Updates. Ideas. Rants. Techniques. Opinions. Blog.

Divider line

Why You Probably Shouldn’t Steal This Copy

Busy?
This is a
4 minute read.

Recently, I’ve been super into helping newer copywriters.

There’s enough work out there for everyone and one of my favourite things to do is writer needlessly long email responses to questions from people starting out.

Anything to pretend I’m working while actually just chatting in an email.

But, with an eye on what new copywriters are doing and how they’re marketing themselves, I’ve noticed a handful of cases where someone has ‘borrowed’ the messaging from this website. In some cases, ‘borrowed’ entire paragraphs intact.

In a lot of ways, it’s an ego boost. At least I’m surfacing in the search results. But it strikes me as a bad idea, no matter how much time you saved.

This isn’t a post about the ethical question. It’s not a long way of saying ‘If you’re going to be a copywriter, it might be good to practice writing your own copy.’ 

It’s a post about why repurposing any other copywriter’s story is setting yourself up for failure.

Continue Reading

This Is What’s Wrong With Your Copywriting

Busy?
This is a
4 minute read.

Thousands of words. Hundreds of pages.

Every week, I write a lot of copy. And I see a lot of copy, too – from research to work from seasoned pros and brand new copywriters.

I like every bit of copy I see. There’s always something positive to take away, to learn, to adopt as your own.

But I’m also learning from the traps that others fall into. Those common pitfalls that sit just after the starting line. They’re things that are hard to see, but easy to avoid.

So, in the spirit of stopping you from doing the same stupid shit I do, here are the five most common issues I see. Formatted into a nice list post because who has the time to read paragraphs?

Continue Reading

A Great Website is a Russian Doll of Messages

Busy?
This is a
3 minute read.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on a beast of a website.

With dozens of pages and very little existing copy to speak of, it’s a been a big undertaking. I was reluctant.

“It’s okay, we’ve planned the messaging,” said the client. “We’ve gone through and decided what you need to say on every page. So it shouldn’t take too long.”

Alarm bells, right?

If you’re a copywriter, you know that deciding what to say is where the magic happens. For all your stylish execution, if the messaging isn’t on point, you’re screwed.

And that’s exactly where so many website projects seem to go wrong.

Continue Reading

Being Contrarian about the Copywriting Conference

Busy?
This is a
3 minute read.

Well, there’s a blog title that seems remarkably on brand…

In this unpredictable new normal where we’re all in it together but staying apart, I’m literally writing this blog post at a copywriting conference. It’s virtual, which makes it a bit like the longest webinar you’ve ever attended.

But it’s also prompting some interesting ideas, even where I don’t 100% agree with the speakers.

For a while now, I’ve been banging the drum of ‘Nobody knows anything’. I apply that to copywriters sharing career advice on social media, so-called ‘best practice’ and the tools clients try to use to assess and analyse copy. We’re all out here making educated guesses.

But, as freelance copywriters or their in-house counterparts, we all have opinions.

So I thought it’d be fun to share my conflicting thoughts as we progress through the day.

Continue Reading

5 Quick Things That Will Probably Make Your Website Better

Busy?
This is a
3 minute read.

I don’t know you. I don’t know your website. But, over the years, I’ve seen the same pitfalls come up time and time again – and applied the same quick fixes to make them better.

Yes, a website that performs is the combination of a huge number of different things. The right user experience. The right tone of voice. The right messaging underneath it all, based on a deep, true understanding of what your audience cares about.

But all of that is pointless if the execution holds you back.

So, if you’re reviewing your website and wondering what’s wrong, here are five prime suspects to get you started – not hard-and-fast rules, but things to consider.

Continue Reading

101 Reasons Long List Posts Like This Are Crap

Busy?
This is a
6 minute read.

Reason zero.

These long-format list posts I keep seeing all over the place take a huge investment of time and energy to write.

So any introduction never gives a deep sense of perspective, or motivation.

It’s just a rushed afterthought with the microscopic level of effort that is still available.

Continue Reading

Let’s Stop Being Negative About Being Negative

Busy?
This is a
4 minute read.

I was talking to a client the other day about negativity in copywriting. We discussed the notion that you should never use a negative word, like ‘don’t’ or ‘frustrating’ or ‘painful’.

And, reader, it was painful indeed.

It’s another of these nonsensical copywriting ‘rules’ – usually the product of:

  • A copywriter who needed to find a topic for a blog post
  • A client who trusted that blog post to be well-researched and informative
  • An understandable desperation to make copywriting a one-size-fits-all science – something that’s easy to do and judge for quality

In reality, copywriting is a creative balancing act. The skill of using the most appropriate techniques for a given moment.

So, for the sake of balance, here’s when I think negativity is a positive for the task at hand.

Continue Reading

Why These Tone of Voice Guidelines Are Taking Ages

Busy?
This is a
2 minute read.

I’m writing some tone of voice guidelines and, honestly, they are taking forever.

I know what you’re thinking. How long does it take to write ‘friendly and honest’ in a nice font? We have the idea of guidelines as instructive and, providing the actual development has been done, summing it all up should be simple.

But, actually, it’s not the guidelines themselves that are taking a long time. It’s everything that comes before them.

Telling people how to write is the easy part. The catch is in telling them why.

Continue Reading

The One Thing You Should Know About Your Customers

Busy?
This is a
3 minute read.

Whether you’re putting an email together or building a brand from the ground up, audience is everything. The golden rule of branding and copywriting is that you need to understand your customers – their motivations, their interests, their desires.

That’s why the first step in a big new copy project is often a customer survey – a look at perceptions and preferences that you can use to underpin your decision making. Things like where you’re most likely to reach people, or what’s most likely to convince them.

But there’s one thing I see that’s overlooked again and again. A single finding that affects everything.

Continue Reading
In a rush? Grab my self-contained PDF portfolio.