Entries from March 2013 ↓

What Your Emails Say About You

How much thought do you give to the words you use when communicating with other people in your company?

Probably not a lot.

If you were writing a piece for some marketing material it would be a different kettle of fish, but for internal comms – you’d just write, wouldn’t you?

That seems to be the thought process for many people. In fact for email communications there appears to a surprising lack in regard for how the writer comes across – that’s certainly the case for many emails received by my copywriting agency.

Granted the emails we get are from people looking for a copywriter, but at times the layout makes them difficult to read and many haven’t been read through before being sent.

Getting back to internal comms, usually these are emails requesting information, spreading information, informing about meetings etc. Perhaps, by some, these are viewed as necessary rather than important, but how they are written still says a lot about you as a person.

If you are sending an email out to your whole team (it could be 2 or 3 people or it could be hundreds), your attention to detail (i.e. spelling, grammar and layout) will all have an effect on their perception of you.

As a leader you’re expected to be methodical, eloquent and inspiring so it’s essential you think before you write.

Tips for writing great emails

1. Brief but friendly

No one likes an email that goes on and on without actually getting to the point. But that doesn’t mean to say it has to be blunt.

Make sure the most important information is at the top and, if it is going to cover several points, list them so they are easy to identify.

Also watch the tone of your email. When it’s for business it’s very easy to be dry and boring. You can still inject some personality, but avoid jokes and flippant remarks, as they may not come across well in writing.

2. Layout

Long emails without plenty of breaks are awful to read.

Keep your paragraphs short and sentences simple and avoid jargon. Yes, your colleagues will probably understand it, but it will make your email really boring and corporate.

3. Read through

Always read your email carefully before hitting send because once it’s gone, it’s gone. Check for typos and grammar issues along with whether it actually makes sense or not.


You may think this is all common sense, but just take a look at your inbox and see how many people are not doing any of these things.

Using simple language, a clear layout and paying attention to detail will help you communicate clearer with your team leading to greater efficiency and productivity.

It may be a small thing, but it does make a big difference.

Freelance Copywriting Help – There’s no ‘I’ in Interview

As a freelance copywriter you will, at some point in your career, have to interview a client. Interviewing copywriting clients

Ideally, you’ll be doing it a lot, as it is by far the best way to get the information you need to create winning copy.

So, what do I mean by there being no ‘I’ in interview?

Well, you’re conducting the interview to gather information; you need to come away knowing:

  • Who your client is and what they do
  • Why they do it?
  • Who they do it for?
  • How they help their clients
  • How they want to come across in their marketplace
  • What their brand image is
  • How they want to sound

And that’s just for starters.

But have you noticed something about that list?

It’s all about them – your client. There is nothing in that list about you and that’s just how it should be.

Being your client

There are people out there who see copywriting as simply writing about a company and its products or services.


For starters is should be about your client’s customers and the benefits they receive as a result of dealing with your client.

But it’s also more than that; when writing for your client you have to forget about how you would phrase things or the vocabulary you would use and instead write as though you were your customer.

Obviously, you would use the techniques within your writing that you know work, because you’re a copywriter and your business is writing great copy. But every piece of work you do should be different, because every client you work with is different.

Taking on someone else’s persona is not an easy task, but if you want your copy to appear genuine, it’s what you have to do.

So don’t go into a client interview with preconceived ideas of how you’re going to write for them. Just because they’re an IT company and the last job you did was for another IT company, doesn’t mean you can get away with writing in exactly the same style because they’re different companies.

Forcing a client into a preconceived idea or template is asking for trouble. As a writer you have to be able to mould your writing style to the personality of your client and, if necessary, blend perfectly with the existing voice used on their other marketing materials.

There’s no room for egos in copywriting. It’s your job to meld perfectly with the company’s personality and brand image.

4 Tips For Creatively Marketing Yourself

The following guest post was written by Luke Clum. The author’s views are entirely his own and may not reflect the views of FreelanceCopywritersBlog.com. If you are interested in producing a Guest Post for this blog, please get in touch with your ideas.


Content marketing is a fertile field for freelance writers these days; in fact, it’s one of the few areas in which opportunities for writers seem to be getting better, not exploding in a newspaper-fueled inferno. But good content writing jobs won’t fall in your lap just because you woke up one day and said, “I’ve got it! I’ll be a writer.” Getting these jobs requires building a portfolio, being highly adaptable, recognizing promising opportunities, and getting your work into the hands of the right people.
In many articles on the subject, you’ll often find the suggestion to join a content mill to build your portfolio, despite the pitiful rate of pay. This actually is a good first step if you’re really starting from scratch (you need to have something professional to show potential clients). But to really stand out from the masses of people calling themselves writers these days, you’ve got to consciously create content that really brands you as an industry and creative leader. Here are our top 4 tips for doing just that.

1. Become an Informational Resource

By now, you’ve probably been told a million times that you should start a blog to show prospective clients. Again, this is true, but keep in mind that since this is often a baseline (i.e. something that’s strange not to have but not particularly distinctive if you do) your blog or website has to stand out in some way. One of the best ways to do this is to pick a niche and brand yourself as an informational resource by producing a few great pieces of content.

As an example, take the cloud accounting service, Xero, which produced this cloud computing guide as a helpful resource for its current and potential customers. The guide not only addresses a very relevant and widespread question (“Just what is the cloud?”), but it also showcases the company as a fun, down to earth, and helpful brand. And, as an added benefit, stand-alone resources like this are far more likely to go viral than a single company website.
Much the same is the case for the insurance company Simply Business, which has branded itself as a business resource centre with things like this guide to social media success. While not all of the company’s potential customers will want to look through these resources, many will, meaning guides like these both widen the company’s audience and instantly establish their credibility.

While you won’t have the same resources as these companies, the point remains the same. Take the time to develop great informational content that can act as a standalone piece. If you have any interests or specialities as it is, create a resource that answers questions you know are common within that niche, or use the Google Keyword Tool to find what potential readers are searching for. With compelling, impressive resources like this, a potential client will learn a lot more about you than if you were to send them yet another top 10 list.

2. Volunteer…Strategically

Another way to find distinctive material for your content portfolio and to get your work out in front of movers and shakers is to volunteer at a place you really “get.” This could be at an organization that’s within the industry you’re looking to enter, or it could be a cause you’re really passionate about. Either way, sticking with your interests will put you in a position where you’ll be more likely to have those creative content ideas, and more convincing in you pitches to your volunteer clients. What’s more, if you’re writing for an organization’s website, you’ll likely gain a lot of exposure for your work while also adding to your portfolio. The better the job you do, the more likely the people you’re volunteering with will be to use you in their own businesses or refer you down the line.

3. Partner Up

Content writers don’t operate in a vacuum. Where once editors used to be a writer’s most crucial contact (and, don’t get me wrong, they’re still pretty high up there), now partnering with someone in a related industry, like graphic design or SEO, can be just as fruitful a venture. Having a freelance partner means doubling your networking ability. It can also make for a much more convincing sales pitch if you can bill yourselves as a one stop shop kind of place. What’s more, if you’re looking to create those specific resources previously mentioned but you don’t yet have a niche, partnering up can be just what you need, as you can then take your partner’s expertise and get it down in written form, establishing an expert’s reputation for you both.

4. Become a Microblogger on Social Media

Social media isn’t just about promoting your content (though that certainly is important). Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are all potential sites for microblogging. Through tweets and status updates, you can post helpful tips in your distinctive and creative voice. On Facebook and LinkedIn, you can write blog posts and join industry groups with discussion boards. These are all forms of content creation, and the more regularly and uniquely you embrace them, the more you’ll stand out.


When you’re a freelance content writer, your content is your marketing. Showing clients what you can do with the resources you create and the impact you can make on social media is showing them just what you can do for them, should they take you on board. Make it helpful, full of expertise, fun and interesting to read, and your content writing career will take off in no time.


Author Bio

Luke Clum is a graphic designer and writer from Seattle. Follow him on Twitter @lukeclum

10 Tips to Help You Write Like a Pro

A good piece of writing is one of those things that’s hard to define, but you know it when you see it. How to write like a pro

Words that flow, sentences that are easy to follow, paragraphs that draw you in all help to create text that appears effortless to the reader. So how can you make your writing better?

Well, there’s always the good old-fashioned way of reading lots and lots of great writing and hoping some of it will rub off on you. Or you can keep reading and discover 10 tips that are easy to do and that will have a dramatic effect on your writing.

If you’re ready, let’s get started.

1. Same old, same old

Clichés, hackneyed phrases, commonplace words, whatever you want to call them, should be avoided at all costs (doh!).

If you want to stand out as a writer, take the time to think of a different way of expressing yourself rather than falling back on trite phrases such as ‘in this day and age’ etc.

2. Converse

Not a new subject to this blog, but one worth repeating over and over, the most effective way of writing is a conversational style.  It’s how we’re used to communicating with each other.

It’s friendly, unpretentious and it gets to the point quickly.

Keep your language simple, your sentences simple and your message simple.

3. You

For some people, writing in the second person seems quite strange, but it’s the best way to engage with your readers.

You see it more commonly on blogs where the author is writing directly to his or her readers and recounting personal experiences, so the use of ‘you’ and ‘I’ is fairly wide spread.

So what’s stopping you from using them in your sales writing? You’re still writing to a person, you still want to engage with them, so you should be addressing them directly.

4. Stories

Everyone loves a good story – since childhood they’ve been part of our lives, so don’t stop using them now.

Just to clarify, that doesn’t mean start your brochures with ‘Once upon a time…’, that would just be daft. The story should be a case study or testimonial that shows how your product or service has helped a real person in real life.

5. Watch your grammar and spelling

An obvious one, but it still needs to be talked about.

Always check and double check your writing before publishing it. No one is expecting you to be a red-hot grammarian, but at least try and get the basics right.

The same goes for your spelling. Although your trusty spell checker will throw up blaring errors, it may not spot those occasions when you’ve used the wrong their or there. So always make sure you check your writing, or get someone else to, before publishing.

6. No flower power

Flower power?

That is what will happen to your writing if you over do the adjectives.

Adjectives are the ‘descriptive’ words that turn your writing into horrible flowery prose.

After writing your first draft, read through and cut out as many of the little suckers as you can. The end result will be leaner and far more powerful.

7. Adverbs

Yuk – a bit like the adjective, and adverb can kill your writing so chose your words carefully.

Why use a phrase like ‘ran quickly’ when ‘dashed’ has more effect?

8. !

Yes, I know I used one earlier, but surely I can be forgiven just one, can’t I?

Exclamations are great in reported speech and dialogue, but it’s unlikely you’ll be using either in your sales writing.

The words you use should be able to convey stresses without having to stick a ! at the end of them.

9. Cut

As you write you will have the tendency to add in all sorts of words that aren’t needed. Once you’ve completed your first draft, read through and cut out any words that don’t add meaning.

Tightening your message this way will increase its impact.

10. Evidence

If you write about something without offering examples or backing up your arguments with evidence, your writing is going to come across as being hollow.

Make sure you add in statistics, quotes and other research data to support your points.

There you go, I’m sure there are many other tips to help you write like a pro, but these 10 are my favourites.

If you have any other tips leave a comment below and let’s see how many we can come up with.


Author: Sally Ormond, MD and copywriter at Briar Copywriting Ltd

Sally Ormond, Copywriter

The Great Work From Home Vs Office Debate

This post was prompted by an interview on BBC Breakfast this morning. The discussion centred around whether workers should be allowed to work remotely and why some companies insist on their staff being in the office.

Of course, technology today means that working remotely is easy with very few barriers to overcome, but is it really the most efficient and effective way of working?

Before I began my copywriting agency I used to work in a traditional office environment, actually is was a bank. Needless to say due to the nature of the work I did, remote working wasn’t a consideration. Being in amongst my colleagues meant that there were always people to ask for advice, always someone to bounce ideas off and a real camaraderie. Granted, at times it could be a noisy and distracting place to work, but on the whole it seemed beneficial.

Then I went out into the big bad world of business alone. Suddenly, rather than being surrounded by friendly faces I was on my own. Overnight I had become the boss, financial controller, marketing director, sales executive and customer service officer – quite a leap. But more than that, I’d gone from an office of 20 -30 people to an office of 1.

Now my colleagues were virtual and could only be contacted by Skype, email or phone. None of these are exactly difficult to use, but it wasn’t quite the same as being able to turn around and speak to someone on the desk next to me.

To my surprise it didn’t take me too long to get used to this new working environment. As I became a competent tweeter my network widened even further to include other professionals with expertise in areas that I knew nothing about.

Although the buzz of a hectic office was gone, I found the silence comforting and beneficial. So much so that now, should I have a second person in my office, it is very annoying and makes it very difficult for me to concentrate on what I’m doing.

Home or away?

Whether you should or should not allow your workers to do their jobs remotely comes down to the business you’re in.

If you’re working with confidential information then it’s a no brainer, unless you want sensitive data left in the back of cabs or on trains. But if your workers are doing a job that doesn’t demand high levels of security, that doesn’t require them to work constantly within a team environment, then why not  let them work from home?

Some companies argue that it is beneficial for their staff to work within their team, so they have people to refer to because it enhances their knowledge and will help them to become better employees. OK, for some that might be true, but for many people the option to work from home at least once or twice a week would benefit them greatly. And it they’re happy and it makes their lives easier, surely that will bring benefits to the company too?

After a quick glance at the i newspaper at lunchtime, a story about Yahoo! caught my eye. Apparently they have banned their staff from working from home. A memo was sent by the company’s head of resources told Yahoo! staff that they had until the summer to migrate back to the company HQ in Sunnyvale, California or forfeit their job amid mounting concern that workers were “hiding” from bosses who had lost track of who was supposed to be where and doing what.

The memo went on to say “to become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side by side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people and impromptu team meetings.”

The article then goes on to say that in response, Richard Branson commented that “If you provide the right technology to keep in touch, maintain regular communication and get the right balance between remote an doffice working, people will be motivated to work responsibly, quickly and with high quality.”

Over to you

Whether you’re an employer or an employee we’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue.

Do you wish your company would let you work from home? Perhaps you’d prefer to remain in the office?

Whatever your thoughts, air them in the comments section below – I’d love to see what you have to say on this issue.


Sally Ormond, Copywriter and MD at Briar Copywriting Ltd