Entries from October 2011 ↓

Finding the Perfect Blog Voice

There are oodles of blogs out there covering just about every subject under the sun.

In your niche, there are probably thousands of people blogging about the same subjects as you.

So how do you make yours stand out above all that noise?

How do you get your blog noticed?

Obviously you need to post great information that is relevant to your audience and well-written.  But you need to go further than that if you want to start forging relationships with your readers.

The key to getting your blog noticed is adopting a distinct voice, one that is instantly recognisable as you.

When writing your blogs, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of writing in the same style as your favourite bloggers.


Someone isn’t going to be interested in reading a copy-cast style blog when they can have the real thing. You have to be different and be yourself.

So how do you achieve that?

1. Personality traits

Think about who you are. Then decide what personality traits you want your blog to have.

Do you want to come across as being?

  • Formal or informal?
  • Conversational and chatty?
  • Amusing?

2. Be you

The best way to stand out from the crowd is to let your personality shine through.

The easiest way to achieve that is to write your posts as though you were writing them to a friend. This will automatically change the style in which you write and phrase things.

Showing your personality is the best way to get people to recognise you and engage with you.

3. Review past posts

Every blogger will have posts that do better than others. The trick to maintaining that level is to review those posts, take a look at the voice you used, the angle you wrote about, the topic and point of view you covered.

Then replicate that style.

4. Check the details

Everyone writes differently. It could be your use of punctuation that singles you out, your turn of phrase or your vocabulary and layout style.

Whatever it is, it’s going to set you apart from other writers.

Over to you

How have you developed your voice?

Are there any particular nuances that you’ve established to create your own distinctive style?

Leave a comment below and tell us how you have made yourself stand out of the crowd.

 Sally Ormond

Freelance Copywriter and blogger

Copywriting That Sells

What other type of copywriting is there?

Copy exists for one reason only – to sell. Whether it appears in a brochure, email, website, case study, white paper or newsletter, its primary function is to get the reader to take an action:

  • To buy
  • Get in touch
  • Fill out a survey
  • Complete an order form
  • Sign up to your newsletter/offer

If you are in a face-to-face sales situation, you have the opportunity to persuade, cajole, counter objections and physically show your potential customer your product.

When writing copy, you don’t have any of those advantages, so your words have to do all the hard work for you.

4 things to remember about your sales copy

There are 4 things you should always bear in mind when thinking about your sales copy.

Actually there are loads of things, but these 4 will help you keep your feet on the ground and your focus on your reader.

1. Your readers really do WANT to buy from you

Let’s face it, today’s searching and shopping habits are rather like the prehistoric hunter/gatherer role.

Although today, we’re more focused on finding goods and services than tonight’s dinner. Our age of consumerism has shifted our buying behaviour towards making more discretionary purchases as opposed to necessity buys.

Our spare income today is spent on holidays, cars, designer clothes and other luxury items. So when a reader lands on a website or picks up a brochure, they’re already in the mind-set to buy. Your copy just has to convince them that yours is the product they want.

2. You can’t force a sale

As a copywriter, I hate to have to admit to this, but you can’t force someone to buy something through words.

You can make the product look mighty attractive and sought after, in the hope that it will be enough to clinch the sale. But, if your reader doesn’t want to buy it, your words are unlikely to change their mind.

But all is not lost. The art of copywriting is to build on the existing want or need within the reader. If they’re interested in your product, well written, benefits laden copy, will nudge them into buying it.

3. Your copy doesn’t have to brilliant

You have no idea how hard it was to write that.

But that doesn’t mean any old thing will do. You don’t need clever concepts to sell your products, but you do need copy that shows your product will solve the problems your readers are experiencing or make their lives better.

Writing copy for products that people already want or need, will lead to success.

4. Remove barriers

People are natural consumers, which is why, if you are selling a product they already have a need for, you are more likely to be successful.

But people are naturally suspicious, so you’re going to have to create copy that overcomes their buying objections even before they’ve made them.

Think about:

  • What would prevent them from buying?
  • Have you sold the benefits?
  • Have you given testimonials?

Over to you

Copywriting that doesn’t sell is about as much use as a chocolate teapot.  Every piece of copy you write must exist for a purpose.

What steps do you take to make sure your copy works? Have you come up with any innovative techniques?

Leave a comment below and let’s see how many different ways we can come up with to make sure your copy sells.


Keeping Your Copywriting Trim

You’ve probably read about the idea of keeping your copy ‘tight’.

But what exactly does that mean?

Well, when writing sales copy your message must be clear, punchy and to the point.

If you spend an age waffling around your subject, fill your copy with adjectives and finally, 1000 words later, get round to telling your reader what you’re actually selling, it won’t be very effective.

Before you start, you need a plan and you need to do some research. Think about:

  • What you are selling (the emotional impact it will have as that is the way to a sale)
  • To whom you are selling
  • Why you are selling it (is the timing important?)
  • What you want your reader to do (your call to action)

Then, and only then, can you start to write.

Tight copy

As you are crafting your copy, here are some things you should always bear in mind.

1. Cut the clutter

As you write, you will add words that aren’t essential. We all do it, but you won’t spot them until you read your copy back to yourself. Watch out for words such as:

  • Great
  • Some
  • Many
  • Right
  • Quite
  • Only
  • Even
  • Such
  • The
  • Got
  • Really
  • That
  • To
  • Actually

I’m sure you can think of a few more, but these are all words that can be cut from sentences without having any effect on its overall meaning.

2. 3 part lists

These are useful when stressing a point. Remember Tony Blair’s “education, education, education”? The rhetorical effect of a 3 part list helps to drive home your point.

3. Second person

No, that’s not the forerunner of “The Third Man”, writing in the second person (i.e. you and your) makes your copy personal because it addresses the reader directly. This will help you build rapport and establish trust between you and your audience.

4. Distinguish between features and benefits

Anyone can write about the features of a product, but a copywriter will concentrate in their benefits. But not any old benefit; the benefit to the reader – saving them time, money, making them more successful, making them more attractive…

5. Bulleted lists and highlights

As well as adding interest to your page, bulleted lists and highlighted text will also draw the readers’ eye. So what better way to stress your key points than to list or highlight them?

6. Paragraphs

Most of us like to get our information in short chunks. Lengthy pages of text are a big turn-off, so use short paragraphs to get your information over succinctly.

7. Read aloud

The only way you will get a feel for your copy’s flow and rhythm is by reading it aloud.

Yes, you’ll feel ridiculous, but it will instantly identify where your copy works and where it falls short. Better to find out then than after it’s published.

Over to you

Great, readable copy is all about minimalism. That doesn’t mean all copy should be short, but it does mean that all copy should only use as many words as are absolutely necessary to get your point across.

How about you? Do you have any favourite methods you use to make sure your copy is as tight as a nut?

Leave a comment below and share them with us.


Sally Ormond

Freelance copywriter, blogger, social media addict and lover of rum butter toffees

Copywriting and Research

Ever wondered how a copywriter does it?

Day after day, they sit in front of their computers writing amazing copy that compels even the most hardened cynic into buying products and services they didn’t realise they needed.

They must be truly inspiring individuals, creative geniuses, magical wordsmiths…or they could just be great researchers.

That’s burst the bubble, hasn’t it?

True, they are great writers, but their constant stream of inspiration doesn’t float down from the ether to them. They have to work at their art and that means researching.

Research, a copywriters’ best friend

Contrary to popular belief, when you send a brief to a copywriter, the first she doesn’t do is write.

Before any creativity can occur, your copywriter has to do some leg-work – i.e. research – and lots of it.

If you were commissioned to create a wedding cake, you wouldn’t just grab the deposit and start baking. No, you would sit down with your client and ask questions so you fully understood what they wanted, what their colour scheme was, whether they wanted plain sponge, chocolate or fruit cake…

In the same way, your copywriter has to research:

  • You – to discover precisely what you want to achieve
  • Your company – so they understand your ethos, brand and voice
  • Your customers – after all, if they don’t know who they are writing to, how will they know what to say?
  • Your product/service – they have to understand every aspect of it to discover its main benefits
  • Your competition – they need to know what else is out there and what makes your product/service different

Only once they have done all that, can they sit down and start to craft their copy.

You see, creativity doesn’t come from thin air. It must have substance and be based on you, your company and, more importantly, your customers. Only once your copywriter has discovered who your audience is and what will make them buy, can they begin to write compelling and persuasive copy.

Guess work

What happens if they just guess?

Well, the copy won’t reflect your values or brand image. The benefits of your product or service won’t come across, so your customers won’t buy.

That’s why the research element of any copywriting project is so important.

The moral of this post is, if you want your copy to resonate with your customers and make them buy, you must allow your copywriter sufficient time to research your market fully.

The Good and Bad of Social Media

Following from my recent request on Twitter for guest bloggers, Neil Stoneham of Voxtree kindly agreed to allow me to re-post his blog “Me-me-mediaon Freelance Copywriter’s Blog.

It takes a look at the good, the bad and the ugly sides of social media and how it has permeated all our lives – enjoy…

The explosion of Social Media over recent years has thrown up all sorts of fascinating sociological paradigms. We have to thank Twitter for helping engineer the Arab Spring, Facebook for catching up with friends, and Youtube for making the secretive machinations of oppressive regimes all the more difficult to conceal. There are numerous examples of the good that Social Media has brought to our increasingly fragile world, and there will doubtless be more to come.

But among all the brilliance of Social Media, there are inevitably demons lurking within. Obviously nobody is trumpeting the rise of cyber-bullying, the open platforms for ranting extremists or the accessibility of a Daily Mail comments page. Actually, those last two are pretty much the same thing, but anyway…

Whatever the ying and yang of Social Media, something else seems to have pervaded our collective online consciousness – particularly for those of us who use social media regularly. Namely, we have all become narcissists. Even the most modest and placid among us seem to have a field day, telling all and sundry about the minutiae of their lives, when let loose on a Facebook status or a Tweet. This blog advertises my own guilt here; the fact that I’m typing away, voicing my opinions on this and that, assumes there are people out there who actually care what I think about such things.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condemning people for announcing to their 1762 ‘friends’ matters of import or joy (or sometimes misery…often misery, in fact). It’s just that the Social Media world seems so, I don’t know, cluttered.

In the old days, if we had something to share with our friends we would call or meet them. And because we had to go to some physical lengths to do this, you could rest assured that the topic would be of relative importance. Today, we have Social Media, so we don’t have to get off our backsides and tell people our news any more. We can type it in less than 140 characters and know that most people in our social circle will learn of it within 24 hours max. So…what’s wrong with that? Nothing. It’s great. I love it.


Would a friend call me up to tell me they had just eaten a nice pizza, been for a particularly satisfying run or bought a new pig for their virtual farm? Nope. Or if they did, they wouldn’t be friends for long! The point is that a lot of people now litter the Internet with matters of absolutely no interest whatsoever; things that very often don’t ‘bring anything to the party’ at all.  That’s not to say that every update or tweet has to be of particular interest to me. But I’ve had to hide some people from my Facebook ‘wall’ for bombarding it every five minutes with a litany of utter irrelevance.

I could go on. I’m not pretending to be whiter-than-white here – somebody could no doubt call hypocrisy somewhere – but I think that there needs to be debate about this. I’m not calling for bans or rules (you can go to the Daily Mail site for that). But if we go on creating so much unnecessary noise, we could end up drowning out the whole Social Media goodness that there is.

Thanks Neil for your take on the virtual world that is beginning to take over the real world – or at least it feels that way at times.

Over to you

What do you think?

How has social networking sites affected your life?

Have you embraced them with open arms or are you keeping them at bay with a very large stick?

Leave a comment below and lets get a virtual debate started.