Welcome to the fold - Be copy-savvy.

Posted: 18th Feb 2014

'I've never worked with a copywriter...'

This sentence is no stranger to my inbox. This isn't a post about copywriting taking the world by storm, it's about effectively managing the reservations and preconceptions many have about working with a copywriter.

What do you need from me?

I get asked this a lot. Many potential clients aren't sure how this copy fandango works or what level of knowledge they need to possess.

A full brief is a rare thing these days, even the most experienced agencies or clients struggle to produce a proper brief. If a client is new to the copywriter thing, they should be encouraged to learn the importance of a full brief. I often work alongside clients in producing this. Through a series of brand, tone and company history questions we get to the heart of the project together. This aligns our aims and builds some trust.

Keep things simple as this point, ask them about the nature of the project, proposed timelines, a little about their content history and then, if it floats your boat, arrange a more detailed chat. Be sure to not overwhelm and try to keep them in-tune with the true goal of their project.

Are you the right copywriter for me?

If a new client is unsure of the copy process there is a good chance that they don't know their copywriter options. Yep, there's more than one type. The worst thing you can do is take on a job that doesn't fit your skill set, you waste everyone's time. If their only aim is to pop up on the first page of Google, I'd be inclined to send them elsewhere, not before imparting some valuable advice. It's a case of speciality and personality. For instance, I work with a lot of start-ups as I love the high levels of collaboration but this isn't for everyone.

How much will it cost me?

It's a meaty subject and not one I want to go into a heap of detail about. Your rates are your rates so charge as you please but with copywriter first timers, I find it beneficial and educational to break down my process and give my quote some context. If it's too much for them, that's ok but at least they now know a little more about the intricate process of creating copy. Offering a simple quote is not only bad practice, as far as I'm concerned, but it also leaves you open to a host of questions later on down the line. Get this clear from the off, for yourself as much as for the client.

2013 - It's been emotional.

Posted: 30th Dec 2013

Not a bad one at all.

2013 has been a corker. Not only did I work alongside great folk on pretty awesome projects but I learnt a shit load.

We all say that we are always learning, developing and honing our skills but I can honestly say that this year I truly did. Not to rub it in but this year I didn't have to cherry pick, the majority of the clients and projects I had were professionals, collaborators and entirely respectful.

I worked with start ups, corporations, charities and design agencies who all had a unique idea of copy and the role it plays. Many of these projects will feature in my new portfolio section in early 2014. I love my site so this will be less of a re-design and more of a bigger, more Distil-filled experience.

2014 will also see me host my own new series of copywriting podcasts, can't wait. I'm not a huge newsletter fan so I'll be opting for my pod pals and a few e-books instead, hopefully these will be a valuable resource to all writers out there and those looking to see what I'm up to.

Beat the copywriting blues

Posted: 4th Nov 2013

Get yourself out your copy funk.

We have all been there. You can have a packed schedule of interesting, well paid jobs but when you get yourself into that copy lull it can be deadly. Self-discipline is an art form. It's something I have developed over years as a writer but no one is perfect. Keeping yourself motivated, on the ball and focused is tough.

So, you're having one of those flimsy, meh weeks but the clients are calling, what can you do to get back on track?

Sometimes it's just a case of boredom.

It's not a bad thing to be bored out your nut with the projects you have on. The moment your week becomes uniform and repetitive you naturally lose interest. There are some weeks where the bread and butter jobs will be anything but creative opportunities but this is the nature of being a freelancer. I find it comforting to look over my to-do lists of previous weeks, no two weeks tend to be the same. Take time to enjoy your research stages, approach topics with a new angle and use this time to perfect what you do best - write.

Get organised.

If you are living from hour to hour without a schedule or plan, you can't see the end and beginnings of each project. I'm the type of person who revels in a system of organisation. Give your projects time frames, maybe even challenge yourself to beat the clock. It may seem silly but self-imposed deadlines are the best way to get to grips with your ability.

Get away from your machine.

Sometimes there is nothing worse than a screen. Get off your arse and do the dishes, hoover, anything that allows your brain to process your day and thoughts itself. You'll be amazed at how easy solutions and ideas come to you. I write most of my copy by hand first, and this really helps me chart my thought process.

At the end of the day, you can't be in awe of your job everyday. Some projects are amazing, others mundane. Any opportunity to hone your craft is a gift, and it may say cheesy but it's true.

Own your tone.

Posted: 27th Feb 2013

Talking my language.

Last week my very own Distil site was featured in Vandelay Design's '25 Awesome Websites for Unique Businesses'

Complimentary indeed, and a huge nod to designer LiamR, the feature touched on embracing what makes your brand unique and doing all you can to showcase that. I'm totally behind "Being innovative with your brand elements", and telling a story is key to my job and my vision for my site.

What this feature flagged up for me was comments I'd received in the past about my site, and more specifically my own site copy. Being a copywriter it seemed fairly obvious to me that your website, or any online presence for that matter, was your opportunity to say what you want to say in your own way.

In a market of mass, and especially as a freelancer, making a memorable impact is what it's all about. I'd like to note here that I'm not talking about your approach to projects, not every copywriting job calls for punchy, wit-fuelled copy, I'm talking about presenting yourself as a language expert who has the vision and experience to use the tools of your trade the right way - 'The right words in the right order can do great things'.

Many copywriters neglect their own brand voice. This isn't something I'd typically say about a designer and their visual identity. In many cases less is more, and a great portfolio can often speak for itself, however if you have an opportunity to exhibit what makes you memorable then take it.

Clients past and present have commented on how much they loved my own site copy, and it has bagged me several projects. Yes, having a full, diverse portfolio is going to be the deal breaker in most cases, but one thing that makes me smile is when I receive an email with the phrase 'Tip my hat' in the subject title - the sender has adopted my style of writing and is talking to me on a personal level, and hey, that can't hurt.

Why hire a copywriter?

Posted: 5th Dec 2012

The 'Pitch Response'

Before I begin this post I need to make something clear. As a copywriter I'm here to tell you to most definitely hire a professional if you require quality content. This post is a tip of my hat to my copywriter comrades, as well as a research piece for potential clients.

I'm sure I'm not alone is my deliverance of what I like to call the 'Pitch Response' to the familiar question I get asked on pretty much a daily basis - why hire a copywriter?

It's not the question I have a problem with at all, it's a fantastic question, especially if you haven't worked with a professional writer before. More often than not I get asked this question in a context that requires an explanation as to why this is a profession in the first place. Here lies my issue.

I think I can offer both insight into my personal beef while providing soild answers to a very relevant question.

The DIY attitude

Sometimes needs must and hey, if you think you can have a bash at your own copy then go for it! I'm sure I don't have to point out what the differences in quality would be. It all depends what you want.

Would you think twice about hiring a designer and sacrifice the look of your product, site etc? I suspect not. It is all under the umbrella of content and I believe great copy goes hand in hand with great design.

A professional service, not a hobby

When you hire a good copywriter, you get more than the right words. I'm an expert that has spend years honing my craft and basing all my knowledge and craft in the wider context of the creative industry.

A copywriter doesn't just magic up words. We use the right language the right way, whether you want to sell, inform, entertain, all of these objectives require different skills and grammar which often require multiple levels of understanding.

You want to drive traffic your way? Let's talk SEO. This is an intergral part of most of the copy I produce and something a lot of clients have no understanding of.

Don't mess around with your business

Like I said at the start of this post, this is your call. It's your business and you have control of how it's perceived and received. What I remind people of is the importance of first impressions and getting it right. There is never a guarantee someone will read or visit your site, newsletter, whatever, more than once. It only takes one word to turn people off.