Content Strategy & Me.

Posted: 19th Feb 2014

The Gather Content Collection.

Here are all the guest posts I created for the Gather Content blog. If content strategy is your bag, here's a lovely wee collection for you.

How to write great web copy.

What is Content Strategy - Theory vs. Practice.

Engage your audience through a quest narrative.

How to collaborate - The creative and the practical.

The A to B to Content - Planning website content.

Structure and meaning - The principals of creative writing in Content Strategy.

Getting your team Content Strategy savvy.

My favourite writing & creative blogs

Posted: 28th Jul 2013

The resourceful and the inspirational

I should blog more. I know I should be more motivated but work piles up, tea awaits etc etc. Resourceful, insightful or fun, it goes without saying that the more you read, the more you write. Yep, I'm guilty of neglecting my blog from time to time but I check in with my favourites on a weekly basis. Maybe I should just make mine my favourite...

Anyway, here is a collection of my weekly blog haunts. From copywriting and content to the creative, these blogs and writers well and truly tick the boxes.


Probably the best copywriting blog out there, Copyblogger is the place to check in for content marketing, SEO copwriting and much more. Packed with experienced advice and sound insight, it's the first place I visit when I have a spare 5 mins.

Writer, Reader, Rascal

Written by copywriter Andrew Boulton, The Drum's 'Writer, Reader, Rascal' blog is up there for me. Humorous and genuine, Andrew handles each content subject with a highly unique perspective. His insight is as valuable as fun and personable.

Valuable Content

Sonja Jefferson knows content. Valuable Content handles the role of content in marketing and strategy. She offers advice and tips in the form of breakdowns and case studies, while observing the ever-changing role of content in the marketing industry.

Unashamedly Creative

Rebakah Lambert is one of my favourites. Every Unashamedly Creative post is packed with insight and character. This is a no nonsense observational blog that tackles the discrepancies of marketing content and copywriting. Resourceful and spot on.

Creative Bloc

Writing opportunities, advice and freelancing tools is what Creative Bloc is all about. An unparalleled resource, Creative Bloc keenly observes freelancing and the creative industries with personality and an acute awareness. Writers such as Rachael Oku and Mark James make the blog the great resource it is.

There's a heap of others out there, such as Gather Content and ABC copywriting, that offer inspiration and guidance for writers of any level.

The Masters of Advertising Copywriting

Posted: 20th Jun 2013

Each to their own.

If you haven't got Taschen's 'The Copy Book - How some of the best advertising writers in the world write their advertising', then get it. Now.

I don't own an extensive range of copywriting books. I think I've always looked to gain more from a piece of writing than the factual, the resourceful. I love insight, a real study of how people work, especially writers. 'The Copy Book' ticks that box. On top of thumbing through some of the most infamous long and short copy ads of all time, you gain a self-penned insight into the writer's routine and attitudes to their profession.

Every writer is different. One of the things I love about my job is the fact that I see a brief completely different to another copywriter. It's the personal idiosyncrasies and routines that make the writer.

'The Copy Book' delves into these, and I was surprised by the passionate obsessiveness of some and the robotic nature of others. When it comes to my own attitude and habits to my copywriting, there will always be areas that I ponder over and try to customise, so it's good to see the masters struggle with the same.

The 'Process'

When it comes to the kick off I need two things; to be in the mood and a pen. I write everything by hand. Time consuming and not exactly tree friendly, but I like the look of words and my own handwriting. The act of handwriting is a real pleasure, probably why I love the research stage of projects so much.

The likes of David Abbott adopt a similar love for pen and paper. Abbott rarely shapes a piece of copy prior to creating the copy itself, it is 'somehow in his brain', something I believe the noble pen and paper is responsible for.

Ideas & Words

Advertising copy is definitely less a case of knowing what to write, but when to. Thinking visually and forging the idea into communication is a delicate process. I love bad ideas, they are just as valuable as the good, so as delicate as this process is, it can be about bold decisions and taking risks. I stumble across my best ideas often by accident, but no idea is perfect. Test it's stealth and if it remains as pliable and punchy as it did at first thinking, then you're onto a winner. John Bevins believes you don't "have" good ideas, you find them.

Work how you work

Some writers need noise to work, others a quiet office. For me, my writing space is often dictated by the project at hand. I love collaboration, I enjoy thrashing out ideas and test driving copy but I have to admit that the traditional notions of brainstorming and 'workshopping' make me cringe slightly. I re-write continuously. A trait I developed as a screenwriter I'm sure, as some copywriters limit their copy to a 3 draft routine. Neil French rarely re-writes as it kills the flow once he starts to tinker.

Develop your own style and use it well. If there's one thing this book taught me it's that industries and projects change but habits and routines rarely do. The best writers are the ones that know what works for them and can apply it accordingly.

Death of the 9-5

Posted: 6th Jun 2013

Freelance working hours.

When you decide to go freelance you accept that your working life will be in a state of flux. Some see this as a good thing, others struggle. I went from being in a structured 9-5 to working as and when I please. It wasn't the concept of freedom or motivation I struggled with, it was the pressure I put on myself. Over the years I learnt to embrace the madness and my own personal ways of working, whether they be good or bad.

Quality isn't dictated by Time spent.

I've always believed this but when you are freelance this becomes more prevalent. The hours you work, the total figure, becomes less important, it's what you actually achieve that matters. That may not be a finalised body of copy, it may be a successful or unsuccessful brainstorm.

Freelancers find it hard to turn off, this can be due to the unconventional hours obviously. The closer you work to your bedtime, the more your head will be swimming, but there is a happy medium. I work with clients in this country and overseas, time difference plays a big part in my working routine, but I also find I work better at night. I need to be available during the day for my UK clients, and I can work fine and dandy during the day, but maybe it's the fact there is less distractions at 1am that drives me on.

Define distraction & embrace procrastination.

You will get distracted and you will procrastinate. It's a fact. If you're getting bored and drifting away at the office, leave the office. Work at home, in a coffee shop or simply go for a walk. If you aren't getting work done then make the most productive decision and stop. When I get distracted my mind takes care of things itself. It mulls away, quietly considering while you scout Reddit or Facebook. These are often the moments I get the 'Eureka' moment. Give yourself time to procrastinate, do the dishes, read a magazine, I promise the answer will come when you least expect it.

Productivity isn't measure by results.

Like I said before, the hours totalled is no indication of quality. Being productive is as much about the process as the end result. If you have an afternoon of shit ideas you've still had ideas, and you've got all the crap out of your system. This isn't wasted time, it's ridiculously valuable to your problem solving process. Don't be harsh on yourself.


You have to sleep. There's nothing worse than going back to a project or page you feel you've stared at for 2 days straight. I'm not opposed to good nap, the best kind of procrastination. Some people see the joy in seeing the end of day in sight, I don't so much. I like what I do and I like being good at it, I can't be on the ball and hit deadlines if I'm never away from my machine. Perspective does wonders.

Being a good freelancer means embracing the working life you choose for yourself. Motivation is half the battle. If you know yourself and what works for you, you're laughing.

The Distil series

Posted: 15th May 2013

My 5 day tutorial series

As you know, I've been guest blogging for the the ingenious folks at Gather Content. My recent post was on 'Content Strategy - Theory vs. Practice'.

My recent guest blogging endeavours have encouraged me to view my own expertise and knowledge differently. Constructing my experience into actionable, implementable chunks is a challenge in itself. It's no secret that I've had a pretty unique transition into copywriting, this often means I've developed my own way of doing things.

As projects go I get a pretty mixed bag. Along the way I've learnt, adapted and transformed my skills to reflect my own thinking and clients. This has finally spurred me to begin my series of copywriting tutorials. It has been on the back burner for a while now but as of next week I will post a 'How to' guide, spliced with my personal approach, every day.

I'll post a full 5 day timetable later on in the week so keep your eyes peeled. I hope to make my mini-series a monthly occurrence, showcasing a week long Distil Series centred around different topics or industry frameworks.

If you have any areas, skills or expertise you'd like to see featured, please do let me know. I want these mini-tutorials to be genuinely useful resources for freelancers, beginners and experts.

Know the context.

Posted: 27th Nov 2012

Be aware, be relevant.

The more you know, the better you are. I thought this was a fairly obvious fact.

It has surprised me on several occasions to learn how little some copywriters know of the industries in which we work. Good copywriters know other copywriters but the best copywriters know the designers.

I've spoke before about how I began my career in copywriting. One thing I discovered early on was the more I knew about the fields I was going to work in, the more I'd have to offer. I committed much of my time to being aware and getting to know the people who were involved in these industries. From designers and creatives, to marketers and businesses themselves, I became familiar with the design and marketing process and with the role each professional played in the creation of new brands, advertising materials, any process or project that required copy.

The industry knowledge on offer was invaluable, and even now if I get the opportunity to work in-house with agencies or the clients themselves, I grab the chance. Network, chat, learn.

As a freelancer, I feel this is a significant step in establishing myself as an accomplished creative professional.

Observing the freelance copywriter.

Posted: 6th Nov 2012

Doing things my way?...

When it comes to my job the only detail I've paid much attention to is it's title - Copywriter. My status as freelance has mostly been an afterthought. I've never approached my projects or potential clients any differently.

A couple of weeks ago I posted a blog about my slightly unconventional beginnings and approach to my career as a wordsmith. 'Easier said than written' got a mixed response, most in agreement with my attitude to utilising my already established skill and ability to write, and teaming it with a dedication to learning the individual industries I write within. However, some were not quite as open to new approaches.

These repsonses lead me to delve into articles, blogs and forums and see what other ways and means, advice and stories others had about the world of freelancing, and how they started. The majority had taken the plunge into freelancing after years at various agencies and companies.

I'm not sure if it's naivety or confidence that has lead me not to dwell on the fact that I don't have that solid 'stint' at an agency behind me. As a freelancer, I've worked with a mixture of small and big creative, marketing and advertising agencies from Glasgow and further afield. Collaboration is one of my favourite aspects of my work, and my personal experiences and approach as a freelance writer has allowed me to utilise my status to really get involved in the whole process and project.

I've worked alongside designers, marketers, charity officials, all sorts of professionals and creatives. During these projects I've learnt the constraints and budgetary limitations, funding protocol and regulations, effective timescales for all contibutors to any given project, past experiences with collaborators and much more. This information is invaluable.

I've been able to work from client's offices', get involved in the daily chat and be on hand to contribute directly, not to mention meeting and networking with all manners of creatives from an array of agencies, this has landed me a fair chunk of continued trade.

At the end of the day, my job is to write. The bits in-between and how I learn along the way all contribute to the next project.