Entries from June 2011 ↓

Copywriting Is For Rhinos

copywriting for rhinosIf you’re thinking about becoming a copywriter, there’s one thing you must get – a very thick skin.

Over the years mine has thickened to rival any Rhino – that doesn’t conjure a particularly attractive image, but it is a necessity when you write for a living.

I’ve been in business as a freelance copywriter since 2007. I’m pretty good at what I do, in fact I would go so far as to say I’m an expert in my field – that’s why companies from all over the world come to me when they need help with their marketing copy.

The process is fairly simple:

  1. The client makes contact
  2. I ask for a full brief on which to base a quote
  3. They say ‘yes please’
  4. I write the copy
  5. They review it
  6. Everyone’s happy

OK, in an ideal world it would work that way. But frequently there’s a few extra steps added between 5 and 6.

You will soon discover that, no matter how experienced you are, clients will criticise your copy. I will admit that when I first started out this was, at times, hard to take. After all, I’d spent hours pouring over concepts to come up with the finished article.

Some won’t like the approach you’ve taken, others will tell you how they would write it – even though you’re the professional they’ve hired to do the work.

But the one thing you have to remember is that the criticism isn’t directed at you personally.

Copywriting is a very collaborative process. Sometimes you’ll hit it right first time and there’ll be no amendments to be done. Other times there may be a few tweaks needed and the key is to talk to your client, discuss their ideas and together produce a revised version.

Just like art, writing is very subjective – what you know is right may not be so obvious to your client.

So what do you do when they change your copy?

First, take a deep breath. Then review what they’ve said, make any change requests that are valid and then take the time to explain why you wrote the copy in the way you did. Show them the elements within the copy and how they work together. Be confident and stand up for what you believe to be right (without causing an unpleasant scene) and if you know what they are asking you to do is wrong, tell them – nicely.

They’ll have far more respect for you if you take the time to explain a concept than if you say “OK, if that’s how you want it written” knowing full well it won’t achieve the results they’re looking for.

At the end of the day, believe in yourself and your abilities but leave your ego at the door. Plus it also helps to keep sound bites to hand from clients who were happy with your work so in moments of self doubt you can remind yourself how good you are.

I Don’t Have Time for Social Media

social media timeDoes that sound familiar?

Come on, be honest, I bet at some point you’ve muttered those 4 words.

You’re not alone; it is the most frequently proffered excuse for someone not to do social media (closely followed by “I don’t understand all that stuff”).

Blogging, Facebook and Twitter (amongst others) can and will do wonders for your online marketing. They are the tools to use to build your credibility, offer advice, become an expert in your field and get to know other business owners and your customers.

Most people understand they need to do it but, at the same time, they say they don’t have the time.

Marketing time

If you have avoided social media marketing let me ask you a few questions:

  • Do you go out networking?
  • Do you spend time writing and submitting small adverts?
  • Do you do call/warm calling?
  • Do you send out mailings to attract business?

I’m sure you do at least one of those activities regularly. So if you can build those into your working day, why can’t you slot in some social media time?

At the end of the day social media is just another tool in your marketing armoury. But it is a tool that can carry your voice a lot further than an advert or phone call. Blogging, Facebook and Twitter help you reach your audience directly. You can start conversations with them and interact with them.

One thing a week

Get yourself started by doing one task per week.

It could be writing and scheduling a few blog posts, write an article, submit your website to an online directory, post to Facebook or getting to grips with Twitter.

By breaking down your marketing into manageable chunks, you’ll find it easier to cope.

Before you know it, you won’t have to pay a small fortune for a tiny little ad that’s surrounded by your competitors in a magazine with only a small circulation. You won’t have to make those cold calls anymore and you can say good bye to those tedious and unfruitful mailings.

You will only get something out of social media if you’re prepared to put something in – your time. We’re not talking hours – just a few minutes a day will make a difference.

Come on, make your time work harder for you and get cracking on your social media marketing strategy.

If you’re already ‘working it’ leave a comment and share your experiences with us. Tell us what worked for you and what didn’t. Have you had any successes? If so tell us.

Plus, stop by and say hi on Twitter and Facebook.

How to Start Blogging

learnerYou’re ready to take the plunge.

You’ve set up your blog and eager to get your first post written so you can hit the ‘publish’ button.

But how long will your initial enthusiasm last?

All too often people dive into blogging without really understanding what it takes to be a successful blogger.

There are loads of stories banded about of people who make a living just from blogging. But if it was that easy we’d all be doing it.

Creating and sustaining a popular blog is hard work – are you ready for a life long commitment?

Blogging stamina

Here are 5 things you have to have if you want to succeed. It’s not an exhaustive list but designed to give you a taster of what you could be taking on.

1. Time

There are bloggers out there making money from their blogs. But it didn’t happen overnight. If you want to generate an income from your blog it’s going to take a lot of time and hard work. Your dedication will be severely tested and only the truly committed will make it.

2. Passion

Running a blog is non-stop.

You have to be totally in love with your subject to pull off a successful and lasting blog relationship. You will have to write year after year about your subject – can you generate enough ideas to pull that off?

3. Traffic

Many people are completely hung up on the number of visitors they get to their blog. But the true measure of a successful blog is the number of visitors who stay, come back, interact with you through comments and share your content with others.

4. Promote

Just because you have a blog and post to it regularly doesn’t mean people will find you.

To grow your readership you’ll have to promote your blog continuously through outlets such as Twitter and Facebook.

5. Plan

Before you begin you have to have a plan:

  • Why are you blogging?
  • What do you want to achieve?
  • What will your posting schedule be?
  • What will you blog about?

As you can see, having a blog is a long term commitment. How do you manage yours? Why not share your blogging experiences by adding a comment below.

The Power of PR – Don’t Under Estimate It

workoutAs a business owner I’m guessing you spend a fair amount of your marketing budget on your online marketing (and off line).

You have website copy to keep up to date, email marketing to do, blogs and articles to write not to mention the brochure you need to revamp.

All of that takes money but there is something out there that can generate a shed load of free publicity.

Don’t forget your PR

Most marketers have lost faith in print marketing and advertising. But you shouldn’t ignore the power of great press coverage.

Whether it’s in the form of an interview, quote, feature or editorial, being seen in the ‘right’ magazines and papers can pay dividends.

And here’s why…

1. Cheap

Getting a press release professionally written is an awful lot cheaper than paying for advertising space. Once it’s submitted and accepted you could end up with a page in a magazine or on a blog/website that’s all about you – pretty powerful stuff.

2. Credible

The public are fairly sceptical about marketing and can be resistant to anything that is obviously trying to sell to them. But good press coverage (such as a success story about your company or customer case study) is far more believable.

3. Connect

Adverts are impersonal. A good news story will personalise your company in your readers’ eyes and so make a connection with them.

4. SEO

Submitting press releases to online sites and blogs will help generate back links to your website and help your SEO.

5. Recycle

You can get a lot of mileage out of a press release. The content can be reused and turned into blogs and articles. It could be picked up by other publications and lead to other features and articles. The possibilities are endless.

So whatever you do, don’t forget to make sure your marketing strategy includes PR.

Have you had any PR successes you can share with us? If so leave a comment and let us know what happened and how it helped your business.

Website Copywriting – Sanitary Advice

looTake a look at your website.

Have a quick read of it – have you we’d everywhere?

Far too many company websites out there are suffering from a nasty bout of incontinence. Their website copy is littered with we.

“We create wonderful furniture…”

“We take customer service seriously…”

“We have been working in this industry for 40 years…”

Do I look as though I care about any of that?


As a customer looking through your website, I couldn’t give a toss about what your company’s achieved, how big your sales team is or how long you’ve been in business.

There’s only one thing I want to know and that’s what will your product/service do for me?

I want you to talk to me and tell me you’re going to make my life better. I want to hear about how you’re going to save me time, make me more glamorous or save me loads of money.

But to do that you’ve got to ditch the ‘we’ and replace it with ‘you’.

Website copywriting must address your reader at all times and that means writing in the second person.

Want an example?

OK, take a look at this text which I’ve taken from my website:Briar Copywriting

A Freelance Copywriter Will Increase Your Sales Conversion Rate

Would you like more time to do what you do best?

Do you want increased targeted traffic to your website?

Do you want your brochures and leaflets to produce more quality enquiries?

Many businesses find they simply don’t have the time, confidence or skill to write their own website copy, sales emails or print marketing materials. Often time and money is wasted on expensive advertising which lacks persuasive power. But a freelance copywriter will re-energise your marketing copywriting to help you achieve your goals.

See what I mean? All the way through the text I’m talking to the reader – no ‘we’ anywhere.

Granted I’m a website copywriter (just one of the many copywriting services I offer), but this is an effect that is simple to create.

When composing your web copy:

  1. Forget about your company
  2. Write as if you were talking to a customer who was standing in front of you
  3. Resist the urge to type ‘we’

Using the second person will help you make a connection with your reader. Make them feel as though they are the most important person in the world.