Posts tagged copywriting
5 Billy Joel songs that will make you a better copywriter
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When the Piano Man isn’t trying to pull uptown girls or insist it wasn’t him that started the fire, he has a surprising amount to say about copywriting. Listen and learn.

1. Tell her about it

‘Listen boy / It's not automatically a certain guarantee / To insure yourself / You've got to provide communication constantly’

Great copywriting starts with a great brief. Don’t leave it to the client to give you the information you need about their product or service. Interrogate them. Ask questions (especially ‘stupid’ ones). Until you’re 100% clear about the benefits of what you’re selling (whether it’s a product or an idea) to the people you’re writing to.

2. Just the way you are

‘I don't want clever conversation / I never want to work that hard / I just want someone that I can talk to / I want you just the way you are’

Whatever tone of voice you use for the project, make sure it’s human. Plain English will speak to your audience in a way they can understand. And it’ll get your message across quicker. Only use jargon if it helps build familiarity and trust with your audience. 99% of the time, it just gets in the way of clear communication.

3. Big shot

‘You had to have the last word, last night / So much fun to be around / You had to have a white hot spotlight / You had to be a big shot last night’

Your copy is not about you. It’s about your client and, more importantly, your audience. Leave your ego at the door and make sure your words are focused on one thing only - getting your reader to take action.

4. The entertainer

‘Ah, it took me years to write it / They were the best years of my life / It was a beautiful song / But it ran too long / If you're gonna have a hit / You gotta make it fit / So they cut it down to 3:05’

Your client will make changes to your beautifully crafted copy. You won’t always agree with them. But they’re paying your bills, so suck it up and move on.

5. Honesty

‘I don't want some pretty face / To tell me pretty lies / All I want is someone to believe’

Make sure your client can backup your sales pitch. Promising the reader the earth and not delivering will lose their trust and business. Yes, dial up the benefits of what you’re selling. But steer clear of lies. No one likes a fibber.

Need a copywriter to add some rock ‘n’ roll to your content? Let’s talk.

Richard Steelecopywriting
Is your smartphone killing your creativity?
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When was the last time you were bored? Like, really bored. Not the boredom of a pointless office-based task that would crush the soul of an AI bot. But the liberating boredom of time spent thinking about nothing in particular and letting your mind wander free.

In today’s ‘always on’ culture, boredom is a sin. Being bored means failing to make the most of every second. Being less than your most productive self.

Luckily for us, our smartphones flat out refuse to let us have a moment to ourselves. Craving our attention with notification, after notification, after notification. No longer is waiting in a queue just waiting in a queue. No longer is lying in bed on a Saturday just lying in bed on a Saturday. Every moment of ‘downtime’ is filled with the latest game, social media platform or news website.

But what if being ‘off’ occasionally is the secret to our creativity? Research is increasingly showing this to be the case. In the rare moments when we think we’re doing nothing, our brains are actually hard at work solving problems and coming up with ideas.

(This explains why a post-lunch creative session, after a morning of responding to emails, checking social media and catching up on the day’s news, is such a struggle.)

For most of us, getting rid of our smartphones or even turning them off (yes, they have an off button - who knew?) isn’t realistic. They are now firmly embedded in our work and lives. But we can take back control and free up a little more space in our day. To just. do. nothing.

5 creative tips for taking control of your smartphone

  1. Out of sight, out of mind. Just for 15 minutes, put your phone in a drawer or your bag. The mere sight of your device can subconsciously distract you and derail your bored brain.

  2. Turn off non-essential notifications. When you install an app it’s set to interrupt you 500 times a day by default. Take a minute to change the settings and shut the damn thing up.

  3. Get anti-social. Bit drastic this one, but removing social media apps from your phone is a sure way to stop them sucking up your time. The browser versions are painful to use. And therefore much less addictive.

  4. Before you do it, think about it. Reaching for your phone for the fiftieth time today? Before you grab your device, think about why you’re doing it. If the answer is ‘To call my husband and tell him I won’t be able to pick up the kids tonight.’ fine. If it’s ‘I have no idea but I NEED my phone.’ maybe walk away.

  5. Read Bored and Brilliant by Manoush Zomorodi. It’ll change the way you look at your phone and have your creative juices flowing freely in no time.

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Need creative support? Let’s talk.


How NOT to write for the web

Writing for your digital channels is different to writing for print. I think we all know that by now? We should do - the internet is bursting with advice on how to write well for web (yawn). So, to mix things up a bit, here are a few tips on what NOT to do. Ignore them all completely and you’ll do just fine.

1 Forget your audience

Writing in your audience’s language will just bring you down to their level and encourage them to engage with your content. It’s much better to pretend they don’t exist at all and write at length about whatever you feel like talking about on a given day. Remember, it’s YOUR website. So who cares if other people find what you have to say interesting.

2 Long sentences rule

Endless sentences of elongated words are perfect for demonstrating to everyone what remarkable intelligence you have and thus make worthwhile all those years ensconced in a darkened room imbibing the delicious intricacies of the English tongue. They may take a bit of unpicking but everyone has a brain and time on their hands, right? The longer the message the more weight it will carry. And boring people is a great way to lull them into a semi-conscious state through which to inspire them to take action.

3 Avoid headings and subheadings

Let’s face it, your writing is so impressive everyone who stumbles across it will be hooked and read every. last. word. So there’s no need to help them navigate your great work. Just present your content as a single continuous block of rolling text and they’ll figure it out eventually. (Bless them.)

4 Forget accessibility

Everyone who matters can read and write just like you, so ignore anyone who needs more support. In the UK, only 7 million people have dyslexia, so making your writing accessible is a complete waste of time.

5 Embrace jargon

Ah, jargon! It makes you feel smart doesn’t it. Part of a small, elite club that gets it. The handful of readers who understand it will have a little chuckle to themselves about how smart they are too. It’s a really great way of making your writing totally impenetrable to the unwashed general public. And let's face it, who wants to interact with them!

So there you have it. 5 fool’s gold nuggets of really bad advice to avoid at all costs. Now go and find one of those useful writing for web guides instead.

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Originally published by Digital Drum.

Five easy ways to keep your clients happy
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I’m a freelance, sole trading, self-employed solopreneur. I work in my kitchen, live in my tracksuit bottoms, and shower at lunchtime. So it’s official.

But I have had ‘proper jobs’. Most recently, I was brand and editorial manager for a big charity, poised at the flipside of the freelancer/client ping pong table.

It taught me a lot about what to do (and what not to do) as a freelancer.

Here are my five insider tips to stay on the right side of your clients:

  • Say hello. Good suppliers are hard to find. An introductory email with a link to your website is welcomed. It may be filed in a folder called ‘People who bother me for work’, and you may not hear back for a while, but when they need extra support it’ll be the first place they look. Trust me.

  • Don’t be desperate. Having a supplier continually bother you for work is really annoying and will not have the desired effect. It also suggests you’re sat at home twiddling your thumbs which doesn’t shout ‘high quality, in-demand supplier’.

  • Be honest. If you don’t have capacity to take something on, say so. Don’t sign up to a deadline you know you can’t meet and leave the client hanging. It’s much better to say you don’t have time for the project (which has the added benefit of showing them you’re busy) and even more helpful to recommend another freelancer. The client and the referred freelancer will both think you’re extra nice and super helpful.

  • Don’t be greedy. Be confident in your abilities and quote fairly for the project.  Clients (the ones you want to work with anyway) will have budget to get the job done. But they’ll know if you’re taking advantage. If a project ends up taking less time than you initially quoted for, reduce your invoice appropriately. The client will appreciate it and be more likely to work with you again.

  • Invoice promptly and accurately. Make sure you include all the necessary information. There’s nothing more annoying than regularly having to chase  Finance for the status of a supplier’s unpaid invoice, and finding out they marked it FAO the wrong person, left off the budget code and didn’t include a description of the project. And waited until the last week of the financial year to submit it.

Bonus tip: Say thank you. And send chocolates at Christmas. Clients DO notice.

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Originally published by ProCopywriters.

ProCopywriters Member Spotlight
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Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?

I’ve always loved writing and editing. I used to edit my friends’ uni assignments for fun.

I got into copywriting through a series of fortunate events. I was working in an admin role after graduating and my manager saw my potential and created a marketing role for me (thanks Julie!). A few years later I moved out of London onto a narrowboat in the home counties and a local agency was looking for a copywriter. I applied and got the job. Since then I’ve worked agency-side, freelance, in-house, and back to freelance again.   

What work are you most proud of?

I wrote the script for a charity film to be shown on the big screens at Glastonbury. Seeing thousands of people reading my words on screen, and engaging with such a good cause, gave me a warm glow inside. Although it might have been the cider.

What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?

I loved the MullenLowe We listen campaign for Samaritans. Quotes from people saying they were fine, with specific words in a different colour revealing their true thoughts. Such a simple concept and a lovely marriage of copy and design. It’s so pleasing when the two work together like that.

What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?

I’ve just moved to the coast, so a walk along the seafront normally does the trick. If I’m in the city, I wander around a gallery or museum. Ideas have a funny way of popping into my head as soon as I stop looking for them.

What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?

I love working with short copy and trying to make a persuasive argument with just a few words. Editing’s great fun too - taking a hatchet to something raw and gradually working away at it until it shines.

I always dread editing or proofreading really long content but once I get stuck in and find my flow I end up enjoying it.

Any copywriting pet hates?

Anything confusing or trying to be too clever and making no sense to anybody. Making sense is a pretty good place to start, and if you can be convincing and even witty then that’s a bonus.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?

I’m not sure I’ve ever been given any. I remember that Baz Luhrmann song from the 90s - Everybody’s free (to wear sunscreen). It was based on advice from a teacher to her pupils I think. She says, “Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life / The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives / Some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don't.” That had a pretty big impression on the 18-year-old me.

What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?

Remember it’s not about you. Write a blog if you want to express yourself. Copywriting is about communicating your client’s messaging in their audience’s language. You should be invisible.

And figure out your ethics. Who do you want to work with and who are you going to turn down? I’m much happier now I only work with charities and ethical businesses that reflect my own values.

What’s your favourite thing about being a copywriter?

Getting into someone else’s head. Learning who they are, what they value, and what makes them take action. It’s like acting without the stage fright.

And being able to work anywhere in the world (well, anywhere with WiFi) is a big plus.

What made you decide to become a member of ProCopywriters?

There are so many copywriters out there, potential clients need to know who they can trust. So joining a professional network is a good way to show you’re serious about what you do. And you get a nice badge for your website.

Where can people find out more about you?

My website is a good place to start. I’m on Twitter as @PenOfSteele. And LinkedIn. Or take the afternoon off, come to the seaside and say hi in person. The ice cream’s on me.

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Originally published by ProCopywriters.

Watch your tone, Facebook
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After being caught red-handed (or should that be blue-handed?) secretly selling off intimate details of our private lives to the highest bidder, tone of voice might not be Facebook’s number one concern. But it should definitely be in their top ten.

Suddenly those ‘We care about your privacy’ messages that pop up alongside an illustration of a cute dinosaur are more gag-inducingly fake than ever. The ‘Celebrate your friendship with…’ posts are less of a trivial annoyance, and more a reminder that the social media giant has been on the tail of you and your best friend for the past five years.

So, where to go from here? Stick with the cutesy tone and hope all this nasty news goes away. Or try to rebuild trust with something a little more grown up.

Consumers aren't stupid. We can smell an inauthentic tone of voice a mile off. ‘Craft’ brewer Brewdog talks like a punk but acts like a suit, ‘acquiring’ pub chains, flooding supermarkets with now mass produced beer, and threatening family-run pubs with legal action. And oil giants like BP tell us how green and future-thinking they are while sucking every last drop of oil out of the ground (and spilling quite a lot of it in the ocean).

Facebook now looks as ridiculous as these fat fibbers. It needs to figure out what its values are fast (if it had any to begin with) and how to talk about them authentically. Before the giant becomes another dinosaur.