end on a preposition provided it’s not redundant – so you can ask “Where are you going?” but not “Where are you going to?”

Basically, if you want to write great copy that gets your readers attention and sells products – write as you would speak. By adopting a conversational style you will immediately build rapport with your audience gaining their trust and, with a bit of luck, their cash.

Just one other thing, ditch the Thesaurus – if you use that too often you’ll be in danger of writing with gratuitously overblown hyperbole instead of plain language.

Simple is the copywriter’s friend.

Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting – Freelance Copywriter

Power to the Copywriter

The headline, body copy and call to action are all vital elements within the freelance copywriters marketing arsenal – but they are not the be all signpostand end all of copywriting.

To help you get your message across strongly you’ll need to utilise various tools such as:

  • Subheadings
  • Captions
  • Call outs

Sub headings

There is nothing worse than being faced with a solid wall of text. I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid and had to choose a new reading book, what I found inside the cover was a big factor in making a choice. If I was immediately presented with page after page of small solid print, I’d put it back on the shelf and find something easier.

Well the same thing happens in your readers head. If they visit your website or open your brochure and hit a wall of text – they ain’t gonna read it!

Your sub headings should act like a sign post. At a glance your reader should be able to see what your web page or brochure page is about. They can then use the sub heads to read the sections most relevant to them.

They help break up the text and add that all important white space into your pages.


I’m sure you know what a caption is without me pointing it out to you – but I will anyway. The caption is the brief line of text that accompanies a photo, graph, drawing etc.

You caption should serve 2 purposes:

  • Identify what the illustration is
  • Link the illustration to your copy

By the second point I mean if it is a photo of someone using your product, describe to your reader what it is showing. If it’s a chart, again explain what it means i.e. 85% of people asked expressed a preference to Miracle Clean compared to the leading brand.


At times you’ll have information you want to stand out. The use of callouts comes into play when you don’t want to interrupt the flow of your text or the information is so damned important you’ll want to draw special attention to it.

This can be done using:

  • Bursts
  • Callouts
  • sidebars

What’s the difference?

A burst is generally a colourful graphic that attracts your readers’ attention to a particular point. It can be for a special offer or to emphasize a special feature:

burst [Desktop Resolution]

A callout is usually a section of text, in a different font or colour, often designed to come across as a ‘stage whisper’. They are not quite so in your face as the burst and can be used to give customer quotes, important information, or important reminders:

call out [Desktop Resolution]

A sidebar is a column or box of copy set to the side of the main text area. They can be used to house longer sections of copy which may be a list sidebar [Desktop Resolution]of features, a case study or other information that couldn’t be shown in the main text area (such as shipping details):

A copywriter has a number of tools they can use to create interest and hype around a product. By utilising these 3 features you can compliment your text to produce something that is powerful and compelling without being overly wordy.

Stop Press – Freelance Copywriters Blog voted in Top 100 Work From Home Blogs

Thank you to Work at Home Info for voting this blog as one of their Top 100 Blogs For Working From Home under the Freelancers section.

That is great news and I’m pleased you have found my blog posts of value.

The Never Ending Story – The Copywriter’s Greatest Weapon


When it comes to putting a piece of copy together many people end up staring at a blank screen not really knowing where to start.

They may pour hours into creating a suitable headline, but then come to a grinding halt.

Just think back to your school days. Remember those English lessons spent in a cramped class room? What did your teacher tell you were the 3 most important elements of a story?

  • The beginning
  • The middle
  • The end

Well, producing a piece of sales writing is exactly the same.

Tie the body of your copy to your headline

If your headline led with a benefit, get that in your copy first:

Headline: “Miracle Clean gets all stains out first time – guaranteed!”

Copy: “Fed up with washing and re-washing clothes because those stubborn stains won’t come out? Well now’s the time to take action…”

A bit of a corny example, but you get the idea.

Start at the beginning

The beginning of your copy should state a problem that needs to be solved (just like in the above example). This shows your reader exactly what you are talking about and gives purpose to your writing.

The other way of starting is with something pleasurable and desirable – especially if you are selling a product that will make the user more attractive, wealthier etc.

Now for the filling

So you have a strong headline, a great beginning that has drawn your reader in – now you just need a convincing middle.

This is where you introduce the product/service you are offering which will overcome the problem faced by your reader or provide them with the benefit you have talked about (i.e. when your headline was about a product that would give pleasure – making you look more youthful, making you wealthier etc.)

So if we look at the washing powder example again it would go something like:

“Now you can remove all stains first time with Miracle Clean. Second washes and cupboards of extra products will become a thing of the past. Now all you need is one product for ultra clean laundry every time.”

The end of the road

The ending of your copy is where you bring your reader into the story.

Also known as the call to action it is probably one of the most important aspects of any piece of copywriting. It should be commanding – tell your reader exactly what they have to do:

Get your free sample of Miracle Clean now by calling xxxxxxxxx”

So there you go – copywriting is just like story telling. By following the traditional story format you will be able to create compelling copy.

Sally Ormond, Freelance Copywriter – Briar Copywriting

How to Appeal to Your Readers

Me, me, me, me.

I just thought I’d give you a bit of a clue as to what your reader is most concerned about when they are reading your copy.

Whatever you are trying to sell, your reader will only want to know what’s in it for them.

It’s human nature – if you want them to part with their hard earned cash, they have to benefit from it in someway.

Every copywriter should therefore be familiar with 3 market-proved elements that must appear in their copy to make the cash registers ring:

  • promise a benefit
  • make an offer
  • deliver relevant news

Get it in your headline

The strongest headlines will contain all of these elements. which is quite a task.

Let’s start with the benefit. The easiest way to get this into your headline is to use this formula:

VERB + desirable quality (+ additional feature) = BENEFIT

So for example if you were looking to sell an anti wrinkle cream, your headline could look something like:

“Enjoy younger, softer skin in just 14 days”

For the offer you could include details of a reduction in price, or a limited quantity of the product. This will help create urgency – they have to buy or they’ll miss out! And no one likes to think they are missing out on a good thing.

So now our headline would look something like:

“Enjoy younger, softer skin in just 14 days – now with 50% extra free, available until the 31st October only.”

Eek! Quick or you’ll miss out!!! See where we’re going with this? Now suddenly we have created a sense of urgency because the offer won’t be about for ever.

The final stage is to add relevant news. This could be done by adding a question or adding credibility. So if we go back to our headline we would do something like this:

“Enjoy younger, softer skin in just 14 days with the new clinically proven formula – now with 50% extra free, available until the 31st October only.”

So now we have shown that it has been ‘clinically proven’ – we are adding credibility. More information about the approval can be shown in the body of your advert.

So hopefully you can see from this blog how important it is to write headlines that grab your readers attention and interest. If you are ever going to have a hope of them reading the rest of your ad, you’ve got to grab them immediately.

Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting – freelance copywriter